International Conference the COINS
The COINS is an international conference of life sciences, which is organised annually by the Vilnius University Student Union. This year, it was held from 29th of February till 2nd of March. The conference is attended by scientists from different countries all around the world, who work in life sciences field and have the will to discuss, learn and share their scientific experiences. Moreover, it provides an opportunity for young scientists and students to practise their public speaking skills and present their scientific posters. At The COINS, there is also a possibility to meet experts of any fields, discuss their ideas and discover their area of expertise. Also, a special event – A Company Fair – provides an opportunity for both experienced companies and entrepreneurs to find new partners and mutual interests.
Our team had a chance to represent themselves at this conference and share the ideas with the scientific community. Together with a member of Vilnius-Lithuania 2015 team, our team had an opportunity to introduce the iGEM competition and present the project of a previous team – ColiClock. The talk also included the insights on this year's project ideas, a probiotic therapy for phenylketonuria patients. The presentation was followed by the vast interest of the public, which motivated the team to pursue their ideas. What is more, the feedback on the project helped us to plan the project more thoroughly, taking into account all possible issues.
Our team has also participated in the above mentioned Company Fair, where we had an opportunity to get acquainted with the representatives of the variety of biotechnology companies and seek for their support. Information booklets were designed especially for this event. We were pleased to get a lot of interest from both local and international companies, who were eager to collaborate and establish close ties with Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM team.
Collaboration with artists and participation in European Researchers’ Night
We were proud to discover that the news about our team had spread out and reached many people from different fields. Such fields as art or philosophy were of particular interest to us. We were contacted by Kristupas Sabolius, Lithuanian writer and Associate Professor of Philosophy at Vilnius University, who expressed interest in our project and scientific research. Throughout this year we have conducted several meetings with Kristupas and his colleagues and discussed different questions regarding the ethics of genetic engineering, the importance of visualization, imagination and fortuities in science.
Together with Kristupas and two fellow artists Mindaugas Gapševičius (an artist, facilitator, and curator, based in Berlin, Weimar and Vilnius, Lithuania, initiator of several major international cultural/educational projects, including o-o Institutio Media and Migrating Art Academies) and Lina Rukevičiūtė (a video artist, a Saint Martin's School of Art (London) graduate, currently living and working in Vilnius, Lithuania) we decided to organise a discussion on the possible connection between art and science. It was the fourth discussion in our ‘Café Scientifique’ discussion cycle. Read more here
Later, we decided to bring our collaboration with Kristupas and ‘Institutio media’ organisation (which was represented by Lina and Mindaugas) even further and organised a workshop for artists and other enthusiasts. The workshop included bacteria staining and was a part of the exchange laboratory project, developed by ‘Institutio media’. The workshop was organised during ‘The European Researchers’ Night’, which is a Europe-wide public event, dedicated to popular science and informal learning. This is an annual event, which takes place on the last Friday of September. More than 30 countries and over 300 cities are involved in this event. The aim of the event is to show the common public what impact science has on society and how it is engaging and interacting with the common public.
Our workshop was called ‘Adjusting Bacteria’. This workshop started with the discussions on the adaptability of the bacteria to varying environmental conditions and the positive and negative influence of this phenomenon towards adaptability and survival of humans. We briefly introduced participants to the history of the scientific practice of working with bacteria and why such practice is important. We also got the audience acquainted with the bacteria and its structure, the mechanisms of adaptation of bacteria and to microscope usage. To our surprise, a brief 40 minutes of introduction turned into an intensive two-hour discussion. We were thrilled about all the questions and the interest we received. We were happy to answer the questions and broaden participants’ knowledge in many fields concerning life sciences.
Later we moved on to the practical part of the workshop – bacteria staining. We stained Gram+ and Gram- cells, live yeast and observed them through the microscope. The majority of the equipment used during the workshop can be found at home - we made microbiology loops out of clips, used cropped coffee filters instead of filter paper and so on in order to show that science can be accessible to the common public in a symbolic way. However, we did not forget the safety, therefore gloves and protective masks were properly used.
