Team:UiOslo Norway/Human Practices

Human Practices

One of the silver requirements for the iGEM competition is to incorporate human practices into the project. This is done by careful and creative evaluation of whether the project is responsible and will bring good to the world. We therefore gathered information from experts in their respective fields, which provided new perspectives and valuable insight.

National Reference Laboratory for
Medical Mycology

After we decided to work with yeast, we visited a mycology lab. There we got information on how to properly work with fungi. Three of our team members had the unique opportunity to get a guided tour through the National Reference Laboratory for Medical Mycology at the Oslo University Hospital. The lab is responsible for testing if the patient samples contain microorganisms that are resistant to different types of antimicrobials.

One of the creations of the mycology lab, a petri-dish wishing us a "good summer"

So what did we do in the lab? First, we inspected some fungi from patient probes grown on agar plates (amongst others Candida albicans (C. albicans)). Additionally, we attempted to evaluate with which fungus the patient is most probably infected by dint of tables. We started a minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) test of a patient’s sample. This procedure helps to identify the lowest concentration of an antimicrobial needed to prevent visible growth of a bacterium or a fungus. Lonny (senior researcher) selected some of the most fascinating fungi and we could have a look at them through the microscope.

Pictures from mycology lab

At the end of the day we had a conversation with Lonny about our project idea. She believes that our detection kit would be very precious in a time where antimicrobial resistance is on the rise. From her point of view the possibility to buy antimycotics over-the-counter is a big mistake. She underlined the importance of our project in trying to decrease the over-usage of antimycotics. Following this feedback, we decided to interview more experts in the field of C. albicans infections.

All in all this was a very informative and interesting day. Thanks to the National Reference Laboratory for Medical Mycology for giving us an insight into their work.

Interview with experts

With our project we want to approach the problem of misdiagnosis of vulvovaginal candidiasis. A misdiagnosis can often lead to incorrect treatment. Consequently, there is an overuse of antimycotics which results in antimycotic resistance. In Norway, only 30 % of those who purchase over-the-counter antimycotics actually have an ongoing yeast infection [A].

Our aim for human practices was to find out if women are educated about commensal microorganisms in the vaginal flora and genital hygiene. We were also curious about the opinion of pharmacists in matters of antimycotics that are sold over-the-counter.

In order to obtain information about these topics, we performed interviews with different experts.

Click the respective button to see their interview below!

Interviews are also available as PDFs, click their names to access them.

  1. Interview with Dr. med. Katharina Franke, Gynecologist, Germany
  2. Interview with Dr. med. Bastian Czogalla, Gynecologist, Germany
  3. Interview with Dr. Dr. med. Susanne Grunewald, Dermatologist, Germany
  4. Interview with Alexandra Möhringer, General Practitioner, Germany
  5. Interview with Usha Hartgill, divisional head of Olafiaklinikken, Norway
  6. Interview with the clinic “Sex og Samfunn (Sex and Society)”, Norway
  7. Interview with Martin Müller, Pharmacist, Germany
  8. Interview with Anita Binder, Pharmacist, Germany
  9. Interview with Aina Kristin Pham, Pharmacist, Norway

Questionnaire for masters students

We handed out a short questionnaire to masters students to gather information for our project. We wanted to know if the students knew what Candida albicans is, as well as which steps they were most likely to take to treat a hypothetical infection.

Gender and age distribution of respondents

Statistics for the questionnaire Out of 66 participants, 71 % (n=47) were female, while 29 % (n=19) were male.
The age of the participants ranged from 21 to 43 years, with a mean age of 24 years.

Question: Do you know what C. albicans is?

Gender distribution for prior knowledge of <em>C. albicans</em> Female participants n = 47 , Male participants n = 19

The evaluation shows that more than half of the participants did not have prior knowledge of C. albicans, with a higher percentage of men not knowing about C. albicans. This is not surprising, as yeast infections are less common for men.

Question: Did you know that C. albicans is a frequent cause of vaginal infections?

Gender distribution for prior knowledge of <em>C. albicans</em> Female participants n = 47 , Male participants n = 19

About 2/3 of the participants didn’t know that C. albicans is a causative of vaginal infection. Most people does not know which pathogen is the cause of the infection, but might still have knowledge of the symptoms.

Question: If you have the suspicion of suffering from a vaginal C. albicans infection, would you use a “home-testing kit” in order to obtain a more targeted treatment (1 being not likely and 5 being very likely)?

Likeliness of desire to use kit Female participants n = 41 , Male participants n = 15

The answers were as expected very widespread. As we can see from the results, women are more open to self-testing with a kit than men are.

In conclusion, general knowledge of C. albicans was poor in our sample group. This lead us to spend more time educating and engaging with our community. Additionally, we had to process the information from our interviews with experts. Read more on how we did this on Integrated Human Practices.

Web sources
  • A: accessed at 22.08.2018