We organized a club dedicated to iGEM in our home school, The High School Affiliated To The Renmin University, called the Genehack Club, and it soon became the base for our public activities. Many team members were selected from this club, and we give lectures that taught various basic knowledge of life sciences. Besides, we launched a series of meetings in which our members shared their knowledge of forefront topics related to iGEM competition with other students in RDFZ, not necessarily restricted to our club members.
Forum of community development
Public engagement should not stop at school. Beyond this arena, on 21st June, we co-organized a forum of Biology Olympians and high school iGEMers from all over China, and discussed ways to promote the development of Chinese high school biology communities. We reached several conclusions:
(1) Current development of high school biology communities often suffer from a lack of resources and attractions, and a “club and competition” model such as Genehack is probably a good attempt to alleviate this problem.
(2) A single campus is inevitably limited in human resources and capital-intensive establishments. Therefore communities, even if spatially and temporally seperated, should actively seek to help each other to promote the development of all of them.
Forum of biosafety
Biosafety is our project’s foremost theme. To better understand the current situation, we participated in a forum of biosafety on 4th October. We obtained a few important informations from Peking and Tsinghua iGEMers. We found that we are now in a very precarious situation, and the Internet poses new problems for monitoring the sale and distribution of biological products that are still not well solved, and DIYbio is rapidly developing with a considerable population base in China that creates novel safety and security concerns. But much progress was made in the field of college laboratory safety and regulations went from nonexistent to systematized with classes, test and zonation in lab. Yet Chinese universities still have a long way to go compared with top-level US colleges.
As our experiments progressed, we took significant consideration in biosafety, one of the major global issues related to synthetic biology. According to the interview with Jianwen Ye, Chief Engineer of Bluepha, we realized that bacterial strain leakage from fermenter was merely a tip of the iceberg, and kill switch was one of the various anti-leakage systems. Therefore, our journey does not end with Giant Jamboree. We will continue to adjust our kill switch in response to the current demands in medical or industrial fields. Furthermore, from those social researches mentioned above, it is revealed that not only do civilians possess inadequate awareness of biosafety, but some of the doctors and nurses in local clinics also lack of understanding of biosafety. So, we decide to popularize biosafety-related knowledge in the future time, targeting upon a great variety of audience, ranging from schools to communities and eventually to the society.