Team members' locations!

Map of our team across the U.S. (yes we were definitely more than 6 feet apart this summer!)

Team Safety

By having the iGEM experience online, our team didn’t have to worry about in-person lab safety and physical hazards. As you can see on the map below, we really made sure to socially distance at least 6 feet. We still ensured online safety by using a private zoom room where we met and discussed the project.

Experimental Design Considerations

Given our online setting, we spent more time assessing the safety of our project design rather than hazards in the wet lab. Throughout the summer we discussed with our mentors what needs to be considered for genetically engineered therapeutic. We met with Dr. Kenneth Oye and Dr. Françoise Baylis to discuss ethical considerations in the implementation of our project (click here to read more on our integrated human practice page).

One issue we had to consider was our control of the cytokine output of our immunomodulatory cell. To ensure our system would unnecessarily produce anti-inflammatory cytokines and decrease the natural immune response, we plan to have engineered promoters for IP-10 and MCP-3 based on ELK-1 and NF-kB response units which would only be activated at heightened cytokine levels in the bloodstream. This method was based on a previous inflammation suppressing research where an NF-kB response unit was used to modulate the expression of anti-human TNF-α antibody.


Smole, A., Lainšček, D., Bezeljak, U., Horvat, S., & Jerala, R. (2017). A Synthetic Mammalian Therapeutic Gene Circuit for Sensing and Suppressing Inflammation. Molecular therapy : the journal of the American Society of Gene Therapy, 25(1), 102–119.

This page was written by Ethan Levy