Team:Tongji China/Public Engagement

Human Practice
Engagement & Education

& E- BLOCK 1 & Background Research
(Origin of “BLOCK”)

We propose to write popular science readings and spread our project idea in WeChat, which to be specific, is spreading in form of "WeChat Push" —a prevalent way of scientific knowledge propagation in China – as well as accept the timely response from our readers' comments and surveys results. All the pushes are sent under the official account of Tongji Life Science and Technology Department, but are featured in series called "i积木", which is homophonic for iGEM in Chinese and means "my blocks".

For better understandability to the readers, whose ages might vary from 8 to 80, we process the contents of WeChat Push series in a mild way. That is, to start with comprehensive description of synthetic biology, followed by popular science readings in several aspects of our project, such as the intestinal flora, tumor, immunotherapy and gene therapy, and finally came the basic conception of our project, how we induce immunoreaction by oral administration of processed attenuated engineered P. aeruginosa. The pushes came out once a week, several of which were followed by the relative surveys we designed for collecting social response to the certain topic and more significantly, the points of view on our project.

& E- BLOCK 2 & "Presentation in High School"

When it comes to spreading new concepts, students are always the best group to be advocated, for efforts may get paid off if you could inspire them and lead them into further research.

To reach this goal, we held a lecture in the first middle school attached to Tongji University. There we talked about basics of synthetic biology, cancer, etc. In this way, we generated a lot of students who were interested in biology and made them think about both the length and the quality of life.

To start with synthetic biology, we first threw out this concept which was not quite familiar to most of students. The topic then went into the understanding of "standard parts" with practical usages, some of which were projects of iGEM in the past five years. It was easy to tell that due to great possibilities in this field, the topic had fully aroused students' interest.

Then we led the topic to the key of our project – cancer therapy, which ended with a debate held among students, arguing whether it was proper for the patients to choose euthanasia when little chance was left for them to be cured. Discussion went to the extent of ethic and legality, reason and emotion, ideas got exchanged and the understanding to cancer went deeper.

"I support euthanasia, because I believe it is valuable for the patient and the society. As far as I knew, terminal disease sufferers such as patients with advanced cancer always endure enormous pain, some of who even take in Morphine or other drugs to reduce it. At that stage, even the relatives of the patient want to end his life for his sake while the idea was held back by the law.
I think life is our own thing, and our relatives and we have the right to choose what to do with it."
"I don't agree with the former one.
I think introducing a new law which allows the euthanasia will end up with chaos. Believe it or not, people of ill will might make benefit from this, for it's hard to define in which situation it is allowed to execute euthanasia. Even if we finally define it properly, what if the patients' choice on euthanasia results from impulsion instead of careful consideration? There are lots of things left to be resolved. I just don't approve that it should be admitted now and then."
"I also come up with some important things of euthanasia to mention.
First, executor, the job itself, is hard to perform, for euthanasia executor will be under great burden mentally when facing with all the death they handle.
Also, they might be accused because of the loophole in law."

"I think it's better to introduce law of euthanasia as soon as possible.
The previous views on law might be reasonable, but they ignore the fact that laws are growing. If we don't try it at first, progress will never happen and we won't have an advanced law anymore. Just waiting won't change anything."

& E- BLOCK 3 & "Attendance in CCiC"

To make closer communication with fellow teams, we participated in the 5th CCiC in Shanghai Tech University in China. During the attendance, we benefited from the discussion in several aspects: take the useful advice to optimize our design, troubleshooting, experience from other teams, and so on. Friendship with several schools was built up, with some of which we still kept contact for collaboration.