All India iGEM Meet 2021
The biggest collaboration of Indian iGEM teams, All India iGEM Meet 2021 was hosted from 23rd July 2021 to 25th July 2021 by the iGEM Teams of IISER Tirupati, IISER Thiruvananthapuram, IISER Bhopal, IISER Berhampur, IISER Pune, and MIT Mahe, and sponsored by Promega, India. Ten potential iGEM teams from India participated in several events organised by the members of the organising committee. The three-day event had a series of talks by experts in synthetic biology, project presentations by participating teams, workshops, fireside chat with Carlina Elizondo, Global Ambassador of iGEM, and many more fun-filled events. Our team hosted an insightful workshop on protein modeling, ‘Proteios’ with our expert, Dr Madhusudhan M S, for all synthetic biology enthusiasts. During the presentation session, we had a pre-Giant Jamboree experience where the judges appreciated our idea, asked us questions regarding biosafety aspects of our project, and gave us some suggestions. We later went on to ponder upon the suggestions and answered them in our project efficiently. Our team had an amazing experience collaborating with the other iGEM teams throughout the span of a month to plan and conduct this event successfully.
In order to give a holistic view of synthetic biology to our audience, we started a podcast series and collaborated with various iGEM teams. This enabled us to cover a wide range of topics which involved three episodes on synthetic biology, its applications in iGEM and beyond, potential future in synthetic biology, and subsequent career opportunities in the field, especially for our young listeners. Followed by the episodes in collaboration with other iGEM teams across the globe. These episodes are uploaded on the iGEM server and to be released on Spotify by the name “SynTrack”.Link to Podcast(Spotify)
Milou and Sofia of team Groningen brewed an informat-ious episode with Shubhra from team IISER Tirupati on applications of synthetic biology in the food industry, its pro’s, cons, and future aspects.
Ahmed, Harini, and Giovanna of team Friendzymes had a fun time recording this podcast with Shubhra of team IISER Tirupati. They discussed democratizing biotechnology and the societal impact of synthetic biology.
Konstantinos from team IOANNINA and Shreyas from team IISER Tirupati had a dialogue on one of the most important aspects of synthetic biology that is safety. This collaborative episode cautiously transports the listeners to understand biosafety, kill switches, and their importance in synthetic biology.
Cynthia and Leonardo from team FCB-UANL had a gala time discussing the importance of entrepreneurship and science communication in synthetic biology with Niloufer from team IISER Tirupati.
Milou from team TU_Delft had been constantly in touch with Shreyas from team IISER Tirupati to record this episode which deals with an extremely significant topic of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) and how different is the situation of imparting CSE in Netherlands and India to the general public. This episode had a topic which we all were looking forward to bringing to our listeners; however, due to unforeseen circumstances during this pandemic, this episode shall be released later.
Gene Gala, a mini-summer school for high school girls, was envisioned in collaboration with Team IISER Kolkata to encourage high school students, especially girls to build a career in STEM. We collaborated on this summer school and with the help of the Directorate of Education, GNCT Delhi, who also believed in our views that to increase the participation of women in STEM fields we need to begin early. The team members of IISER Tirupati and IISER Kolkata met several times to brainstorm the structure of the program, prepared the presentation slides, and then conducted classes during the summer school together. We enjoyed the participation of around 50-55 students each day over the course of 5 days. We were glad to receive a heartwarming response from the students as well as the teachers and we felt delighted that we could change the student’s minds who initially thought biotechnology was too difficult to handle.
iGEM IISER Thiruvananthapuram
Our journey with IISER Thiruvananthapuram began back in the month of May when we brainstormed potential ideas for collaboration and came up with an idea to make a handbook for students in STEM and future iGEM teams. The goal of this handbook was to simplify and compile laws (national and international) relevant to synthetic biology and identify the gaps and loopholes in these laws. The amount of effort put into creating this handbook over the course of this iGEM season was extraordinary and the amount of knowledge gained by both teams during this process made us realise the importance of legislation and administrative bodies in science.
We hope that this collaboration would also help future iGEM teams to gain an insight into their projects from a different perspective. (See Contribution)
Although our project, OviCloak, serves an entirely different purpose than Team Manchester’s project, UriGel, both teams realised that both teams shared a similar approach for delivery of our genetically engineered bacteria.
