Our team consisted of a dedicated group of 11 high school students that worked over the course of a year and two summers at the Ellington Lab at UTAustin.
We, in fact, began working on our project in the summer of 2016. However, all team members with the exception of one were new members who had acquired their lab skills and knowledge through the mentorship of past club leaders during the spring of 2016. As a result, the project moved along slowly and due to difficulties in raising money and in finishing the project, we decided to postpone going to iGEM 2016 and instead chose to work over the course of the upcoming year to make it to iGEM 2017.
Even with the added year, working as high school students with hardly any prior experience was very difficult. A massive influx of team members with no knowledge on synthetic biology and lab work also led to unforeseen complications during the 2016 - 17 school year. While headway was made on the project, we did not reach several of our initial goals:
- In our initial project design, we aspired to eventually test our constructs alongside one another. We did not have enough time to reach this stage in our project.
- We also had aspirations to do a video series where team members interviewed patients afflicted with Parkinson’s as well as other individuals with ties to the disease, such as medical professionals, family members, and directors of Parkinson’s organizations. This was unable to take place, though, as we were unable to get in contact with a number of groups and individuals.
Our project would not have been possible without the support we received. Below we have listed all the individuals and organizations that helped us go to iGEM:
- Special thanks to Dr. Andrew Ellington, our PI, who provided us with the space, materials, and ideas needed for our project in addition to his guidance and financial support.
- Dr. Dennis Mishler, our team mentor, provided us with advice on iGEM.
- We would not have gotten as far as we had without the daily guidance of Michelle Byrom, Arti Pothukuchy, and Simon Doelsnitz as well as the occasional, but incredibly helpful, pieces of advice given to us by other graduate students and postdocs in the Ellington Lab.
- Special thanks to all of the parental support we received in the form of transportation, monetary support, and pep talks.
- Special thanks to Donghwan Kim who always helped us in understanding protocols when we had no one else to go to and pushed us through the very last stages of the project.
SPECIFIC HELP, SUPPORT, AND ADVICE
- Stefan Tekel, from iGEM ASU, developed a cloning strategy for our sensing assembly and sent us a backbone we could use for the assembly.
- Power for Parkinson’s - allowed us to participate in their fitness classes and interact with patients with Parkinson’s, as well as featuring us and our project in their quarterly newsletter distributed to the members.
- Ross Thyer performed all of the initial work on ppDDC, pp2551, and hpaBC at the Ellington Lab. Ross also allowed us to use his assay for the testing of the production circuit.
- Simon Doelsnitz helped us tremendously with the steps of cloning and testing the project and gave us his constructs to be incorporated into our assembly. Simon also allowed us to use his assay for the testing of the sensing circuit.
- Donghwan Kim assisted us with performing several protocols and gave specific advice on cloning and procedures.
- Snapgene gave us a free license to use their gene editing software for analyzing sequences.
SPECIFIC SUPPORT AND ADVICE ON OTHER ASPECTS OF THE PROJECT
- Power for Parkinson’s allowed us to participate in their fitness classes and interact with patients with Parkinson’s, as well as permitting us and our project to be featured in their quarterly newsletter distributed to the members.
- Yoshi Goto, from iGEM University of Washington, gave us advice, edits, and feedback on our presentation and wiki.
- Dr. Andrew Ellington, Michelle Byrom, Simon Doelsnitz, and Dr. Robert Chin gave us advice on our presentation and poster.
- Special thanks to Dr. Andrew Ellington, the European Wax Center (in Beecave, TX), Curtana Pharmaceuticals, donors we met at the Domain, our families, and our friends who all contributed significant amounts of money to our cause.