Sleep with EpiC elegans

All knowledge is connected to all other knowledge.
The fun is in making the connections.

It is important for a scientist to know how to simply and clearly explain his knowledge in order to share it with everyone. Our team works on several projects to accomplish this goal. First, we met primary school and highschool students to explain them some science notions. We also worked with the popularization website "Parlons peu, parlons Science". Moreover, there are many things that we still don't know in synthetic biology, that's why it is important to pay attention to scientific meetings for going there in order to learn more about it.

Parlons peu, parlons Science!

Science is governed by the laws of physics and mathematics, often calling on theorems, demonstrations, and experimental data. Omnipresent, science is used to describe nature, to demystify biological processes, or even to solve problems of daily life.
Some might say science is not accessible to all. We do not agree. Indeed, it is difficult to understand all current scientific knowledge, especially when it is presented in books aimed at PhD students, experts, or researchers. But every scientific notion can be understood if it is explained in simple terms: this is called scientific popularization.

Parlons peu parlons science or #3PS is a free website where many scientific topics are published on differents supports: articles, videos, drawings, photos, podcasts and even songs! To add more contents, everyone (beginner or expert) can write what he wants in order to share with all their scientific knowledge. It enabled us to carry out scientific popularization in the fields of biology and biotechnology.

To know more about this site:

iGEM Bordeaux wanted to share his knowlegde to the #3PS community.
We wrote three article for their site on synthetic biology, memory and sleep.

Click on the following links to see the french and english version of their articles:

  • What is Synthetic Biology? (fr) / (en)
  • How does Memory work ? (fr) / (en)
  • How does Sleep work ? (fr) / (en)

It was the first time we wrote for a journal on sophisticated scientific subjects, and what is more aimed at an uninitiated readers. We rapidly became aware that this task required to take a step back and start with the basics. Defining each term precisely, illustrating notions with examples, performing analogies with objects of daily life ... Science popularization is a permanent dilemma between simplicity/concision and truth/precision of the given information, and we constantly juggled between these two aspects. Through this experience, we developed teaching skills and our ability to summarize. Indeed, simplicity is the best way to get the message across. We hope to have shared our love of sciences and that we managed to motivate and convince our readers to learn more.

Parlons peu parlons science reminded us of something essential: underneath all those layers of scientific knowledge, of complex mechanisms, and endless formulas, science is above all here to be shared. And we hope that is what we achieved.

School Interventions

Fatma, Linejy and Marguerite explaining the DNA concept to children

Talking about sleep

Once again, we came to visit our little monsters in order to talk about sleep. But how can we catch their attention without boring speeches about benefits of sleep in general? All of us had probably experienced the nap. Parents say that it helps to gather some energy. However children do not realise how beneficial sleep can be for their health. At the end of the meeting, we wanted them to become aware of the importance of sleep.
As we walked into the classroom, the pupils seemed to be very restless. In order to catch their attention, we began to talk about dreams. They became very enthusiastic and mentioned the characters, the atmosphere and even the anomalies that happened into their dreams and nightmares.
They discovered afterwards the sleep cycle and they interrelated sleep and health. We finished the meeting by talking about sleep diseases. The pupils showed a lot of concern and curiosity about narcolepsy and sleepwalkers. For some of them, these words were new, but many understood very fast the impact of such diseases on the everyday life.
We finally left the classroom. Pupils seemed to be satisfied with their new knowledge but they regretted they could not tell us more dreams and nightmares.

Discovering the DNA

On June 9th, we went to primary school to meet kids aged between 7 and 8 years old and make them understand what DNA is. This intervention began with a short video of the cartoon: “Once upon a time life”. In this movie, each protein or enzyme that usually play a role on DNA were represented as little characters. This way, the kids could better understand the different tasks of these molecules. For example, our famous histones were personified by little workers condensing DNA.
The video was followed by a little discussion in which we explained that DNA was present in all living system. To better understand this concept, DNA was compared to a manual mode with sentences, words and an alphabet. After these explanations, the class was divided into two groups to perform two different activities:

  • They experimented a banana DNA extraction. The aim was to understand that DNA is found inside cells which must be broken if we want to access DNA
  • They learnt to speak the language of DNA by using a set of Lego. We explained that DNA has its own alphabet and they had fun finding the complementary sequence of a DNA strand

Finally we showed them why the study of DNA was important and we gave them a feedback questionnaire about the new information given during the meeting and their impressions.

