Team:ASIJ TOKYO/Engagement


Human Practices

Raising awareness about colorectal cancer was an integral part of our project, as the often late diagnosis of this disease renders care difficult. We approached education and engagement about CRC and synthetic biology from three angles: educating our school community, the Japanese community, and finally the global community.

Human Practice Events

Blue Out Day and Bake Sale - March 23

During the March Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, the iGEM team scheduled a Blue Out Day, when we encouraged ASIJ students wore blue to support curing colorectal cancer. To explain the significance of wearing blue, we made an announcement during a high school assembly where we introduced our project to the students and recognized a survivor among the faculty. We had a bake sale in the ASIJ courtyard to promote our research to the student population. The money we raised was donated to Colorectal Cancer research.

Relay for Life - May 26-27

Our ASIJ iGEM team participated together in our school’s yearly event: Relay for Life. Relay for Life is a team cancer walk fundraising event that extends over a 24 hour period. This event emphasizes how cancer patients do not stop fighting just because they are fatigued or “not in the mood.” We represented the team by wearing blue—for colorectal cancer awareness—and decided to walk to raise money for cancer research. In addition to participating in the event, our iGem team aided other Relay for Life teams by supplying them food and resources.

Summer Passport - June 23

During the ASIJ’s Summer Passport program, the iGEM team joined one of the classes to introduce genetics and biotechnology to middle and high school students from other schools around the globe. We presented the importance of getting a periodic check up for their health and labs that are useful in forensic sciences. Because of their young ages, we decided not to go into too much details regarding the specifics of our project. To further engage them, we also taught them how to extract the DNA from a banana.

Tokyo Tech Meetup – September 23

The iGEM visited Tokyo Tech University, another team competing in iGEM this year, to view each other’s progress and methods. Tokyo Tech University’s insightful feedback and helpful suggestions further enhanced our presentation. With a higher academic standing, Tokyo Tech taught us a lot with their presentation, making us contemplate about the similarities and differences in our methods.

Shibaura - July 10-11

We discussed about our iGEM project to the Environmental Science department and Professor Fuse. As we introduced about our project, they taught us about their research on bioremediation.

ASIJ High School Back-to-School Night– September 26

During Back-to-School Night 2017, the iGEM team stayed on campus during the night to present to parents and faculty members. Not only did we talk about our goal, project, and iGEM in general, but we also reminded viewers to get regular check-ups because the viewers were around the target age-group.

Carole Nickle’s Story–September 29

Ms. Carole Nickle is the Middle School Associate Principal at ASIJ who endured Stage 3 colorectal cancer less than a year ago. She talked about the process from noticing stool in her blood to having surgery to getting chemotherapy. She emphasized the misdiagnosis of colorectal cancer in adults of her age (late 20s to 30s) as having other conditions, such as internal hemorrhoid, swollen veins in the lowest part of one’s rectum and anus. She also mentioned how she learned from her doctors that people her age are often diagnosed as having Stage 4 cancer due to the lack of significant symptoms. These facts really resonated with our project’s goal in providing a better, easier means for diagnosis and inspired us to work harder to raise awareness to adults, especially those in their 30s and 40s.

Starting virtual pre-med club (for GOA)– September 12

ASIJ’s Pre-Medical Society Club and iGEM team collaborated with the Virtual Pre-Med Club members, who are from the Medical Problem Solving course of Global Online Academy (GOA). Through GOA, which is an online educational consortium of 24 schools around the world, we were able to work with schools in Singapore, Beijing, Mexico City, Amman, and across the US. During online meetings, the members had a chance to learn more about CRC by reading articles and solving case studies, and eventually spread awareness of the dangers of CRC at their schools with individual projects. Through this collaboration, we were able to promote CRC awareness from ASIJ to communities all over the globe.

Harajuku Flyers - September 16

As the iGEM team spread awareness of the dangers of Colorectal Cancer in the ASIJ community, we also interacted with citizens of Tokyo by passing out brochures in Omotesando. The brochures address the statistics, diagnoses, treatments of colorectal cancer as well as the information of our project. We delivered the brochure, which we made both in Japanese and English, to local Japanese citizens and foreigners to promote awareness of the dangers of colorectal cancer.

Ed Gilmartin’s Story - August 29

On August 29, 2017, the team talked with a current faculty of ASIJ, Mr. Ed Gilmartin, a survivor of colorectal cancer. He told us his story from finding out his diagnosis through his recovery to his status today. Hearing his story, we were very inspired to further our research since colorectal cancer is one of the most prominent cancers in Japan, especially being featured in younger people in their 30s and late 40s. Hearing about his pains and fears during his battle reminded us about the people behind the numbers.

Spirit Day Bake Sale– September 30

In collaboration with the Pre-Medical Society club, we held another bake sale at ASIJ Spirit Day, similar to that of Blue Out Day, to raise awareness to ASIJ families as well as to other visitors. Spirit Day is one of our school’s biggest family events, with several sports games taking place on that day. By selling our blue-themed baked goods, we handed out flyers and explained the significance of the color and its application to our project.

Guest Speaker: Minako Abe, MD- Immunotherapy for Colorectal Cancer

The IGEM team invited a local physician who specializes in using immunotherapy for treating cancer, specifically Colorectal Cancer. Her speech built our knowledge base and awareness to our members and ASIJ Biology classes.