iGEM Patras 2021


Opportunities increase when you help others win!

  • All
  • Overview
  • Fundraising
  • Graphic Design
  • Wet Lab
  • Dry Lab
  • Human Practices
  • Collaborations
  • Science Communication & Public Engagement

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much". Keeping in mind those words of the American author Helen Keller we started successful cooperation with the team iGEM Thessaloniki. Our Partnership began in February and lasted till the Giant Jamboree. We are proud of our excellent teamwork!

Organization of Cooperation

As two partners we were able to achieve such results and shaped our projects at different stages, thanks to the initial organization of our cooperation. Each team had appointed a member responsible for our communication, so no miscommunication would occur. Weekly calls also took place, in which we discussed different issues, and we organized the most important decisions and our future goals. We had the opportunity to set goals and update them every week, but we also formed a strong relationship. Below you can see the notes of each meeting we had. Every two weeks, we organized a call with our PI's of both teams to provide us helpful guidance for our Partnership. Besides the weekly calls, our communication happened with a joint Discord server and via emails. That made our cooperation feel more like a friendly meeting which was essential in our success. At our first meeting, various ideas were proposed, but we quickly realized that not all could be carried out due to the shortage of time and the plethora of other responsibilities we had. Let us walk you through the ones we decided.


One of the most essential responsibilities a Greek iGEM team has is to find enough resources for its Fundraising. Firstly, our team received Fundraising training by iGEM Thessaloniki. They helped us think outside of the box, find different sources to manage our lab expenses, and other ways to approach the companies left on our contact list. Before starting our calls with the companies we did some mock calls in order to be prepared for our discussions. These activities helped us a lot to be confident and have the necessary knowledge to deal even with the most distrustful sponsors. We were very pleased when we realised that Pfizer has sponsored both our teams. Moreover, iGEM Thessaloniki helped us to use the WebRescom platform, designed by "Special Account of Research Funds" to manage our expenses.

These activities helped us a lot to be confident and have the necessary knowledge to deal even with the most distrustful sponsors. Moreover, iGEM Thessaloniki helped us to use the WebRescom platform, designed by "Special Account of Research Funds" to manage our expenses.

Graphic Design

As our Partnership should be mutual, our graphic designer provided some very insightful training in Adobe illustrator for iGEM Thessaloniki. He gave them advice about how to use it and he shared with them some tips that make graphics designs impressive! They kept in touch for several weeks in order to solve any problem that arose and they ended up sharing innovative ideas about graphic designing. It is worth mentioning that we designed together the posters and graphics needed for our common events.

Wet Lab

Through these months, we helped each other accelerate our projects by widening wet lab methods. Even if we are submitted on the same track in iGEM Competition, we used different laboratory methods. Thus, we welcomed our fellow iGEM Thessaloniki in our laboratory in order to train them about the procedure of eukaryotic cells’ culture. Although these operations are susceptible, we ended up with sufficient results. After discussing some of the problems they faced in their wet lab procedures, we managed to help them in troubleshooting. We helped them standardize the PCR protocols, regarding the annealing and denaturation temperature, and specifically we advised them to increase the already set up temperatures. Moreover, we recommended them to adjust - and specifically increase - the incubation time of digestions with restriction enzymes, in order to receive higher amounts of cleaved product.

However, our wet lab teams did not stop their collaboration at this point and managed to shape each other's projects in a different way. As far as our team’s project is concerned, we discussed with Prof Vizirianakis, PI's of iGEM Thessaloniki team, because we were searching for an alternative way to evaluate the CYP2D6 enzyme expression. According to past studies we find out that MicroRNA hsa-miR-370-3p suppresses the expression and induction of CYP2D6. We agreed that the Toehold Switch could be useful for the detection of this microRNA. So, iGEM Thessaloniki team designed for us the appropriate toehold switch sequence for the miRNA of interest. They also showed us how to express the Toehold Switch in the bacteria we used and how we can isolate them. This is something that occured during our visit to their laboratory in which we learned about their wet lab procedures and how they implement their diagnostic test in clinical practice.

