For the public engagement and education parts, our team focused on two main aims. The first one is to promote breast cancer, such as raising people’s awareness about the early screen and getting us self educated about breast cancer. The second aim is to bring synthetic biology and IGEM competitions to a broader audience.
In order to have a more well-rounded, comprehensive understanding of the current situation of breast cancer, we get in contact with a well-known national breast cancer campaign organization called Fenhongsidai. This campaign is first initiated in America by a magazine editor. Then, started as a symbol of promoting breast cancer knowledge, it is spread worldwide, including in China. The organization in China has held different activities gathering local patients to provide them with resources and opportunities to enrich their personal life. It is great that they are supportive of our project and our communication helps the whole team to benefit and to become more aware of breast cancer.
Conversation with chairman
Some of the team members together had a discussion with the chairman of the Fenhongsidai to gain an overview of this disease. From this conversation, we learned that most of the breast cancer disease carriers had a high level of psychological pressure from family or the workplace. In fact, more than two-thirds of the patients this organization encountered are in a rather terrible mental state. From this, we know that staying relaxed and healthy is more important than what we previously visioned in terms of preventing the occurrence of cancer. Also, as people are involved in activities like drum playing, fashion design, outdoor trips with kids, they are more willing to communicate with the exterior world and therefore be psychologically treated. From this conversation, we have also peered into how the economic states influence different groups of people. In cities like Shenzhen, patients are lucky enough that they can get insurance for a percentage of the payment for national-produced drugs. However, in other places, the insurance rate is very low. And generally, the effective imported drug gets no welfare. In all, the price policy is still a complex problem. To conclude, in this conversation, we get to know the social context and related problems even solutions to breast cancer.
Lecture given by Doctor LU
Thanks to pink ribbon being the intermediary between our team and Doctor Lu, we are able to learn about the details of Mastectomy and Lumpectomy. In this meeting, the prevention and risks are also introduced. Search for more details in our integrated human practice page.
Lecture and discussion forum with Ms.Lucy
During our interview with the chairman of the pink ribbon, we accidentally encounter another well-known promotor of sexuality awareness of women, Ms.Lucy. Having a brief discussion with her, thus knowing different stories of her meeting different breast cancer patients, we were touched and would like to have a more detailed overview regarding her specialty, the breast itself, and the underwear(one of her main jobs is to promote the right underwear to women). Therefore, together, we invited her to give our team members and the related people who are interested a lecture about the breast, breast cancer, the appropriate underwear, and the right lifestyle. All of us including the males have gained a more well-rounded range of knowledge, such as what type of breast you are living with, how to choose the correct underwear, and how to identify the possible misshape then correct it. After the lecture, a discussion of the awareness of women and breast cancer was held that we had a wonderful and inspiring conversation with Ms.Lucy.
Conversation with patients
We tried to reach breast cancer patients from different paths, and the pink ribbon provided us with the precious opportunities to talk with three cured patients. At first, we were thinking about the possible difficulties they might have encountered and asked some questions with regard to this perspective. However, surprisingly, these patients have shown a tendency of re-discovering themselves to explore the true meaning of their life after being diagnosed with breast cancer. For example, some of them who initially pay full attention to her family bear with the inevitable loneliness, and now, taking part in activities like drum playing and volunteer work, gain new friends from the breast cancer patients community. Breast cancer allows them to slow down, to reflect on their past life with a small break, and them learn to love themselves and to care more about themselves. Therefore, delighted to see the positive changes to a cured patients from breast cancer, we planned for a documentary focusing on the patients themselves to promote the sense of awareness of women, and we have further planned more activities.
Breast Cancer Card Game
To promote breast cancer, our team designed our own card game. Each card has different information ranging from the causes of breast cancer to obstacles patients might encounter along with the treatment processes. At first, we played this card game with students in the IGEM club. Some students thought this card game was a good way for people to learn more about breast cancer. For instance, initially many students were not aware that endocrine dyscrasia and persistent emotional fluctuations are associated with high risks of breast cancer, but after this card game, they gained a new understanding of potential factors contributing to breast cancers. The card game also introduced students to possible preventions of breast cancers like regular self-checking and early treatments. After this card game, our team also reinforced the importance of self-checking and regular checking in preventing breasts cancers. This card game received positive feedback from students and raised people's awareness about breast cancer intriguingly. Hoping to engage more people, our team decided to refine the card games and give more people chances to get involved in breast cancer.
Synthetic Biology Education in SCIE
After the beginning of school, we restarted the IGEM club that opened last year in SCIE to circulate the knowledge of Synthetic Biology with our peers. Therefore, we conducted a series of lectures about Synthetic Biology, Bio-engineering, and scientific research skills to teach our younger peers in SCIE.
Our members have prepared a lot for these lectures. We have covered many things, including basic knowledge of DNA structure and the central dogma of DNA replication, transcription, and translation. We also introduced them to the practical part of synthetic biology by playing the video which manipulates the real PCR and Agarose Gel Electrophoresis experiment. What’s more, the synthetic biology lab belonging to SCIE was still constructing. We promised our members that after the completion of the construction, we would show them around the lab and teach them how to do those experiments in real life under the supervision of a school tutor if we got the chance.
Besides the knowledge, we also provided full-scaled information about IGEM and shared our previous experiences as well as the heartfelt feeling of participating in IGEM. We hoped that the spark of love for synthetic biology and the spirit of curiosity and exploration could be inherited by juniors.
Lecture within iGEM Club
To further raise people’s awareness about breast cancer, we held lectures at our school. Our lectures introduced students to potential causes of breast cancer and preventions. In the hope of engaging more students, we tailored our lectures to what they are interested in such as different treatments for breast cancers. We also shared real stories about breast cancer patients with students to reinforce the importance of paying attention to breast health from a young age.
We would like to offer an opportunity for our IGEM club members to visit the laboratory in the real life. However, the construction of our own school lab was predicted to be completed in the next year. Thus, we prepared a lab tour for our IGEM club members to visit Bluepha lab, which was also the place we do experiments on our IGEM project. We hoped this special lab tour experience could help our members gain a deeper insight into the actual synthetic biology experiment. What's more, being familiar with experimental operations is a very basic point for learning synthetic biology and participating in iGEM competitions. If they want to participate in the IGEM next year, this experience will help them build a strong foundation.
Project introduction via Wechat Official Account
In order to promote the concept of synthetic biology and publicize our project, we have published several articles via our official account and SCIE‘s Wechat. At the beginning of July, we cooperated with GreatBay_United and GreatBay_SZ, and published an article containing introductions of all three teams. We have also continued several articles afterwards. Those articles then got more than a thousand clicks.
At the same time, in order to let more people learn about synthetic biology and our programs, we launched an article which contains detailed introduction into iGEM competition and our program of this year. In a short time, this article has already gotten thousands of clicks.
Presentation in Bluepha lab summer camp
With the aim of raising interest in synthetic biology among our peers, we have voluntarily delivered a lecture regarding synthetic biology and our project to high school students and some undergraduates who did not have the opportunity to learn this subject. Our audience was very excited after the lecture.
To conclude, along the process of self-education, we learnt a wide range of things about breast cancer, such as treatments, and we also went deep into the lives of breast cancer patients, which provides us with an overall picture of this cancer. We also imparted what we learnt to a broader community through ways like documentaries and card games. Moreover, we also managed to engage more students in synthetic biology, which might introduce new blood into this field and generate novel ideas to solve existing problems.