Team:NAWI-Graz -



"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." – Helen Keller

Ethics Module with Istanbul Tech

We got contacted by the IGEM team from Istanbul_Tech. The goal was to have a discussion about the ethics of synthetic biology. It started with a 6 part learning course, starting from the basics of ethics, explaining different schools of thought and moved on to discussing different examples of thought experiments. We were asked to think about the given example and give reason to the actions we would take as individuals. It was great discussing and interacting with individuals in other teams on this topic. Everyone was really polite and open to different viewpoints.

After the module we held an internal discussion about the ethics surrounding our project. The focus of our ethical discussion was mainly about the release of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in nature. The release of our compound would be forbidden in the EU and most other countries. So the question that we asked ourselves was: Because we can, does it mean we should?

We would not use e.coli in real life experiments, but an organism that lives in the rhizosphere. We talked a lot about biocontainment in our group. Should an organism like ours ever be used, a “killswitch” is necessary. Feed the GMO a lab chemical that it can’t get in the wild and make the GMO’s life dependent on it. If the GMO escapes into the outside world, it dies without its chemical.


We were planning to travel to the surrounding teams to film an interview about their iGEM projects. Since the Covid pandemic was restricting our access to travel we had to find another way to further the understanding of synthetic biology topics in the community. Our social media team came up with the idea to publish a podcast on Spotify. We sent out invitations to teams and asked for volunteer teams on social media and many teams contacted us.

We collaborated with seven other IGEM teams from all around the world and released a total of nine episodes to date. The teams were meant to use the podcast to showcase their project through other than written media. The content is a casual conversation about the topic of research of the interviewed team. The core concept of each episode was “explain it to me like I'm five”, to expand the reach of these projects beyond academic circles. The created podcasts were shared by our universities and partners. It was a great experience to work together with other iGEM teams and find out about their projects and challenges.

Team iGEM NAWI Graz

5. August 2021

In this episode, the podcast host introduces the project Phos4us. They try to find a mechanism on how to preserver Phosphorus in the earth's soil for a longer time. This is important, because Phosphorus is a finite resource. If there is a phosphate shortage, all living beings are in danger. Listen to Michi, a member of the team and find out, why Phosphate is one of the most important elements.

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Podcasts with other iGem Teams

Team BOKU Vienna

16. August 2021

In this episode we are talking to Maggie, a member of the iGem Team BOKU Vienna. They try to find a treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome with the help of synthetic biology. Let's learn something about FODMAPS, food intolerances and why some people think they are allergic to gluten, but just don't tolerate nowadays bread.

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Team iGEM Uppsala

23. August 2021

In this episode I am talking to Natalia, Emelie and Diogo about how to make it possible to grow meat in the lab, the future of farming and if cultivated meat is vegan

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Team iGEM NU Kazakhstan

29. August 2021

Today, I am talking to Malika and Aray about gas and oil companies, how to handle oil spills and the Kaspian Sea (that's actually a lake)

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Team iGEM NOVA LxPortugal

5. September 2021

Today, David from the only portuguise iGEM Team explains why microscopic small plastic particles are a huge problem and we talk about avoiding the use of plastics.

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Team iGEM Leiden

19. September 2021

In this episode I am talking to Sebastiaan about a system that could bring all our iGEM projects forward. Biosafety for the win!

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Team iGEM Delft

3. Oktober 2021

Today I am talking to Federico and Milou from the iGEM Team Delft about their project AptaVita, hidden hunger and vitamin overdosing

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Team iGEM Kaiserslautern

11. Oktober 2021

In this episode, Daniela, our social media manager, is a guest in the podcast GenomGenommen and is interviewed about the iGEM experience. The podcast is hosted by the iGEM Team TU Kaiserslautern and usually they discuss certain scientific topics like rare diseases, cloning and, of course, synthetic biology and biotechnology.

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