Lastly, we launched a protein exhibition. We exhibited 8 proteins that are more or less important for bacterial survival. This exhibition was intended for showing that certain parts, unobservable by the human eye, have a huge impact on bacteria and our lives as well. The proteins, such as CRISPR-Cas9, Rho transcription termination factor, Phycobiliprotein, Chaperone ClpB, Aquaporin Z, RepE, which have different functions, were chosen. We also included PAL – phenylalanine ammonia lyase, an enzyme we are working with in terms of our project. We displayed 3D protein structures in an unconventional way – on the paper cubes, with a different view of the same protein of each face. To make the exhibits more dynamic we decided to hang them on the ceiling and let them float at the eye height.
This side collaboration made us feel assured of our actions in spreading the knowledge about life sciences as we have met a lot of people from different fields that were keen on expressing interest in the related topics.
Our sponsors and supporters are something our project couldn’t exist without, even the smallest donation or a simple piece of advice towards our project is important and beneficial for us. That is why we decided to become sponsors ourselves and support another project. We did not have money to donate but we all have one thing, which we can donate, and it is our blood. Eight bravest Vilnius iGEM team members participated in the unpaid blood donation campaign in late spring. It was an unpaid blood donation, but each team member was gifted with a chocolate bar and a water bottle to revive the body. Here you can see their happy faces:
High school visits and children's education
To ensure that the younger generation is fairly informed about the science progress and to encourage them to seek the knowledge on the field, our team spent several months on communication with the schools of Lithuania while paying visits and giving talks. This also provided us with a chance to raise awareness about phenylketonuria and other genetically inherited diseases among students. We were very happy to observe students’ interest in presented topics.
The aim of the school visits was to spread the knowledge of synthetic biology to both students with the scientific and non-scientific profile. We organised the talks and discussions in 11 schools in 6 different cities of Lithuania. By the end of our presentations, we were asking students to fill in a short questionnaire. The question ‘Have you ever heard about synthetic biology before our presentation?’ held 65.42 % of negative responses and 34.58 % of positive responses. The results, that were quite opposite after the presentation, showed us that the effort we put into this particular outreach activity was significant.
As it was already mentioned, school visits provided a great opportunity to inform students about iGEM competition in hopes that some of them will get inspired and determined to take part in this competition in the future. A lot of them started following us on social media at once.
During these talks we were recalling the achievements of last year‘s team and introducing our ideas of this year‘s project. We explained to students what phenylketonuria is, what underlies this disease and what is the current treatment. The majority of students have never heard of this disease before. What caught their attention the most was the fact that there is no cure for this condition except for a low-protein diet which they have to follow throughout whole life. Children were inspired by our idea of creating an easier way to fight this disease. According to the questionnaire, some of the students even believed that it is possible to find a cure for cancer with the help of synthetic biology.
We have given talks to approximately 530 students of different age. Besides visiting 11 schools, iGEM team members were invited to organise and run a workshop during an annual event ‘Children’s University’. The topic of the workshop was ‘Create your own bacteria’ and was suited for children of 11 to 15 years old. There were roughly 50 children who attended the workshop, during which they were lectured about microorganisms, laboratory work and the ways scientists exploit their imagination to come up with the ideas of modified bacteria performing novel functions. After that, children were asked to create their own synthetic bacteria out of different art materials – coloured paper, pencils, etc. Students admired the workshop and were very excited to learn new things. They also expressed curiosity in what being a scientist is like and we were eager to answer their questions. We were also pleased that last year’s Vilnius-Lithuania team members occasionally joined the visits and workshops.
What is more, we have paid a visit to ‘The Centre for Child Development’ twice. The aim of this centre is to organise and provide specialized and qualified secondary and tertiary health care for children with developmental, mental and behavioural disorders or children who have experienced abuse and violence. Our team gave these children the opportunity to feel like real scientists – we equipped them with automatic pipettes, dressed them in lab coats, gloves and lab safety glasses and taught them to pipette. We have also proposed them to draw a custom modified bacteria and the results were astounding. There were approximately 50 children who attended these workshops, all aged between 10 and 16 years old. We have to admit that we were amazed by the creativity of these children.
