Q & A

1) Please briefly describe of the topics that you learned about in your safety training:
A. Who made the world? The god, or we human beings ?
     ---- Introduction to Bioethics
B. Heads up! The CDC is watching u.
     ---- Regulations of Biosafety in Research Laboratories
C. How to Protect yourself and human beings.
     ---- More Details about Biosafety

2) Risks to the safety and health of team members, or other people working in the lab:
Ethidium bromide, Gelred and some genetic engineering relative reagents have risks to members` health. Thus, we attached great importance to the protection when doing experiments.

3) Risks to the environment (from waste disposal, or from materials escaping from your lab):
As mentioned above, biological materials are dealt with denature process and harmless to the environment. Moreover, strict lab rules are executed to further ensure safety.

4) Risks to security through malicious mis-use by individuals, groups, or countries:
We all received safety training. Plus, when we were faced with problems we usually turned to skilled ones for help. We believe everything`s under control when doing experiments and it turns out that we haven`t met any problems of biosafety yet.

5) What measures are you taking to reduce these risks?
We decided to use E.coli and yeast as hosts not only for they competences of amplification or expression, but also because we considered that they are genetically known and safe, and authorized by FDA as safe genetic engineering hosts. Regularly, we do protect ourselves by wearing gloves and masks when necessary while we do experiments, and then again we state that we denature all biological materials before discard them into special garbage can. Further more, we planned to lay down more regulations to ensure safety with time going by.

6)What new risks might arise from your project's growth? Also, what risks might arise if the knowledge you generate or the methods you develop became widely available?
Given that we old members are becoming more and more skillful and, we are to design a suicide mechanism for further application, the risks in the future could only happen in new guys when they get started to do experiments. Therefore, we will spare no efforts to train the freshmen to avoid the risks. It is to say, according to the current knowledge we got, we deem it riskless to apply our project to a commercial or industrial products.

7) Does your project currently include any design features to reduce risks? Or, if you did all the future work to make your project grow into a popular product, would you plan to design any new features to minimize risks? Such features are not required for an iGEM project, but many teams choose to explore them.
The hosts we use are safe. The yeast is an auxotrophic strain, while Top 10 E.coli is a general strain in lab which has been tamed for genetic engineering. And, we will focus on inserting a suicide mechanism on the recombinant molecules for more security. It is to say that we have full confidence that our project is extremely unlikely to get problems of biosafety with it proceeding.

Other Work

This year we did a survey among students, teachers from different majors and other people from every walk of life and, nearly one thousand persons were polled. When asked ” Do you support the development of synthetic biology? ” 85% of them said Yes, while 8% said No and 7% said they did not care, which convinced us that synthetic biology will be developed a lot and fast if more regulations are made and, joint efforts are taken to give publicity to knowledge and newest information of it to the masses.

We also do other work about safety. As shown in the Human Practice, our leader,Zhang Junjie wrote a blog titled Deep Thinking about Bioethics and Biosafety. He deems that although there are still many people questioning and rejecting genetic engineering and synthetic biology, the development of these subjects won`t be hindered, on the contrast, it would be accelerated owing to stricter and more detailed regulations resulting from outside pressure. We believe this point of view will be proved to be right since what it states is going on.

Last but not least, for our perspective, it is, of course, very significant for iGEM teams to pay attention to safety in our involvement, considering the genetically machines we constructed are artificial and, most genetically engineered microorganisms are resistant to specific drugs. We therefore would like to support this safety program and will be willing to involve it again into our future projects.

Together we can make a realer life with synthetic biology!