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In this part of our Human Practice we talked to every kind of people about Synthetic Biology, iGEM, food-transmitted diseases (as cholerae is one of them) and our project using several fun ways to do it. In addition we inquire, for the first time, why our team (Universidad de los Andes) has been the only Colombian team during four years, while other latin american countries have several iGEM teams. Do other Colombian universities know about iGEM? Do they research in synthetic biology? Take a look of this section!

Why we are the only iGEM Team in Colombia??

There are two facts about iGEM competition:

1. Latin American Jamborees have benn always the smallest in iGEM Competition.

2. Usually one country (even one University) has several iGEM Teams. This also occurs in Latin America, where, for instance, Mexico and Brazil has been represented by more than one team in at least the last two years.

3. Despite of the above, several countries, as Colombia and mainly othe latin american countris, has had only one team among through the years.

We are gonna talk about our case: Universidad de los Andes has the unique Colombian iGEM team since 2012. Why this? Money? Do the other universities know about iGEM? Do they have the necessary technology?

Aimed to get answers for these questions we decided to perform a great survey to Universitie's Professors and some students in Colombia. We got around 300 repsonses from 15 different institutions. Our survey had multiple-choice questions and other questions where the professors were able to write their own comments, so we colected quatitative and qualitative data.

The 60 % of surveyed professors did not hear about iGEM before (let's hurry!), and other 20 % had heard about it but were not sure what it is... so only 20 % knew what iGEM is.

Despite of the above, 73 % of the surveyed professor are aware of the existence of researh groups in Synthetic Biology, Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics , so it is possible conclude that they are potential iGEMers, probablye the less of information is the problem, but...

When we asked about what they think is the main obstacle to begin an iGEM Team (given as choices money, permits, knowledge, equipment or time to organize the according to their importance): The principal selected obstacle was the money (50 %), followed by time (33 %). The interst by the students does not seem to be a proble (only 4 %).

In the sections of comments, a lot of surveyeds showed their interest in iGEM and in our team (some ones even ask for joining), but others wrote that participate in iGEM is probably a luxury in a Country as the ours, because find budget for research is a very hard work, and spend it in a project as iGEM is not an option (at leas in this moment).

In cocnlusion, colombian universities are perfectly capable to develop synthetic biology and thus, iGEM projects. But money seems to be the main, and almost the only, problem because in Colombia there are not too much budget destinated to research. Probably fees according to national GDP and more information about iGEM (we could help with that part) could boost the creation of several new iGEM teams in Colombia and, why not, in Latin America.

Bake sale: Outreach and delicious desserts

The best combination by far!

Probably this part does not need too much explanation, as @iGEM said "Delicious way to fundraise and perform outreach!"


Listening our partners

In addition to the important experts' opinion, we wanted to listen our partners as well. The Student Council of the Department of Biological Science at Universidad de los Andes organizes the called "Seminarios de lo Oculto" which are conferences developed by students about different topics related to science. We took advatage of this space to talk to undergraduate students of Biology, Microbiology and related programs about Sherlock coli and his important mission.

In the same way of all described before, we carried out a great feedback from this exprience. We listened to the questions that our partners did and we took into account their comments to improve our project with their opinions, which are not other thing than opinions of future professionals.

In addition, our conference was also an opportunity to give out our ideas in our Faculty and promote debate around them.

Here, some pictures of our speakers :)

DanielaExponiendo.jpg AutidtorioColombiaSDO.jpg

Teaching to the little ones!

Maloka is a well known colombian intitution that looks for Science's outreach. It has its main facility in Bogotá, where offers to all citizens (adults and children) interactive experiments, 360°-movies, science exhibitions and all kind of outreach.

This year Maloka organized an event called Carnaval de la Ciencia (Science's Carnival), where different groups, such as companies and universities shared their environmental-friendly projects of science to the community, specially to children. Off course iGEM Colombia Team was there!!


The event had a duration of two days, in the second day we recieved a letter that makes us feel so proud of our work. The letter has senteces as "this experience helped to break paradigms" or "your participation is an important factor to build (...) educative strategies to change the scientific history of our country" :)

But, wanting more from this expierience, we also asked to people for complete the sentence # I want a bacterium that..., and we got answers as:


Take cellfies; Makes me thiner; eliminates the corruption; loves me; makes me stand awake; gives me money; makes the homeworks; makes me fall in love...

Social Networks

To be in contact with all interested people we have profiles in the most known social networks. We got 382 followers on Facebook and 118 followers on Twitter. We used these sites to upload information about our projects, to inform about what we've done, what we're doing and of course to invite people to our activites, as the bacterial survey. People frequently motivate us by these media and even people who are interested in be part of the team write us on Facebook asking how they can be a member of iGEM Colombia Team :)

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