iGEM — SCIE Team Won Gold Prize


About iGEM

iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition) is a top-of-the-line science and technology competition in not just the developing field of synthetic biology but also the world. The competition itself is highly interdisciplinary, involving cross-cooperation in biology, mathematics, computer programming and so on. The competition is founded in 2003 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). This international event aimed at promoting the exchange of knowledge in synthetic biology as well as the intellectual socializing and development of high school and university students. This year, a total of 375 teams from all over the world registered for the competition.

Brief Intro About Our Team

The 14 members of our team all come from SCIE. In October, during the iGEM Jamboree in Boston, we stood out in more than 70 high school teams in the world, having earned Gold Prize and nominee for “Best Parts Collection”awards. We are the first team in iGEM history to build an underwater recombinant protein kit, and we brought back from Boston the best records of awards that an SCIE iGEM team has ever earned.

Students are working in their laboratory

Our Marvellous Year – iGEM Entry Process

The whole process of the iGEM competition is indeed a rare opportunity for us high school students to experience scientific research in advance, to compete with other excellent groups from the rest of the world and to stand within the very frontline in the field of synthetic biology. 

At the beginning of the competition, each team will brainstorm and choose the appropriate research subject. The subject content is open for thought: any synthetic biology method is accepted, and a synthetic biological product meaningful to society and/or academics is created from zero. Then, a lot of literature research is carried out for relevant subjects, some contacts and outreaches to sponsors and society were made and finally our approach and method for our topic is decided. Thus comes the actual experiment work.

In the experimenting period, the experiments conducted and data analysis are not only biological knowledge, but also include some knowledge in the fields of chemistry, physics, mathematics and programming. The close correlation of experiments with Human Practices and Mathematic Modeling, as well as the construction of webpages and the production of posters according to our results, are displays of the competition’s multi-element style. Needless to say, each and every part of the project requires strong skills and techniques in experimental planning, academics, design and computer programming in order to facilitate the full and perfect display of our research and results.

The iGEM competition lasts for a year, including team building, selection of topic, experiment and presentation. Our final Jamboree – the last carnival for iGEMers – is in Boston. Each team in the world will complete a presentation and can communicate with other teams.

Our Project – New Adhesive Proteins

We collected natural-occurring bioadhesives of various underwater organisms and put together the proteins responsible for internal stickiness (cohesion) and interfacial stickiness (adhesion) to obtain new strong adhesives with multiple functions. By mass literature reviews, we selected the adhesives in mussels, barnacles and E.coli, spliced them with the combination method above, and produced them with bacteria. Due to low protein productions, we had to switch to other methods.

In the end, after months of hard work, our protein production reached 7 mg / L, and the proteins’ stickiness enables adhesion of small pieces of plastic to a variety of surfaces. 

These recombinant proteins have a wide range of prospects for use in real-life, including underwater engineering, medical repair, biological pollution prevention and other fields. We learned from the meeting with a cardiovascular and cerebrovascular surgeon that adhesives used in surgery is expensive and not very functional. Our method can produce cheaper adhesion proteins with better performance and can be used in repairs in bone fractures, nerves, heart muscles and possibly brain tissues. 

During the one-year period, we interviewed professors and surgeons who are experts in this field. Mathematical modeling was used to describe the process of the project, programming is also used in the construction of our team’s official webpage (Wiki). Students with art talents participate in the design of webpages, posters and accessories. iGEM is an interdisciplinary competition, and everyone can play an important role in our project. 

Welcome to our wiki– https://2019.igem.org/Team:Greatbay_SCIE

Our Thoughts After iGEM

  • I’m thrilled to take part in this year’s iGEM, because it enabled me to meet a group of lovely teammates, and I’ve obtained a lot of knowledge that I can’t learn in schools. I remember that I had complained: going to the lab every day, staring at the screen for hours and getting tired. But when the real process is over, I find myself really enjoying this feeling. I’m not getting used to the life without iGEM. Now, if time allows, I just want to go for another year to make up for all the regrets made this year and become better at this.
  • What do I do if going to the lab is no longer my weekend schedule?
  • At the Jamboree, more than 300 teams of the world gathered together, some with lovely behavior (e. g., guys wearing grape costumes, a group of Winnie the Poohs dancing, etc.). The most touching moments were after our speech, as well as in front of the poster, when people came to us, appreciated our work and gave us compliments. There was even a lady that gave us a box of cookies and one other team taught us how to juggle balls!
  • Rewind to the last few days of the Jamboree – speaking and running late into the night, the card game that had evolved into a gossip session, the chilling wind of Boston in November and the red brick house and colorful fallen leaves on the street and the last lobster meal! I’d love to go through this again.
  • A year ago, we didn’t even know that lab coats should be taken off when exiting the lab…

Welcome – iGEM is the beginning

Apart from reviewing this year’s wonderful adventures and unique experiences, we also look forward for you, potential and new iGEMers, to join us and encounter a journey that could possibly affect you for a lifetime.

This year, our SCIE iGEM team has entered a new phase: 

Again: iGEM is more of a multidisciplinary competition than a simple, nerdy, biology competition. Join the family! We will work closely together to accomplish creative and exciting tasks, including but not limited to: 

Wetlab – Experiments in the lab is the most scholarly and fun part of synthetic biology. 

Drylab – Find breakthroughs in our experiments using mathematical models. 

Human practice – this includes social practices, interviews with professors, designing questionnaires, market research and public speaking. 

Wiki – Design and assemble web pages showcasing our project. 

Art and design – use your imagination to produce splendid-looking product packagings, accessory designs and webpages, posters, even elements for our final presentation. 

Entrepreneurship – through the process of making the project, opportunities may also be offered to teams by sponsors in attempt to commercialize and make wider use of possible iGEM products!

Leave a Comment