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UCL iGEM 2016 | BioSynthAge


See what the UCL iGEM team have been doing all summer. Below is a diary of almost everyday since the UCL iGEM team formed!


17th March 2016 - Project Simulation meeting 1

This exciting day marked the first time meeting of all the UCL iGEM members. We went through introductions of each member and the deadlines of iGEM. We also started to brainstorm some weird and wacky ideas we had.

23rd March 2016 - Project Simulation meeting 2

All team members met up to start to brainstorm ideas. Tactics used to stimulate ideas for our project included talking about certain aspects of synthetic biology that we liked, then creating ideas from those points.


Friday 3rd June, 6.30pm - Meeting with UCL iGEM 2015

All team members were able to gain huge inspiration and insight to iGEM by meeting the 2015 iGEM team. We received downstream transfer of knowledge and lots of tips on how to get started (the do’s and dont’s of iGEM) and inspired whilst brainstorming. We then went to the pub where we had a laid back social session with light brainstorming.

Monday, 6th June, 6.30pm - Meeting with Paris Bettencourt 2014

All team members were present at a meeting with a team member of the 2014 Paris Bettencourt iGEM team. We received a presentation on their project (what it was, how they obtained data/ evidence). We also got insights to what life is like for the team members post iGEM - how iGEM has affected their lives after the competition, which was very inspiring and interesting to know of. Paris Bettencourt team also shared their general motivation to pursue iGEM and their tips (dos and don'ts of iGEM) as well! Because we were so motivated and excited by the talk, we started to actively start to brainstorm, adding to our never ending list of possible ideas (note: weird and wacky ideas still welcome).

Tuesday, 7th June, 6:30pm - Meeting with Imperial 2014 + Brainstorm session

All team members got to have another inspiring talk from a team who nearly won the whole iGEM competition in 2014. We got given a presentation about Imperials iGEM project and Imperial also shared some of their stories of the process, what went well, what didn’t go well and what could’ve been better (hence, what we can think about doing!). All team members had a chance to ask questions to Imperial about their experiences, which will help with our organisation as a team throughout this project! We then had another brainstorming session which was one of the most productive sessions so far! We were able to all pitch our ideas to the post doctoral supervisors who helped with assessing the feasibility of certain ideas and helped come up with new and interesting ideas.

Sunday 12th June 10AM - Team brainstorm meeting

Most team members were present to brainstorm some more ideas we had come up with, to the rest of the team with some pizza added! We also had a final discussion about project ideas before we meet for PROJECT HACK day the following morning. Once we shared some of our ideas, we then discussed in greater depth our ideas we have come up with.

Monday 13th June-Project HACK day 1

All team members and post doctoral supervisors were then present to narrow down to one project idea from all the wonderful ideas we had come up with in the previous brainstorming sessions. It was here, where we decided that ageing was the theme of our project as all team members agreed that it's a promising and exciting area of research that hasn’t been explored by synthetic biology yet! We also collectively came up with a plan of what needed to be done by Thursday. This was to research in depth of some assays, specific enzymes in ageing pathways that we can use synthetic biology to tackle/solve.

Wednesday 15th June - Team research session

Most team members decided to meet to do some further research as a team on possible areas of ageing that we can focus on. Most team members shared some exciting research, ideas and knowledge that they had researched the night before.

Thursday 16th June - Project HACK day 2

After meeting with the team the day before, this was the day that the team members and the post doctoral supervisors met up to map out some experimental plans that would develop from the research we had done before. The team members also started to think about DNA and what parts/biobricks would need to be ordered.

Friday 17th June – 9AM iGEM safety training + group meeting

All team members met up with the safety advisor, to get some safety training which will equipt us with the knowledge to be able to handle an emergency whilst using the labs at UCL. Abbie, Kuba, Dale and Amandeep then met up after the training, to make a plan of what was needed to be done over the weekend by all team members and what we wanted to do next week (meet some internal deadlines). Part of this plan was to look into DNA sequences for assigned parts, start thinking about sponsorship and funding, those members that are not strong with HTML, would start to learn HTML basics and for members to start to think about populating the wiki page.

Monday 20th June (10AM) - Team meeting

All team members met to decide on individual roles- e.g. WIKI-master etc and to update the rest of the team members on how far they got with the items in the plan for the weekend set on Friday 17th June. We found that discoveries within ageing had been a recently developed research (new discoveries). We also sent out a survey which was about public perception of synthetic biology, genetically engineered organisms and our project via twitter, facebook etc. As ageing has a lot of ethical issues associated with it, we wanted to make sure we start to interact with the public and the local community about how synthetic biology can be used for people to live healthier lives for longer.

