Team:CPU CHINA/Engagement

Education and public engagement


Designing educational activities around synthetic biology is difficult because this field is new and interdisciplinary[1]. Professional parlance may lead to public misunderstanding and estrangement since the public lacks authentic awareness over this novel subject. As students become active members of the synthetic biology community, they navigate both inside and outside the Ivory Towers. CPU_CHINA focused on bridging the gap between iGEM community and the general public with three methods:

1. Social interactions to broaden our community

2. Activities on campus for knowledge spreading

3. Engaging other iGEM teams and experience exchange

Social interactions

We causally interviewed some people just on street to get a grasp of their awareness of synthetic biology. They provided some interesting opinions, for example on relevant security and ethical considerations. We have to point out that most of them holds a positive view towards this fields future.
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Please click here to watch the video.

Then, we tried to talk about synthetic biology in a TEDx speech in a simple way, which attracted nearly one hundred people. The speaker (team leader)’s vivid talking successfully inducted the audience into the world of synthetic biology.

Activities on campus

Then, to widen the impact of our project on campus, we organized an Innovation Experiment for College Students study group based on our RNAi system and three junior students joined to learn our project. They were able to practice some experimental techniques such as molecular cloning.
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The school club of CPU iGEMers--CPU Bio-X Club continued its mission as the only biology club at China Pharmaceutical University. We held nearly twenty professional lectures this year and most of them were synthetic-biology-related. We also organized a fun school-ranged sport event--Surviving the BioValley during which all our schoolmates could have a better understanding of synthetic biology in the form of a game.
Please click here to know more about BioValley.

Engaging other iGEM teams

Engaging with other teams for more ideas and techniques is essential in iGEM. We have been pleased to attend the Nanjing iGEMers meetups and the 5th CCiC. Apart from these two meetups, we are friends with NAU-CHINA, Nanjing-China, CSU_CHINA, Fudan-CHINA, Tongji_China in regular information exchanging and trouble shooting.

Figure: Information exchanging with NAU-CHINA and Nanjing-China.

Promote public awareness of HCC

While educating people about general synthetic biology is most explicitly expected by the competition, in practice we had to choose HCC as one of the starting topic in our conversation with the people outside the academic community. This topic not only could lead to more public awareness of this disease but also could serve as a wonderful example of how synthetic biology could be of benefit to modern medicine. Therefore, after the three approaches we wrote a booklet in dairy tongue.

We also engaged face to face with some cancer patients. We interacted with the largest cancer patient organizations in southeastern China----Rehabilitation Association of Nanjing CHINA. One of the cancer patients there has much benefitted from novel cancer therapy and got quite a legend to tell. He enlightened us about the specificity of cancer therapy and cheered us by confirming that in such sense our idea is indeed of great significance.

[1] Kuldell, N. (2007). Authentic teaching and learning through synthetic biology. Journal of Biological Engineering, 1(1), 8.