Team:IISER TVM/team collaborations




Collaborations are one of the most exciting aspects of iGEM. It results in an exchange of ideas with various teams from all over the world. The entire process of groups sharing ideas, troubleshooting each other's problems, or helping out each other in data collection justifies one of the core ideas of iGEM, i.e., making and exchanging scientific resources for the benefit of a more extensive section of the scientific community.

This year, we were able to reach out to multiple teams within and outside of our country. Interacting with other groups, understanding their projects, and helping each other out was indeed a delightful experience. Thanks to technology, the pandemic was never an obstacle to the national and international collaborations we undertook. Furthermore, we are highly grateful to all the teams that participated and contributed to our collaborative efforts.

Here we present the collaborations that our team was involved in:

  1. Mycoexpo

    Fungi are often pictured to be dull and dreary organisms. MycoExpo was the first open collaboration organized by our team to let the iGEM community appreciate the vast diversity of vibrant and colourful fungi present in our biosphere. The teams were asked to capture various microscopic and macroscopic fungi around them with the help of cameras and microscopes. Our team provided a detailed protocol for collecting and visualizing the fungi under a microscope. We had received entries from our Principal Investigator, Dr Ravi Maruthachalam, and many other iGEM teams around the globe;

    iGEM UTEC, iGEM FCB-UANL, iGEM Brno_Czech_Republic, iGEM Lethbridge HS, iGEM RUBochum, iGEM Ecuador, iGEM IISER-Tirupati. We are grateful to all the teams who have participated in this exciting photo exhibition.

  2. Ecuador

    Our Team had successfully collaborated with Team Ecuador to mutually benefit from each other's ideas and successfully implemented those ideas into our respective projects. We shared our experiences and thoughts on different aspects of the project focussing primarily in project modelling. Both sides indulged in proficient and detailed discussions on how we could improve our modelling designs to reflect our work in a more apt and precise way.

    One such area was “Expression of protein by cell after induction with IPTG (Isopropyl β-D-1-thiogalactopyranoside) .” Our team was keenly interested in predicting the protein release kinetics when the host cell is induced with IPTG. In this regard, we have surveyed multiple pieces of literature; analyzing related models, extracting essential information, and implementing those ideas while building up our model. However, we missed some of the parameters which should have been considered during the process. Here, the Ecuador team came to our rescue filling the gaps in our model by providing us with the essential parameters that needed to be incorporated into our model to predict the protein output correctly.

    Another major area for collaboration with Team Ecuador was the delivery mechanism for our respective final products. Here we pitched in the idea of nanoparticles as an effective and safe delivery mechanism. Both teams had quite intense and analytical discussions regarding this. They concluded that nanoparticles are indeed the best possible way to deliver our final products (Chitinase enzyme in our case and dsRNA for team Ecuador). To validate the feasibility of our claim, we had an interaction with Professor Alexis Debut who is a faculty at the Universidad de las Fuerzas Armadas ESPE, Sangolquí, Ecuador. He verified that nanoparticles such as PLGA (Poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid)) is one of the best delivery mechanisms we could use to deliver our products. He also briefed us about different techniques that could be used for encapsulating proteins in PLGA nanoparticles. His valuable insights also helped us to develop a mathematical model to predict the decay of PLGA and thereby calculating the approximate release time of our engineered chimeric protein at physiological conditions.

    In short, this collaboration helped both our teams to rectify our shortcomings and design and develop new innovative models and techniques to improve our projects in significant ways.

  3. All India iGEM Meet (AIIM)

    Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, The All India iGEM Meet (AIIM) saw participation from all the ten iGEM teams in India. AIIM was a three-day session held in July, organized in collaboration with the nine other Indian iGEM teams; iGEM IISER Bhopal, iGEM IISER Berhampur, iGEM MIT MAHE, iGEM IISER Pune, iGEM IISER Kolkata, iGEM IISER Mohali, iGEM IISER Tirupati, iGEM NIT Warangal, and iGEM IISc Bangalore. Our team was one of the six teams to host and organize the entire event. Filled with Knowledge and fueled by fun, this year’s AIIM showcased an excellent array of talks by eminent personalities and various amusing and entertaining games:

    The list of speakers and their topics are given below:

    • Dr Archana Chugh, IIT Delhi, Role of Peptide-Based Strategies for Crop Improvement.
    • Ms Tanvi Kale, IISER Pune, Synthetic Riboregular Circuits Based on Toehold RNA.
    • Prof Radhakrishnan Mahadevan, University of Toronto, Synthetic Biology Enabled Biomanufacturing.

    The panel of judges are listed below:

    • Dr. Amjad Hussain, CEO, IICE, IISER Bhopal
    • Mr. Priyanth RS, Chair Education network, After iGEM
    • Dr Archana Chugh, Prof IIT Delhi
    • Mr Zixxin Rong, Ex iGEM judge
    • Dr Chaitanya Athale, Professor, IISER Pune

    The list of events is given below:

    • SynBio Quiz by IISER Bhopal
    • SynBio Pictionary by IISER Pune
    • Wrong Answers Only by IISER Berhampur
    • Proteios, Workshop by IISER Tirupati
    • Fireside Chat by MIT Mahe
    • Dungeons and Dragons by IISER Thiruvananthapuram
    • Project Presentation, All Teams

    Our team organized and hosted the first-ever Dungeons and Dragons game, where teams could escape into their fantasy world and live up to a character of their choice.

