Dundee 2014


Let's Work Together

Besides the competitive aspects of iGEM, it also provides an excellent platform for collaboration between teams. As well as attending various meetings of iGEM teams to discuss projects, our collaborative efforts involved:

Scottish iGEM team poster session

We arranged a poster session for the four Scottish iGEM teams where teams would be able to discuss their projects at a high profile science convention in Scotland. It was held at the Royal Society of Edinburgh on the 16th of October and was part of The Scottish Science Advisory Council (SSAC) event to launch their report 'Synthetic Biology: opportunities for Scotland'. This gave the teams a great chance to share their projects with some of the top synthetic biologists in the country and prepare for the Boston competition only a few weeks later.

Our final outing prior to Boston was to the Royal Society of Edinburgh for the official launch of the Scottish Science Advisory Council’s report on synthetic biology Synthetic Biology: Opportunities for Scotland where a small group of core research and industry representatives led by Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland Professor Muffy Calder were gathered to discuss the future of SynBio in Scotland.

After an introduction by Prof Calder, a summary of the report’s findings was given by Professor Nigel Brown who highlighted the significance of synthetic biology to the futures of medicine, with a focus on the development of new antimicrobial drugs; agriculture, outlining how the use of synthetic biology to assist in screening plant lines for desirable traits could significantly streamline the breeding process; and economy, warning that if Scotland ignores the opportunities that SynBio has to offer then the country may lose business to others who do not.

Professor Richard Cogdell followed with a rousing talk on the future of SynBio in general, giving the example of an experiment whereby Geobacter sp. had been kept alive solely by electricity generated from solar panels via electrodes which contact extracelluar nanowires. Prof Cogdell suggested that this phenomenon might be exploited for large-scale storage of surplus energy from wind-farms (which currently must be shut down when over-producing electricity) in the form of chemical bonds. Prof Cogdell was emphatic in his espousal of the iGEM competition as a driving force for the future of SynBio, citing our team’s efforts to engage with the people who would benefit from the technology as an example of how to create a more trusting and transparent relationship between science and society. This was a great honour for the team!

A stimulating discussion on public relations, intellectual property and global considerations followed the talks which we hope foreshadows the Giant Jamboree in exploring the issues at the heat of SynBio.

We were joined by the Edinburgh and Aberdeen iGEM teams in giving a poster session after the talks and discussion, this was an excellent opportunity to discuss our projects and network with members and fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Special regards and thanks to our own Dave Burrell for working hard to organise the involvement of the iGEM teams in this event – to the benefit of all in attendance.

Sharing our resources

We provided bacterial strains and plasmids to team Berlin to aid them in their magnetic bacteria project. Constructs from Dundee iGEM 2011 team’s Sphereactor were sent to Oxford iGEM for the creation of their chlorinated waste disposal system.

Completing Surveys

We answered surveys for Linköping University, Sweden on peanut allergies; Warwick University, UK on the public’s opinion on synthetic biology; ETH Zürich, Switzerland on complexity in everyday life and for University of São Paulo, Brazil on ethics in biology.

We also discussed division of labor within our team with the Edinburgh iGEM team.