Team:CSMU Taiwan/Partnership

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Preface: Formation of the partnership

miRNA.DOC does not simply aim to help detect oral cancer. Our ultimate goal is to make people move one step closer to good health. We kept thinking about how to achieve this goal and we also connected with NCKU_Tainan for their thoughts. This year, NCKU_Tainan focused on a silent but serious disease, glaucoma. They aimed to design a portable and low-cost detection device, Eye Screen, as well as to provide a brand-new treatment, Eye kNOw. They worked hard on a new therapeutic technique as they hope to prevent people from the disease and improve their health conditions. Through our partnership with NCKU_Tainan, we found that we viewed our dedication to good health as the aspiration of both our projects. Hence, we decided to form a strong partnership together and made progress with public health.

Stage 1: SDG combination and goal foundation

Over the decades, public health has been widely promoted by lots of people, medical units and the government all over the world. One of the most famous examples is the United Nations. The UN takes action on the issues confronting humanity in the 21st century1, and moreover, they launched a comprehensive program called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), not only providing substantive support and capacity-building for the goals, but also urged the public to take the substantial and specific actions required to create a better world for all.2 Our team and NCKU_Tainan found that the core value of SDGs was highly related to our aspiration for public health. Thus, we decided to integrate the concept of SDGs into our partnership work and make more contributions to the SDGs.

According to the 2030 Agenda announced by the United Nations (UN), the main goal of the third SDG, Good Health and Well-Being, was to "ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages". We also noticed that the fourth SDG, Quality Education, emphasized the importance of "ensuring that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote SDGs". For these two SDGs, we thought that we could sort and spread the knowledge of health issues to provide multidimensional information for people. By educating the public about different aspects of good health, we hoped people could better understand the health issues and get a clear picture of SDGs.

Also, the seventeenth SDG, partnerships, encourages us to unite people sharing the same idea together. Instead of making impacts on health issues only by NCKU_Tainan and us, both of us wanted to invite all the iGEM teams to build collaborations with us. We kept thinking about how to present all the contributions from every iGEM team. Also, we noticed that social media was so strong that we acquired a great part of knowledge and information from it. Thus, by utilizing the power of social media, we decided to set up a Facebook page, I've gotta PhD, to gather all the information provided by iGEM teams on this platform. By regularly posting elaborate works from iGEM teams interested in our idea, we hope all the Facebook users will get more access to various health issues and learn more about iGEM. Furthermore, posting on social media is a great way to have people's work be discovered and more importantly, to have the SDGs that every iGEM team was working on to be recognized.

Stage 2: collaboration extension— I've gotta PhD

Cover of "I've gotta PhD"
Our Facebook page "I've gotta PhD"

Preparation for I've gotta PhD

Although every team's approach for their project may be different, we sought to create a universal way of collaboration so that every team could join us without it being disorganized. Also, in order to diversify and concretize the broad idea of good health, we and NCKU_Tainan came up with seven topics related to the third and the fourth SDGs, including science communication, basic health care, mental health, break discrimination and racism, research, international health care organization and policies. We allowed each iGEM team to choose the topic they wanted to make contributions to. Furthermore, we encouraged the teams to be creative and use any presentation styles they like to make things more interesting and dynamic. We created a concise and concrete guideline and provided some examples for each topic to help other iGEM teams understand how to participate.

Promotion of I've gotta PhD

In order to inform all the iGEM teams of I've gotta PhD effectively, we announced this collaboration through numerous channels, including inclusive emails, iGEM Aug. Newsletter, iGEM collaboration page, iGEM 2020 competition on the Facebook page, and so on. We found out that iGEM teams liked sharing their recent activities on Instagram these days so we also made a team list comprising almost all the iGEM teams and struck up conversations through private messages to promote I've gotta PhD.

In addition to inviting iGEM teams to join us via the Internet, we also shared our idea through face-to-face interaction. On August 17th and 18th, iGEM NCHU_Taiwan held Taiwan conference and gathered almost all the Taiwan iGEM teams together at National Chung Hsing University (NCHU) for each team to exchange and share the projects they were working on this year. We and NCKU_Tainan seized this opportunity to ask NCHU_Taiwan whether we could promote I've gotta PhD during the two-day conference. Under their kind permission, we were allowed to give a presentation to every Taiwanese iGEMer and elaborate on this collaboration.