Tuesday 21st June - Team meeting

We met with the team members to start to finalise some of the biobricks we have found and to start to narrow down exactly what pathways we want to tackle and how we can get some data. We also organised what human practices activities we can run and started to email and talk to some lecturers at UCL who can help with organising workshops for younger children.

Wednesday 22nd June (6.30pm) - Webinar/ skype training with Benchling

All team members had a demonstration/ webinar from the co founder of Benchling. We were able to have a step by step guide of how benchling can be used in our iGEM project. One really useful part of the software we really liked was the lab notebook - where we are able to also convert the notebook to html (useful tool for putting the notes onto our wiki page). The team members asked lots of questions about how to use the software and raised any issues they had before with the software. After the webinar, team members were able to raise any issues they were having with any idea developments to the post doctoral supervisors.

Thursday 23rd June (5pm)- UCL iGEM meets Westminster iGEM

Most team members were able to meet the Westminster iGEM team where we spoke about our projects and possible collaborations between Westminster and UCL iGEM teams.

Friday 24th June - (2-4pm) - Cloning methods / DNA editing training with Dr Vitor Pinheiro

All team members were able to receive a really useful and interesting lecture about the key synthetic biology and molecular biology knowledge needed in order to take part in iGEM (or to understand lab work at least!). We attained knowledge on the biobrick assembly, the different ways to clone and also primer design. After the lecture, we were able to pitch our ideas to Dr Vitor who raised some key issues with some of our ideas and things that we didn’t think about before. We then had a chance to have some further discussions about the project as a team and came to the conclusion that we needed to narrow our ideas down more.

Sunday 26th June (2pm) - Team meeting

All team members met to decide on the aspects within our project that we want to explore in detail (post discussion from the meeting on Friday with Vitor). We also discussed ideas related to funding and sponsorship

Monday 27th June - Team meeting

Discussed our idea in depth and started to work as a team on the different biobricks we wanted to order. We decided to get every biobrick ready to order by Wednesday. It was a very productive day!

Tuesday 28th June - Meeting with Kim Morgan

Amandeep, Michelle, Abbie and Dale had a chance to meet with Kim Morgan (UCL communications and outreach coordinator at UCL) about possible outreach opportunities. We discussed that we needed to develop an action plan of exactly what we wanted to achieve. Further to this, we found out that we can be featured in an article (Which we were able to get published on the UCL outreach website)! Great kickstart to our human practices! Other team members focused on developing the documentation of each biobrick and also updating our wiki page and contacting people!

Wednesday 29th June - Team meeting

Team members met up to meet internal deadlines! We finally were able to order some DNA today which was exciting! We also started to build our logo today.

In the evening, we were given a wiki training session from Lewis Moffat, a member of UCL's 2014 team.

Thursday 30th June - Some team members attended the ISMB Symposium

Some team members were able to get a huge insight to what researchers around the world are working on when it comes to senescence. A very interesting talk that stimulated some really interesting thoughts on how we can potentially tackle ageing through senescence. We all had a chance to talk to Maximina after the talk who answered some of our questions about how we could incorporate this interesting research with our project. After the talk, Abbie, Amandeep and Kamil were able to start to work on meeting some deadlines (such as the proposal for the CRISPR grant and safety forms). Amandeep, Chinyere and Neythen were thinking about developing an app and started to do some basic brainstorming of ideas.


Monday 4th July - Meetings

Some of the team members met to attend a skype meeting with the Paris team at 11am. We wanted to start to collaborate with the igem teams (uptown funk music video). We also had a meeting with the UCL staff members who are related to sutton trust year 12 summer school - we will be collaborating with them! We discussed our project with them and came up with some great activities with the students. Michelle started making the introduction of team members video for our youtube video. We were discussing some fun ways we could get attention such that we can raise awareness of synthetic biology and iGEM.


Tuesday 5th July - Meetings

day 1 of labs: Abbie and Kuba were in the labs starting the transformation. The other team members were in a meeting with our supervisors, where we had a discussion about the biobricks that still needed to be ordered, . Amandeep started making the infographic, which was posted onto social media to introduce our project to the wider community.

Wednesday 6th July - Meetings

Abbie was at the designers, finalising the logo. Some of the team members are thinking about the entrepreneur side of our project whilst other team members were making lesson plans for the sessions with the younger generation.We were also able to post the infographic onto social media (which got alot of attention) as well as introducing our logo.