To summarize, our team visited 11 schools in 6 cities, met 530 pupils aged from 7 to 18 years old; the majority of students (about 60%) were 16 - 18 years old. We have also got filled 214 questionnaires by high school students. Adding to that, we had a chance to run workshops in ‘The Centre for Child Development’ and during an annual event ‘Children’s University’. In general, our team felt glad to be able to communicate with children and observe their interest. We have got the influx of motivation from knowing that these children believed in our idea
Teaching a new lab worker
We are glad that not only students and people from life sciences field know terms iGEM and synthetic biology but school students as well. Urtė, a twelfth-grade school student from our country, found and asked us if she could join our team and get practise of the lab work. Urtė participates in science Olympiads and is keen to continue her studies in the life science field. During the whole summer, we taught her essential methods which are used in the lab such as Western Blot, Northern Blot, DNA and Protein electrophoresis, DNA and Protein purification and many others.
We were glad and honoured that we were able to contribute to an education, lab training and improvement of this young and talented student. We were admired with how much Urtė took an interest in synthetic biology. We wish her luck with her later studies and researches
Competition for school students - ‘A Day of Scientist’
Our team believes that one of the most important things for our world’s successful future is the connection between science and schools. That is the reason, why we decided to launch a competition for school students, called ‘A Day of Scientist’. The aim of this project was to present scientific progress not only in Lithuania but in the entire world.
The results of this competition were shocking! We received lots drawings and videos which showed how students from middle and high schools imagine scientists’ routine. You can see the winner below
The winners of this competition had an extraordinary opportunity to visit the biggest and the most innovative science centres in Lithuania: UAB ‘Thermo Fisher Scientific Baltics’ and Vilnius University Life Sciences Centre. We are thankful to our sponsors for these prizes. We believe that this competition will become annual and will attract more and more students to life sciences.
Participation in National Science festival ‘Spaceship Earth’
National Science festival ‘Spaceship Earth’– annual event, which started in 2004 in two biggest cities of Lithuania – Vilnius and Kaunas. Since then, Science festival became most important and biggest cluster of popular science events and spread into more than ten cities. During series of diverse hands-on activities (lectures, demonstrations, excursions, exhibitions, which now annually exceed 300) each September more than 30 000 participants visit all main universities, laboratories of the biggest technological companies, such as TEVA/’Sicor Biotech’, ‘Thermo Fisher Scientific Baltics’, ‘Ekspla’, other innovative companies, museums. Children of all ages, schoolchildren and families are taking part at the concomitant open air events (science fairs) in Vilnius and Kaunas.
Science festival took place on September 8th-19th. At the grand opening, which took place at the cinema centre ‘Forum Cinemas Vingis’, our members Kotryna and Emilija were interviewed and gave an introduction speech about iGEM, synthetic biology, personal qualities needed in science and life sciences perspectives in Lithuania.
During the festival, we hosted two events. Firstly, our members Kotryna and Diana conducted a lecture for high school students about the modern biotechnology, genetic engineering, iGEM competition and synthetic biology. We were very happy to have had around 50 interested participants from many schools and even some from universities.
Another project we had was a ‘BioBreakroom’ – an escape room, based on life sciences knowledge. An escape room is a physical adventure game in which players are locked in a room and have to use elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles and escape within a set time limit. Escape rooms are very popular in Lithuania nowadays. Our ‘BioBreakroom’ was life sciences themed: it had a microscope, Petri dishes with fake medium and fake bacteria and some other basic lab equipment such as lab coats, gloves, falcons and so on. Participants had to use their biological knowledge, such as using periodic table of elements, recognizing and using Sanger sequencing gel picture, translating DNA into amino acids using codon table and other, in order to complete the quest of saving the future from a heavily pathogenic bacteria, synthetically created by a mad scientist. All puzzles were created to introduce school students to basic lab equipment and enthuse them about scientific work. We also exposed the problem of lab safety while working with microorganisms: participants had to pick the fake medium to take out a note. For this, players should have used gloves and a pair of tweezers that were provided. The note inside warned about unsafe behaviour with unknown, potentially harmful microorganisms, which were obviously let into the environment and most likely infected people in the area during the picking process.
We held eight sessions of 45 minutes. All the times were booked in a day weeks before the event, we were greatly satisfied with such interest. 8 teams, each consisting of 5 people of school and university students or scientists participated in our ‘BioBreakroom’. Some puzzles may have been too difficult for younger participants but university students and scientists proved their intelligence and successfully ‘saved the world from dangerous bacteria’. We received very positive feedback from all the teams. We hope that these activities have shown both – demanding and fun sides of science and that the participants were engaged in seeking further knowledge on the scientific fields.
