IntroductioniGEM is a unique competition, encouraging collaborations between the team and external advisors as well as inter-team collaborations across the globe. We have collaborated with so many lovely teams this year both professionally and for fun. You can see some of our collaborations on this page, namely
- ✧ Writing an article for a public health education initiative (PhD)
- ✧ Writing an iGEM article for a peer-reviewed journal
- ✧ Our wiki and dry lab troubleshooting collaborations
- ✧ Attending the Danish Meet-Up
- ✧ Us hosting a game night
I've Gotta PhD Taiwan CollaborationThe CSMU_Taiwan and NCKU_Tainan iGEM teams from Taiwan had the great idea of initiating a collaboration on public health education. Their aim was to raise public awareness around the importance of public health issues. In an effort to raise such awareness, they suggested that iGEM teams could contribute on topics such as science communication, racism and discrimination, and mental health. For us, this prompted a reflection on the potential mental health effects of living with a chronic inflammatory disease and how our product might alleviate mental distress. Those reflection eventually materialized into an article that CSMU and NCKU were kind enough to feature on their platforms. If the reader is curious, the article is attached below.
Maastricht Team – Peer Review JournalThe iGEM team from Maastricht organized a peer reviewed journal for all iGEM teams where we contributed with the severity of chronic inflammatory diseases, the statistics and how we designed and executed experiments to make a functional patch. Our efforts paid off when other teams voted for our paper to be published in the MSP Journal! You can read our article below or find the entire journal on team Maastricht's wiki.
Aalto Dry Lab CollaborationOn the 14th of May, we met Aalto-Helsinki at one of our coffee hours (see later!). We talked and thought there might be some space for collaboration between our two teams in the future, and so we agreed to stay in touch.
On the 9th of June we then decided it was time to see how things were with each of us, and we started emailing back and forth about a possible dry lab collaboration. Aalto's reply was positive, and we discussed how we could assist each other in modeling. This led to our first dry lab meeting (pictured below!), where we discussed our projects, designs, and modeling ambitions. Aalto told us about their intentions with Rosetta, which influenced our own project development in terms of protein modeling. We agreed that continuing the collaboration made sense for both teams.
In July we had played around with each of our models on our own, and then held our second meeting on the 4th of August, where we exchanged feedback on both of our models - observations, tips, and tricks.
During August, both teams incorporated the feedback from our most recent meeting into each of our models, and we agreed to have yet another meeting on the 14th of September. Both of our models had improved greatly, with the help of one another's feedback, and after a while of discussion and reflection, the meeting ended. The next step from here would be to review each other's wiki pages for modeling, and discuss how best to present our results - check our modeling page to see how well we did on this!
This was with no doubt our biggest and most giving collaboration. Thanks to Aalto-Helsinki for collaborating with us!
Nordic Human Practices WorkshopThis one was long in the making. In May we started talking with the Aalto Helsinki team about the possibility of arranging a workshop with the sole focus being on ethical issues associated with our iGEM projects. After some initial planning, we reached out to other teams from the Nordic countries. The teams from Trondhiem, Uppsala and Stockholm eventually joined in.
Since we were all making biosensors it made sense focusing our discussion around this aspect of our project. Among the topics discussed was proper disposal of biosensors, risks of using GMOs, how to make a comprehensive guide for end-users and sustainable production.
The workshop was structured such that every team would troubleshoot some key point of every other team. This allowed for an in-depth discussion about the specific problems of each team. When the turn came around to use, we got a lot of useful advice. To pick a few, we were prompted to take into consideration how our product would affect people with yeast allergies (people with CIDs are more likely to have such allergies). Furthermore, it became apparent that we need to accommodate the potential detrimental effects of prolonged exposure to sunlight might have on our device.
Wiki Troubleshooting with Team StockholmWorking with the wiki is a big job, from the creative design of the pages to troubleshooting malfunctioning scripts, and getting new eyes on the wiki is often a crucial part of the process.
This year we’ve been lucky enough to discuss our wiki with the wiki master of team Stockholm, with whom we’ve been exchanging ideas, holding sketching sessions and looking through each other’s scripts. It has been such a giving partnership, and a great experience to work with someone going through the same thing as you are.
We hope you’ve enjoyed working together just as much as we did, Stockholmers!
Dry Lab Kickstarting of Team BrnoStarting with modeling for synthetic biology can be a daunting and confusing task. Thus, we offered a help to iGEM team from Brno in Czechia. During our zoom meeting, we focused on what can be modeled in the context of iGEM, what approaches are needed for different models, and how modeling can be done efficiently and effectively. We shared some of the literature that got our own team started. Later in the iGEM competition, we were pleased to hear that our kickstarting zoom session was of a great help for their own modeling ambitions. We are looking forward to seeing your models!
