Aesopos once said: “ισχύς εν τη ενώσει” *, and Pink Floyd sang
“Together we stand, divided we fall”.
iGEM follows these wise words and urges teams to interact with each other. No one can nor should stand alone. Collaboration, cooperation and teamwork is what makes each and one of us stronger and better.
Our team managed to participate in multiple collaborations during this iGEM year, a valuable experience but also a fun one! To communicate with both Greek and foreign teams, with completely different projects, opinions, and way of working was a very immersive and teaching process we are glad to have lived.
Below you may find all the collaborations NOUS orchestrated and participated in.
*Means “We are strong when we are together”, in ancient Greek.
iGEM Meet Up:
Cooperating with the iGEM teams Athens, Crete, Thessaloniki and Thrace, we organized a two-day, the “iGEM Meet UP: Greek Edition”, an online conference with multiple topics and speakers. You can see the whole activity here.
Figure 1: iGEM Meet Up: Greek Edition Template
iGEM is fun and inspiring but it can be really challenging. Every team has possibly
reached a point where they have tried and failed over and over again in a part of their
project, to the point of rethinking their life choices and why did they ever get involved
with Synthetic Biology. We sometimes felt that too. But it is important to always remember
the beauty behind the hardships. That is what we tried to remind our fellow iGEMers with
our collaboration “expARTiments”.
We invited teams to send us photos of their projects, labs, or anything else they found artistic, and we created a mosaic that shows through little moments the amazing journey we all had this year. We hoped that this would be a reminder for the beauty that exists everywhere around you if you just know how to look.
Below you can see our social media campaign to promote our collaboration.
The photos we received were breathtaking, interesting, and showed a variety of views
on science and art. It is important to breach the gap between art and science and really
understand that those fields are intertwined in the most beautiful way. Everybody should be
included in science, our artists and our artistic side of brains.
The mosaic we made from all the photos can be seen below, but also each one individual photo.
Figure 2: Mosaic of Collaboration "expARTiments"
Figure 3: All the pictures used for "expARTiments"
"How to iGEM"
When the idea of creating a guide for future iGEMers popped up in
our team, we were nothing but excited! Later on, we realized that we
alone could not possibly cover all the aspects of iGEM, nor provide sufficient
advice for all plausible case scenarios. Even if we tried, there are aspects
that we cannot know about enough to pass the knowledge to someone else. A good
example of that is that we are an undergraduate team, so for example we cannot
really help a future High School team.
So we decided to expand upon our partnership with the High School team KOREA_HS and ask them to give us their point of view as a High School team. You can see the whole guide in our Contribution page , where we uploaded it for other teams to use it and hopefully extend it.
In our effort to battle the blood shortage in Greece we decided to organize a blood
donation event in our city. You can see this event analytically in our
While we organized that, we talked with our partner team KOREA_HS and realized that their country faced a similar shortage in blood. So, we decided to collaborate and organize simultaneous blood donation events in two different parts of the world. Their events took place in their city in Korea in the same week as our events.
To better organize those events, we had brainstorming sessions in order to share ideas about promotion of the events and better, more efficient organization. Both teams participated in marches with a promotion purpose and shared a common social media promotion template. Furthermore, we shared an unofficial certificate we distributed to donors as a memoir that KOREA_HS translated and gave out to the participants of their events.
Even though our events were asynchronous and in completely different places, we really believe our initiative gained from this collaboration. The opportunity to exchange ideas with persons living in different conditions from us, but still find a common problem, that affects all of us, to work on, was enlightening. This way we tried to tackle the blood shortage on a worldwide level as a big team, with simultaneous events. You can see more information about their events in their wiki.
Figure 4: KOREA_HS in dissemination activities for their blood donation event.
Collaboration with the Team:
SZTA RMG SZEGED
We had the pleasure to collaborate with High School iGEM Team SZTA_RMG_Szeged from Hungary, whose project aims to develop a two-step miRNA detection system. The goal of our collaboration was to work on miRNAs. More specifically, we worked on understanding the underlying mechanism of miRNAs, miRNA-140 and also the problems and drawbacks of the miRNA detection methods currently commercially available.
From our part:
1) We made a presentation of our work concerning the miRNA-140,
2) We made a presentation about miRNAs, exosomes and the interaction between them,
3) The miRNA detection methods our wet lab team planned to use for the experiments.
From the other team’s part:
1) They presented all the details about their miRNA detection system,
2) How they plan to implement it,
3) They run the software they developed on the sequence of the miRNA-140 that we currently are using.
The results were promising, and they concluded that our miRNA could be detected by their system method.
Screenshot from the results of SZTA RMG SZEGED team's software about our miRNA.
As an extension to our collaboration, we presented to the team SZTA_RMG_Szeged two tutorials about CellDesigner and MATLAB to educate them about their basic functions and how those programs can assist them in their work in Synthetic Biology, during but also after iGEM.
Figure 6: Screenshot from our collaboration call with team SZTA RMG SZEGED.
Early in our iGEM year, iGEM Duesseldorf contacted us to invite us to participate in their collaboration. The goal was to gather postcards designed by iGEM teams all over the world! We jumped right in and designed our postcard too.
You can see it below.
Figure 7: Front side of the postcard our team designed.
Figure 8: Back side of the postcard our team designed.
Then we sent it over and paid the fee for it to be printed out almost 100 times by iGEM Duesseldorf and distributed to all the other participating teams. They then proceeded to mail us all the postcards. We still have not received them but having taken a peek at the file they sent us, they all look amazing!
You can see more details about the collaboration in their wiki.
Our team collaborated with the organizing teams Patras, Thessaloniki, ULaval and Concordia_Montreal and many more participating teams in order to create a collection of past and future female scientists.
A tribute to all those women that, without the proper recognition, shaped and advanced science to the level it is today. And a wish, for the next generation of female scientists, our team members, to take science to the next level without the obstacles that their predecessors faced.
You can see the detailed Rosalind Chronicles here.
Science & Art
While reaching out to other teams, to invite them to our collaboration “expARTiments”, we had a happy surprise. Team TUIT Estonia not only agreed to participate, and sent us beautiful photos, but proposed an extension on our activity.
Each year, they conduct an art exhibition with printed scientific photos. A perfect fit for “expARTiments”! So we asked the teams that participated in our collaboration for their approval and then proceeded to help team TUIT_ESTONIA, by sending them the photos from expARTiments.
You can find more about the art exhibition on their wiki.