Teamwork may make the dream work, but collaboration makes the team work. Any company with a semblance of success attributes a portion of it to collaboration. That term may have been thrown around too many times in recent years. Nonetheless, it’s not a buzzword or the latest fad in the corporate world[1]. In fact, teamwork and collaboration drive success in most fields.

In reality, collaboration is quite important. It can help us solve problems and bring people closer together. It can also help people learn from each other, and open up new channels for communication. Moreover, it boosts morale across our organization and makes all of us more efficient workers[2].

Therefore, based on these points, in promoting the competition project, we actively communicated and cooperated with different teams, completed many seemingly impossible activities, and achieved very constructive achievements.


In 2021, we achieved a partnership with HZAU-China team to promote each other in project conception, experimentation, modeling, human practice and other aspects. Throughout the competition, we maintained sincere communications and exchanges with each other.

Both teams faced similar problems during the process of project advancement. HZAU-China has been working hard to effectively diagnose IBD diseases. Our team paid more attention to personalized treatment for IBD patients. Different project footholds make it possible for us two teams to carry out complement for each other.

We met with HZAU-China team for the first time on China iGEM Online Meetup, During the team project sharing session, we were delighted to find out that both teams' projects pointed to the same disease problem: IBD(Inflammatory Bowel Disease). We exchanged ideas about the current status of IBD, prevalence, treatment methods, diagnosis methods and shared opinions on the selection of biomarkers during the discussion section. We also confirmed our future cooperation after the meetup.


After nearly two months of project advancement, both teams have made some progress and encountered new problems. In the meeting, we discussed the problems encountered during the experimental verification. Since both teams use the E.coli Nissle 1917 strain chassis, all faced the problem of plasmid transformation. We learned that HZAU-China was trying to use electrotransformation to improve efficiency, while we were using chemical transformation, and the effect was not ideal. At the same time, in the face of more stringent epidemic prevention and control regulations, we also discussed the adjustment of HP researches and interviews. At the end of the exchange meeting, the two teams signed the INTESTINAL Program Reference Manual, which meant that the manual was officially open to the public.


In August, both teams were conducting experimental verification, so we chose to conduct an online special exchange meeting for the experimental group during the summer vacation.

At the meeting, we suggested that HZAU-China can choose LL-37 as their product to relieve inflammation and take it as our focus in the follow-up cooperation. At the suggestion of HZAU-China, we sent some protein samples to them to accomplish verification through their Tricine-Tris-SDS. Meanwhile, we also shared part of the results of our cell experiments with HZAU-China to verify the effects of LL37 mutually.


In September, the experiment was nearing completion, and we conducted a modelling group exchange meeting.

In the communication, we mentioned that in the modelling process to characterize the efficiency of SOD removal of ROS, the relationship between the substrate concentration and the indirect characterization of the substrate was difficult to determine. HZAU-China suggested that we could try to endow different parameters to simulate the situations. And it was also recommended that we use the MCMC algorithm to simulate the parameters.

We found that both teams were interested in the intestinal flora competition model during the discussion, but it was challenging to implement due to the high complexity. We also showed the abundance analysis model of the intestinal flora, which gave HZAU-China some inspirations.


This spring, we were lucky to be invited by CSU_China to meet with them in Changsha, Hunan province, as we were both in the early stage. We exchanged ideas about each other's projects and had in-depth discussions about the design of the project.

We learned that CSU_China's project focused on the treatment of type I diabetes. They adopted a glucose-sensing promoter and blue light regulation method and realized the project based on the 9xUAS-Ad-Insulin expression system. At the same time, they want to use the form of subcutaneous embedding, embedding engineering cells in sodium alginate. This hardware technology has aroused our great interest.

Then we exchanged our opinions on the Human Practice section. We learned that CSU_China held a debate on synthetic biology and diabetes, which paid particular attention to arguments including patient stigma and the use-value of embedding technology. At the same time, we also briefly introduced our preliminary plan of Human Practice to CSU_China and unified some views with them on the ethical issues of synthetic biology and the bioethical and legal issues of biological materials.

Finally, CSU_China also invited us to visit their campus, including the famous museum of Human Morphology. They also mentioned that they are preparing for in-depth cooperation with NUDT_China in various areas, including education.


As the undergraduate team in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, SZPT-China has been keeping close contact with us for many years. In this year's project, we received their kind invitation and went to their laboratory for project exchange and visit.

Under the guidance of the staff, we visited their laboratory and learned about their daily experiments. In the subsequent meeting, we shared our project and exchanged views.

We learned that the SZPT-China team's project this year is a pseudomonas aeruginosa burn dressing based on photoregulated acetobacter xylobacter. In the communication of the project, we answered their questions and deeply realized the shortcomings of our project. At the same time, we had a friendly and in-depth discussion with them on security issues. In the end, our exchange ended with a relaxing and happy group photo.


After sharing the project on our public account, Tsinghua found us and had an in-depth exchange and discussion on the electrotransformation operation in the lactic acid bacteria transfer vector experiment.

