Team:Ionis Paris/Quantifly

At the beginning

Ideas, brainstormings & ambition

Quantifly is born from the ambitions and the will of the biologists to create a biological tool that would answer a problematic that would have a meaning for us. Living in Paris, and with the recent COP21 conference that took place, we were concerned with the pollution levels of our city and it was pretty obvious to us that developing a solution (or part of it) to this problem was what we wanted to do in the iGEM competition.

We went through different brainstorms to develop the idea of a pollution prevention tool. What we firstly determined was the fact that we wanted to create a multidisciplinary project in order to use the strength of a multi-skills team. We then agreed to realise our project in the environment and electronics/informatics domains. Over one brainstorm, we evoked a bacterial paint, a bacterial calculator, information encoded in bacteria DNA (which was discarded because of our little means at our disposal regarding the task). We rather focused on pollution which is a well-documented issue and had a reflexion on which type of pollution: we firstly thought of endocrine disruptors which we realised were too complex pollutants for bacterial applications, as we would have to create genetic circuits in order to make bacteria able to metabolize such compounds.


Bioluminescence, transdisciplinarity & Biohack space

After performing several researches about previous iGEM detection-based projects, we came to the conclusion that bioluminescence wasn’t used at its full potential in the competition as it is in the professional world in scientific assays. We decided to focus on pollution detection with bioluminescence and its implementation in an integrated system.

In addition, because we wanted to show how biology would not be only a matter of theoretical and laboratory work, we tried to think the engineer way and we developed the Quantifly project, a multidisciplinary project that would combine biology and other disciplines in a concrete and innovative project. With this idea, different students from the IONIS group joined the team, each one bringing different competences in different fields such as marketing, communication, design, informatics, physics and of course biology. This diversity in the competences and areas of expertise in our team has allowed us to develop this exciting project that Quantifly is.

The iGEM competition being based on the open source system and the establishment and use of any knowledge, we are working on our project in a seemingly free-science based laboratory: La Paillasse, Paris, France.

We developed a partnership with this biohack space, which values are the sharing and the creation of open source knowledge, as well as the development of scientific or artistical projects. This biohack space has the ambition to give opportunities to innovative ideas, thus by trying to adopt a different way of thinking, developing innovation through open source science, which brings support from official entities such as the French government or other institutions.

La Paillasse has different objectives and key points which can be resumed in different values:

  • • The concepts of liberty of the community it gathers to do whatever is thought as a project

  • • To emphasise the importance of experimentation

  • • Opening to non-scientific projects to create emulation and maintain creativity

La Paillasse has put to our use laboratory material that are necessary for microbiology and molecular biology. The team can use freely hoods, centrifuges, and consumables to work on its project. This way of doing fits the DIY (Do It Yourself) spirit of the biohack spaces, and it allows us to manipulate with machines that we couldn’t afford otherwise.

This partnership with La Paillasse is the base of Quantifly, and we thought it is the perfect place to realise our iGEM project and all its whereabouts.