We realised that in modern society, people are still skeptical about using catheters and hysteroscopes for any medical procedure because they’re considered invasive. We discussed in length how both the teams’ human practices and outreach can help de-stigmatize and spread correct information.
iGEM MSP - Meetings for Potential Partnership
iGEM MSP was one of the first few teams that we collaborated with over a couple of months. We spent initial meetings to discuss our project idea and brainstorm about potential collaboration opportunities.
Both teams initially thought that due to certain similarities in our projects, we could share a kill switch module of our project with them. However, after deliberate and rigorous discussion, and exploring all possible options, we concluded that none of our team’s designed kill switches were compatible with Team iGEM MSP’s project.
Nevertheless, they got some inspiration from our kill switches and we tried to help them by providing them references from our literature review.
This could have been an amazing, long-term partnership nevertheless we collaborated for an International GMO survey with them and submitted an article for their journal, MSP-Vector.
Late-night first collab meet - iGEM OSU
Taking the first step towards beginning the iGEM journey, Team iGEM OSU organised a global online meetup, open to all teams looking forward to participating in iGEM 2021. Since it was very early on in the competition, members from each team discussed different ideas and brainstormed together on various aspects of an iGEM project to find potential collaborations. It was a fun and eye-opening experience for us since this was our first meeting with any other iGEM team.
iGEM Go Paris
In a very short and sweet collaboration, with iGEM Go Paris, we discussed our project and appreciated the way both the projects used synthetic biology to tackle the issues related to the reproductive system. Their project was aimed towards diagnosing and treating Endometriosis, a painful condition which many times doesn’t get diagnosed in time. We participated in the monument challenge organized by their team on social media, a fun activity to learn about different monuments of historical significance from a lot of places all over the world.
Meeting with members of the iGEM 2021 team of Leiden who is around 7000 kilometers away, gave us a boost when we had a great conversation sharing each other’s ideas to explore the concepts to ensure biosafety while engineering the chassis organism in both the projects.
We were delighted to meet a high school iGEM team, Korea_HS during our collaboration meets. The team Kora_HS contacted us for collaboration and guidance for experiments and helping overcome the roadblocks in their iGEM journey. The first meeting was an engaging troubleshooting session for the problems faced by team Korea_HS and helped them understand the details behind several deliverables and requirements for iGEM. We were glad to discuss several other aspects of the project, including wet lab experiment design, dry lab, and human practices. In the follow-up meeting, we discussed their wet lab and protein modelling progress and suggested several possibilities to model their system. We had a great time helping a high school iGEM team during our iGEM journey and we were delighted with their results and we wished each other good luck for the Jamboree.
iGEM IISER Mohali
We collaborated with the iGEM 2021 Team of IISER Mohali to discuss the protein modelling aspects of both teams. We helped the team troubleshoot hurdles they were facing. We exchanged our ideas to put forward new insights into methods, concepts, and tools for modelling their protein.
Team IISER Mohali helped us increase our reach and awareness on the importance of our project and the need for an alternative method of contraception through a monthly digital publication at IISER Mohali, Manthan.
International GMO Survey - Team MSP, Team Aachen, Team IISER Pune, and Team IISER Tirupati
Team MSP brought forward this idea of collaboration in creating a standard survey to collect views of people across the globe keeping in mind the general opinion that people have regarding synthetic biology and genetically modified organisms. (See Education to view the survey details)
iGEM Patras: Rosalind Chronicles:
iGEM Patras along with iGEM Thessaloniki organised a photo collage geared towards honouring women in STEM. Every participating team had to send a group picture of all the women in their team along with a biography about a woman scientist from their country who inspires them. We wrote about our very dear Prof G Ambika, Professor, Department of Physics, IISER Tirupati, India, our secondary PI; who has inspired us along our iGEM journey and even beyond that as she creates a masterstroke with her touch in every aspect of science and arts that she explores. The host iGEM teams prepared a padlet bulletin board with all the women inspiring the participating teams along with the female members of those teams which is such an inspiring as well as empowering view for all science enthusiasts. (Click here to view the website)
iGEM Stockholm hosted two meetings on Gathertown, Project reveal night and Project update meetup. We personally found it very interesting as iGEM Stockholm very creatively used an interactive platform like Gathertown. We were able to have great conversations about our projects, know what the other teams from around the world are upto.