As part of our busy summer, SDU kindly invited us to their Danish iGEM weekend held on July 24-26th. The 3-days-2-night meet-up ended up being our first in-person contact with other iGEM teams, and arguably one of the most memorable weekends that our team has had through our whole journey!
Our stay in Tommerup was riddled with fun games, kitchen duties and enlightening workshops on good scientific practices, wiki tips and tricks, and public speaking. As for the games we played, DTU organized a pop quiz night while we hosted the game Tom, Dick and Harry – a tweaked version of charades where the actions of the mime (Tom) were described by a player (Dick) to the third person (Harry) who couldn’t see anyone, but had to guess the mimed words based on the descriptions by Dick.
It was an informative, enjoyable weekend, and such a nice change of routine from the everyday work in our busy little iGEM office. Thanks to SDU for having us, and to DTU for keeping us company!
Meeting Team MaastrichtDuring one of the wonderful dry lab workshops held as part of the iGEM Opening Weekend, our team came to think that it was such a pity that everything was so digital, and that we couldn’t talk to the other teams in more informal settings. So, we started some friendly banter in the chat next to the lecture with someone with the username “Lars”, but before we could continue the conversation, the modeling workshop ended, and our chat was cut short. This prompted us to start the hashtag #FindingLars on our instagram, and, incredibly, Team Maastricht reached out to us!
As silly and short as our exchange was, the chat we had with them really lifted our spirits and gave us hope in this new, digital platform, and as one thing led to another, we eventually decided to meet up over zoom and discuss our projects and plans for the future. It was a blast, and something we still talk about and fondly look back on even now!
Our Gaming NightContinuing off of wanting to bond with the other teams beyond the usual science collaborations, we organized a gaming night for any and all iGEMers to come and hang out with each other. It was informal, fun, and we got to meet a lot of awesome people from all over the world. Thank you to everyone who participated, it was great meeting you all!
For anyone who is interested, the schedule can be found here.
Ps. You’re welcome to shoot us a message if you want another session of Werewolf or Animal Crossing ;)
Düsseldorf Post Card ExchangeAs per tradition, Team Düsseldorf hosted their annual post card exchange, and we gladly took part! It was so cool to see what everyone had come up with for their post cards, and we love that this was one of the first collaborations we did – thank you, Düsseldorf, for bringing us all that much closer together!
Fun fact: Our design is actually a spin on one of the logos we thought about using for our project back in June. At that point we were considering having XytoFIND as our name (after running into some copyright struggles with CytoFIND with a C ...). Ultimately we scrapped the idea, but we still thought it was a cool art piece, and it fit so well for this project! We hope the other teams are happy with it!
DiscordAs part of our gaming night we set up a Discord server for everyone to join and schedule other hangouts using a platform that’s less formal than Slack and more accessible than other social media sites. The server is being kept up by Aje from our team and Xinhe from team Stockholm – one of the participants at the gaming night!
CoffeeEarly in the spring, when it became obvious this year was going to be different, we decided it was time to start engaging in conversations with other iGEMers despite the difficulties. And then, the idea of global informal coffee/chitchat hours emerged – a series of online events where iGEMers can meet and enjoy some informal networking. The time was always selected so that anyone in the world can join. The events were a major success. Some of the people we met in these sessions were students from Aalto-Helsinki - our, now, partners in crime!
iJET with Teams Aachen and DarmstadtWe participated in Team Aachen and Darmstadt’s iJET project with our own video clip, helping their iJET to connect iGEM teams!
The TUDelft VideoTUDelft has been making a video exploring the different ways in which synthetic biology is being used to make a better tomorrow, where iGEM is the focal point. We participated in their video by turning in a clip explaining our own project and contributed by writing Danish subtitles for their video.
SurveysDuring the project, we’ve helped some fellow iGEM teams by filling out surveys on their request – we know how nerve-wracking it can be to wait for the answers to roll in and how much effort goes into making these surveys, so we’re more than happy to help!
The teams we’ve helped out are: King’s College London, Thessaly, EPFL, and MSP-Maastricht. We hope you could use our answers!
Thank You!Thank you to everyone who has reached out to collaborate with us or that have accepted our invitations for collaborations. It has with no doubt been such a big part of our iGEM journey, and we couldn’t have done any of this without all of you!
Best of luck with everything!