Marguerite, Linejy and Fatma talking about sleep to the pupils

The Meetings

Fatma and Marguerite are "in the place"!


From June 27 to June 29, iGEM Bordeaux participated in a symposium called BioSynSys for Synthetic and Systemic Biology (Biologie Synthétique et Systémique). This symposium was organized by the National Institute of Applicated Sciences (NIAS) of Toulouse and hosted by the University of Bordeaux.
During three days, we attended many conferences focusing on the research advances in the field of synthetic biology. Between the different sessions, scientists exhibited their work through posters and we had also the chance to do so for our project « Sleep with EpiC elegans ».

A lot of the talks we listened to were very interesting and taught us more about synthetic biology. The first one of them was about « a CRISPR-based gene drive system to suppress population of malarial mosquitos » presented by Tony NOLAN, a researcher working at the Imperial College London. In order to eradicate malaria, his team created a tool whose purpose is to target and alter the genes having a role in the female Anopheles mosquito’s fertility. This could allow to eliminate the populations of mosquitos which are the vectors of malaria.
While waiting for the arrival of a speaker, a discussion about the ethical aspects of the synthetic biology was stimulated. During this exchange between the participants, the iGEM competition was mentioned multiple times as well as the limits between ethics and the desire of innovation.

Attending this symposium was an enriching experience for us because we deepened our knowledge on synthetic biology, we met and discussed with researchers and we received feedback and support for the success of our project!

We are very proud that our project could kindle so much attention, and that's why we worked harder to accomplish our goals.

The Parisian Meet-Up : The European Experience

From left to right : Hiba, Linejy, Heiko (from iGEM Hambourg), Noémie and Maurene

On the first week-end of July, iGEM Bordeaux team went to the European Experience organized by iGEM IONIS and iGEM Evry. We travelled by bus with an iGEMer from iGEM Hambourg, it was nice to share different things during this travel.

The first day in Paris was really amazing, the parisian iGEMers were very well organized. After the breakfest reception, we established our poster and prepared ourselves to present our project Sleep with epicElegans. Many iGEMers came to our poster because they were interested about our project, linking sleep troubles and epigenetics is ambitious. Going to the meeting was interesting for us because we met an insomniac guy who gave us his opinion on our project. We also learned a lot and deeply about his troubles and how a solution as our project could facilitate his life. After our presentations, we enjoyed the posters of the other teams. We were impressed bymany projects, especially :

  • iGEM Shefield one’s which attracted us, because they designed their poster with Game of Thrones theme. Their project is interesting, they wanted to use E. coli to fight antibiotic resistance. They worked on a system which detect infection from a sample of blody fluid, thus may eliminate wasted uses of antibiotics
  • iGEM Paris Bettencourt presented a project linked with our region ! They worked on vine stain, they try to build a system which degrade pigment molecules from wine stains. As collaboration with this team, we are going to design and implement a series of assays in order to identify different enzymes and microbes from environmental samples

The lunch break was an occasion to discuss about our experiences and how works each team. We also shared some advices about the way that we all managed our respective teams. This first day ended by the diffusion of the UEFA game and a big dance party!

The second day of the meetup was dedicated to culture and we had the chance to do a Paris tour. The group was divided and each one did different activities. Museums tour was interesting, we discoverd many things at Jardins du Luxembourg or National Natural history museum. The activities were funny and we succeed to enrich our french culture :) !

The European Expreience was an excellent occasion to meet people and exchange ideas, great ideas and relationship were born which could open opportunities to work or could create friendships.

We enjoyed those two days and hope that we will see all those persons at Boston to meet them again and share our love of synthetic biology together!