Work Demonstration & Appreciation for participation

After announcing I've gotta PhD collaboration to everyone, we've been in contact with many iGEM teams via emails and other media. We confirmed the contents they wanted to share with the public and we scheduled their work for posting on our Facebook page. From August to October, we've received 13 works from 10 different iGEM teams all over the world. Also, to celebrate their diligence and dedication to I've gotta PhD, we awarded each iGEM team a certificate as proof of their participation.

Certificate for all the participating iGEM teams

Also, we focused on our respective projects, looked up some information and also provided plentiful knowledge for each topic. We hope these contents would help people know more about oral cancer and glaucoma. See all the work created by the participating iGEM teams below:

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Stage 3: conversation establishment—Panel discussion

Owing to I've gotta PhD, iGEM teams are able to share lots of knowledge with the public on this social media platform. However, these interactions were unilateral. iGEM teams hardly got the feedback from the audience or discussed with some people also working in the same field. We and NCKU_Tainan thought it meaningful to call the iGEM teams also devoted to SDGs together and strike up a bilateral conversation with one another. Thus, we together co-host a virtual panel discussion and successfully invited five Taiwan iGEM teams to participate in this event.

A Lecture from the Expert

We were greatly honored to invite Professor Shih-Fong Chiou to give all the participants a lecture on the topic "Why, How to connect to SDGs". Shih-Fong Chiou is a professor at College X, which is the newly-established college in National Cheng Kung University (NCKU). Rather than traditional colleges, College X aims to develop students' critical thinking, problem-solving skills and enhance their knowledge. Furthermore, the college intend to help students' build their relationship with other people excelling at different professions.

Professor Chiou's lecture helped us understand the concept of SDGs in a more creative and comprehensive way. Professor Chiou first introduced the foundation of SDGs and guided us on how to set up goals properly and practically when we tried to work on SDGs. Afterwards, he elaborated on the third, fourth and sixth SDGs that were covered by different participating teams. Moreover, he also raised some local issues of SDGs in Taiwan and listed some actions taken by our government. With these examples, Professor Chiou not only guided us on how to evaluate the effectiveness of the regulations but also encouraged us to think about issues of SDGs from a different perspective. Through a 30-minute interaction with Professor Chiou, we obtained lots of knowledge as well as plentiful suggestions, both of which were beneficial for the upcoming panel discussion.

Discussions of SDGs issues

Before the discussions, our team and NCKU_Tainan asked all the participating teams to decide which SDG they wanted to focus on. They were to write a rough description for the issue and come up with three questions they want to discuss. All the participants could thereby understand the problem from each team in advance.

In order for each team to get adequate feedback from their peers, we put teams into different rooms and had them present to each other. One team would be the presenter and the other team would be giving feedbacks, and then they would switch their roles. After both teams have presented, teams would rotate to another room and present to a new team. At the end of the presentations, everyone was gathered together and each team would provide a brief summary of what they have learned during their presentations and from the feedbacks.

Success and benefit of the partnership

  • Through the interaction with NCKU_Tainan, we looked more into SDGs and discussed the best way to unite iGEMers having the same vision of SDGs.

  • We transformed the two-party discussion into a special event and invited all the iGEM teams to make contributions to SDGs, which not only promoted the concept of SDGs, but allowed people have a better understanding of the importance of good health and well-being (the third SDG) as well as quality education (the fourth SDG). Also, we perfectly embodied the spirit of partnership (the seventeenth SDG) during the whole process.

  • Aside from connecting SDGs issues with the public, we also gathered iGEMers and the expert devoted to SDGs to strike up a conversation and discuss SDGs issues together. Brainstorming with other iGEMers prompted each of us to think outside of the box on how to improve the current method and put the new idea into practice.

Improvement & Future

  • To reach more people and make everyone aware of the SDGs issues, we should work harder on promoting our Facebook page. We hope to attract more people and have them to follow us. In addition to our Facebook page, we would like to be more active on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media platforms to reach more people.

  • Not only iGEMers but also the public can share their contributions on this platform. We can invite other experts or some people interested in SDGs issues to join I've gotta PhD to make greater influence on SDGs.

  • This time, we only invited iGEM teams in Taiwan to join the panel discussion. In the future, we may be able to hold a global event and invite people all over the world to discuss the SDGs issues together.


  1. About the UN, overview. (n.d.). United Nations. Retrieved October 25, 2020, from
  2. Blazhevska, V. (2016, September 22). Open letter by SDG Advocates urges action to help create a better world for all. United Nations Sustainable Development.