From the 24th to the 26th of July 2018, the first ever iGEM EurAsian Meetup took place in Shenzhen, Peoples’ Republic of China. We collaborated with our high-school buddy team BGIC-Global to organize this important meetup. 24 teams from all over Asia and Europe joined us in Shenzhen, with a live stream available for those who could not be there in person. We focused on teams getting to know each other, raising each others projects to a higher level trough practice and feedback sessions and creating a better understanding of each other by presenting a bioethicial viewpoint from both continents. We hope to have contributed in a significant way to intercontinental scientific and cultural exchange in the iGEM community by establishing meaningful collaborations between teams from Europe and Asia.
1. First Day
We kicked off the meetup with a strong focus on science and plenty of opportunities to get to know each other. After inspiring welcoming words from Dr. Doris Yang, vice-dean of BGI College, Dr. Yue (Chantal) Shen and Dr. Ying Gu gave an interesting talk on their work as Chief and Senior R&D Director at the Synthesis and Gene Editing Platform of the China National Gene Bank. We introduced the buddy system; playing matchmaker and pairing teams up based on their project contents and specific needs. They met each other in a short break and then combined their shared knowledge and skills to compete in the collaboration quiz. With everyone a group of new friends richer, we went into the after-iGEM presentation by Ms. Hong Chen, who explained to us all opportunities for continuing iGEM after October. Then we set out to practice for the Giant Jamboree with the project presentations. Each team had prepared a 10 minute version of their final presentation, which they presented to half of the group. They received 10 minutes of feedback and questions from not only experienced supervisors, but also from very engaged fellow iGEMers. We were very happy and proud to see such great participation.
iGEM TJU China
2. Second Day
After the first successful day, the meetup continued into a new direction: learning new skills that can be applied to one’s iGEM project. Dr. Franklin Nóbrega and Ms. Dorothy Zhang, from Delft University of Technology and BGI college, respectively, gave a clear and interesting talk about the decoding of iGEM, explaining how to ensure a fruitful outcome of a project. Subsequently, the two of them led a workshop that taught skills and more insight about approaching a potential iGEM project. Like the previous day, half of the teams got the chance to present their project to the others. With the newly gained knowledge from the presentation and workshop, we dug into a poster session, where all teams engaged with each other and gave feedback on their projects.
iGEM BGIC Global
3. Third Day
On the third meetup day, we focused on increasing awareness towards bioethics. The day started with a presentation given by Ir. Britte Bouchaut, a PhD student from Delft University of Technology, who imposed the importance of the concept Value Sensitive Design in any iGEM project. This was followed by another presentation by Mr. Hui Kang from BGI, who explained how Chinese myths and legends affect people’s attitude towards biological issues. After the presentation, teams were given the chance to discuss two bioethics topics in a workshop and to apply what they learned throughout the day to their projects. Finally, teams that excelled in various parts of the meetup were awarded in our prize ceremony. iGEM EPFL was awarded with best engagement and poster, while XJTLU China was awarded with the best pitch. The best presentation was awarded to GreatBay China from Group 1, and Marburg from Group 2, who had to convince the judge panel on a sudden death round against TJU China.
The above quotes are just some impressions that the meetup left people with. We feel teams really benefited from the meetup, learning about synthetic biology, iGEM, bioethics and each other. For us, organizing a meetup like this was incredibly fun and also educational. Getting to know the BGIC Global team, calling to four different time-zones simultaneously and interacting with all the amazing teams that attended or tried to attend the meetup, we were able to experience many new and valuable things. Watch the movie below to get an impression!
5. Thank you!
Again, we would very much like to thank our sponsors, our speakers (Dr. Doris Yang, Dr. Yue (Chantal) Shen, Dr. Ying Gu, Ms, Hong Chen, Dr. Franklin Nobrega, Ms. Dorothy Zhang, Ir. Britte Bouchaut and Mr. Hui Kang), both the BGI College and the Delft University of Technology, the supervisors and teachers that attended, the volunteers from Yantian Senior High School, the technicians and cleaning personnel at Yantian Senior High School, the food vendors, the organising members of each iGEM team (Adam, Jack, Sherry, Amy, and Jerry from BGIC-Global and Janine, Alex, Lisbeth, Venda and Gemma from the TU Delft), Ms. Dorothy Zhang from BGIC, the live stream audience and of course our amazing attendees!
We very much valued being able to host a meetup like this. If you would like to organise a meetup next year, intercontinental or otherwise, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We would love to teach you what we learned.
Attendees EurAsian Meetup 2018:
These amazing teams unfortunately did not have their photo taken at the banner: TJU, FJNU-China and SUSTech-Shenzhen.