Team:UIUC Illinois/Public Engagement

Viralizer UIUC_Illinois

Education & Engagement

How We Change Our Future Selfs

Education & Engagement

Sibo Wang

Why are Education & Engagement necessary?


In a car accident, one victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.

For every 7 people entering a hospital, about 1 of them needs blood.

Patients with severe sickle cell anemia need to receive blood transfusions every month to survive.

Every 2 seconds, someone in the United States needs a blood transfusion to save his/her life.


Among the 500,000 women who die each year during pregnancy and childbirth, hemorrhage, a condition that invariably requires blood transfusion, is the most common cause.

Although 38% of the United States population is eligible to donate blood, less than 10% of that group actually does.


Globally, up to 4 million people have been infected with HIV by the transfusion of unsafe blood.

The prevalence of hepatitis B, hepatitis C and syphilis in donated blood is still extremely high in many developing countries; the prevalence of Chagas disease in donated blood is a major problem in South and Central American countries.


Artificial blood is a product made to act as a substitute for red blood cells.

Though there currently exist issues, such as short circulation in human body, immune response, and increased probability in stroke, artificial blood still presents a promising future.

The MAJORITY SUPPORTS research and related development in this field, according to our survey.

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YET… Very FEW people actually KNOW ABOUT IT. (Data collected through our survey.)

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In our opinion, raising public knowledge on this issue is crucial in the development of artificial blood. To achieve the goal, we believe in the power of education and engagement at social and personal levels.

How we educate & engage?

Online Survey.

Online survey allows us to know the public’s existing knowledge or opinion on the topic of artificial blood and helps us better educate and engage. We released an online survey which received over 500 responses from people of diverse background. (Refer to Human Practice page for details.)

From these responses, we analyzed the statistics and made the following conclusions:

1.Most people have never heard of artificial blood, so it is our responsibility to introduce it to the general public.

2.The majority of people support the development of artificial blood, which means that our project is supported by most people.

3.People think artificial blood should not only have the same functions that natural blood has, but also should be able to help people fight diseases.

4.Most people believe that artificial blood can be used for medical purposes, and about one third of people believe that it can be used to improve athletic performance.

5.Most people believe that artificial blood can be used for medical purposes, and about one third of people believe that it can be used to improve athletic performance.

6.People are most concerned about the safety of natural blood; they also think the limited supply of natural blood is a problem. If we develop artificial blood, we would aim to solve these problems.

7.Currently, the majority of people more readily accept natural blood than artificial blood, or have no preference between the two. We aim to help people relieve their mental barriers, so that more of them can accept artificial blood.

8.People who prefer natural blood are mainly concerned about the quality and safety of artificial blood. We can address these problems in our presentations to tackle their concerns.

Interviews with Experts.

Interviewing the experts enabled us to see how the professionals view our research and the topic of artificial blood, but most importantly, the interviews helped us gain a deeper understanding of our project and better educate the public. (Refer to Human Practice page for details.)

We interviewed six professionals involved in fields related to artificial blood, from cardiologist and head of hematology department to investor of various biomedical companies. The six experts shared and expressed several common ideas:

1.Hospitals are running out of blood.

2.Hospitals need artificial blood for transfusions in surgeries.

3.It is very difficult to create artificial blood cells.

4.It is important that oxygen carriers do not generate immunoreactions.

5.If the only function of artificial red blood cells is to carry oxygen, then the target consumers can only be people with specific blood diseases and athletes.

WeChat Platform.

We created a WeChat subscription account (one of the major media sources nowadays in China) and published multiple articles concerning our research process and the topic itself. With the goal of fascinating the public, instead of boring them with serious scientific essays, we used our daily language, even adding a humorous tone, in discussing our research. From time to time, we referred to trending topics to make our research much easier to be comprehended and a whole lot more interesting to those who aren’t involved in the scientific field.

For instance, in one of articles, we introduced our research project, referring to the trending anime series Working Cells. In this way, science appears less daunting and connects more to our daily activities.

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BioBuilder at School.

Last year, we started the first BioBuilder club in mainland China at our school. Targeting practically everyone who has an interest in biology, we host synthetic and molecular biology courses with the intention to spread knowledge among middle and high school students. As the course materials are all in English, we first helped to translate part of the BioBuilder textbook, protocols and manuals for us and future schools to use, and then steadily started from basic strawberry DNA extraction to violin production from E.coli. The courses was a great success and directly lead to the formation of our iGEM team.

Now we are connecting with other local high schools to see if we can bring this course system to them, and all of our team members are thrilled to start a new roll of the course this year!

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Edx Course Translation Group.

Starting this summer, we use our language skills in helping the MITx to translate the molecular biology web course on Edx to mandarin. The group already had 10 people and is using the transifex platform to translate the videos. We hope that through translating these courses into Chinese, we can increase their popularity, thus raising public knowledge on the topic outside our school and on a rather social level.

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