Human Practice Main Page

As science students we are often confronted with misconceptions from the public. From the meaning of genes to the explanation of molecular phenomena. Politicians and the media often depict science in a very inaccurate manner, which may be why the public is often sceptical about science and scientific progress. But it may also be to us, the scientists, to come down from our ivory tower, better public relations and communicate science in an open and comprehensible manner.

But as scientists we also must be wary and critical of our progress, as being at the forefront of technology also implies a huge ethical burden, of which we need to be aware of. So the question is not only: “Can we innovate?” but also: “Should we innovate?”

To tackle both of these points - the open exchange between science and community, as well as responding to the ethical problem of necessity – we conducted a multitude of social research and tutoring programs.

Integrated Human Practices

Chlamydial infections are easy to treat and therefore not a serious health problem in industrial countries. However, due to the lack of affordable diagnostic methods infections with chlamydia trachomatis still often lead to trachoma and blindness in developing countries. With our device we want to tackle this problem. To find out whether our applicational design is fitting for current trachoma elimination strategies in affected countries, and whether legislation would limit the use of a diagnostic device with GMOs, we started our Integrated Practices Approach. Thanks to the Synenergene grant we managed to travel to Africa and study first-hand the progress of fighting chlamydia in the field. In Malawi, which is to the south-east of Africa, we visited the BICO institute, supported by a multitude of international partners, which organizes the fight against trachoma in Malawi. Quite successfully, we might add. Our intention was in finding out whether our applicational design is fitting for current trachoma elimination strategies, and how legislation would limit the use of a diagnostical device with GMOs. See our work on Integrated Human Practices here:

If you want to listen to the interviews in full detail, click on the link below, or use the navigation above.

Prof. Khumbo Kalua – Director of the Blantyre Institute of Community Ophthalmology
Dr. David Chinyanya – Program Manager of the Trachoma Mapping Project in Malawi
Michael Masika – Co-Director of Ophthalmology from the Health Ministry of Malawi
Salomie Mumderanji Balakasi - Data Manager for BICO
George Moyo - Data Analyser and Field Observer

We also managed to visit or at least skype with experts of fighting trachoma in the public health sector, assisting governments of developing nations, and experts of diagnostic research, who have contributed immensely to endemic chlamydia strain knowledge, dangerous for humans and other animals alike. Emeritus Prof. Konrad Sachse – Developing diagnostic methods for chlamydia in animals at the University Jena
Dr. Thomas Meyer – Developing diagnostic methods for chlamydia in humans at the University Hospital Hamburg
Dr. Paul Courtright – Past Director of the Kilimanjaro Center for Community Ophthalmology in Tanzania
Dr. Jeremy Keenan – Conducting strategical Trachoma Elimination Studies from San Francisco, concerning Ethiopia

Tag des Wissens

On the 10th of September our iGEM Team Hamburg invited school children during the “Tag des Wissens” (Day of Knowledge) to the University Hospital Hamburg, to participate in creative pipetting challenges and learning about the everyday life of a scientist. This happened in collaboration with Eppendorf and the german junior organisation for biochemistry and molecular biology. We encouraged the children to ask questions, with the aim of making the scientific work more palpable for young minds, and maybe even more fun.

School Tutoring

As part of the student orientation program for high school students, members of iGEM Team Hamburg informed the 11th grade of the Albert-Thaer Gymnasium about molecular biology, biology and work at a laboratory. After the talk, seventeen students visited us at our lab to learn more about the interesting work in the laboratory. Groups of three students performed a restriction of our parts pSB1C3/BBa_R0082/BBa_E0430, pSB1C3/mTaz and pSB1C3/BBa_I732018 using the restriction enzymes EcoRI and PstI.


Staying in the lab all day long, only talking about the project and sometimes being very exhausted and frustrated brought up the idea of taking part in a sportive public event. We put up a team of five members of the team to take part at the relay race run. The rest of the team came along to cheer for each runner. In total our team finished the 25 km run in 2:09 hours. For us it was a great opportunity to get the whole team together, bond with each other and connect with the public.