Solidarity and collaboration are the very essence of the iGEM competition, and this year even more so, keeping in touch has been a real challenge but above all an indispensable aspect for each of us. Thank you to all the teams with whom we had such a great time, overcoming many organisational difficulties, every time a particularly enriching and exciting experience.
Meeting with 2019 Team Marburg and German Virtual Meet-up
Our first meeting with Team Marburg took place in Paris on March 12, 2020. We were lucky enough to be able to physically meet some members of the team, just before lock downs were declared in our respective countries. Long discussions were exchanged about our topics and needs this year. Despite the non-participation of the Marburg team this year, they organised the 2020 German Virtual Meet-up, on the the 4th and 5th of July, to which we were invited. During this event we spent a weekend with them online. We could participate in the video competitions for which we won the third-place prize!(Take a look at the video ) But above all, we held a workshop about GMO's, phagotherapy and genetic containment. During this workshop we had several split rooms and were able to discuss with the attendees on their opinion about phage therapy before and after the introduction of the concept of entangled genes and the biosafety it can bring to the experiment. We had the participants take part in a Kahoot! in the end to receive a feedback. It helped us know how many of them knew about both topics before the workshop and whether they changed their mind afterwards. It also brought a little fun touch to the session. We also attended several poster sessions and workshop and exchanged with other igemers during breaks.
Happy to see so many French-speaking iGEM teams this year, and frustrated not to be able to meet physically, we found ourselves with the desire to prepare a video project all together. The Grenoble-Alpes team contacted us, so here we are! We are 11 teams, coming from France and Switzerland: Teams Evry_Paris-Saclay, Grenoble_Alpes, Ionis_Paris, EPFL, Aix_Marseille, Montpellier, Nantes, Paris-Bettencourt, Sorbonne_U_Paris and Toulouse_INSA_UPS. We joined forces to explore our cities and share our iGEM projects. This collaboration has been particularly easy and pleasant, for a result we are all very proud of. We had tons of fun doing this video and we hope you'll enjoy watching it!
You can see the teaser of this video below:
You can see the final video on that :
Worldwide virtual meetup
Like our predecessors in 2019, we organised a virtual meetup in collaboration with the 4 other Parisian teams: Paris Bettencourt, IONIS, Evry and Paris Sorbonne. From the organisation of fun activities to presentations related to synthetic biology, we worked hard to offer a weekend full of great encounters! Our Worldwide Virtual Meetup was held on the weekend of 5 and 6 September 2020 online. A weekend that was the perfect end to these long months of preparation.
Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie
With the desire to share the world of iGEM and Synthetic Biology with the general public, our team had contacted one of the biggest Science museums in Europe, the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie in Paris. In addition to organising this event for our team, it seemed fundamental to invite our partners throughout the year us to share this experience with us. Therefore we joined forces with the four other Parisian teams with whom we already had a lot of contact, Ionis, Evry Paris-Saclay, Paris-Bettencourt and Paris-Sorbonne. For the Fête de la Science on the weekend of October 3rd and 4th, 2020, we had the honour of holding two stands to popularise synthetic biology and our projects. In order to create workshops for the general public, 5 teams were not too many! Activities included posters and presentation of our projects, DNA extraction from kiwi and... DNA decoding challenges, an interactive and fun session during which the public had to decode a DNA sequence into a protein sequence thanks to the genetic code. The protein sequence made a sentence, and for most people, it was the first time they really understood the principle of the genetic code. Moreover, we had entangled two sequences to decode, so the public could see the idea of multiple messages encoded in different reading phases. During these two days, the public was very receptive and curious about our project. We had an interesting dialogue about possible future uses of our technology. We heard their fears and their desire to confront the real societal problems in the best possible way.
The IOANNINA 2021 team accepted our offer to test our CAMEOS tutorial course and gave us a feedback about their experience. Two members tried to follow the steps however one of them could not go through with it since she was working with windows and not Linux. That first issue was something we are aware about, however since CAMEOS was originally developed for Linux, to install it on Windows, its components would need to be compiled for the Windows operating system.
So, using Linux, Konstantinos was able to run the entire software using our tutorial despite a few issues. The lines of code allowing him to solve the problems were given to him by Maxime (the writer of our tutorial) with whom he was in contact throughout the installation.
Konstantinos was pleased with the tutorial overall and especially with the explanations to entangle their own sequences. He advised us :
- To give more explanation of the commands
- To provide further information on the function of CAMEOS for those interested
- To produce a video tutorial as it is usually easier to follow than text.
Thanks to this collaboration, we will update our work to make our tutorial easier and more understandable.
The iGEM Patras team hosted a workshop named Mare nostrum on the 3rd and 4th of October. We had the opportunity to have a time to present our team as well as our project and to illustrate our project we used the drone clips from our promotion video. The presentation was followed by questions which enlightened us on the aspects that were less clear and on the general knowledge of our subject. We also attended the presentation of other teams such as Tharce, Nous and obviously Patras and were pleased to discover their projects and interact with them about the details and methodology of it. Afterwards, there were activity and workshops and throughout them we got to know more about the teams and their country which made us feel more connected with the other teams.
The iGEM UCSC team invited us to meet on the 28th of July in order to exchange on both our projects and discuss the pandemic. We both presented our projects and questioned each other. This was our very first meeting with another iGEM team and it made us aware of where they were on their projects and their experience of the competition. It also re-boosted the team’s spirit and made us try and interact more with other teams.
The Tel-Aviv University (TAU) team accepted to meet with us on the 19th of October 2019 to discuss a potential collaboration as both our projects aim to improve the stability of genetic constructs. Since their project aims to transcribe two genes simultaneously with the help of a linker, we initially thought about comparing the results of an overlap executed by CAMEOS and a the result of a linked transcription executed by their software for the same two gene sequences (for instance infA and aroB, the test run for CAMEOS or gfp and insulin, two genes the TAU team is working on). For that we sent them our tutorial to install CAMEOS and information about the software. However, the aim of their project is to obtain amino acid sequences without mutations and since CAMEOS creates mutation to overlap two sequences the last idea was not followed through. But they sent us the MATLAB functions as well as calculations they had used at the beginning of their project to overlap genes. This part of their project was let go in favour of their current project mainly because the overlaps without mutations were too short. CAMEOS is able to overlap longer stretch of DNA because it creates mutations, this highlights the need for them in the entanglement of two (or more) sequences. This collaboration was really informative, particularly because it made us look at the same issue with different angles.
Because the world of Synthetic Biology is exciting and full of hope, the TU Delft team put together a wonderful project in which we were pleased to collaborate by providing them with a short video describing our project. The result is magnificent! To see it, click !
The Moscow team started the #iGEMap_Flashmob on the Open Weekend Festival to demonstrate that all iGEM teams are united in time and space. This consisted in posting a specific map of the world with our country in colour at exactly 5.p.m our own time (which was CEST for us).
The UofUppsala team created the Corona Outreach Program Initiative (COPI) for which they asked several teams to answer questions regarding how the Covid-19 pandemic affected them individually, their iGEM project and their country. We submitted our answers on the 25th of May 2020. COPI being a about community, unity and solidarity, they made their Instagram account a place for everyone to share their experience on the topic by sharing every team’s answers.