As a part of human practices, we had conducted a small science fair and a social awareness campaign called the Biofair in a local park in collaboration with Team REC_CHENNAI.This was necessary to dispose the common misconception amongst the people that genetically modified organisms are generally harmful and hence their products should not be released in the market. To do so we put up a stall and interacted with the public about the pros and cons of GMOs and how rDNA technology can be used to produce safe GM products.At the end of the day we asked them to fill out a survey form, the results of which are shown in the pie chart below
In addition to this, we explained about iGEM , synthetic biology and our previous iGEM project with the help of charts to illustrate an example of how a real life problem can be solved using synthetic biology. A large faction of the people who visited our stall was children. We also conducted simple and interesting science experiments. It was a very fun filled evening and we were able to reach out to a large number of people and also managed to bust some of the common myths about GMO’s.
Human practices is a key component and the most exciting part of any iGEM project where teams consider the many ways that their research can impact society.One of the most efficient ways of spreading knowledge is by teaching. Hence we decided to visit some schools in our locality to teach the students about the field of synthetic biology and how iGEM plays a major role in promoting this field.
At first we visited Bonne Nehru Higher Secondary School where we taught the students about the basics of microbiology and molecular biology. This sparked their interest in the subject and they were very eager to learn more about it. Therefore, we also organized an one day workshop at our institution to teach them simple microbiology techniques.
Next we went to Sri Vivekananda Matric and Higher Secondary School where we taught simple synthetic biology concepts to high school students.To make the session more interactive, we conducted some fun events like dogma quest – a play with knowledge of central dogma of life wherein the students were given a sequence of DNA and asked to predict the sequence of the protein that will be made out of it. This helped them to understand the concepts of transcription and translation better.
Finally we visited Sankara Senior Secondary School and presented the basic idea of our project to the students. They were very interactive and asked us many questions.We were also appreciated by the teachers for the efforts put in to spread the knowledge about synthetic biology and its related fields.
On the whole, the Human Practices team of SVCE_CHENNAI had a great time and managed to inculcate a basic knowledge of synthetic biology amongst the public. Our efforts encouraged the students to learn more about the subject and they were willing to do projects based on it although it was not a part of their curriculum.
OMICS - A National Level Symposium
Omics is a one day national level technical symposium that is organized by the Department of Biotechnology, SVCE on an annual basis. This year 600 students from all over the country and from different fields of study participated in it.
We used this platform as an opportunity to spread the knowledge about synthetic biology, iGEM and our project REGULOGEM among our peers. We provided them with brochures where a brief description of our 2017 project was given which helped them to understand it better.
In addition to this we taught them about BioBrick assembly with the help of illustrative charts and by using the game BioBrick. Most of the students who visited our stall liked the project that we are working on and some of them were even motivated to participate in iGEM. The link to the BioBrick game can be found below:BIOBRICKS
In order to collect valuable feedback and to spread awareness about our project, we visited several Life Science companies . Of the many we visited, the following stood out.
The first company that we visited was Levim Biotech LLP, where we presented our project to the CEO, Mr Jatin Vimal and his colleagues. Throughout the presentation, they raised some very important issues and also provided some constructive feedback. They were very impressed with our presentation and hence decided to sponsor our project, ReguloGEM 2017.
The next company that we visited was LifeCell International, India’s first stem cell bank. Although our project did not have any connections with stem cells or any of its related fields, we managed to impress them with our idea so much that even they decided to sponsor us .
Next, we went to the Center for Medical Genetics, a non-profit, service-oriented professional genetic testing laboratory and presented our idea to its Medical Director and his colleagues. At the end of our presentation they mentioned that they were extremely happy to see undergraduate students take up such projects and attempting to bring a change in the world of biotechnology. They extended their support to us by funding our project
Finally, we went to Saksin Lifesciences Pvt Ltd and presented our idea to the CEO and President, Dr Ramchand. We then spent the entire day at their facility, of which they gave us a tour. Although they did not financially fund us, they granted permission to use their facilities for any equipment that was not available in our college, and it was because of them that we were able to carry out some important experiments.