Human Practice Silver

Short Summary

At first, we took a closer view on recent and previous projects of the iGEM community and biotechnology in general during the literature workshop to gain first ideas about publicly and scientifically interesting projects. Furthermore, we informed ourselves on different technologies that can be used for projects as ours including single molecule real time sequencing. Soon, we recognized that biosafety is a great aspect of biotechnology in general that has to be regarded carefully for our project. Thus, we deepened our knowledge in this area, creating our own Biosafety Report to enable everyone to reproduce our efforts. However, we did not only encounter biosafety but also more general aspects and concerns about our project when talking to experts. As we wanted to have a oublic opinion on these, we created the ChImp Report that features chances and implications of our project.

Biosafety Report

Many teams need to deal with biosafety issues during the competition. "Is our organism hazardous?" or "What will happen if it escapes from the lab?" For this reason, the iGEM HQ offers various opportunities to obtain information like the safety policies, safe lab work guidelines or the white list of allowed organisms. Further, many teams are working on the development of multilateral biosafety systems to prevent the release or at least the survival of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the environment. With the intention to summarize all relevant levels of biosafety systems, we worked on our biosafety review article: Auxotrophy to Xeno-DNA: An Exploration of Combinatorial Mechanisms for a High-Fidelity Biosafety System for Synthetic Biology Applications. Biosafety can begin on different levels, starting from a bioreactor to a complete synthetic DNA. In our review, we describe different containment approaches previously attempted by former iGEM teams. As the report is currently under peer review, it cannot be printed here. Instead, we composed a shortened version of its content, which can be accessed here.

Online Ethics Discussion – iGEM Uppsala Team 2017

In August the iGEM team 2017 of Uppsala hosted the “Online Ethics Discussion” separated into the three debated: “Genetic Engineering”, “Social Responsibility”, and “Intellectual Propery Rights”. Our team members Christopher and Olga participated in the Social Responsibility discussion on the 15th of August. Together with the iGEM teams DTU Denmark , Wageningen , Technion Israel and Grenoble-Alpes we talked about three topics. The first topic dealt with reporting our project accurately and responsibly in media and informing the public about the science we are doing. The second topic asked about our particular niche insofar as to whom we want to report to, either other iGEM teams, journalists or the general public. The third topic dealt with how we want to convey our project to reach our particular niche using specific media or language while talking about our project. First the teams introduced their projects to give the other teams a broad overview about their work. After that every team got an aliquoted amount of time to give their opinion about the topics. At the end the teams could ask each other questions to further understand the points made. The whole discussion can be viewed here . We thank iGEM team Uppsala for the interesting discussion topics and we thank the other participating iGEM teams for their point of views. It was really fruitful talking with you.

Literature Workshop

On the 14th and 22th of January 2017, we organized our own literature workshop to facilitate in depth discussions about synthetic biology projects. The entire iGEM Team Bielefeld-CeBiTec 2017 as well as additional students with a strong interest in synthetic biology attended the workshop. Participants presented former iGEM projects realized in Bielefeld to provide information, possibilities, and features about the iGEM competition. Additionally, presentations about current research were given to enhance discussions about novel projects. By analyzing and discussing former iGEM projects we gained great insight in the structure and the requirements of iGEM. “The Transformers – from Carbon Dioxide to Biofuel” from the iGEM Team Bielefeld-CeBiTec 2014 and “MARSS - Modulated Acetosyringon Receptor Sensor System” from the iGEM Team Bielefeld-CeBiTec 2010 have been presented among other projects. The projects demonstrated that neither the fixation of carbon dioxide, producing the biofuel isobutanol from carbon dioxide nor a sensor for capsaicin have an innovative character anymore, which is a crucial criterion for any successful iGEM project. Already at the beginning of our project phase, we kept the giant jamboree and our final presentation in mind. Each team member prepared two presentations in english and held them in front of a big audience, thereby improving presentation and communication skills. Several scientific discussions had a great impact on our project. The presentation about the minimal genome promoted the work on our biosafety report. One talk described the application of a FRET system to investigate quorum sensing. This inspired us to utilize FRET for one application in our project. During the entire weekend, there was one topic that always recurred: CRISPR/Cas9. Due to the very broad range of applications, we identified its huge benefit for our own project. CRISPR/Cas9 is critical for our retention system, to ensure that the unnatural bases are preserved in the genome. Since this literature workshop contributed significantly to the development of our project, we recommend it to other teams. Looking at previous projects is very helpful to identify a novel topic for the next iGEM competition. We already planned a second Literature Workshop with the upcoming iGEM team Bielefeld-CeBiTec 2018. This will provide an exchange of experience, enabling great start for the new team.

Figure 1: Some impressions of our literature workshop.