We also participated in their workshop “From iGEM to entrepreneur”, and learned lots of eye-opening aspects of entrepreneurship.
iGEM for Beginners - iGEM Bolivia
The sweet and warm folks from iGEM Bolivia invited us for an interview for a handbook called “iGEM for Beginners” that they’ve been working on with other iGEM teams as well. During the interview, Shreyas and Aslaha from team IISER Tirupati, joined team Bolivia and covered a lot of topics starting from how to arrange funds for iGEM registration to having extensive conversations about how our team is managing to work together, with all our bittersweet experiences.
iJET- TU Darmstadt
Team TU Darmstadt along with team Aachen arranged this exciting collaboration, where every participating team had to record a 6-10 seconds video with the members catching a paper plane with the iGEM logo on it in sequential order from left to right with a twist of magical transition with lab coats. We were thrilled to see the outcome. After team TU Darmstadt combined these videos, the plane flew all over the world connecting teams from different places bringing us closer and united in our iGEM journey.
An exceptional collaboration to bring together several teams and help them connect, the postcard collaboration has been the most unique souvenir that every participating iGEM team. The teams that participated in this collaboration designed a postcard explaining their respective projects. We used this opportunity with the help of exquisite line art and small vectors to express our project OviCloak. We were delighted when we received so many creative postcards sent by all the other participating teams which were kindly shipped by team Dusseldorf.
During the time of a global pandemic, we reflected the importance of online collaboration to bring iGEM teams across the world together. iGEM 2021 team of Nantes took a step forward with this collaborative video in which we could connect iGEMers worldwide in a short period of time, rejoicing the beginning of the iGEM journey.
iGEM Tas Taipei Challenge Accepted!
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) address the urgent environmental, political, and economic challenges around the world. The iGEM 2021 team of TAS_Taipei took one step further by targeting SDG 17: ‘Partnerships for the Goals’ by uniting iGEM teams to participate in a global challenge. The teams made tasks for one another to complete. This was followed by a conference with all participating teams to discuss how we have tackled the SDGs through our projects in iGEM 2021. This initiative fulfilled its goal of focusing on action on top of the promotion, where we truly introspective various aspects of our projects and discussed as a global iGEM community to work towards a sustainable future. In this collaboration, we majorly focused on two out of five SDGs that we are focusing on in our project which is Goal 4: Quality Education, and Goal 3: Good Health and Wellbeing, more specifically, the subgoals 4.5 and 3.7. The tasks given by our team for these two goals were completed by team ATG X iGEM and team Friendzymes respectively. The valuable inputs from these teams helped us refine the SDGs in our project.
iGEM Thessaly (Microbes everywhere!)
In the world of synthetic biology, microorganisms have blessed us with systems to engineer and produce our molecule of interest or perform our desired functions. Yet, we don’t know the importance of microbiota. iGEM 2021 team of Thessaly took a step forward to highlight the humongous significance of these tiny creatures on the occasion of World Microbiome Day on 27th June through a collaborative video where several iGEM teams, including our team, explained how we are harnessing the microbes for the greater good.
Together with Team Aalto-Helsinki, team Thessaly co-organized MicrobioCOSMOS on the 20th of August, in which several teams presented their project, interacted with other teams, and dived into the microworld together.
iGEM LMSU (Lomonosov Moscow State University), Russia - iGEM Fem Club
‘Women in STEM’, we come to the need to discuss this important topic in the 21st century because the current statistics show that sexism in science still exists. The iGEM 2021 team of LMSU took a stand to speak about this problem and invited the female members of other iGEM teams to share their viewpoints at the Fem club. We were grateful to participate in this collaborative discussion where we shared the problems faced by females interested in the science in our country and possible ways how we as iGEMers can help better the situation in the world.
This journey of iGEM 2021 was extraordinary and wholesome due to all these cherishing collaborations with iGEM teams worldwide. The online platforms connected us more with the iGEM community amidst a pandemic which helped us carry forward the essense of synthetic biology to a greater mass of people.