Integrated Human Practices
For this season, we come up with a standard BioBrick toolbox to bacterial genome engineering: CRISPeasy! In order to clarify the current paradigm for CRISPR in iGEM, aiming to design a functional and optimized project, we reviewed CRISPR projects from previous years. Some teams even shared their CRISPR experience with us, recalling challenges they faced while developing their projects. Based on this, we have proposed a framework to guide the development of iGEM projects, based on primarily understanding the community and its demands and, through a network of collaborations, designing, building, testing and applying solutions in a creative and efficient way.
Education and Public Engagement
In 2017 we kept pushing forward accessible science from the heart of the Amazon to the world. CRISPR and Synthetic Biology are such complex principles for the public to understand, therefore, we created educational videos about these concepts that are hard to grasp. We also continued giving lectures and promoting scientific events and debates. For iGEM community, we studied what makes an iGEM team successful, in terms of prizes and medals, by applying Machine Learning to recognize patterns like economical indicators and investment in education, science and technology; addressing inequality and social development. Going further, here in Brazil, scientists usually have to face lots of bureaucracy to transport biological material. Thus, our team also performed a comparative study about the scenario for importing and exporting biological parts in Brazil versus other countries in the world. By investigating further and meeting with Brazil’s Regulatory Importing Agency, we uncovered the main obstacles that hamper this process and came up with a guideline to aid researchers. Finally, for this year’s Jamboree we come up with iGEM’s first augmented reality banner, immersing deeply the viewers into our project.
CRISPR is a brand new and innovative technique, that still raises many eyebrows. More than revolutionizing genome editing, CRISPR represents a novel side of the global scientific community, based on collaborative networks and democratization of science. In this context, the “foundational advances” are responsible for enhancing and uncovering the drawbacks of this technique that still lacks standardization. By building our CRISPeasy toolbox, we raise the awareness that such effort needs to be associated with discussions on ethics, biosafety and scientific development.