Team:NDNF China/Human Practices


The key to HP is to bring the lab and beyond together. Taking in viewpoints from both professionals and the public helped us to realize that the path of taking synbio applications beyond the laboratory requires a combinative approach: "scientific innovations" along with coordinated efforts across society. We then focused on three main areas: Research & Design, Public Activities and Stakeholder Feedback to form an integrated feedback loop.

A complete feedbacks-based human practices loop in NDNF_China.

In Research & Design, we consulted with experts and the public timely at different stages. Based on Research & Design, our Public Activities have two key activities to highlight: we first wrote a biosafety legal proposal and submitted it to government agencies as a youth representative. We promoted the Tianjin guidelines to the public through various online and on-site activities to let the general public be aware of the responsibility of the science community as a whole for biosafety. In Stakeholder Feedback, we communicated the Hidro product to many industrial and academic seniors and received overwhelming appreciation and effective feedbacks for Hidro. Such an integrated HP dramatically facilitates the development of projects and positive associations beyond the laboratory.

Next, we will describe our human practices in different stages of our project.

Project Initiation

We designed a number of human practice events to generate feedback on our project and acquired advice and comments from various experts on how improvements could be made.


Through questionnaires, we realized that the public lacked an understanding of biosafety laws, and showed mistrust in synthetic biology products.


The goal of the project (and this survey) is to promoter synthetic biology applications beyond lab. First, we analyzed the limitations of synthetic biology in daily life through questionnaires and public surveys.

Our survey included 15 multiple-choice questions, which were designed to measure the public's knowledge on synthetic biology and their opinion concerning bio-products in general and our products in specific. At the end, we have received more than 300 feedbacks from people with various background.

Whether there was a correlation between working in the field of biological science and level of understanding on biosafety


1. The general public has limited knowledge on biosafety, but many——over 97%——are willing to increase their knowledge of biosafety through social media.

2. Besides, the general public has a relatively low proportion know biosafty-related law. See more detailed data, please visit Communication.

3. In comparison with participants working or are planning to work in the field of biological science; those not in the field were less proficient in having understanding of biosafety. Respondents with views that "biosafety has no relevance to their lives" was concentrated in the category "not in, and have no plans for working in the field"; whereas highest competency was shown in the category "is currently working in the field".

The results inspired us to take the social aspect of taking synbio beyond labs into consideration. We believe great effort on engagement with the public is just as crucial as covering experimental aspects. We formed initial plans of encouraging the learning of synbio as well as increasing awareness of biosafety-related laws amongst the public through education. We hoped that through our actions, non-scientific communities could also have an increased understanding of synbio products and biosafety which could possibly pave the way for the application of engineered organisms in real wolrd .

Communicate with experts

Besides, we also spent time learning about the history and key challenges of synthetic biology through interviews with experts in the field, expecting to find a or some targets to start our idea on promoting synbio applications beyond lab.

Fankang Meng: PhD in Synthetic Biology at Imperial College London, United Kingdom

Fankang Meng provided us with valuable knowledge based on his own first-hand experiences making bio-products. After a 30 minute long conversation, we gained a considerable amount of knowledge on synthetic biology on the field. We learned that concerns related with contamination and possible escape are major setbacks to the application of synthetic biology, providing us with a potential focus in later development of our program.

Communicating with more synthetic biology scholars or entreprenuers.

Left: Dr. Haoqian Zhang; right: Xiaoyu Chen

After communicating with Professor Meng, we also consulted many scholars in the field of synthetic biology and related people in the industry. Among them are Dr. Haoqian Zhang (founder and CEO of Bluepha Bio), Shan Jiang (founder of Ailurus Bio), Xiaoyu Wang (founder of SynbioUK, a postdoctoral fellow at MIT) and Zongying Yang (biotech investor). According to them, there are three main problems facing the successful development of synthetic biology products to move out of the laboratory and into the real world:

1. Regulatory or safety risks caused by biosafety

2. Synthetic biology products have difficulty adapting to the constantly fluctuating environment of natural conditions

3. Ineffective track or control of the dynamic process of synthetic biology products in the outer environment

Through the survey and interviews with people from different fields, we identified the core themes of our project and the essential problems that needed to be solved.

Project Implementation

Contacting original authors

Exchanging emails with authors who develop technologies related to our program: During project design and experiment, we encountered many problems. We solved these problems through consulting experts and received constructive suggestions and feedback.

