BioBrick Tutorial 12th - 14th of April
In the early stages of our project, two of our team members got the chance to attend the Nordic BioBrick Tutorial organized by DTU Biobuilders in Copenhagen. We were the first Aalto-Helsinki team to attend this annually arranged event, and we recommend all the future teams to attend it as this event gave us lots of good information about iGEM and many beneficial tools to get us started with our project, which will be very beneficial for all future teams also.
Nordic iGEM Conference 17th - 19th of May
In mid-May we attended our second iGEM collaboration event, this time for The Nordic iGEM Conference (NiC). The main events of the weekend were the Mini-Jamboree and the poster sessions continued with workshops and even a Hackathon. Afterward, we enjoyed dinner and continued the night together with the other iGEM teams in Copenhagen. The NiC was very beneficial experience for the team also regarding the possible future collaborations with other iGEM teams.
European iGEM meetup in Paris on the 26th - 27th of July
One of the highlights of the summer was the European iGEM meetup in Paris on the 26th - 27th of July. The two-day long conference was organized by four Parisian teams: Pasteur Paris, Ionis Paris, GO Paris Saclay and Evry Paris Saclay at the Institut Pasteur. Almost 20 teams all around Europe attended the meetup to present their projects in forms of posters and presentations to get feedback and insights from the experienced jury. We were happy to see how much we had gone forward since the last international conference. In addition to getting some very valued feedback from judges on our presentation and poster and learn from other teams great presentations and posters, we also had the chance to enjoy beautiful Paris for a bit before and after the conference.
SynBio Gone Viral in Leuven on the 20th - 22th of September
Thanks to our sponsor HiLIFE, our team had the chance to participate in one last international iGEM Meetup to practice our presentation before the conference in Boston. This time, our team members travelled to Leuven, Belgium for the Synbio Gone Viral Meetup. This conference was organized by iGEM KU Leuven, Go Paris Saclay iGEM, iGEM Aachen.
We really enjoyed the meetup filled with interesting keynote speeches, workshops and of course networking with the other iGEM teams. The feedback for our presentation was motivating and we are more hyped than ever to give our best in the Giant Jamboree in Boston coming up at the end of October!
We participated in the Team Düsselfdorf’s Postcard project, where we designed our own postcard about synthetic biology and our project. The goal of the collaboration was to promote synthetic biology in a fun way. In addition, this collaboration allowed us to collaborate with over 50 other iGEM teams as our postcards were sent to other participating teams, and similarly the other participating team’s postcards were sent to us.
During the Nordic iGEM Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, we talked with the iGEM team from Lund University, and became immediately interested in each other’s projects and thus decided to collaborate. iGEM Lund interviewed us over skype and included the interview for their podcast.
We took part in the major business model collaboration organized by the UNSW iGEM Team. We have created a globally applicable business scaffold together with iGEM teams UNSW, KU Leuven and UBC. This scaffold has been sent to and filled in by numerous iGEM teams. The aim of this collaboration is to help iGEM teams develop their idea into a commercial product and as a proof of concept that a global business plan scaffold is possible. In our own extensive business plan, we have presented and evaluated necessary information needed in order to turn our iGEM project into a business. Our business plan provides a framework for how our product should be implemented to have an effect on the pricing of biopharmaceuticals. More information about the collaboration can be found from UNSW iGEM wiki page.
We collaborated with the iGEM team from Tartu to organize workshops in our synthetic biology related “Protein pop - from genes to action”- workshop day in the Finnish Science Centre Heureka. During the event day we were able to reach out to the over 1000 visitors of the Science Centre!
Since the very beginning of our team’s iGEM journey, we have been collaborating with the second Finnish team Aboa from Turku. When we got to know that Finland finally has another iGEM team, we immediately contacted them and met Aboa for the first time already in March. We hosted a meeting in Helsinki where we invited Aboa and our Aalto-Helsinki alumni members to give us and Aboa the best tips on how to succeed in iGEM. After the very informative meeting with the alumni and some discussion of our and Aboa’s projects, we headed for dinner with Aboa, where we got to know each other better.
During the summer, Aboa hosted a meeting in Turku, where we got to share ideas, tips, and thoughts our projects and have some fun together. During the summer and autumn we also collaborated with Aboa by creating a video for the European Biotech week (the video can be found from our Youtube channel behind this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sf2D-5SpfrY&t=31s), and attended the BioGarage Opening event. During the event, we got the chance to present our projects, host a synthetic biology related quiz, and host a DNA extraction workshop.
In addition to collaborating with Aboa in human practices, we also collaborated with them in wet lab. Aboa had built a construct to secrete scFv with a linked non-conventional amino acid (ncaa). We agreed to test their plasmid in VibXpresso to see what kind yields we would obtain in our secretion platform.
Our collaboration with the iGEM team from Linköping originated from a more science-based background, making the collaboration mutually beneficial partnership. We had a platform that we wanted to test to secretion, and the team from Linköping had products that they wanted to secrete effectively. It was natural to collaborate with specifically LiU as we have a common interest and both our projects are based upon Vibrio natriegens. From LiU our team received plasmids CBD-Pln1 and CBD-sfGFP, which were transformed into Vmax. CBD-sfGFP production was observed in the UV lamp.
TAS Taipei, Costa Rica, Tuebingen, SDU Denmark
We were challenged by IGEM SDU Denmark to participate in the #iGEMxSDGs challenge started byTAS_Taipei (Taiwan), Team Costa Rica and Team Tuebingen (Germany), and as we also wanted to address the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals in our project, we were thrilled to participate!
Our aim with our project - VibXPresso - was to enhance protein production of high-demand recombinant proteins produced by the pharmaceutical industry. In addition to the science of our project, we invested in outreach activities to promote the opportunities in synthetic biology. Here are the four main SDGs we addressed in our project:
#3 Good Health & Well-Being
By providing improved tools for protein production we wanted to lower the cost of therapeutic proteins to meet the UN’s goals of ensuring “safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines for all”.
#4 Quality Education
We also wanted to spread the knowledge of synthetic biology to the general public by engaging in workshops in schools, Heureka Science Park, and Synthetic Biology theme week. We wanted to invite people to learn about the opportunities that synthetic biology has to offer to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals!
#8 Decent Work and Economic Growth
With VibXPresso our goal was to ensure fast, affordable, and high quality therapeutic protein production, we also strived to meet the UN’s goals of achieving “higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labour-intensive sectors”.
#17 Partnerships for the Goals
We would not have been able to meet these goals on our own, which is why we wanted to build strong partnerships and collaborations to ensure the fulfilment of these Sustainable Development Goals. Thanks to our partners, we were able to contribute to scientific research and take actions towards the Sustainable Development Goals by enhancing “the global partnership for sustainable development, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources”.
Inspired by this collaboration we also decided to include SDGs into our own project’s integrated human practices.
As the sixth consecutive Aalto-Helsinki iGEM team we wanted to do something for our Alumni, thus we created an Alumni shirt for all the previous teams members to use. We also met the Alumni several times during the year as we want to keep up a nice and tight network with them. We for example invited the Alumni to a meeting in the beginning of our team’s journey, where we asked them for the best tips on how to succeed in iGEM, and got to know them better. We also met with the Alumni during the summer for a relaxed picnic featuring a lot discussion about iGEM and the opportunities it has given our team and the Alumni.