Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, our team has carried out an almost entirely virtual project. While this has drastically changed our project design and has challenged us to learn computational biology techniques, it has made collaborations with other iGEM teams much easier. We were able to arrange more calls and get to know more teams than if this were a typical iGEM summer. We are very grateful for all of the teams who helped us throughout the year and for the diverse range of collaborations. They have enriched our iGEM experience and we can’t wait to see everything they will accomplish at the Jamboree.
Virtual UK Team Meet-Up:
Our collaboration journey begins on the 19th of June, with the UK iGEM Team Meetup hosted by the University of St. Andrews 2020 iGEM Team. We had the opportunity to meet other teams, find opportunities for collaboration, as well as present our project and ideas. Our team received excellent feedback from the teams and were able to incorporate their questions into our project design. Additionally, this was an excellent way to practice our presentation and organise our own thought processes. A big thank you to the St. Andrews Team for organising the meet-up! Through this meet-up we met the University of Nottingham 2020 iGEM team, who we would come to collaborate with extensively.
Collaborations with the University of Nottingham:
During the Virtual UK Team Meet-up, we recognised the extensive similarities between our project and that of the University of Nottingham’s 2020 iGEM Team. Therefore, we decided to arrange a collaboration plan that would allow for both of our team’s to succeed and benefit. We offered a great deal of assistance regarding Wiki and also helped their Team Leaders with medal criteria throughout the summer. Additionally, we participated in their podcast! This was an excellent opportunity to talk about the non-scientific aspects of being an iGEMer. Our podcast episode can be found here or can be listened to below! After discussing the unique nature of carrying out a Therapeutics based iGEM project, we decided to host a Virtual Therapeutics Meet-up with each other to give ourselves and other teams the space to discuss how to successfully organise a Therapeutics based iGEM project.
Virtual Therapeutics Meet-Up:
On the 12th of September, we hosted a global therapeutics meet up alongside our collaborative partner, the 2020 iGEM team of the University of Nottingham. We thoroughly benefited from the opportunity to converse and engage with global iGEM participants and to share our experience of undertaking a therapeutic project. The Virtual Therapeutics Meetup was attended by the University of Nottingham 2020 iGEM Team and the IISER Pune 2020 iGEM Team. We were grateful that they attended and shared their experiences with us. Through listening to the engaging presentation given and practicing presenting our presentation, we were able to explore, ask and answer stimulating questions. Our virtual therapeutics meet-up enhanced our teams drive to attend and meet as many teams as possible during the virtual jamboree!
Collaborations with the University of Calgary:
On August 6th, we attended the After iGEM Seminar hosted by Andrew Symes of the 2019 and 2020 University of Calgary iGEM Team. We sought out this seminar as a solution to our protein modelling issues. As we carried out our structural modelling and research into our protein isoform Pvfp-5β, we began to design our further in silico experiments. Our initial ideas were to carry out silico mutagenesis, yet we weren’t certain as to how we could achieve this. Yet, once we came across this seminar and the iGAM software, we found some answers to our questions. After watching this seminar, we got in touch with Andrew and have worked closely with him and the iGAM software for the remainder of the summer. Through this collaboration, we developed the iGAM software for our particular isoform and contributed to the overall iGAM software. More information about our script can be found on our GitHub and more information about the University of Calgary's iGAM software can be found here. We are so grateful for all of Andrew’s help in preparing the script! We will be using it next year once we can incorporate our Wet Lab data into an appropriate fitness function.
Collaborations with the City of London School:
Our Collaboration with City of London School began with a meeting to present and introduce our projects to one another, ask questions and then proceed to highlight areas for the collaboration. Upon discussing where we could collaborate, we identified we could most of assistance with regards to answering iGEM related questions and imparting the knowledge of our team, and our team leaders who have been part of two iGEM teams. We provided their team with assistance regarding the submission of parts and provided our feedback to a draft of their parts submission. We worked together to answer questions regarding the uploading of parts including regarding adding composite parts that are within plasmids and the wavelength reading for measuring optical density. We enjoyed engaging with a group of passionate high school students and imparting our tips regarding the presentation video and the judging form.
Participants in our Representation Pilot Study:
At the start of the summer, we carried out a Pilot Study into representation in iGEM. To do so, we asked teams from across the globe to fill out our survey regarding identity. We had hundreds of responses to the survey and numerous teams filled it out. For ethics reasons, we could not display this data, yet are nonetheless very grateful for those who took the time to contribute to our understanding of the iGEM community. We would like to thank the following teams for all filling out the survey:
iBowu-China, iGEM Hamburg, St. Andrew iGEM, Warwick iGEM 2020, iGEM Thessaly, iGEM IISER Berhampur , iGEM Heidelberg, Nottingham iGEM, MSP iGEM, iGEM Manchester, iGEM Groningen, Del Norte High School iGEM, Purdue iGEM , UNSW Australia iGEM, iGEM UAAAN, iGEM TAS Taipei, iGEM Tec de Monterrey, iGEM Bulgaria, Koc University iGEM, iGEM Dusseldorf, OSU iGEM, iGEM Ecuador, StonyBrook iGEM, iGEM Moscow, iGEM Toronto, iGEM UTPrimers Brazil, UCL iGEM, TU Delft, iGEM Vienna, UCPH iGEM
Thank you for your help in making iGEM a more inclusive community!
Podcast Episode with the University of Pittsburgh 2020 iGEM Team:
To further our science communication, we also partook in a podcast episode hosted by the University of Pittsburgh 2020 iGEM team. This was a great opportunity to discuss our project and to gain feedback. Furthermore, it was fundamental in teaching us how to effectively communicate our project across different types of media, such as a podcast in which there are no visuals to support our explanations. We had a great time speaking with them and wish them all the best at this year’s Jamboree! Our podcast episode can be found here or you can listen below!
Collaborations with the University of Exeter:
After meeting Exeter iGEM team at the UK meet up we established the start of our collaboration. We kept in close touch throughout the completion of our project, whether via Zoom or Teams call or simply via the WhatsApp group chat that has been made. Especially because of the ongoing pandemic, we were fortunate to be able to share moral and academic support of the Exeter team as well as strategies to develop our best to manage our iGEM projects. During our collaboration we helped team Exeter with getting to know the modelling software Pymol, as they had no previous experience with the software and we had already utilised Pymol for our project.
Collaborations with the University of Chicago:
The University of Chicago iGEM got in touch with us through the Global Slack and from then onwards we enjoyed communicating between our teams. Firstly, we scheduled a meeting to find grounds for collaboration; in this we discussed the degradation of our chosen scaffold’s material - PCL - for which they offered to assist us. Unfortunately the degradation of our scaffold isn't enzymatic, so we opted to find new ways on how our two teams could collaborate. Despite our different mechanisms of degradation we were focusing on, their degradation modelling was very inspiring to our team. Additionally, they agreed to be future advocates for our Biologix Competition, by sharing it with their local high schools and/or students joining their mentorship programme.