Dr. Tang provided us with a lot of experimental details and original experimental methods, as well as giving us many opinions and suggestions on optimizing the preparation of Hidro. Moreover, he affirmed our method of mass preparation of Hirdo by using molds. He believed that: Using this could not only shorten the time but also increase the efficiency in preparing more complete Hidros at one time, as well as effectively avoiding leakage caused by uneven shell and experimental operation.

Dr.Tzu-Chieh Tang

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA

For more details please click the button below

Screenshot of email communication with Dr. Tang

Public Activities

Legal proposal


Our project is closely related to biosafety. We aim to prevent the escape of microorganisms and improve utilisation of the current tracing system through our product, and thus provide a safer platform for engineered strains. Meanwhile, the attention of all sectors of society on biosafety is gradually increasing. This inspired us to produce our biosafety law proposal. This action not only conformed to the international trends but also allowed us to contribute our own strength to biosafety as new generation high school students.

Through reviewing related data and closely studying the Tianjin Biosecurity Guideline for Codes of Conduct for Scientists recently developed by Tianjin University, we have realized that it is necessary to help the public regain trust and hope in biotech driven applications by providing sources to relevant knowledge while also enhancing current biosafety regulations.

What we do

Based on the above considerations, we have proposed the following suggestions aiming to further perfect some aspects of the current biosafety legislation (of China). Despite being high school students, we still hope we can be involved in aiding current regulations to keep pace with frontlines of biotechnological development.

Through the process of polishing our proposal, we interviewed a few experts in biosafety field, who offered us precious advice, which played a significant role in guiding our optimizing of the proposal.

Plus, we are also planning to submit our proposals as youth representatives to offer reasonable suggestions for national policies and promote the improvement of national biosafety governance in the future.

The experts we interviewed

Mr.Bao Hanyu

Governance of Synthetic Biology. Global Envrionment Governance. Science, Technology and Innovation Policy.

Mr.Liang Yang

College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Xiamen University, B.E. in Biological Engineering.

Intellectual Property Research Institute, Xiamen University, J.M. in Intellectual Property Law Research Directions

Intellectual Property Law, Biosecurity Law, Policies on Synthetic Biology.

For more details please click the button below

Public engagement


On Oct.27, our team participated in the CCIC for IGEM teams in China. During the event, we shared our project and experiences in human practice with other teams. Moreover, we are able to communicate with professionals working in related sectors and gain their help in future programs.

Presentations at school

As shown in our survey, the general public lacks knowledge on synthetic biology. As a key future consumer and producer in synthetic biology, students, especially high school students, are obligated to learn more about bio-safety. Thus we planned several off-line programs at local high schools. The program contains two lectures and one orientation. These programs mainly focus on the current status of synthetic biology, codes including the crucial Tianjin guidelines, and they also introduced our peers to Hidro. After our lecture, a vast majority of students felt that they have gained a considerable amount knowledge on biosafety, and many believed that they will be willing to use these bio-products due to their feasibility.

Click the link to see more

Stakeholder Feedbacks

After completing the design of Hidro, we organized the relevant information and experimental data into a file, and sent it to synthetic biologists and biotech entrepreneurs for suggestions about the three main characteristics of Hidro (biosafety, stability and traceability). They showed a lot of interest in the three features of Hidro, and believed that Hidro has promoted the process of practical application of synthetic biology products.

Do you think the Hidro project will be helpful for synthetic biology applications beyond the lab?

Rating of whether Hidro could promote synbio applications beyond the laboratory from respondents

Which characteristics of our project was of their interest

As can been seen from the graph, great support was shown towards our project, with ratings of no less than 5, and a median of approximately 7. This reassured us of our project's potential.

What is most exciting for us is that 91.7% of all respondents indicated that if their future design includes the potential application of Hidro, such as various tests and in vivo drugs, they are willing to include Hidro system in product design.

If you were synbio product manager, would you consider incorporating the Hidro system into your product design?

In addition, we also received a lot of questions and comments. Some people asked whether Hidro has a relatively complete product form. Here, we completed a preliminary product model of food detection system in cooperation with GCGS team (see more information please visit the Partnership page). Some scholars are curious about whether Hidro shell thickness affects the sensitivity of Biosensor, which we have been thinking about. Limited by the time, we had not performed related experiments, but in later times we will research into this field, and find the most suitable thickness of the shell, ensuring Hidro's function without influencing its sensitivity.