iGEM Europe

Meeting of Young Minds

Topics for the Meeting of Young Minds 2012 announced

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On the night preceding the first European iGEM jamboree in 2011 the Rathenau Instituut and the regional iGEM committee organized a Meeting of Young Minds. Future politicians and future synthetic biologists discussed the promise and perils of synthetic biology. Also this year the organizations have joined hands to organize the Meeting of Young Minds 2012, which will take place in the evening of 5 October.

For this year’s edition iGEM teams were invited to submit topics for debate. Based on their proposals the UCL iGEM team and the iGEM team of the TU Delft were invited to work out their plan for debate. The Rathenau Instituut and European iGEM committee are now happy to announce the topics:

The first topic is the discussion about the controversial H5N1 avian influenza research. Developments in synthetic biology will continuously make the (re)creation of viruses easier. How wise is this kind of research then? Under the auspices of debate moderator prof. Frans Brom (Rathenau Instituut), the discussion will be kicked off by an expert panel including amongst others, prof. Hans Westerhoff (VU University Amsterdam), Koos van der Bruggen (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences), and two Erasmus MC researchers, that were part of the team that conducted the research.

After the break the discussion will take us to the future, namely to a public hearing set in 2030. By then synthetic biology is widely applied. Synthetic organisms are for example used on large scale to turn barren soil into fertile soil. However, in spite of all precautionary measures, due to great coincidence the organisms mutate and cause for severe illness. An ad hoc European Synthetic Biology Council is established to conduct research on this urgent matter. The Council is presided by Annemiek Nelis (Dutch Safety Board). Futhermore, the council consists of a number of synthetic biologists and politicians, such as GreenLeft politician Gert-Jan Krabbendam.

The Rathenau Instituut and the European iGEM committee are convinced that these topics are excellent starting points for an exciting Meeting of Young Minds 2012, and welcome all iGEM participants to attend the event.

19:30 – Welcome
19:40 – Debate 1: The H5N1 avian influenza research
20:40 – Break
21:10 – Debate 2: A synthetic biology crisis
22:10 – Closing words and announcement Winner Meeting of Young Minds 2012 Award
22:20 – Drinks
The event will be supported musically by bass guitar virtuoso Jay Tee Teterissa and Jos van Dijk on drums.

For more information you can also look at website of the Rathenau Instituut.
Guests are welcome to visit for free and can register here (registration is not necessary for iGEM members).