Tracks/Community Labs


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iGEM 2014 Community Labs New Track

We are excited to announce that iGEM is establishing a Community Labs track for iGEM 2014! This track will allow Community Labs and established DIYBio groups to participate within iGEM for the first time.

Introduction to iGEM Community Labs Track

iGEM is an engine for innovation. In this manner it is aligned with both traditional scientific research institutions and the free market. But participants in iGEM will tell you that beyond the accolades of scientific publishing and economic reward, the real motivating force that energizes innovation is a simple desire to push technology as far as possible - and to HAVE FUN. Innovating for the sake of innovation itself is an intrinsic and separate motivation, just as a valid and important as a wish to advance science or make millions.

The worldwide community of amateur biologists, biohackers, citizen scientists, or otherwise non-institutional scientists is motivated by this incredibly powerful force. They want to push the envelope of biological technology. They want to, in general, increase the power of an individual to understand biological systems - “to understand things” - and to prototype biological designs - *to build things*. They ask why the tools we use as biological engineers - protocols and equipment and organisms and genes - are the way they are, and imagine how they could be made simpler, less expensive, or just easier to work with.

DIYBio workshop held by Ellen Jorgensen at Yale

In 2014 for the first time, the iGEM competition will expand to include the DIYbio community by adding the Community Lab Track. iGEM requires a large investment in time and money to participate, but its format as annual competition actually facilitates fundraising, recruitment, and general motivation to do something BIG. It provides a compelling vehicle to organize a team, a lab, and get a project done on time. It is our hope that the new DIY track could stimulate the formation of many new community labs, with great benefit to the DIYbio community.

The Community Lab Track will have the same focus on bench research as the traditional iGEM track, however we are also looking for projects that increase the accessibility of synthetic biology. These might include kits such as Genomikon, or equipment hacks such as the Open PCR. We especially want to encourage teams that may not be able to conduct genetic engineering experiments within their labs due to local regulations, but who might innovate in the areas of equipment, software, etc. It’s also permissible to collaborate with an institution for the parts of the project that require licensed facilities, as long as it is clear that the regulated activities are being performed solely within the designated institutional space and supervised by appropriate personnel.

As in the past, all iGEM teams must submit a safety page. The Community Labs will have to describe their facilities in detail, and work with organisms and procedures appropriate to the biosafety level of their facility, and follow recombinant DNA guidelines.

Genspace at Maker Faire London 2013

Community Lab track details

Community labs will be able to compete alongside traditional iGEM teams for the same prizes. Teams will be eligible for the Grand Prize, as well as other prizes such as the Best Human Practices, Best Software and Best Part awards.

If you participate in iGEM this season, we will ship you a copy of the 2014 distribution as well as fulfill any part requests for the duration of the competition. You get space on this 2014 wiki to display your project, a presentation slot and poster board at the Giant Jamboree.

Community Lab track requirements

In addition the the general requirements for all iGEM teams, Community Lab teams are required to complete the following:

  • Team composition. While there is no minimum number of team members, iGEM is a team competition and single individual entries will not be accepted. CL teams must have two advisors, one of which must be in the field of their chosen subject area.
  • Community Lab teams must demonstrate they have access to a BL 1 lab in order to receive a copy of the distribution.
  • Teams participating in the hardware aspect of the CL track are encouraged to bring their equipment to the Giant Jamboree. Teams may not bring live or inactive organisms as part of their equipment. This topic will be covered in more detail when evaluation criteria and awards are published.

As Community Lab teams are not operating within the framework offered by academic institutions, they must meet the following additional requirements:

  1. CL teams must be an incorporated entity (for profit or not-for-profit).
  2. CL teams must have a legal entity that has the ability to sign contracts.

