Human Practice

Synthetic biology doesn’t stop at the laboratory. U of T iGEM Human Practice team designed four core projects that serve to reach out to the general public. We focus on education, inspiration, and innovation.

The four projects are below:

  1. University of Toronto Synthetic Biology Workshop. This is an educational outreach event, that ties general public with the scientific research.
  2. Plasonomics is a user-friendly and artistic app to educate users on bio-bricks and plasmid design.
  3. Phone gloves for electronic devices, such as phones and tablets. We aim to improve biosafety in the laboratory environment. We believe this device can not only provide convenience and safety for those working in the lab, but also open up possibilities of using these personal electronic devices to interact with laboratory equipment, such as robotics.
  4. Synthetic Biology Courses, which intend to provide more knowledge and hands-on experience in synthetic biology to undergraduate and graduate students. The university course we designed covers a range of important topics useful in conducting scientific research. It will offer a good template for future students interested in running public workshop or running a workshop on synthetic biology.

Synthetic Biology Public Workshop

A Guide on Starting Your Own Community Lab

We hosted a workshop on synthetic biology at University of Toronto on October 3rd, 2014. This workshop brought together students and working professionals from diverse fields, such as physical science, anthropology, engineering, computer science, art, and economics. This is the first of our series of out-reach activities in collaboration with DIYBio, a group of community based bio-enthusiasts. We hope this will foster an ongoing relationship between the scientific community and the public, thus bringing more energy and creativity to iGEM.

The workshop covered the following topics:

  • Basic techniques of synthetic biology
    This presentation served to educate on the molecular basis of synthetic biology. It provided information about the history and current research that has advanced the field of synthetic biology.
  • Industrial applications of Synthetic biology
    This presentation explored industrial applications of synthetic biology, with a focus on engineering metabolism using synthetic biology.
  • - Biobrick introduction & assembly techniques This presentation aims to educate those that are interested in learning plasmid design and construction. This is especially beneficial for those who intend to join an iGEM team, whether it is the U of T iGEM team of 2015 or a community lab team.
  • U of T iGem 2014 project
    An overview of this year’s iGEM project was given by Rex Xia.
  • A guide on how to start a community laboratory
    A presentation was given by Jing Guo on how to build a community lab. Along with the presentation, we also designed the A Guide on How to Build a Community Laboratory package which was circulated to participants. This booklet includes thoughtful questions that aim to guide the lab builders during the community laboratory building process. This package is available for download.



In collaboration with Computer Science students at the University of Toronto, we engaged in a project to create Plasonomics, a mobile app to teach plasmid construction in an interactive, user-friendly game. Not only will the user learn the basics of plasmid construction, but also they will are applying synthetic biology with potential real-world problems.
Users can choose one of the two scenarios and design plasmids accordingly. On a clean and artistic platform, Plasonomics allows users to add biobricks to the plasmid circuit. This game is designed on Android platform.

Phone Glove

Phone glove is a conceptual design of a disposable phone protection case. It aims to protect phone against chemicals and bacterial contaminations. This opens up possibilities of allowing electronic devices to be used safely in a lab setting. We propose to use the polyethylene as material, which has been widely used to make disposable gloves.

Synthetic Biology Course

We propose two undergraduate and one graduate course in Synthetic Biology in the potential collaboration with Human Biology department at the University of Toronto. This undergraduate course will introduce students to the conceptual background of synthetic biology and the design of projects in the field. Accordingly, there should be three components: lectures, review of the literature, and design projects. The course syllabus is available for download.