The European Biotech Week
The European Biotech Week is a series of events, dedicated to celebrating biotechnology, an innovative and vibrant sector, the beginning of which was set by the discovery of the DNA molecule back in 1953. It was held from 26th of September to 2nd of October.
We organized a quiz-type game, dedicated to life sciences and all the people who love it, including students, lecturers, professors and scientists. What does the abbreviation RING stand for? Where did the HeLa cells come from? These and more science related questions were asked game participants. More than 50 people and 10 teams gathered to compete and show their comprehension not only of life sciences and biotechnology but also of critical thinking and excellence in thought. Mind fight was designed by dedicated science students, representing international synthetic biology competition team - Vilnius iGEM 2016.
Life Sciences Baltics
Life Sciences Baltics 2016 is the only international forum in the Baltic states for world-class biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical devices experts from all around the world. It provides a unique opportunity to explore the new horizons of partnerships, exchange ideas and seek progress through networking. It allows to discover enormous potential and passion in the field of life sciences in Lithuania and the Baltics – the gateway to emerging markets.
Our team made collaboration with the main organizer of this event ‘Enterprise Lithuania’ and was invited to participate. During the conference we presented our project to many people from life-sciences industry, attended meetings with representatives of various companies, made a few collaborations and also raised our knowledge about life sciences industry in Baltic states.
Human practices collaboration with Aachen iGEM team
We have organised a Human Practices collaboration with iGEM Aachen. We tried to find out the opinion and to define the current knowledge of the common public about genetic engineering in Lithuania. Our team managed to question 57 people of different educational background. Results revealed that the majority of people in Vilnius were poorly informed about genetic manipulations.
PKU patients association and summer camp
As we are designing a product meant for a particular public our most important task is to communicate with potential users: ascertain the necessity of our product and adjust it's design to their needs.It was important for us to get in touch with PKU patients in order to better understand how this condition influences their daily lives and the lives of their families. For this reason, we cooperated with association ’Dalia’ - an organisation, which brings together all the PKU patients from Lithuania and several families from Latvia and Estonia. This organisation was established in 2005. We have contacted Dalia Matuliauskiene, the administrator of this organisation, who kindly provided us with all the relevant information on the disease, the patients and the available treatment opportunities. She also explained us all the details about what a low-protein diet consists of and how difficult it might be to follow this regime.
This communication inspired us to do more research on probiotics. For example, consider the possibility of creating the probiotics in some other form, such as yoghurt or cheese, than a pharmaceutical product.
We took one step further and met PKU patients ourselves. Some of our team members participated in an annual summer camp for PKU patients, which is organised by ’Dalia’ association. There we had a chance to meet affected people of different age and discuss the difficulties they are facing. Also, we had an opportunity to introduce our ideas to the potential users.
Our project was taken very seriously and enthusiastically by the patients, which provided us with determination to continue our work. Moreover, discussion with people made it clear to us that they prefer taking pills as probiotics to food products containing it. A survey, which was carried out as a part of a collaboration with Oxford iGEM team, also showed that a vast majority of people would rather take probiotics as a pill rather than in the form of a food product. Taking these results into account, we rejected the idea of creating food products and decided to focus on a pill.
Our team stayed in touch with association ‘Dalia’ through all the project and beyond.
Organisation of Synthetic Biology
In order to establish a strong tradition of Lithuania iGEM team and to spread the knowledge about perspectives of synthetic biology we set up an association ‘Organisation of Synthetic Biology’ (‘Sintetinės Biologijos Organizacija’) – ‘SinBiO’. ’SinBiO’ is a nonprofit organisation with its own regulation and governing bodies. It unites students who are interested in synthetic biology and are eager to contribute to raising awareness about it and possibilities it provides. Today the main goal of organisation is to support Vilnius iGEM team and events it holds, including visiting schools, ‘Café Scientifique’ discussions and many others.
We are thankful to previous Vilnius iGEM team members and Aurelija Olendraitė for support and consultations on starting ’SinBiO’.
If you want to know more about organisation, check our website.
Survey on the probiotics
As a part of a collaboration with Oxford iGEM team, we have conducted a survey on the probiotic delivery system in both United Kingdom and Lithuania. The survey contained several questions regarding people’s preferences in the appearance, intake method and frequency of the probiotics. The intention of the survey was to aid the design of a probiotic, which would meet the needs of the potential users.