Dry Lab

One of iGEM Thessaloniki team's future steps is to quantify the GFP-generated fluorescence, using an Arduino software system. So, we discussed some problems that the dry lab subteam faced on their Machine Learning approach. They explained to us their project and how they are willing to implement Machine Learning algorithms, and we suggested using the Random Forest Regressor that tends to perform better with small datasets. Also, as part of our collaboration upon public engagement, the dry lab subteams of each team developed an educational biology quiz game using the Scratch framework, referring to high school students. For more information you can reach the Science Communication and Public Engagement section of this page.

Human Practices

A big part of our cooperation was the organization of Human Practices actions. Keeping in mind that both teams aim to create a diagnostic tool helped us brainstorm about the scientists we could approach to ascertain the steps needed to be made in order to implement our diagnostic tools to society.

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We thought it could be beneficial to set up an interview with the National Organization for Medicines and the European Medicines Agency (EMA). We started to get curious whether government associations could approve the diagnostic tool we were designing. Our discussion with the National Organization for Medicines was about the process for a diagnostic tool to be approved and how we could make it suitable for approval. Ms Virginia Safra, who is an employee in the Department of Medical devices at the National Organization for Medicines, gave us advice concerning both of us and the information amused us. She highlighted that each project could be a possible diagnostic tool in future clinical practice. Moreover, we got in contact with Mr Iordanis Gravanis, Head of Office in the Scientific Advice and Scientific Evidence Generation Department at the European Medicines Agency, who highlighted that any innovative technology related to drug development is positively examined to get approval. A cost-saving and easy tool that helps doctors would be very beneficial. Thus, Mr Iordanis from EMA urged us to think of ways that could make our tools attractive and valuable for adopting them in clinical practice.

Lastly, our team approached Prof Vizirianakis, PI's of iGEM Thessaloniki team, because we were searching for an alternative way to evaluate the CYP2D6 enzyme expression and we agreed that the Toehold Switch could be useful for the detection of this microRNA. So, our fellow team iGEM Thessaloniki team designed for us the appropriate toehold switch sequence, as we mentioned previously.

The significant contribution of our PI's in shaping both our collaborative work and our projects was important throughout the year. They helped us contact scientists experts in the field in order to organize our common Human Practices procedure. Moreover, we discussed wet and dry lab issues with them and decided our next steps. Last but not least, they helped us a lot in the events we organized as they presented their scientific work. As our scientific fields have many similarities, we promised that we will continue our Partnership outside iGEM Competition.


Although Partnership is a continuous collaboration activity, we find it important to organize together some collaborations in order to show up our Partnership in other iGEM teams too.

Through our Partnership with the iGEM team of Thessaloniki we faced different problems when we were trying to familiarize ourselves with iGEM competition and its requirements. Thus we organized the collaboration "How to survive iGEM: Greek edition" for the other teams. We discussed a lot with iGEM Alumni, we attended different webinars by iGEM headquarters and now after 8-9 months in iGEM Competition, we believe that we know how to handle it. What is better by spreading the knowledge you have obtained in order to help other people and iGEM teams! We instantly organized a webinar together in which we analyzed useful tips for Fundraising and graphic designing. It was a unique experience to get in contact with people involved in iGEM Competition all around the world to share ideas about different technical issues.

Moreover, we are interested in organizing a collaboration about Women In STEM. After brainstorming, we created a timeline to honor the contribution of Women in STEM on a larger scale! When we published our idea to social media and the igem site, iGEM team ULaval and team Concordia-Montreal approached us to inform us that they also collaborated with a similar subject. Instantly we decided to collaborate all together to have an impressive result! It is unexpected but real in the iGEM 2021 competition, where Team Patras, team ULaval, team Concordia-Montreal and team Thessaloniki want to collaborate on Women in STEM. Trying to include more and more people in Synthetic Biology, we found out that women are still a minority in academia. For example, in Western Europe, 21.7% of heads of higher education institutions were female in 2017.

