Human Practices Collaborations

A generic square placeholder image with rounded corners in a figure.

An important collaborative effort has been made in the frame of our Human Practices activities. We skyped the ULaval iGEM team during the summer to talk about our projects. It quickly appeared that we pursued common human practices goals and that collaborating seemed a great idea. Both teams have advisors who were specialists in ethics and we decided to compare the point of views of Europeans and North Americans visions about ethics. To complete our study, we asked the National University of Singapore (NUS) iGEM team to join us, so we could also have an Asian point of view. From there, we produced together a joint 20 pages document, "HP Worldwide", describing how synthetic biology and biotechnologies are perceived on our three continents (see Human Practices).

Bordeaux iGEM Team

A generic square placeholder image with rounded corners in a figure.

We met the Bordeaux iGEM team at both the French and European meetups. They were trying to find a way to substitute an alternative segment of the traditional petrobased chemistry with a new green bio-based chemistry. Cellulose was a possible substrate for them and they were especially interested about pure bacterial cellulose. We therefore engaged in producing sufficient bacterial cellulose for them. Our initial production rate was not designed for that so we had to improve our production capacity to match their requirement. We were very pleased when we visited them in Bordeaux from the 24th to the 26th of August to give them 5g of beautiful bacterial cellulose so they could test their project using our material. Best of luck guys !

Montpellier iGEM Team

Montpellier and Toulouse

iGEM Montpellier's project is called Vagineering, and it looks to solve hormonal contraceptive issues with a novel, non-hormonal method. The goal is to create a lasting contraceptive using only bacteria, which can later be reversed by engineering the strain with a kill-switch. Montpellier is participating for the first time in the iGEM competition! We wanted to help them since our two cities are neighbours. We visited Montpellier at the beginning of our adventure. It was a great opportunity for our two teams to build relationships and think together about a collaborative project. After several exchanges we decided to start a collaboration around the LL-37 (a human antibiotic of the class of cathelicidins). Our ultimate goal was to clone LL-37 with an AviTag to be biotinylated in Pichia pastoris. The big idea was to use our Cerberus platform in the Montpellier project and include a new functionalisation of cellulose. We had a second project whose goal was to prove the biological activity of scygonadin on the vaginal flora. Some of the clonings have been performed but we did not have enough time for completion of this task.

A generic square placeholder image with rounded corners in a figure.
Figure 1: Diagram of our collaboration experimental design

Aalto-Helsinki iGEM Team

We met members of the Aalto-Helsinki team at the European meetup in Munich and after discussing both of our projects, we concluded that a collaboration was possible. We talked on Skype and found out we had the same construction with our Carbohydrate-Binding Module but we were not experimenting on the same material: they were using cellulose nanofibrils from birch and we were using bacterial cellulose produced by Gluconacetobacter hansenii. We decided to perform our CBM affinity tests on both materials. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to test each other's material but it was a great opportunity to compare our projects.

iGEM France

Thanks to Grenoble’s initiative, we were honoured to take part in the iGEM France journey. This newly created association aims to promote mutual aid between French teams and discussions about their difficulties. We had meetings every month through Skype to talk about the role of the association and define projects together to strengthen the connections between French teams. This experience allowed us to contact the teams from Montpellier and Laval (yes, we love french speaking teams!) with whom we have undertaken some great collaborations


4th Parisian Meetup

Meet up Paris

On the 4th of July, we gathered with all the French iGEM teams to participate in the 4th Parisian meetup organised by the Pasteur Paris iGEM team. It was the first time that we presented our project to others and we got the feedback of a jury composed of various professionals. It was very interesting and helpful to receive advice from the jury and the other iGEM teams, so as to improve our presentation and our way to communicate about our project. Seeing everyone’s projects and how they managed to progress gave us an overall idea of what was left to do and where we should put more efforts. We also got the chance to participate in discussions about bioethics.

European Meetup in Munich

Meet up Munich

On the 21st and 22nd of July, we attended the European Meetup in Munich.
The different talks were highly interesting and we had the chance to ask Katrin Lang, one of the speaker, for advice about the unnatural amino acid part of our platform. The poster session was a great opportunity to practice the presentation of our project to the other teams. The feedback and tips we received from the other teams were very helpful to improve our poster for the oncoming events. This meetup was also a good opportunity to talk about collaborations and to get to know each other by spending time with the other teams.

Postcard Project

We took part in Duesseldorf’s project to exchange postcards about synthetic biology. We decided to use a photo of our city, Toulouse, on the front and a world map on the back with Toulouse marked by a dog’s paw as a reminder of our mascot Cerberus.

iGEM Teams Worldwide

This year, we created an instagram account that we shared with other teams: igem.teams.worldwide. The team managing this account changed every week. Thus all participating teams were able to discover the daily life of the other teams. We are very happy with the contribution of so many teams around the world to this project. A special thanks to all the teams who took part in this project: Purdue, BOKU-Vienna, Aix-Marseille, UNESP-Brazil, ICT Mumbai, Tec Chihuahua, TU Delft, Hogeschool Rotterdam, Uppsala, Leiden, Michigan State University, Marburg, Vilnius, Düsseldorf, King's College London, Montpellier, Bielefeld, Stony Brook, Exeter, Eindhoven, Delaware, National University of Singapore, Groningen, and Makerere.


We filled out surveys for the following teams:

  • Bielefeld: questionnaire about Dual Use and Dual Use Research of Concern
  • Bordeaux: Human practices survey
  • Duesseldorf: survey iGEM Duesseldorf 2018
  • Lund: iGEM workplace evaluation
  • Montpellier: project Vagineering
  • NYC: Survey regarding research ethics and survey regarding Huntington's disease
  • Pasteur Paris: NeuronArch : prothèse, infection et interface… la biologie de synthèse au service du progrès
  • Sorbonne U Paris: Sustainable environment, mitigating environmental issues and Suga[R]evolution
  • ULaval: iGEM ULaval
  • Uppsala: iGEM work environment evaluation
  • XJTU: survey on sweeteners