First of all, it is vital to understand people’s attitude towards this kind of medication. In Lithuania, probiotics are quite commonly used, as more people reported that they have used this kind of treatment, which is twice as many as those who have never used it. Most of the respondents reported that treatment has had a beneficial effect on their health; however, a similar number of respondents indicated, that they did not notice any health changes. Since Lithuanians are quite well acquainted with probiotics, we felt assured that our developed product will be greeted positively by the users.
Speaking of the appearance of probiotics, in Lithuania, people were asked whether they would prefer to use probiotics as a medicine or as a consumable product, for example, yoghurt or cheese. It appeared that more people would take it in the form of a pharmaceutical product rather than in the form of food. Moreover, the majority of people in Lithuania would like to intake tablets or capsules, while in the UK, gel-like beads were among the most chosen options. Since in Lithuania more people would prefer capsules, our project aims at producing exactly this kind of medication.
It is very important that our designed probiotic is appealing to the patients, therefore, it was essential to discover how often people would prefer to use the capsule. We questioned people whether they would prefer to take the pill regularly or not. The most popular answer was ‘once a day’, which is beneficial for us since our designed probiotic is intended to be used regularly.
To conclude, the survey provided us with the thorough understanding of the people’s needs regarding probiotics. It helped us to fulfill our project in the way, which is the most appealing to the potential users and this has always been our primary aim.
Cafe Scientifique discussion cycle
Due to the fact that we are creating a GMO bacteria to treat a disease, we were concerned about society‘s attitude towards GMO and genetic engineering. In order to raise the awareness of recent scientific advances, genetic engineering and synthetic biology on both local and global scales, we organised a cycle of discussions, consisting of 5 public events. The events were concentrated on different topics of the scientific world. We were collaborating with ’Café Scientifique’ project ambassadors in Lithuania - Baltic Institute of Advanced Technology (BPTI), so the discussions took place in two of the city's cafés - ’Green Café’ and Tea and Сoffee House ’Skonis ir kvapas’ which are located in Vilnius old town. Our targeted public was people interested in natural sciences and willing to deepen their knowledge. All discussions were live streamed on our Facebook page to create a possibility to participate in the discussion for people, who were not able to attend the event. The questions in the comment section on Facebook were introduced to the participants of the discussion and answered right away.
In each event, we had a couple of guests, a moderator, and few team members, who were leading the discussion. In total, around 50 people were participating in each event, around 20 were watching online. The discussions we held:
❖Synthetic biology and GMO’s (July 14th). Roots and principles of synthetic biology. It‘s future potential and advantages. What does society benefit from GMO? What dangers could GMO‘s bring? Our society opinions towards genetically modified organisms and their use. Guests: Prof. Dr. Rolandas Meškys – Head of Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology at Vilnius University, Institute of Biochemistry Ph. D. Audrius Gegeckas - Junior Researcher at Vilnius University, Institute of Biotechnology
❖ Biotechnology in Lithuania (July 21st). What kind of biotechnology do we have in Lithuania? Is it well developed? How can we compete with other countries on the field? Are we known for our researches? What are the perspectives in Lithuania? Opening of Vilnius University Life Sciences Centre – a breakthrough in Lithuania‘s biotechnology? Guests: Prof. Habil. Dr. Juozas Rimantas Lazutka - Head of the Department of Botany and Genetics of Vilnius University. Prof. Habil. Dr. Eugenijus Butkus - Chair of the board of Vilnius University Life Sciences Centre
❖ Human genome editing (July 28th). CRISPR-Cas technology. Potential, advantages. Bioethics. Perfect human? Guests: Prof. Dr. Virginijus Šikšnys - Chief Scientist and Head of Department of Protein - DNA Interactions at Vilnius University, Institute of Biotechnology Ph. D. Giedrius Gasiūnas - Scientist at Department of Protein - DNA Interactions at Vilnius University, Institute of Biotechnology
❖ Art and science (August 2nd). The synthesis between science and art, its roots in history. Parallels between two fields. Portrait of artist-scientist. Projects on the field. Guests: Dr. Kristupas Sabolius – lithuanian philosopher and writer, Vilnius University lecturer Mindaugas Gapševičius - an artist, facilitator, and curator based in Berlin, Weimar and Vilnius, initiator of several major international cultural/educational projects including o-o Institutio Media and Migrating Art Academies Lina Rukevičiūtė - a video artist, a Saint Martin's School of Art (London) graduate, currently living and working in Vilnius, Lithuania
