Safie by Technion-Israel

SynBio in 3 Langueges

Any person that lives in Israel knows the complexity of this country. Diverse population and multiplicity of cultures and religions are among the main causes for this complexity. Living in the same country forces us to bridge the differences in order to find a common ground, on which we can build a shared life.
Technion iGEM team has decided to take advantage of the iGEM competition in order to try and create a shared platform for all of Israel citizens.
This platform is:

Project Goals

(1) Progressing Arab-Jewish relations through the medium of science
(2) Reaching a wide range of people from the Israeli society
(3) Making synthetic biology more accessible to the public
(4) Merging science and art from a unique stand point

Different Languages, One Science

About 21% of Israel citizens are Arab. The main languages in Israel are Hebrew and Arabic, which is the second official language of the country.
We believe that Safie, the product we are developing can serve a wide range of people, so among our main goals in the three languages project is presenting our bio detector in an easy and accessible way:

Social Media

One of the most powerful tools today is social media networks. Using the social media as a platform is not a new concept in iGEM, but we are taking it one step further, using Facebook to address the public in not one, but three languages.
Faris, our Arabic speaker group member, has taken upon himself to write in Arabic about our team and the iGEM competition in general on Facebook.

Posted at: science48 - educational Facebook group for Arab students

Translation: Hello, I want to approach to all Technion Arab students to introduce our iGEM 2014 project. We are a group of eleven talented undergraduate students from different faculties in the Technion who have formed a team under the supervision of Roee Amit from the faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering. We study Physics, Chemistry, Biotechnology and Food Engineering, Biochemical Engineering, Computer Science, and Mathematics. Our team will be participating in the iGEM competition in October/November 2014 along with 240 other teams from universities from around the world. Our team project is to develop a sensitive bio-sensor which can detect target molecules in very low concentrations based on simple biological systems from standard, interchangeable parts and to operate in living cells.
Have you ever though that your bottled water may contain a low concentrated polymer which comes by diffusion? Or are you afraid to eat a suspicious food because the manufacturer did not mention if the product contains an allergen or not? How can you check your food or drink?
So, here comes the Safie to protect your health and give you the opportunity to check your food and to make you secure. Hence, our main interest is to build this biosensor and try to make your familiar with the new synthetic biology field. In order to progress in our project and win the competition, we need an approximate funding of 30,000 thousand shekels to cover our part of our lab expenses, so, we will be very thankful if you can take a part and donate to iGEM project.

Posted at: Technion social life for Arab minority

Translation: Hello Technion people, guys and girls, I would like to say that we managed to round up the money to represent the state of Israel in the iGEM competition at MIT in only a month's time, iGEM 2014 giant jamboree will be held at October 30 to November 3, 2014. So, thank you for your donation and for believing in our team.

In addition to the posts written in Arabic we also maintained a Facebook page, which we used to update our followers (mainly in Hebrew and English) about the progress of our project and events in which we took part.

Educational Activities

This year we put a lot of effort in organizing lectures and lab activities around the synthetic biology subject. When organizing the events we took into consideration the public going to participate. It was extremely important to us to make the event accessible for Arab population as well as to the Jewish one.
For example, the 'SynBio in space' activity we organized for the "OlimpiKnowledge" program included both Arab and Jewish students, and we made sure there would be an appropriate Arabic translation during the whole activity for the Arab students convenience.

The Art of Science

Trying to explain a scientific idea to the public is not an easy thing to do, no matter in which language you choose to use. That's why we are strong believers in the saying: "a picture is worth a thousand words". All along our project we tried to enhance our scientific explanations through art. Whether you are an Arab speaker or a Hebrew speaker you would probably understand the language of art.
To see more of the original art made by our art director, Avi, see the art section.

We are extremely proud of our ”Synthetic Biology in 3 Languages” project. The comments we got from people who heard about our project, in one of the languages in which we published it, were positive and encouraging. Looking back to when we started the languages project, we feel confident to say we have achieved the project’s goals.

iGEM High Schools

The story of how we founded the first Israeli iGEM HS team

The iGEM competition is pretty new in Israel: the first Israeli team to compete in iGEM was the Technion team from 2012.
We are the second team from the Technion, and among our mentors are former Technion 2012 iGEM team members.
To make sure the iGEM continuity will last, passing the torch was one of the most important aspects for us this year.

So, in the spirit of iGEM continuity, we have taken upon ourselves to establish the first Israeli iGEM High School team!