For lactic acid bacteria with thick and dense cell walls, conventional chemical transformation methods cannot transfer foreign DNA into its vectors. The optimal scheme of electric conversion requires a certain amount of time to explore. We learned from each other's experimental schemes, drew on each other's advantages, and worked together to develop a set of experimental schemes with better efficiency and better results. Furthermore, we made good progress in the follow-up transfer vector experiment.

We also exchanged on the chassis of lactic acid bacteria, figure 3B. Tsinghua helped us identify the homology of our strain with 16S rRNA sequencing technology, and then we improved the experiment by referring to the experimental scheme discussed together. We are delighted to see that both teams have made a tremendous breakthrough in the electric conversion operation, which significantly improves the efficiency of transforming exogenous DNA into the carrier of lactic acid bacteria and guarantees the subsequent characterization experiments.


After the completion of the "Intestinal Project Reference Manual," BNUz-China planned and held the online and offline publicity activity of "Five Universities United - Synthetic Biology with Infinite Potential" and invited us to share our competition projects and work with college students on the Zhuhai campus of Beijing Normal University in the Human Practice part online. The conference sharing was very successful, and we were delighted to contribute to this synthetic biology education activity.


As our neighbors, The SUSTech_Shenzhen kept close contact with us throughout the competition cycle, and we often appeared at the same meetings to exchange ideas and make progress together. From the 2021 iGEM Guangzhou-Shenzhen District Symposium in April to China iGEM Online Meetup and to CCiC in August, we have gained a deeper understanding of each other with the continuous progress of our respective's projects.

We were invited to meet with the person in charge of Human Practice in SUSTech_Shenzhen, and we got to know each other's project content. We learned that SUSTech_Shenzhen's project this year mainly focuses on treating diarrhea with engineered bacteria for intestinal colonization, which has many similarities with our project design. After an in-depth understanding of the project details, the other party raised a series of questions about the application scenarios of our project. In exchange, we also made troubleshooting of SUSTech_Shenzhen in terms of the conception and feasibility of some projects. More localized questions were asked of SUSTech_Shenzhen members about specific diarrhea to lactose intolerance. Finally, we reached a consensus on further cooperation.

At the initial stage of the project, our two teams went to the Department of Gastroenterology of Shenzhen Second People's Hospital for clinical investigation on intestinal problems. In the process of communication with clinicians and nurses, we conducted preliminary verification of the feasibility of our project. We conducted field research on the clinical needs and pain points related to our project. Fortunately, with the consent of both the patient and the clinician, we were able to interview a patient with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and question the patient about our respective programs. We received a great deal of constructive information.


At the same time, to jointly promote synthetic biology and participate in public welfare undertakings, we planned and participated in the Deep Blue Charity Sale held by Shenzhen University and Southern University of Science and Technology. In this activity, we sold materials related to synthetic biology designed by us and gained great attention. In the end, we donated all the proceeds from the charity sale to public welfare organizations, hoping that this public welfare activity could contribute to the spread of synthetic biology in a more meaningful way.

In the end of our project, aiming to verify the feasibility of our project again, demonstrate the robustness of hardware design and apply our brochure into practice, we returned to the attention of patients together with SUSTech_Shenzhen. We went to the Department of Gastroenterology of Southern University of Science and Technology Hospital for an interview. In the interview, we demonstrated the project's feasibility again, collected the latest opinions from professional doctors, and showed our hardware design to doctors and patients. Finally, together with the members of SUSTech_Shenzhen, we put the propaganda manual we made into the hospital for use.


As the only high school team we cooperated with, SMS_Shenzhen showed incredible energy, enthusiasm, and creativity. When they noticed our intestinal health questionnaire from our official account, they contacted us for the first time and hoped to help us check and optimize the questionnaire content. In exchange, we also learned about their projects and questionnaires, and expected to make some modifications and reviews for them.

We reviewed each other's questionnaires and put forward some suggestions for improvement and modification in the following time. In fact, during the genuine cooperation, the members of SMS_Shenzhen were impressed by their politeness and hospitality.

IntestiNO Translation

In order to spread the importance of synthetic biology, intestinal flora, and intestinal health to people of different ages, we created a card game based on the rules of UNO. After several revisions of the design and trial play demonstrations, we finally launched a card game called IntestiNO, which is deeply loved by our educational project audience and other iGEMers because of its exciting game process and exciting game experience.

Considering that UNO has many players worldwide, and for now, the incidence of IBD in Western countries such as Europe and the United States is higher. In order to promote this educational and fun-filled card game all over the world, we contacted dozens of iGEM teams from different countries and translated it into 12 languages, including Japanese, French, Dutch, Kazakh, Norwegian, traditional Chinese, Russian, Korean, Bulgarian, Turkish, Indonesian and Marathi based on English and simplified Chinese. We hope to use this to promote our projects and health concepts in more countries.

List of Participating Teams

Acibadem Istanbul iGEM 2021, Brawijaya 2021, Bulgaria, Korea_HS, Leiden, MIPT, NCKU-Tainan, NTNU 2021, NU 2021, UParis_BME, UTokyo, IISER Pune


[1] Why Collaboration is Important? • Checkify. (2021). Retrieved 30 September 2021, from
[2] Moseley, C. (2021). 7 reasons why collaboration is important. Retrieved 30 September 2021, from