    Each team presented their project in front of a panel of judges who critically judged their presentation skills, clarity of the presentation, and the amount of work done in each sector.

    We were awarded the Best Presentation (jointly with iGEM IISER Pune) and Best Human Practices.

    The three-day session of AIIM was both fun and informative at the same time. Being the first team from our institute, AIIM provided us with a platform to showcase our project to experts and get critical feedback, which helped improve our project further.

  4. A Handbook on Indian Biotechnology Laws - iGEM IISER Tirupati

    As iGEM teams, we are constantly working with synthetic biology and its applications. Hence every team working on a synthetic biology project should be aware of the laws and regulations to be followed while carrying out specific experiments. This year our team, in collaboration with team iGEM IISER Tirupati is set out to create a handbook summarising a list of Indian biotechnology laws aimed at helping novice scientists/researchers in India. Furthermore, we hope that it will serve as a reference/guide for upcoming iGEM teams of the country. The book primarily focuses on four different categories of laws:

    • Animal Experimentation and Clinical Trials
    • Export-Import Policies
    • Environmental Safety and Biocontainment
    • Biowarfare laws

    Each chapter consists of a summary of each law and the loopholes within them identified by both teams. Furthermore, each chapter concludes with a few directions for future Indian iGEM teams.

    While making the handbook, we realized the importance of various biotechnology laws and their loopholes and thus wanted the future iGEM teams to benefit from such a guide.

    People involved in the handbook:

    • Aan Ruth, IISER TVM
    • Akshay J, IISER TVM
    • Niloufer Shanavas, IISER T
    • Priyadarshini Baidya, IISER TVM
    • Sayanthana Benny, IISER TVM
    • Sheba Cheeran, IISER TVM


  5. Postcard Challenge by Team Düsseldorf

    iGEM Düsseldorf organized a postcard project that saw participation from over 87 different iGEM teams. Each team was asked to design a postcard with an image related to synthetic biology or their project. In the end, every team would receive a single postcard from each of the 87 participating teams. Our team member Sagnik Saha crafted a beautiful postcard with a picture of our team members. We thoroughly enjoyed designing the postcard and were excited to receive a bunch of postcards from other teams.

  6. SDGs video

    iGEM encourages teams to build projects to solve local challenges faced by the community. The projects become even more significant when they aim to tackle global issues addressing the pressing problems associated with environmental sustainability and economic prosperity. Realizing the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) formulated by the UN, iGEM Patras decided to create a video compilation where each team addressed the SDGs that their project was addressing. The video was made by our team members Sagnik Saha and Sayanthana Benny. Here we list two SDGs that our project addresses:

    Goal 3: Good health and well-being

    Since fungal diseases were on the rise and of great concern during the Covid-19 pandemic, our team decided to develop a chimeric antifungal therapeutic drug capable of fighting against Invasive Fungal Infections (IFIs) in various immunocompromised patients.

    Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production

    By developing a therapeutic drug through efficient use of natural resources i.e enzymes, we fulfil the SDG Goal 12 criterion.

  7. Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore

    The IISc Bangalore team has helped us get a better understanding of the various sections of iGEM. Through an online meeting, their team briefed us about various judging criteria, wet lab, project modelling and designing wiki.

  8. Warwick

    iGEM Warwick took the initiative to share the different projects developed by various iGEM teams worldwide and make them available for enthusiastic science students. The Booklet consisted of multiple questions revolving around the project, such as how synthetic biology helped solve a local issue, the impact, and importance of the project in the respective local communities, and some of the topics the teams would further like to dwell on. We submitted a short compendium answering the above questions with the help of our team member, Abhishek Raghunathan, which was later published in their booklet.

    Warwick booklet

  9. Biodoodle Drawing Event by iGEM iBowu_China

    Art is a powerful and effective way to communicate science to the general audience. This was a worldwide collaboration where teams had to draw/design a biological concept in an artistic way. All the drawings would then be compiled and published as a colouring book for K-12 readers. This was a fantastic opportunity to unleash our creative skills on an international platform. One of our volunteers, Gayatri Kandapal, submitted a beautiful drawing of the lungs with a brief description.

  10. iJET Challenge by iGEM TU Darmstadt

    iGEM encourages the development of an intercultural network between teams worldwide. By filming a short video of throwing an iJET paper plane and transforming ourselves in our lab coats, the iGEM TU Darmstadt was able to connect various teams across the globe virtually. The videos were often shot near important landmarks, bringing out the International aspect of the collaboration. Our team members Shrutika Sansaria, Rutika Sansaria, and Udit Tyagi filmed and submitted a short video clip of us sending an iJET paper plane. The experience was really enthralling, and it helped to take our minds off from the busy and hectic lab schedules.

  11. Promo video script translation for Patras.

    iGEM is an international platform that hosts the participation of hundreds of teams coming from diverse backgrounds. Scientific communication of their project to all the people across the globe can be a challenging and daunting task. Language barriers should never become a barrier to communicating with the widely rich community of iGEM projects. Keeping this in mind, we helped the iGEM Patras translate their Promo video in two different languages; Malayalam and Hindi. The translation was done by our team members Sheba Cheeran and Udit Tyagi.

    Taking inspiration from this collaboration, we translated our iGEM promotional video to various Indian languages catering to its linguistic diversity.