Medal Criteria

The Community Lab Track is unique in that the track is defined not by the scope of the project, but by the type of lab the team comes out of. Therefore, the medal will be awarded based on the highest level of requirements (bronze, silver or gold) satisfied in ANY of the following four categories:

  1. Parts: CL teams can choose to compete based on the standard medal criteria for all iGEM teams.
  2. Software: CL teams can choose to compete based on the medal requirements for the software track teams.
  3. Hardware: Community Lab Teams can choose to build and submit hardware as part of their CL track iGEM participation
  4. Systems for Community Engagement and Promotion of Citizen Access to Synthetic Biology: CL teams can choose to work on meeting the criteria for Community Engagement

While Community Labs have the option of picking any of the four sets of criteria, once chose, they MUST adhere to that set of criteria.

iGEM 2014 Community Labs Hardware Medal Criteria

Bronze. The following 4 goals must be achieved:

  1. Register the team, have a great summer, and have fun attending the Jamboree.
  2. Create and share a description of the team's project via the iGEM wiki.
  3. Present a Poster and Talk at the iGEM Jamboree.
  4. Develop a working prototype of an open source hardware tool that supports synthetic biology based on BioBrick standard biological parts (not just another gel box!)

Silver: To earn a Silver Medal, in addition to the Bronze Medal requirements, a team must:

  1. Develop and make available via a communal wiki page, schematics the information sufficient to reproduce the device.
  2. Provide a demonstration of their hardware using a video tutorial made available on their wiki. This tutorial should explain all the features of the hardware operation. The team must send the video to iGEM HQ and the Community Lab Committee.

Gold: In addition to the Bronze and Silver Medal requirements, the following mandatory medal criteria and one optional criteria must be achieved:

  1. Have another team utilize the hardware developed by your team. You must clearly show how your hardware was used and the results that were obtained. Results should take the form of a written report from the team testing the hardware and be posted on both team’s wikis.
  3. Outline and detail how your hardware affects Policy and Practices in Synthetic Biology. Such topics include: safety, security, ethics, or ownership, sharing, and innovation.
  4. OR
  5. Create a user-friendly software interface that allows protocols for the hardware to be easily created and shared within the community

iGEM 2014 Community Labs Community Engagement Medal Criteria

Bronze. The following 4 goals must be achieved:

  1. Register the team, have a great summer, and have fun attending the Jamboree.
  2. Create and share a description of the team's project via the iGEM wiki.
  3. Present a Poster and Talk at the iGEM Jamboree.You should be able to clearly articulate the specific question(s) your team chose to address, and detail the methods used.
  4. Create a 2-page Executive Summary and a 3-minute video of your project, accessible to an interested lay audience.

Silver: In addition to the Bronze Medal requirements, the following four criteria must be achieved:

  1. Evaluate your proposed approach, by showing the extent to which it allowed you to answer your question(s) in part or in whole.
  2. Describe the advantages and limitations of your method(s) in relation to the project questions.
  3. Outline how your team managed limitations or challenges of your method.
  4. Create step-by-step documentation for your method, sufficient that it could be replicated by another community lab.

Gold: In addition to the Bronze and Silver Medal requirements, the following mandatory medal criteria and one optional criteria must be achieved:

  1. Help a current iGEM team or community lab engage the public using your method.
  2. Document this using video and send this video to iGEM HQ and the Community Lab track Committee.
  3. Provide a method of evaluation/feedback and discuss how the feedback you received did or will inform future step(s) in your team’s project.
  4. iGEM projects involve important questions beyond the bench, for example relating to (but not limited to) ethics, sustainability, social justice, safety, security, or intellectual property rights. Describe an approach that your team used to address at least one of these questions. Evaluate your approach, including whether it allowed you to answer your question(s), how it influenced the team’s scientific project, and how it might be adapted for others to use (within and beyond iGEM). We encourage thoughtful and creative approaches, and those that draw on past Policy & Practice (formerly Human Practices) activities.

Community Labs track Committee

We have a great committee to help coordinate this endeavor.

  1. Chair: Ellen Jorgensen
  2. Jason Bobe
  3. Mac Cowell