A great and important part of the iGEM competition is the so-called iGEM spirit. For this, we are encouraged to work together with other iGEM teams worldwide to build up an international network of well educated and highly motivated young scientists. It was really great to get in contact with all the iGEMers we met this year. Every one of you helped us a lot with our project and some things wouldn't even be possible without the support of other teams. Some of the initial work-based relationships even grew to friendships that we don't want to miss anymore.
Even if there is no separate text about your team, be safe that it was a pleasure for us to share this iGEM year with you.
Collaboration with iGEM Stockholm
In September, five of our team members visited iGEM Stockholm in efforts to motivate and inspire new students to apply for the iGEM team Stockholm next year during their recruitment event. Thereafter, iGEM Stockholm and our team presented our projects, and exchanged constructive feedback to further enhance. To this event we also invited a class from Johanna-Geissmar-Gymnasium (high school) from Mannheim, Germany. The most essential advice iGEM Stockholm suggested was moving the linked fluorophores in closer proximity to the proteases in order for the detection system to work correctly. We also asked iGEM Stockholm for their insight on how to restructure our team and recruitment process to further increase the quality of our program.
Collaboration with iGEM Dresden
iGEM goes green is a project with the goal to not just make lab work more green, but also to motivate iGEM participants to think more sustainable in their daily life.
When we heard about the initiative created by TU Dresden, we were immediately interested in the concept and wanted to take part in it. So, with their iGEM goes green guide in mind, we started to make subtle changes in our lab. From implementing reusable inoculating loops to acquiring an electricity meter for measuring our power consumption, we learned that even small things can make a difference. Even when we were not actively searching for these changes, the thought of iGEM goes green was always in the back of our minds.
When TU Dresden reached out to teams and asked them to create a short sequence for a video on iGEM goes green, a couple of our members took it upon themselves to participate, and went to work. The filming of the short clip was a lot of fun, and made us rethink why we wanted to create a more environmentally friendly lab space in the first place.
We want to thank TU Dresden for the great amount of work they poured into creating iGEM goes green, and for trying to bring this amazing cause into the forefront of people's minds. For us, it was a great way to learn how to think more about how we act in and out of the lab, and about what we can do to help our planet in the long run.
We are also very much looking forward to seeing the finished iGEM goes green video at the Giant Jamboree!
Collaboration with Berlin diagnostX
Next to our work in synthetic biology, we also set ourselves the challenging task of developing a hydrogel. Since these hydrogels are supposed to be used on wounds, we needed to learn more about wound care and healing. We also focused on researching which effects the hydrogels would generally have. So, we got in touch with the iGEM-Team from Berlin. We believed since most of their team is made up of medical students, they could help us with our questions. On top of this, Team Berlin also is in contact with some experts at their university.
In our first meeting, we talked about our project and what we are planning to do with our hydrogel. Our detection system for wound infections was also a topic we brought up. In this meeting, we decided to hold a web seminar via Skype so they could help us with our questions. For this, the Berlin team prepared a presentation based on our questions and also consulted a dermatologist for research into the topic.
In the following seminar we learned a lot about different wound types, wound healing and wound care, especially in regards to hydrogels. We learned about applications for hydrogels on burns and diabetes wounds, because their moist setting supports wound healing.
The Berlin iGEM team gave us great information about what we need to consider for the development of a chitosan-hydrogel. We learned which pH-value supports wound healing best and which substances are currently used to treat burns. They also gave us helpful feedback about our ideas and plans.
Collaboration with iGEM Bielefeld
When iGEM team Bielefeld-CeBiTec asked us to test their software named Labnotes Generator as beta-testers, we decided to give it a try and utilize it for our wiki. They sent us a python script which automates the process of converting a notebook txt file to an HTML file. As the handling is very simple, we were able to finish the work of the notebook wikipage quite fast without any difficulties. Thank you iGEM Bielefeld-CeBiTec, you have done a great job and lightened our workload considerably.
Collaboration with iGEM Graz
At the European iGEM meet-up in Delft (Netherlands) we met the current iGEM Team from NAWI Graz and recognized several opportunites to help each other out. We were happy to share our experience about project funding and the iGEM competition with a younger, highly motivated iGEM Team. One big issue for all iGEM participants is the funding of their project. In this context we could help the team from NAWI Graz with the acquisition of interested sponsors by arranging for contacts between them and potential supporters. We further also discussed possible wet-lab collaborations. As our chitin deacetylases (CDA) produce acetic acid as a side product, we thought about measuring our CDA’s actitivity with the help of NAWI Graz’s pH-sensitive E. Coli strain. Unfortunately the generated acetic acid level would not be high enough for activating the pH-sensitive system. We are glad that we could exchange experiences with iGEM NAWI Graz and look forward to future collaborations of our teams.
Collaboration with HFUT-China
We had the great oppurtinity to test the BioDesigner Dolphin tool from HFUT China. An impressive online platform to search all iGEM projects of the last years. We strongly hope, that this platform will still be available in the next years, because it is handy for future iGEM teams to start their research. We gave the following feedback:
First of all, we would appreciate the clear design decisions of your website. Sign up for your service is really easy. Now lets check the interesting part: Search for projects similiar to ours. Enter "Chitosan" into the search mask yields promising results. We see great potential in the search mask. Just a short search yielded results as good as a long Google search. Also lovely, the possibility to have an overview of the total project of other teams, their parts and their final position. This is a realy good tool to get an overview of old projects without the need of reading their Wiki. Unfortunately, a small sample on teams related to chitosan showed many empty fields. Using the feature "Project" and designing custom parts is a little bit buggy . The select'n'drop feature is an awesome idea for sequence design, but the resulting sequence was shown at the top of the window, It is also a bit confusing that some parts have quite good informations in the information box right, but other ones have none or they are not dislayed. In addition it is noch really clear how one can select special parts. This is just a small test of your tool. We see tremendous potential in the searchable database for related projects and we want to encourage the next-year's iGEM TU Darmstadt team to use your database as a possible start of their research.
Optogenetic seminar in Düsseldorf
On September 1st 2017 we were invited by the team of Cologne-Düsseldorf to participate in a seminar about optogenetics. Since we were looking for regulatory systems for our chitin deacetylases, we gladly followed this invitation. We saw a great opportunity in the use of optogenetics and wanted to learn more about the laboratory routine in this field. The seminar started with an introduction to the currently available optogenetic switches by Patrick Fischbach. The iGEM Team from Cologne-D üsseldorf presented their project and shared their experience on common mistakes in optogenetic laboratories. Each team was given the opportuni-ty to present their project to the audience and to throw light on the optogenetic aspects of their project. We presented our project and our plans to establish an orthogonal regulatory system for our chi-tindeacetylases. Optogenetic switches represent interesting tools for this purpose. In the aftermath of the presentations Cologne-Düsseldorf gave a guided tour through their optogenetic laboratories, illustrating general handling of optogenetic tools. Cologne-Düsseldorf further provided con-struction plans for a light-box, used to store and specifically induce optogenetic systems. Our future team can easily rebuild it and will be able to work with optogenetic circuits. We are therefore very grateful for the optogenetic experience that was shared with us and would like to thank the team from Cologne-Düsseldorf for their invitation.
Collaboration with iGEM York
At the European iGEM meet-up in Delft (Netherlands) we met the current iGEM Team from York. As both sides construct a digital inline holographic microscope we discussed different approaches thus exchanging information and pushing each others projects. Further on we provided them with one of our laser sources.