In 2014, 54 high school teams were registered for the competition, but none of them were from Israel.
Not long after we started this amazing journey called iGEM, we started to wonder why the Israeli high school students aren't taking a part in this experience. We believe that the competition has so much to give for talented curious youth:

Synthetic biology knowledge
Advanced research tools
Team work skills
New areas of interest
A rare opportunity to develop a scientific idea

And the list goes on

Building the HS team wasn't an easy process. We knew that in order to organize the young team we would have to find an educational partner with the facilities and funding to help us to implement our vision.
It took us a few months to understand what we needed in order to set a group of motivated young students, a research lab and all the necessary equipment to start a synthetic biology project.
During those months we met with people from the field of education and even with representatives from the Israeli Ministry of Education to get the ball rolling. All of the people whom we met with were extremely excited about the iGEM concept and wanted to help in any way possible.

After a long search we found our partner-The Unit for Science Oriented Youth in the Technion.

The unit has labs equipped for research. Furthermore, the unit has an excellency program which includes students from all over the country.
The next step was to plan synthetic biology training for the young students. In order to start a SynBio project they would have to learn biology basics, synthetic biology principles, modelling, lab techniques etc.
We have built a full training program for the HS team, including lectures and lab work. The program is as follows:

Week 1

Introduction to the iGEM HS Competition

The group will get a full explanation about the process they will go through in iGEM and will learn about the transition from classic molecular biology to synthetic biology.

Week 2

Introduction to Genetic Engineering

The meeting will include a lecture about DNA and the genetic code, and a second lecture about genetic engineering. In order to illustrate the theoretical subjects of the lesson, the group will purify DNA from an onion as the first lab activity.

Week 3

The Principles of Transformation

Aside from learning about competent cells, plating techniques and heat shock, the students will practice performing plasmid transformation in the lab.

Week 4

Bacterial Growth and DNA Purification

The group will learn about the different stages of bacterial growth. In addition they will practice DNA purification using a mini prep kit.

Week 5

Restriction Enzymes and Gel Electrophoresis

The team will first learn about the use of restriction enzymes in molecular biology and then implement the technique in the lab. The restriction reaction will be followed by running the products on agarose gel.

Week 6

PCR Reactions and Primers Design

The lesson will include a lecture about the PCR method followed by doing an actual PCR reaction in the lab. The following week after the students will clean their PCR products.

Week 7

Synthetic Biology

Now that the team has learned about molecular biology techniques we can start focusing on synthetic biology. The students will learn about logic gates, modeling of a biological system and enzyme kinetics to get a real sense of synthetic biology.

Weeks 8 & 9

iGEM Competition and Past Projects

The lesson covers requirements of the competiton and how to find parts in the iGEM registry. In the second part of the lesson the students will divide into groups, and each group will review past iGEM HS project and give a presentation about that project.

Week 10 and Onwards

Starting the iGEM project

From week 10 the team will have enough basic tools and synthetic biology knowledge to start working on their own project, with the help of the mentors.

Our team members Ittai and Yair giving a motivation lecture about synthetic biology for the future members of the HS team

The young iGEM HS team members with their parents in the introduction meeting

The team will meet weekly from the end of October 2014 until the 2015 iGEM HS competition.
Since we are nearly at the end of our project and in the spirit of passing the torch, the Technion 2015 iGEM team will continue to mentor the young HS team follwing the plan we have built.

Good luck to the first Israeli iGEM HS team!
We hope that our vision will pave the path to many more Israeli HS teams.



In the spirit of iGEM we met with the only other iGEM team from Israel, BGU_Israel, from Ben Gurion University of the Negev. We met at Tel Aviv University, presented our projects to each other, shared ideas and discussed collaboration. BGU helped us by testing out our Gate 1. Although our team projects are very different from one another, the Policy and Practices projects have a similar theme. Both teams aimed to help the Arab minority in our country; BGU with their campaign to help the Bedouin community in the Negev Desert combat diabetes, and the Technion with our “Synthetic Biology in 3 Languages” program to foster Arab-Jewish relations through the media of education and science. After a particularly difficult summer, we both felt that our Policy and Practices projects needed to help bridge the gap between the two peoples in the hopes of bringing us one step closer to a peaceful region. 2014 is the first year that Israel is represented in iGEM by two teams and we hope to bring honor to our country and nation.


iGEM is a great opportunity for international cooperation between scientific communities. With politics taking up major air-time in the media, iGEM provides an ideal platform for breaking down prejudices by encouraging teams to work together toward the advancement of science. We collaborated with the Paris Bettencourt iGEM team by contributing to their newsletter. As part of the newsletter we gave feedback to most of the teams who participated, regarding questions they had. We hope our feedback was helpful to many teams. We contributed to the Bettencourt team by participating in their "Human Microbe" project. They also helped us deal with wiki templates.


Original art by our team member Avi Ben Zaken