Women of color in the United States are significantly underrepresented in academia, and are more likely to hold lower-ranking positions.This eminent exclusivity limits the number of people working on advancing knowledge, thereby missing out on a wide range of perspectives, experiences and backgrounds, resulting in lags in the advancements of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). So, what are we waiting for? iGEM could give us the perfect opportunity to celebrate what women are doing in synthetic biology worldwide and help us encourage other aspiring scientists to pursue their dream career. Thus we organized the Rosalind Chronicles project, a Bulletin Board to honor the contribution of Women in STEM on a larger scale! We ask other iGEM teams to send us a photo of a scientist and a picture of your team's women teammates. These researchers displayed in a timeline, allowing teams to feel inspired and develop an appreciation for what women are doing in STEM, get to know what research is done in other countries and find new research opportunities to develop their scientific curiosity. This collaboration concluded by presenting to the public not only successful women in biology but also how many women participated in iGEM Competition. It is important to say that this collaboration ended up with a webinar that was organized by teams of Thessaloniki, Patras, ULaval, and Concordia-Montreal. This event emphasized the role of women in science and championed women scientists, some of them for the first time both on a national and international level. Also, the Rozalind Chronicles timeline was presented and the topic of diversity and inclusion were highlighted. This activity aimed to inspire and broaden women's horizons, empowered them to believe in themselves, to aim higher and excel in any field of science they put their minds into, no matter their gender.

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Science Communication & Public Engagement

A significant goal we set for our Partnership was to promote, as much as we could, the scientific world of Synthetic Biology to people outside this field. We imagined different ways to share biology to the public. What better way to promote SynBio to the world than a Podcast! An invitation was sent to iGEM Thessaloniki and we were grateful that they agreed to take part in one of our episodes. A great episode regarding their project and our Partnership was recorded. To be more specific, they gave information about the diagnostic tool they propose and why it could be important for the patients with Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma. Moreover, they revealed tips and advice about Human Practices procedure.

Apart from that, promoting Synthetic Biology to junior high school students proved to be a great idea. So, a computer game was created using the Scratch program. We created two main characters who would embark on a Synthetic Biology journey together. Along their way, they find different questions which they have to answer with various movements. Both Dry Lab subteams cooperated for the programming of the game. We worked together to find the best questions to get the students' attention and provide them with some helpful knowledge while keeping it fun! Pathes' SynBio Adventures was designed for Junior High School students and especially there are different levels for each class. That does not mean anyone can enjoy it. Why don't you check it out for yourselves?

In order to educate students about synthetic biology and how we can apply it to real life, we got in touch with the Experimental School of the University of Patras and the Tutorial school for secondary education "Κytaro". We collaborated with iGEM teamThessaloniki and did presentations and interactive activities altogether about synthetic biology. Teaching students about synthetic biology and its applications was an unprecedented experience. We seized the opportunity to share our projects, proving that there is no need to be a researcher in professional labs to apply synthetic biology and its diagnostic tools in real life. Thus, we encouraged students to brainstorm independently and think of problems they would like to solve using synthetic biology. The results surprised both teams! We encouraged the kids to search about Synthetic Biology independently while promoting the iGEM program for High Schools. Despite the differences in our projects, it is a unique experience to organize such events with other iGEM Teams and show people how essential collaboration is in general!

You can read more about the Scratch game by the Manual we created.

Our game is displayed on our wiki page with iframes; this form of display was licensed by the iGEM HQ Committee and specifically by Dr. Traci Haddock-Angelli and therefore does not violate any of the iGEM Wiki Rules. You can also find the source code of our game on iGEM GitHub Repository.

However, the most significant event that we organized together for Public engagement was "It's all about iGEM: A Synbio Day". This event took place in Thessaloniki and it was open to the public. What's iGEM Competition? How can someone join a team? What are the steps that need to be followed until the Giant Jamboree? What problems iGEM Thessaloniki and iGEM Patras aim to solve through Synthetic Biology? These are only a few of the questions we tried to answer during our event" Through this event, our wet lab teams had the opportunity to raise our guest's awareness about synthetic biology by dispelling myths and misconceptions about it. After sharing our iGEM experiences, we noticed an increased interest in joining our next year's team. That was when we realized that our goal to inspire and motivate was accomplished.

*This event has been organized respecting all the greek COVID-19 guidelines.

All of these were made possible due to the fact that we were able to maintain a yearlong successful cooperation. Through our everyday work routine, we were working as a unified team! From having a great time at our Podcast, while organizing activities, educating students, and inspiring young people to embrace science, we are proud to say that we formed a strong Science Community in our respective areas.