During the winter vacation, Team leaders Gopinath and Karthik circulated an email outlining what iGEM is and called for a session for interested candidates.
First,iGEM meeting was held outlining the core essentials of iGEM.
The team was finalised; Sandeep and Richa joined as advisors to the team. Started ideating on a new project. Came up with about five to six different ideas which were thoroughly discussed for their merits and demerits.
Decided on the idea to base our project on Microbial ElectroSynthesis(MES) a pathway to produce biofuel from electricity. Started working on the requirements. Split into groups working on different aspects of the project, viz. Microbiology, Molecular biology, and MES.
Continued to work on the MES project. Work temporarily stalled due to end semester examinations.Faidh, Aditya, Kushal, Gopinath and Vinayak decide to stay back for the summer to work on the project. Break for the summer vacations.
Many difficulties were encountered because of working on an unconventional chassis. Well established protocols were hard to come by and whatever we did find was not well characterized at all. Ordered the strain. Met Sidhyansh Saxena, a senior in our department and a student entrepreneur to talk about the possibility of corporate funding. Met professor G.Suraishkumar, who works with biofuels to talk about the reactor requirements.
The strain did not arrive for a month and a half. When it did arrive, we had more problems, including being unable to grow the organism and not being able to find a suitable vector for transformation. Decided to keep trying to work on it for another two months. iGEM Indian Institute of Science(IISc) sent the protocol for their collab. Started working on it
Srinath joined us as the thirteenth member of our team.
All India meetup for iGEM at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research(IISER) Pune from July 14th to 16th. Teams presented their ideas and exchanged the challenges in their own projects and called for collaborations between teams. Motivated by the problems we faced in our own project, we decided to work on a database of lesser used organisms.
New sem started. Nikhita, Kailash and Mousami participated and won in a hackathon at SVCE where they came up with the prototype for the codon optimisation tool used in the database. Finished the IISc collaboration. An interactive session was organised for students in the 11th grade at Vana Vani School on the IIT campus, explaining what synthetic biology is and what iGEMers do.
Further tweaking of the codon optimisation tool was made. Kailash, Mousami and Karthik came up with the first prototype for our database. The database was hosted on pythonanywhere.com. Sent out a survey to all iGEM teams asking them about what organism they were using and the problems they faced while working with it. Organised a session for our freshmen undergraduates explaining the nuances of iGEM. After some deliberation, we decided to start a synbio community called GeneSys, with an aim to create a nurturing environment and culture of synbio at IITM and also passing on our knowledge to our juniors.
Codon optimisation tool was made more user-friendly.Version 2 of the database, courtesy Kailash and Karthik was developed. More sessions of GeneSys (trying to do that on a weekly basis) were conducted. RBS and gRNA tools are being developed. Ten unconventional hosts were selected and team members started filling data for them. Sent the database out for beta testing in our own department and also other iGEM teams. Collaboration with iGEM Michigan Biological Software to use their database of protocols called ProtoCat. Talked to Dr Shashi Bala Prasad and Dr Anantha Barathi, our advisors and they suggested various improvements that were implemented.