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Winners Announced in 2009 Collegiate Inventors Competition(R)
Date:10/21/2009

er and cheaper. Church was long interested in creating faster tools for cell programming and discovered that Wang was willing to take on the challenge. Wang knew that cell programming was still a slow and hands-on process. He developed a protocol designed to permit faster cell programming, and then put together hardware and software to automate it. He calls the approach MAGE: Multiplex Automated Genome Engineering.

To demonstrate, Wang engineered a strain of E. coli bacterium that produces lycopene, a red-colored antioxidant. He added the genetic recipe for lycopene to the bacterium's chromosome. Then he used his MAGE approach to evolve a strain of the bacteria in which production of lycopene was highly efficient. In a more traditional approach, researchers painstakingly isolate, snip apart, reassemble, and reinsert individual genes. Wang believes that his technology will allow bioengineers to produce customized microorganisms much more cheaply and quickly than possible before. Such engineered microorganisms might be used to produce a wide variety of useful compounds, such as antibiotics, biofuels, and chemotherapy drugs. Born in China, Wang grew up in Salt Lake City and is currently working towards his doctorate in biophysics.

Undergraduate grand prize winner Stephen Diebold, 21, from the Chicago suburb of Rolling Meadows, designed an improved pointing stick for use by people with quadriplegia and other disabilities that prevent them from using their arms. Pointing sticks are used to type, operate cell phones, and otherwise manipulate objects. Existing pointing sticks are gripped in the user's teeth or mounted, helmet-like, on the user's head. Either approach presents problems: a mouth-held pointer prevents the user from speaking and a head-mounted pointer requires assistance to put on or take off.

Diebold's Drop Point stick is designed to be donned and doffed with a shrug of the user's chin. He came up with the appro
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SOURCE National Inventors Hall of Fame
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