Team:SF Bay Area DIYbio/Attributions


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The Real Vegan Cheese iGEM Team

Real Vegan Cheese is made possible by the combined efforts of our team of 24+ biohackers and citizen scientists working out of two open community labs in the San Francisco Bay Area: Counter Culture Labs in Oakland, CA and BioCurious in Sunnyvale, CA. The Real Vegan Cheese project is open to collaborators of all skill levels and from all walks of life. We are excited to enter our Real Vegan Cheese project into the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) 2014 competition. We are excited to be part of a larger global community consisting of students and biohackers from over 30 countries! Below are those that made this project a reality.


Many corporate sponsors supplied materials and discounts through iGEM or to our project specifically.


This project would not have been possible without the support and donations from people around the world to our Indiegogo Campaign. The campaign had 696 funders raise $37,369. This funding is vital, not just for the iGEM competition but as a foundation to move forward with the project. We learned as a result of this campaign, that there is enormous support for this type of synthetic biology project among the Vegan community.


The project could not have moved foreward without the support of the DIYBio Community. Having access to lab space at BioCurious and Counter Culutre Labs is proof that coumminty science projects can be done.


We are fortunate that many journalists and bloggers took an interest in our project. Thank you to all the sites that featured Real Vegan Cheese. Their coverage helped spread the word and was invaluable to our fundraising efforts.

  • East Bay Express
    Inside the Ethical Cheese Lab - Oakland biohackers are manufacturing the first-ever vegan cheese product made from genetically modified yeast- by Sam Levin
  • Vice
    Biohackers Are Trying to Modify Yeast to Make Vegan Cheese That Doesn't Suck - by Jason Koebler
  • BoingBoing
    Biohackers making "real vegan cheese" - by David Pescovitz
  • CNET
    A vegan-cheese project on Indiegogo aims to replicate cheese from cows' milk without involving any mammals. by Amanda Kooser
  • Make
    DIYBio Group Making “Real Vegan Cheese” - By David Lang
  • TechCrunch
    Real Cheese From A Lab, No Cow Necessary - by Sarah Buhr
  • Engadget
    Lab-grown 'real' cheese made without milk - by Mat Smith
  • DailyMail
    Would YOU eat lab-grown cheese? Vegan substitute created without milk is made from protein genes - by Victoria Woollaston
  • Gizmodo
    "Real" Vegan Cheese is an Edible Oxymoron - By Gerald Lynch
  • Phys
    Biohackers reengineering baker's yeast to make vegan cheese - by Bob Yirka
  • Geek
    Bay Area brains hacked brewer’s yeast to make vegan cheese - by Lee Matthews
  • Science2.0
    Vegan Cheese - No Milk, Human DNA Instead - By Hank Campbell
  • O'Reilly
    Designing real vegan cheese Synthetic biology surely can get weirder — but this is a great start - by Mike Loukides
  • Slate
    Biohackers Are Growing Real Cheese In A Lab, No Cow Needed - by Ariel Schwartz
  • SingularityHub
    Lab-Grown Cheese Made by ‘Milking’ Genetically Modified Yeast Cells - by Jason Dorrier
  • KQED
    A Quest for Vegan Cheese That Actually Tastes Like Cheese - by Silvia Francis
  • PopSci
    Can Biohackers Succeed At Making 'Real Vegan Cheese'? Scientific opinion varies on the practicality of animal-free dairy - by Emily Gertz
  • Bing
    ‘Real’ Vegan Cheese- No longer a contradictory phrase?


Everyone on the team was involved in some capacity. We had weekly, and sometimes bi-weekly team meetings to plan, and experiments throughout the week as schedules allowed. Specific project contributions include:

  • Rebecca led, and Patrik, Craig, Ahnon, Marc, Maria, and Bryce Wolf contributed to the discussion around Ethical, Legal, Societal and Environmental Issues.
  • Ashley, Craig, Patrik, Advait, Johan and Rachel helped with the DNA design, including codon optimization, and checking for restriction and protease sites.
  • Rachel took charge of sequence validating our constructs, with some help from Craig
  • Ashley, Patrik, Marc, Benjamin, Teddy, Jamie, Carl, Advait, Maria, and many more helped with the IndieGogo fundraising campaign
  • Craig, Johan, Patrik, and Marc ordered reagents
  • Maria, Advait and Patrik kept us on track with iGEM deliverables
  • Aaron, Meenakshi, Rachel, Lafia, Nikola, and Johan did most of the experimental work (but we all got to contribute!)
  • Jared Morgan designed our awesome graphics
  • Rachel and Craig led a class on proper documentation and lab notebook taking techniques
  • Josiah led a class on SDS Page Gels
  • Carl helped with web layout on the iGEM wiki
  • Emi arranged for sequencing pickups
  • Marc Juul Christoffersen (treasurer), Craig Rouskey (chair), Maria Chavez (secretary), Carl Crott, Johan Sosa, Moises Cassab, Lafia Sebastian, Meenakshi Choudhary, Rachel Linzer all joined the projects Board of Directors

Mohammed Almahbashi
BS, Biology - Human Physiology

Gabby Baldwin
Jr. High School Student

Aaron Byran
Molecular Biology Undergrad

Wes Chang
Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering

Maria Chavez
MBA, Global Management

Moises Cassab

Meenakshi Choudhary
PhD, Biosciences

Carl Crott
BaMF biohacker / Self-taught programmer

Antony Evans
BA Math, MBA

Teddy Fagin
BA Molecular and Cell Biology

James Foley
Biotechnology Undergrad

Allen Fung
MS Bioengineering

Eri Gentry

Ashley Graham
BS, Molecular Biology

Tim Heath
BCSE, MSCS, MBA, Computer Science and Engineering

Ryan Holmes

Tito Jankowski
BS Biomedical Engineering

Marc Juul
MSc, Biotechnology Engineering

Rachel Linzer
PhD, Environmental Science, Policy and Management

Jing Luo

Matthew Milford
High School Student

Ahnon Milham
B.S., Physiology, emphasis in Neuroscience

Jared Morgan
Designer & Web Designer. Neighbor and designer for CCL and Real Vegan Cheese

Emi Nikolov

Nikola Nikolov
PhD, Nuclear Physics

Itai Ofir
Freshman Undergraduate Student

Advait Patil
High Schooler

Benjamin Rupert
PhD, Chemistry

Lafia Sebastian
MSc, Biotechnology

Arif Shaikh
BSC Cell Biology

Johan Sosa

Akhil Varanasi

Rebecca Wilbanks
BA, PhD Candidate, Modern Thought and Literature

Joanna Wilczek

Bryce Wolf

Josiah Zayner


Patrik D'haeseleer
PhD, Computer Science

Craig Rouskey
MSc, Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Biochemistry and Immunology