This year, we took initiative in bringing together all European iGEM teams. A stunning 33 teams from 9 different countries visited our beautiful city of Delft to learn more about synthetic biology, share project ideas and subsequently engage in discussions about possible collaborations. In order to get the most out of the experience, we split the European iGEM Meet-up into a symposium, poster presentations and social events.
The Meet-up was kicked off by three speakers who presented different aspects of synthetic biology. Approximately 200 attendees listened to expert talks and engaged in a discussion about our field of study. In addition to our iGEM colleagues, several interested students, professors and our sponsors gratefully accepted theopen invitation to join the symposium!
After the iGEM ambassador Camélia Bencherif, opened the symposium, Cees Dekker, Distinguished Professor at the Delft University of Technology and winner of the Spinoza Prize in 2003, gave a talk titled From measuring on single molecules to building a cell from molecular components. In this presentation, he showed examples of his journey from single-molecule biophysics to his group’s recent ambition to build a cell from molecular components, where his efforts focus on establishing an in vitro system to realize synthetic cell division.
The next speaker was Denis Murphy, Professor of Biotechnology and Head of Genomics & Computational Biology Research Group at the University of South Wales. He talked about Using bioinformatics & big data analysis in genetic technologies for medicine & agriculture. The growth of mega-data and the challenges it brings was surveyed and ways to create reliable knowledge and wisdom during research outlined. Some of his group’s work on the use of system biology in cancer research and tropical crop improvement was presented as well.
Our last presenter was Dirk Stemerding, senior researcher Technology Assessment at the Dutch Rathenau Institute. The topic of his talk was Everything you always wanted to know about responsible research and innovation. After his presentation, he led an interactive discussion about the best way to tackle Integrated Human Practices. All the teams joined in and voiced their thoughts and opinions. The topic was discussed from different angles, giving everyone the opportunity to consider new aspects of Integrated Human Practices.
After diving into three completely different synthetic biology subjects in the morning, poster presentations were held. Although people already started talking to each other during the lunch, this was the moment all the teams started to learn about and discusse all the different projects. It was valuable for everyone to practise explaining their project to new people and getting novel or different questions, giving the teams new insights into their projects. It was also a perfect opportunity to discuss and engage in possible collaborations.
We ended this beautiful day with a nice BBQ. Here the newly made friendships were consolidated and more iGEM bonding took place, all while playing volleyball and having drinks and dinner. The party didn’t stop after the BBQ. A few of the diehards went to one of the many bars in Delft, to have another drink and socialize even more.
The Saturday program allowed the mind to rest, progress discussions held and new contacts to be established. The teams were offered to join one of two activities. A group of attendees went to Rotterdam, where they joined on the famous ‘Pannenkoekenboot’. This was a 75 minute trip on a boat over the river in Rotterdam, including all-you-can-eat pancakes. Another part of the teams joined the ‘Rondvaart Delft’, a 60 minute boat trip over the beautiful canals of historical Delft.
All in all, we consider the European iGEM Meet-up to have been a very successful event. Although exhausted from the preparations and attention required throughout the meet-up, our team came together at the end of the day to have one more drink to celebrate our success.
To relive the European iGEM Meet-up once more, feel free to watch the aftermovie below.