Thursday 7th July - Meetings

Kuba, , Dale, Michelle, Kamil and Amandeep were attending a meeting with New England Biologics about how they can sponsor us and provide us with some tools in the labs. This was extremely useful! The team members then met up to discuss what we need todo for today, some team members were interested in starting labs (for our project) today, whilst other team members worked on developing the lesson plans for the outreach activities we have planned next week! Other team members were also researching and building our business canvas

Friday 8th July - Meetings

Abbie and Dale started the day by by working in the labs. Whilst Amandeep, Michelle, Hana and Yuchao worked on developing our ideas for commercialisation of our idea. We also released the introduction video on youtube (successfully kicking off our vlog!) Other team members were working on several other aspects of the project. The team members also had a skype meeting with Experiment. We also had a meeting social with Imperial 2016 team!!! We also won a syngenta grant!!!

Monday 11th July

Michelle, Amandeep and ChiChi were inspiring the next generation of scientists, lawyers, physiologists, computer scientists through a workshop. This consisted of some organised debating sessions about ageing and synthetic biology. We also organsised some fun activities such as getting them to draw what comes to their minds when we think of ageing. Abbie ans Kuba were also in the lab today. Yuchao is contacting the chineese igem teams through chineese social media (translating from english to chineese). We want to hopefully build a communication plaform for igem teams (Hana). He has also been working on some of the experimental plan.

Tuesday 12th July

Day 2: workshop with the younger generation. We were able to give them some experience in the labs. Amandeep is working on arranging more events and sessions (human practices)

Wednesday 13th July

Some people were in the labs, whilst others were working on the poster and the presentation for the synbio showcase. We are also looking more into creating some visuals for the synbio showcase. Other team members are working on creating the resources for the outreach programmes that we have planned for the near future!

Thursday 14th July

We had a skype meeting with Aubrey de Grey, which provided us with a huge insight to ageing research and also tips on our project. As well as this, we were also focused on finishing the presentation and the poster for the synthetic biology showcase the next day.

Friday 15th July

Michelle, Abbie and Amandeep were presenting at the synthetic biology showcase, where we got to share our project with experts in the field and also ask about their opinions on our project. We also attended further networking dinner.

Saturday 17th July

Elderly care home visit

Monday 18th July

Meeting with Fillipe from UCL institute of ageing. Team members (Kuba, Michelle, Amandeep and Kamil) are working on the introduction of our project video. We are also looking into preparing for the interview later as well as looking into other mini projects we can take on.

Tuesday 19th July

Amandeep attended the meeting with the organisers of year 8 workshop (for Friday 29th July), where we discussed ways to make the session more interactive and relevant to the theme of the summer school which is London. The other team members were working on developing different parts of the project, Hana was working on the business plan, Abbie and Amandeep attended a meeting with our supervisor where we discussed some of our biobricks (Lycopene), and created an action plan for the coming week. Michelle is looking into making our introduction to our project video for our youtube channel.

Wednesday 20th July

Dale has been in the Lab making media and agar. Whilst Hana and Amandeep have been researching about some possible ideas (glucose bactosensor). We are also preparing our questions for the meeting with Maximina tomorrow.

Thursday 21st July

Amandeep and Abbie attended a meeting with Maximina from UCL, where we were able to get a different perspective on our project. Abbie is now working on the lycopene experiment and design whilst Amandeep is creating some content for our wiki page.

Friday 22nd July

Abbie was looking up the experimental protocol for Lycopene. Dale was in the Labs.

Monday 25th July

Amandeep is working on ordering the t-shirts and editing the logo. Abbie finalised the lycopene concept and experimental protocol whilst Kuba is working on writing things up for out wiki page. We adopted a bonsai tree.

Tuesday 26th July

Abbie designed gblocks for our lycopene biobrick. Amandeep created a slider for our wiki homepage as well as some banners.

Wednesday 27th July

Amandeep was designing the Logo for the T-shirts and phoning companies to get a quote for some t-shirts. Abbie was working on developing the presentation for tomorrows year 12 interactive workshop with Sutton trust summer school.

Thursday 28th July

Amandeep, Abbie and Michelle gave a presentation about iGEM, synthetic biology and ageing to year 12 students at the Sutton Trust summer school at UCL - attach photos. Very inspiring not for just the students, but for us aswell! We had a meeting with James, who is assisting with the design of our wiki page (see attributions) to discuss the concept in greater detail

Friday 29th July

Amandeep, Abbie and Michelle gave a presentation about synthetic biology and London to year 8 students as part of outreach activities at UCL - attach photos etc


Monday 1st August

Amandeep is working on developing the crowdfunding page - experiment for UCL iGEM.

