An anonymous reader writes "Students in an MIT competition are helping to build a dev-kit for cells. Together with synthetic biologists, they're building a Registry of Standard Biological Parts called BioBricks. They aim to do for cells what open source software has done for computers. 'The competition is a showcase for the burgeoning field of synthetic biology. Knight and his colleagues Randy Rettberg and Drew Endy, who created the contest in 2004, want to make biological systems easy to build by applying the tools of computer science and engineering: using standard parts and modular design to simplify complex systems. The goal is to create "genetic Legos" that could produce any chemical, from ethanol to pharmaceuticals.'"