Team:NAU-CHINA/Public Engagement




Public Engagement

Science Popularization: Make A Change

Origin of Our Work

With the progress of the project in the laboratory, we have also learned that the public do not have sufficient knowledge of cancer, cancer treatment and new cancer therapy. Therefore, we believe that we should go into the society to cover the blind spots in the public's knowledge, and eliminate their misunderstanding of science and technology rather than limit the project in the laboratory.

Society Cognition

We investigated the public in the streets to understand the public's awareness of scientific knowledge. The interviews took place in three places, Xinjiekou Commercial District, called China's first business district, Nanjing South Railway Station, the largest railway station in Asia, and Xiamafang Heritage Park, a century-old scenic spot. These three locations have great traffic and a complete demographic structure.

Interview at Xinjiekou Commercial District

Interview at Nanjing South Railway Station

Interview at Xiamafang Heritage Park

Public cancer knowledge has been known through interview and questionnaire survey. We found out some points as follows:

1. People have a low level of scientific knowledge about cancer, and almost no knowledge of new cancer therapies.

2. As people grow older, their knowledge of cancer will grow. One reason for this is that there are more and more cancer patients around them.

3. Middle-aged and elderly people pay attention to health knowledge. They perform better than young people in keeping health, and they have a more correct concept of health.

General public lacks scientific knowledge, and has long been misled by pseudoscience. This is a common phenomenon in today's society.

(Detailed results of questionnaire see in this PDF document.)

Access to Knowledge

In order to gain authoritative scientific knowledge about cancer, which will be used for publicity, we interviewed several researchers who have made great achievements in the field of cancer treatment working in SIBS. They gave us authoritative knowledge about cancer and latest cancer treatment. Their words made us feel the social responsibility on the shoulders.

“Treating a disease is not an individual's behavior. It requires the engagement of the government. The development of the entire social welfare system depends on whether a person can receive extra help in different stages of his/her life.” By Prof. Wang Hongyan

“Intellectual property rights should not be greater than human rights, and money should not be more important than human life. The government is suggested to assume this responsibility with medical insurance or other forms.” By Prof. Ji Hongbin

“At present, many pharmaceutical companies in China are also growing, and they will have such capabilities in a few years.” By Prof. Yang Chenghua

“Scientific research is not so easy.” By Prof. MengFeilong

(More details of interview see in the PDF document.)

Science Popularization Campaign

With the authoritative scientific knowledge about cancer, we started publicity and education for the public. Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, a very famous historic site with the huge traffic, is the place where we launched our campaign. From June to September, we have organized a total of six events with huge social impact.

We promote science popularization through forms like exhibition boards and brochures. The content covers cancer common sense (such as cancer causes, cancer treatment methods, etc.), synthetic biology introduction and the project of our team. Our activities took various forms, including introduction and games about scientific knowledge.

Brochures & Exhibition Boards

Larger Influence & Further Vision

Nanjing Daily, a local newspaper with many readers, reported our work on popularizing scientific knowledge to the general public. Broad social responses were spurred by this report, and our work has been recognized and appreciated by the public. We also promoted scientific knowledge through WeChat official account, a popular online social media in China. The online popularization has attracted readers numbered in hundreds and has contributed to a wide range of social impacts.

Our WeChat Official Account & Nanjing Daily Report

In the future, we want to expand our activity to the whole society, eliminate pseudoscience and spread authoritative scientific knowledge to the general public. In order to achieve this, we must cooperate with government. We have got connect with some relevant government officers and further work is being negotiated.

Education: Light a Spark

Middle School: Enlightenment

Synthetic biology, as a new branch of biology, is very useful and powerful. It’s a pity that, however, it is not well-known. Middle school students, with creativity and knowledge, are who we want to enlighten with knowledge of synthetic biology. We want to inspire them to create with synthetic biology to benefit society.

From October 2017 to October 2018, we held joint synthetic biology science training camp with Jinling Middle School by monthly lecture. We brought them synthetic biology and its latest application. As the activity progressed, the students' understanding of synthetic biology deepened and the enthusiasm for learning increased. In the last few lessons, they gave us a description of synthetic biology and the highest ideals of synthetic biology in their minds. We are deeply impressed by their creativity.

After the event, we exchanged ideas with the school officers. The school officers expressed their willingness to build an iGEM team affiliated to Jinling Middle School. They hoped to get our help and support. We also expressed our willingness to work with them to build a team which is full of passion for synthetic biology and creativity.

College: Professional

Compared with our education activity in middle school, our education activity in college is more professional and more targeted. We held lectures about synthetic biology and organized a competition called “agar art”, which allows competitors using microorganisms to create artworks on agar medium. We also allowed students to get into our lab and see what we do every day. We successfully spread synthetic biological knowledge and philosophy, and involve a group of students to get into it.

iGEMcloud: Create A Platform

We developed iGEMCloud to solve some current problems of iGEM, with its immediacy, openness and interactivity.

Fast and accurate event information of iGEM are provided in iGEMCloud. It allows everyone to post messages in the corresponding section for others to view or reply, and the writer will receive notices. Based on this, a rich social possibility of iGEM is built. We provide searching, collection, attention, and other features that could make it easier for users to interact. iGEMers from different teams in different countries can openly discuss issues together. We provide team space for each team, where team members can publish the news of the team for others viewing and interacting. In this way, barriers of cooperation between teams could be removed..

This application will serve as a community for iGEMers. It can also expand the influence of iGEM events. Here, researchers can gather and exchange ideas.The application could be one of the most iGEM style communities.

Seminars: Communication & Collaboration

Nanjing iGEM Seminar

At the end of May, we participated in an exchange meeting hosted by Nanjing University. The meeting was attended by Zhang Haoqian as a keynote speaker, and representatives from Nanjing University, China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing Foreign Languages School, and Nanjing Agricultural University participated. We reported our project to those universities and middle school and gained some suggestions came from Mr. Zhang and other schools. We started cooperate with China Pharmaceutical University in this seminar.

6th Asia-Pacific Conference

We participated Asia-Pacific Conference held by National Chungtsing University from 30th July to 3th August. There are about 20 teams from China, Taiwan and Japan took part in this magnificent conference. During this five days' meeting, all teams present their projects by PowerPoint slides and show us their posters. We are deeply impressed by several novel, innovate projects of some teams, and launched several collaborations with them. We also did our best to present our project to judge, professor Que, and received many sharp but beneficial guidance opinions. Besides projects presentation and collaborations with other teams, hanging out and having fun are also important part of this conference. We had a pleasure night with iGEM Fudan, iGEM XMU-China, NCHU-Formosa and other teams, we shared funny stories and difficulties we faced during the presentation.


We attended the 5th Conference of China iGEMer Community (CCiC) held by ShanghaiTech University from August 28 to August 30. More than 50 teams from Chinese universities and high schools participated in the meeting. During the meeting, each team displayed its project through PPT, posters and other means, looking for problems and perfecting the project with the help of judges and other teams. We also gained many valuable suggestions from judges and other teams in the process of displaying our project. For example, the judges put forward some requirements for us in terms of digital models and other teams also put forward some questions about our digital models.

In addition to sharing and exchanging projects, listening to the master's report and the experience sharing meeting of IGEM's predecessors also benefited us a lot. Through the master's report, we learned about the current situation and future development direction of synthetic biology. The experience of IGEM predecessors such as Haoqian Zhang in participating in the competition is of great significance for us to participate in the competition in Boston.