Team:Bielefeld-Germany/Human Practices/Expert


Strategy Process

The Audience © F. Dahnke/BIOCOM
Meeting of iGEM teams from Germany
Robert and Gabriele beside our poster

On 28th of June 2012 the third yearly congress of the strategy process “Biotechnologie 2020+” took place in Berlin. The strategy process was initiated by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research to gather ideas and information about new production processes and methods as well as new applications by supporting the cooperation of science and engineering. During the congress the recently realized achieved arrangements were presented and still existing problems and questions were discussed in workshops. Central aspects were inhibiting and supporting factors for the development and production of future biotechnology products.

This year all eleven iGEM teams from Germany participated with representatives at the congress of the strategy process. Each iGEM team was present with a poster about its project and the teams discussed their ideas with the participants of the
All iGEM teams from Germany
congress. For the iGEM teams the heterogeneous professions of the participants had the special advantage that their projects were observed from different points of view. To move closer together a get together with all iGEM teams took place with a lot of discussions, help offers and talk about collaborations. Especially for new teams this was a possibility to discuss not only problems concerning their project but also central questions of the competition and organizational concerns. One of the central topics of the meeting was Human Practices. In this connection the iGEM teams were considering about how it is possible to give the society a deeper understanding of synthetic biology. Therefore the final idea was to organize a common day of action in all ten cities of the iGEM teams to inform and to discuss with the public.

CAS conference Munich

From the 23th to 25th of July 2012 the CAS Conference took place, which was organized by the LMU Center for Advanced Studies in Munich. The conference was arranged in order to bring scientists of different expertise together to promote projects by an interdisciplinary discussion. Several notable speakers working on Synthetic Biology informed about their field of work, as for example Martin Fussenegger (ETH Zürich), Víctor de Lorenzo (CSIC Madrid) and Jay Keasling (University of California, Berkeley). Apart from this, two poster sessions were organized for companies, working groups and also the iGEM teams to present their work. For the program and a list of all speakers see here.

Several members of our iGEM team attended the conference. This offered us the possibility to extend our knowledge as well as to take part in interesting discourses on different fields of Synthetic Biology. Moreover we got the chance to discuss with experts about aims, achievements and problems of our project as well as to get to know some other iGEM teams and to inform us about their projects. We debated with the experts about the active center and the wide substrate spectrum of our laccases, about the production of them in our two chosen expression systems as well as about advantages, risks and alternatives especially for the use in wastewater treatment plants. We also held an interview to the iGEM team UCL London about the topic "Collaboration and competition in the iGEM competition". In this connection a collaboration between the team UCL London and us was planned (see here).

Furthermore the philosopher Alfred Nordmann (TU Darmstadt) presented his point of view about Synthetic Biology during the CAS conference. To provoke some thoughts about Synthetic Biology, he chose the following main topics:

Do we produce a shift in biology?
Do we educate a new generation of scientists?
Is it necessary to create something for understanding it? (Richard Feynman’s dictum)
What happens to evolution by natural selection when notions of design are reintroduced?
How mindful could we be of the “evolutionary fate” of designed organisms?
Do we really understand the whole of our creation?
How does it affect society?
What influence does it have on our relation to and our respect for evolved biological nature?
For example: Why should we worry about biodiversity when it could be designed?

Apart from us the iGEM teams from Bonn, TU Darmstadt, UCL London, TU München, LMU München, Marburg, Potsdam, Frankfurt, Tübingen, Wageningen as well as the last winner team of High School division Heidelberg_LSL participated at the CAS conference.

After the official program all iGEM teams met in the evenings to have dinner, some drinks together and a lot of fun….

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