Aalto-Helsinki Team Wiki

Aalto-Helsinki Team Wiki



iGEM Collaborations

We had the pleasure of collaborating with iGEM teams from countries around the world by participating in and hosting conferences, taking up challenges by other iGEM teams, and workshopping on important topics of an iGEM project. It was great meeting and discussing our projects with other scientists passionate about synthetic biology! We partnered extensively with iGEM Team Thessaly this year. Read more about this collaboration on Partnership. We also collaborated with people and organizations from both academia and industry. The different collaborative activities of our team are described in detail below.

Figure 1. Aalto-Helsinki collaborations worldwide.

World Microbiome Day

We collaborated with Team Thessaly, Team Stockholm, Team Heidelberg, Team Eindhoven, Team IISER Tirupati and Team Maastricht to celebrate the World Microbiome day, on June 27th 2021, by producing an informative video describing how our projects revolve around the topic of microbiome. Through this collaboration, we wanted to spread awareness on how the microbiome affects our lives and how we can use synthetic biology to harness these microbes for beneficial purposes.

Video 2. World Microbiome Day global video collaboration.

Sustainable Development Goals challenge

We participated in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) challenge, initiated by the Team Taipei American School, by creating a post on our social media platforms and nominating other iGEM teams to participate as well. The SDG were created by the UN to solve urgent worldwide issues, and we contributed to the challenge by posting the sustainable development goals our project targets. Our project aims to promote good health and well-being, as well as quality education, which are both named as sustainable development goals by the United Nations (UN).

Figure 2. Aalto-Helsinki sustainable development goals Instagram post.

Nordic iGEM Conference

Nordic iGEM Conference, otherwise termed as NiC, is an annual conference hosted by the Nordic teams. This year, it was hosted virtually by the Swedish iGEM teams Linköping and Gothenburg on July 31-Aug 1. Here, we were able to present our project, with a focus on the motivation of our project, preliminary methods/results and our Human Practices efforts. Not only was it great practice to present our project thus far, it was nice to hear about what other teams are working on. Given the pandemic, it was lovely to be able to attend even a virtual conference and reminded us of our team’s passion for science communication and learning through our peers!

The second day of the conference consisted of workshops and talks from experts in the field. The workshops were especially a nice opportunity to speak with other teams more intimately in smaller groups, and it was helpful to relate to other teams and the common struggles we face. These workshops did not just allow us to discuss our current projects, but also triggered us to think of the future of our projects, and the future of synthetic biology in general. They facilitated constructive discussion on important ideas such as the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The expert talks discussed incredibly relevant topics to our project, such as protein design and the future of antibiotic resistance in synthetic biology.

Team Aboa

This year, we worked with Team Aboa, the only other Finnish iGEM team, which is hosted in Turku, Finland. We met virtually a few times, before finally meeting in-person in August. Our team hosted Team Aboa at our university campus where we spent the day together. We hosted a presentation workshop where we presented our presentations to each other and offered feedback. This was especially helpful since we were not able to present our project as frequently given the pandemic. We also hosted a logistics workshop where we were able to advise Team Aboa on topics such as recruitment, funding opportunities and overall increasing synthetic biology knowledge in Turku. This was especially helpful since Team Aboa is a newer team. However, despite them being a newer team, we are both passionate about creating more iGEM teams throughout Finland! We ended the evening off with a traditional Finnish academic table dinner, a sitsit, which was a nostalgic event for some, and new for other team members!

In October, Team Aalto-Helsinki got the chance to visit Turku and see Team Aboa. They showed us around their campus and the city centre, and later we attended two workshops prepared by them. In the first one, we discussed ways to promote the creation of new teams in Finland, either at a high-school or at a university level. We concluded that we would use the student unions in our universities to reach out to the student community in the University of Tampere and University of Oulu, in order to lay the foundations of new teams in these cities. We would also try to contact professors in these universities who might be interested in supervising the new teams, as well as teachers from high schools in Turku and the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. This collaborative project would ideally be continued by next year’s Aboa and Aalto-Helsinki teams. The second workshop was aimed to prepare ourselves for the Giant Jamboree Judging Session, by doing some activities that would mimic a Q&A dynamic. We ended off the evening with some traditional Finnish board games.

Academic Collaborations

This year, we partnered with the University of Helsinki Institute of Life Science (HiLIFE) for mentorship throughout our project. With their financial support, we have been able to make our Outreach and Human Practices efforts extensive, and have had the possibility to host and participate in local and international conferences with other iGEM teams. They have also been featured in our podcast by our guest Juha Saarikangas, who has been our contact from HiLIFE and provided support for our team throughout the year. In addition, HiLIFE organized a course for PhD students where they mentored our wet lab and dry lab. They were essential throughout the entirety of the project, but were exceptionally helpful in the ideation of our project and helping us develop our methods. Our mentors this year come from a variety of doctoral programs: the Brain and Mind, Biomedicine, Integrative Life Science and Computer Science. To hear more about our mentors, please refer to our Team page.

Industry Collaborations

Our team also looked into companies outside of academia and iGEM to see how we could learn and collaborate with each other. We also wanted to see how we could support local scientific companies. Thankfully, we were able to collaborate with a few local companies this year.

We collaborated with the company Sciar, of whom was founded by three University of Helsinki graduates! Sciar is a Helsinki-based laboratory equipment supplier that works to optimize documentation practices. Their innovation couples a cloud-based software and augmented reality to better improve laboratory workflow and quality assurance. We were given access to their lab notebook software where we uploaded our protocols. This allowed us to give feedback on their interface and the functionality of their software. We also had one of the co-founder’s as a guest on our podcast where we discussed the origins of Sciar and how they have gotten to where they are today.

We were also able to collaborate with the mental health software company, Medified. Medified provides a free app that aims to better the treatment of mental health today, and allows for dynamic treatment monitoring with active, encrypted communication between the patient and practitioner. We were able to meet with them to discuss the impactful work they do, and they were a guest on our podcast.

Aalto-Helsinki Team Wiki