❖ Rare genetic diseases. (October 13th) what is a genetic disease? How is it inherited? Therapy. Phenylketonuria in Lithuania and the world; actuality, problems, therapy. Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM project. Results of survey on the use of genetically modified probiotic bacteria for curing phenylketonuria and other genetically inherited diseases. Guests: Prof. (HP) dr. Loreta Cimbalistienė – clinical supervisor (clinical geneticist) in Department Of Genetic Counseling, Center for Medical Genetics, Vilnius University Hospital (VUH) Santariškių klinikos MD Birutė Tumienė – geneticist in Department Of Genetic Counseling, Center for Medical Genetics, Vilnius University Hospital (VUH) Santariškių klinikos
Meeting with a gastroenterologist MD Vaidotas Urbonas. We presented our project and received many crucial comments. Firstly, we found out that similar principles were already used for other diseases‘ treatments with limited success. In 2012 E. coli synthesizing interleukin-10 was created. It has a strong anti-inflammatory effect and was used for inflammatory bowel disease treatment. We learned that E. coli concentration in the small intestine is not very high, bacteria move down because of the peristalsis. Therefore, the given dose of probiotics must be high enough. If modified bacteria got into the internal medium, it could provoke the immune response. But same goes for bacteria of natural microflora (Lactobacillus sp. etc.) and such events are very rare, occurring mostly with coexisting immunosuppression. Most likely, people with PKU would still need to follow the diet but their daily intake of phenylalanine could be higher.
Sofija and Kotryna spoke with medical microbiologist Genovaitė Bernotienė. Doctor Bernotienė told us about diagnostics of infectious diseases and the possibilities to use synthetic biology to create probiotics.
Meeting with the leading investigator of phenylketonuria cases in Lithuania Prof. (HP) dr. Loreta Cimbalistienė – clinical supervisor (clinical geneticist) in the Department Of Genetic Counseling, Center for Medical Genetics. We spoke about PKU treatment in Lithuania and the research of new treatment options such as injectable pegylated phenylalanine ammonia-lyase therapy (PEG-PAL). We were given information that strict low phenylalanine diet remains the most important factor in ameliorating clinical symptoms of PKU. Moreover, due to various reasons, every other patient in Lithuania does not follow the diet, meaning that new treatment options would be very beneficial.
Meeting with Prof. Dr. Rolandas Meškys – Head of Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology at Vilnius University, Institute of Biochemistry. Professor gave us some useful advice and encouragement about our PAL and Polyphe approaches. We were told that it is less likely to successfully export PAL out of the cell, so we decided on leaving the enzyme inside. We received a lot of encouragement on our PolyPhe approach and decided to keep working on it further. We were also encouraged to use Bacillus sp. for future development.
We arranged a skype conversation with Dr. Karolis Misiūnas, who is researching particle interactions in the University of Cambridge. We spoke about the possibilities to create phenylalanine biosensor as none is yet created.
Throughout the project we were having weekly meetings with many experienced and keen to help scientists from 'Thermo Fisher Scientific Baltics'. We were presenting our progress and discussing the problems we encountered.
Live interview with ‘Science Soup’
We were contacted by a team of journalists called ‘Science Soup’ (‘Mokslo sriuba’) who cover scientific researches in Lithuania. Together we decided to have a discussion about synthetic biology and our project that was broadcasted live via Youtube. The viewers could write their questions to the team in Youtube. We covered a number of topics ranging from the treatment of phenylketonuria to using synthetic biology approaches for dyeing jeans (this was actually the project of Berkeley iGEM 2013 team called “Blue Jeans” ).
Mutual event with 'Society for Innovative Medicine'
This was an event to present both Vilnius iGEM and ‘Society for Innovative Medicine’ (‘Inovatyvios medicinos draugija’). We decided to collaborate because we had a few mutual goals such as looking for new approaches in medicine or encouraging students to get involved in scientific research. Our team presented iGEM competition our project and a few of other teams (such as Edinburgh 2006 and their arsenic biosensor) to better illustrate synthetic biology in general. We also encouraged students to join Vilnius iGEM 2017 next year!