"Human Practice is the study of how your work affects the world, and how the world affects your work."
--Peter Carr, Director of Judging
To fulfill the spirit and requirements of integrated human practices, we designed and accomplished our “5Cs” human practices. They are
Construction of team
Scientific research is not always a dull work, it can also an interesting experience that everyone could share. In order to spread the fun and attractiveness of synthetic biology, we designed a coloring book. In this way, synthetic biology drew more attention by showing its fun part, following the idea of combining science and art. To our delight, the public were in favor of color painting and they praised our activity for being a good chance to broaden their horizons. Finally, we collected more than 200 painting works. Most surprisingly, kids loved our coloring book very much. With their creative imagination, they developed interests in synthetic biology and at the same time, gave us much courage and inspiration.
We were inspired by the recently popular coloring book Secret Garden, and we learnt from its design. In our coloring book, we simplified several important scientific items into simple stick figures, including DNA chains, viruses, bacteriophages, bacteria, so that people would understand some basic concepts of synthetic biology by painting them. Drawing itself is relaxing and thought-inspiring, and in the form of drawing, we presented our work and popularized iGEM. Hopefully, this coloring book will be a carrier of the spirit of scientific research and our wish to bring benefits to the world.
We have brought our coloring book to the Giant Jamboree, hoping that all of you could have fun with it and know more about us. We also want to discuss with the organizers of iGEM abut the perspective of publishing the coloring book, so that the spirit of iGEM could be spread out and keep encouraging more iGEMers to devote their talent and passion.
Know more about "Coloring Book", please click "Here"
Construction of team
As a new team, with limited knowledge of iGEM competition, we desperately needed instructions and suggestions on how to start and manage a team. We have met obstacles and setbacks and we have been seeking advice from 3 teams.
NUDT-China: We invited iGEM NUDT-China that has participated in iGEM for three times to answer our puzzles. During the meeting, NUDT-China introduced the iGEM process, and shared their experience in team building in detail with us. At the same time, they gave comments on our project, and put forward a lot of good ideas.
Nanjing-China: After proposing some initial ideas of our own project, in order to polish up it, some of our team members went to Nanjing University to obtain experience. In Nanjing University, both teams gave a presentation on their project design. As a veteran team, Nanjing-China gave us constructive suggestions which were significant to us. From then on, we gradually became clearer in thoughts and got started with our work.
UESTC-China: The UESTC-China post some plasmids and introduced to us some details about the iGEM.
Doctor Li Ming is experienced in doing research in horizontal gene transfer and teaching the lecture on biosafety for undergraduates. The biosafety issue is one of the major concerns of both participant teams and organizers of iGEM. Before we started in the wet lab, we asked Doctor Li to evaluate the biosafety issues of our whole project. He introduced the biosafety classifications of different organisms and protection practices among different biosafety level labs. The Vi antigen project was his major concern and he gave us valuable suggestions. He also communicated with Doctor Cong Yanuang to confirm our lab procedures, making sure we were not going to culture S.Typhi but just to extract the genomic DNA of S.Typhi. He helped us analyze whether there were potential transposable elements among the His targeting locus, and the result proved to be negative, which meant the device integrated into the His locus would not be horizontally transferred to other bacteria. At last, he brought up with several biological containment strategies, including the metabolic auxotroph, suicide genes and kill switches. We really appreciate Doctor Li’s instructions on biosafety issues and his thoughtful ideas helped us a lot.
Antibiotic resistance issues
Antibiotic resistance is the ability of bacteria to resist the effects of antibiotics. Due to the abuse of antibiotics, multidrug resistant bacteria have emerged and posed great threat to public health, such as Staphylococcus aureus, Acinetobacter baumannii, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and so on. To know about the exact situation of antibiotic resistance in the hospital, we visited Doctor Gong Yali, who works at the burn department in the Southwest Hospital. She did a lot of researches related to antibiotic resistance. She introduce that currently antibiotic resistance is a really urgent issue that needed to be treated seriously. For example, one of her researches demonstrated that the Acinetobacter baumannii was resistant to many antibiotics. We introduced our project and explained our goal of establishing a markerless integration visual selection system. She agreed with our idea and praised us for concerning antibiotics resistance. She compared the counter selection with our visual selection system and discussed with us about their value, on the basis of which she gave her advice. Thanks to her guidance, we had a better understanding of antibiotic resistance and we were enlightened to do more.
SCU-China:The project of SCU-China focused on the antibacterial deodorant insole. However, they met some trouble in microbes. Therefore, using our advantages, we helped them verify the antimicrobial effect of the insole. At the same time, we found our mathematical modeling unsatisfactory, so we invited their talented group members to provide technical guidance for us.
UESTC-software:UESTC-software encountered problems when synthesizing DNA primers,so we helped them. Additionally, considering that we had several models, we hoped to achieve visualization of the models by using software. UESTC-software kindly helped us, and the result was satisfying and helpful for our further work.
Southwest Union:After five months of experiments, our project began to take shape. Meanwhile, we have just received a meet-up invitation from the Southwest Union (iGEM meet-up in southwest China). Simulating the final round, this meeting set up presentation, poster exhibition and free discussion. Together with the SCU-China, UESTC-China, UESTC-software and SICAU-China, we knew much detailed information about the competition, such as the progress and the judging criteria. All the teams exchanged suggestions with each other and build up deep friendship.
CCiC Conference:As the competition approaches, the Central China iGEM Consortium (CCiC) conference was hosted by Sun Yat-sen University, in order to simulate the iGEM Giant jamboree and enhance further communication among different teams. This was a great opportunity to present our work and learn from the other 28 teams. It was nice to see that we did a good job in presentation and the audience was attracted by our project. The most important thing to us was that we harvested much useful advice from the judges, mentors and students. Interestingly, we were lucky to have dinner with two former iGEMers Zhang Haoqian and Liu Yang, who encouraged us to go deeper in research and promote iGEM and synthetic biology research in our university. From the CCiC, we were aware of our current disadvantages in quantitative measurement and the overall logic, which laid a foundation for the later adjustments and improvements.
TMMU-China Meet-up:After several attendances of meet-ups, we hold a meeting one month before the opening ceremony. Although small in scale, this meet-up aimed at further promoting projects and better preparing for the whole competition. It is worth mentioning that with only one month from the competition, many teams felt they were under great pressure. Professor Rao Xiancai from TMMU-China shared with us his story. He told us that with the advent of the information age, acquiring knowledge and exchanging information had become much easier than decades ago, with iGEM as a good example of integration of network information and international communication. The whole world is enjoying a golden age of information exchange and multilateral communication. He hoped that given the chance, all the young adults could seize the moment to learn more, not for medals or awards, but to stand on the frontier of the age, and by working together, we would make a difference. Professor Rao’s speech inspired us all and we therefore deepened our understandings of scientific research. At last, the exciting hot pot dinner lighted up the happy atmosphere for every team member to enjoy the meeting and refresh for future challenges.