Team:University College London/Achievements



Meeting of Young Minds Debate Proposal

This October, the Rathenau Instituut (in collaboration with the African-European iGEM organization committee) will stage the Meeting of Young Minds Debate 2012, in which young people representing the worlds of science, the public and policy making will come together to debate around the topic of synthetic biology and society. Our proposal (‘A synthetic biology future, a synthetic biology crisis’) is one of two themes selected for debate. For more on the Meeting of Young Minds debate, see here.

Collaboration with iGEM Bielefeld

This year we had an opportunity to collaborate with the iGEM Bielefeld team which is also working with laccase enzymes, although Bielefeld is working on laccase from several species. iGEM Bielefeld kindly sent their laccase from E. coli strain BL21 (DE3). As we are working on laccase from W3110, we welcomed the opportunity to compare our enzyme activities using the same protocol. Bielefeld team’s laccase seem to have higher activity in comparison to ours. This is due to the fact that our laccase is periplasmic, whilst theirs is extracellular, therefore more of it can be found in the supernatant after centrifugation. For more details about the assay used to determine laccase activity and the results obtained, please see the following link:

We believe that collaborations between iGEM teams should be encouraged. Firstly, this strengthens the reliability of the registry, since the more evaluations and characterisation the BioBrick has, the more reliable and applicable it is. Secondly, such collaborations allow for an exchange of ideas, giving us the insight and opportunity to learn from alternative culturing and characterisation techniques of other groups. Finally, this collaboration has allowed us to build links between the two universities.

German Modelling Collaborations

LMU Munich: Modelling Workshop
LMU Munich invited us to the CAS Conference on Synthetic Biology at their beautiful campus outside of Munich city centre. We met up with the team after the conference had ended and spent a morning going through their project and looking at areas where modelling would be most helpful to their project. Ideas we came up with included using software e.g. COBRA to model the effect of gene knockouts on their systems, and using software called FPMOD to look at possible rotations of GFP. We also gave a short presentation to act as an introduction to biological modelling, covering MATLAB, ODEs, Kappa and CellDesigner.

TU Darmstadt: Ocean Model
We chatted with their modeller Henrick about how we could improve our ocean model, as he is working on similar models related to fluid motion and dynamics. He proposed a couple of different approaches and suggested some software, YASARA, that would be helpful to us.

Human Practice Collaboration with iGEM Paris Bettencourt

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We had the opportunity to visit Paris where we kindly hosted by Claire Mayer from iGEM Paris Bettencourt team. Philipp was invited as a judge for their debate on the environmental release of genetically modified bacteria. During our two days in Paris, we attended a DIY class for the CRI undergraduate students, which we found very pertinent to our collaboration with the London Hackspace. We also had the chance to brainstorm with the iGEM team a number of potential future projects for our partnership with the Hackspace - one of our favourites was the idea of evolving bacterial art.

Plastic Republic Speed Debate

In August, we hosted an evening of speed debating to deliberate the question “Should synthetic organisms be released in the ocean to combat plastic pollution?”. We targeted the interest in our project to achieve a bottom-up collection of ideas to feed back into our work. The turn-out was very successful, with attendees ranging from all different backgrounds including Bloomberg, London Futurists group, London Hackspace and the Guardian.

Fundraising Campaign

In July we ran a crowdfundraising campaign on Sponsume. We successfully raised more than our target of £1,500!

Medal Requirements


Team registration
Complete Judging form
Team Wiki
Present a poster and a talk at the iGEM Jamboree
At least one new submitted and well-characterized standard BioBrick Part or Device. A new application of and outstanding documentation (quantitative data showing the Part’s/ Device’s function) of a previously existing BioBrick part in the “Experience” section of that BioBrick’s Registry entry also counts.

Silver: In addition to the Bronze Medal requirements...

Demonstrate that at least one new BioBrick Part or Device of your own design and construction works as expected
Characterize the operation of at least one new BioBrick Part or Device and enter this information in the “Main Page” section of that Part’s/Device’s Registry entry.

Gold: In addition to the Bronze and Silver Medal requirements, any one or more of the following:

Improve the function of an existing BioBrick Part or Device (created by another team or your own institution in a previous year) and enter this information in the Registry (in the “Experience” section of that BioBrick’s Registry entry), and don't forget to create a new registry page for the improved part.
Help another iGEM team by, for example, characterizing a part, debugging a construct, or modeling or simulating their system.
Outline and detail a new approach to an issue of Human Practice in synthetic biology as it relates to your project, such as safety, security, ethics, or ownership, sharing, and innovation.