Abbie updated our social media platforms describing our outreach experiences and promoting our 'about our project video CHANGE THIS TO ACTUAL UPLOADED FILE' on youtube. She also spoke to RICE iGEM team about collaborating with their humans of synbio project and has been interviewed to feature. Abbie spoke with various teams regarding feedback on current gene circuit designing platforms and collated this for AlphaBrick and with EPF Lausanne iGEM team to participate in their blog idea which helps to put all iGEM teams in one place. Abbie contacted a Kings College London students who wanted to advise our team - we want to keep him involved.

Tuesday 2nd August

Abbie updated the wiki notebook, looked through what Amandeep did on experiment, constantly updating the wiki with content. Abbie and Amandeep is also working on developing the design of the wiki (building the design of the website with James). Neythan has created the basics of the app (biobrick game) that we are hoping to be a way to get synthtic biology more known - make people more aware of it. Exciting times - hes been able to develop a workign prototype that we hope to run a test with tomorrow.

Wednesday 3rd August

Abbie attempted to remove the illegal restriction sites for the vitalogelin circuit. We also contacted transcriptic, hoping to use their automated robots for one of our ideas. Amandeep worked on developing the wiki as well as re-writing the experiment crowd funding page and developing some more ideas for our human practices. Kamil was working on creating the final proposal for the vitaliginin circuit. Amandeep wa also working on giving Neythan feedback on the app he has developed - I was able to do a trial run through.

Thursday 4th August

Amandeep is starting to make the proposal (make the circuit) for the SOD gene therapy idea. We had a meeting with Darren.

Friday 5th August

finally, after constant perseverance we got our Experiment page approved and ready to be released (crowdfunding). Abbie is focusing on designing the vitalogenein biobrick into chuncks ready for ordering. Amandeep is finding an oxidative stress induced promotor for the SOD system we are hoping to build, updating wiki and devising a plan for our human practices.

Monday 8th August

Michelle is working on the poster for Westminster. Dale is organising the general protocol for the wiki and generally all experiments. Amandeep is working on arranging the wiki page as well as creating and sending out a list of questions for politicians and religious people. Amandeep is also organising the SOD proposal.

Tuesday 9th August

Amandeep is working on the SOD proposal, doing extra research and developing the wiki page.

Wednesday 10th August

Amandeep is learning CSS and javascript - developing the design of the wiki. She has also been contacting many Mp's.

Thursday 11th August

Amandeep and Abbie conducted a workshop with year 12 students who are taking part in the Sutton Trust summer school. During the workshop we received lots of good feed back and some exciting opinions during the debate about whether ageing research is really a good thing.

Friday 12th August

The project abstract was due today - therfore Amandeep and Michelle was working on developing a clear brief of our project and selecting our tracks.

Monday 15th August

Some of the team members attended a meeting with our supervisors where we were able to start to organise our experiments and our plan for the coming month. Abbie, Amandeep and Michelle went to London City hall to see David Kurten (A member of the London assembly). Very exciting!

Tuesday 16th August

Our crowdfunding page was launched today. Amandeep prepared the presentation for the UK iGEM meet up which is tomorrow. Amandeep and Michelle also worked on the poster presentation (for the meet up).

Wednesday 17th August

Amandeep and Abbie attended the UK iGEM team meet up. We also presented our project this day to the other teams.

Thursday 18th August

Abbie and Amandeep attended to UK iGEM team meet up where we presented our project in the poster presentation sessions. We also recieved some good feedback about our project.

Friday 19th August

Amandeep was designing the team T-shirts and Jumpers ready to be ordered soon. Amandeep and Dale also met with Shubo who was able to help us to plan the yeast experiment as a part of the Vitelogenine sub project.

Monday 22nd August

Amandeep is working on developing the wiki (making graphics, and the content) also hoping to start the yeast experiment this week.

Tuesday 23rd August

Wednesday 24th August

Thursday 25th August

Friday 26th August

Monday 29th August

Tuesday 30th August

Wednesday 31st August


Thursday 1st September

Friday 2nd September


Monday 19th October

The team met up early morning for a team meeting. We came up with an action plan of what we want to do in the lab this week. Other team members (Abbie, Amandeep, Hana and Kamil) are preparing for a practice run through our jamboree presentation. Amandeep is also working on developing the wiki and uploading more project write ups.

Friday 2nd September