Bronze Medal

• We have registered our team of eleven undergraduates.

• We have completed the judging form.

• We have created a beautiful team wiki in keeping with the iGEM guidelines.

• We have a poster and presentation ready for the regional jamboree in Lyon.

• We have developed two new BioBricks and have submitted them to the iGEM Registry

Silver Medal

• We have proved our zeocin resistance BioBrick worked as expected by characterising it in HeLa cells. We did this by by creating a zeocin kill curve with and without our zeocin resistance BioBrick.

• Due to the gravity of Alzheimer's disease and the perceived sovereignty of the brain, we have taken the ethics of using synthetic biological treatments very seriously. We produced a neuroethics and a feasibility report, consulted numerous experts and provided a concise but detailed background to our project, which shows how our proposed genetic circuit is advised by multiple theories for the causation of Alzheimer's pathology.

Gold Medal

• We collaborated with iGEM Westminster, by modelling how well their bed-bug killing device will operate in a bedroom as well advising them on how to run a speed debate using our format. One of our team members, Alex Bates, also attended as guest speaker at their speed debate event.

Full details on collaboration with iGEM Westminster can be found below.

• Our Human Practices deal with an entirely new area for iGEM and, indeed, almost a completely new avenue of research for synthetic biology as a field - the fusion of neuroscience and synthetic biology. We use a variety of strong methods for social and ethical analysis, and outreach. Please see the section below for a summary of what we achieved.

• Outside of this theme, we also engaged in outreach by training and advising the UCL Academy iGEM high school team. This was the first time a British iGEM team has helped run an iGEM HS team.



• Developed and experimentally validated the first selectable marker (Zeocin) in a mammalian system (HeLa cells).

• Plan to use genetically engineered microglia cells; the first human brain cells to be used in iGEM, when they arrive so results will be available post jamboree.

Human Practices

• We have looked at an entirely new ethical area for iGEM that has also essentially not been covered in academia; the neuroethics of genetic engineering. We have dubbed this 'Neuro-genethics'.

• We have produced an extensive 20 page report that looks into neuro-genethics and what synthetic biology could achieve in neuroscience.

• We have engaged the public on this topic by getting their opinions at the Arts Catalyst, running a speed debate and a TED debate, conducting an online survey and producing a documentary on synthetic neurobiology.

• We ran one of iGEM's first creative writing competitions, to gauge public opinion on brain modification and highlight the impact of fiction on society's views.

• Petcha Kutcha style presentation to enguage prospective students of the UCL Engineering Department about iGEM.

• We created an original memory bank, Eternal Sunshine, which highlights how precious memories are, indicating the desperate need to cure Alzheimer's disease.

• We created a feasibility report on implementing our treatment.

• Attended and aided in the running of YSB 1.0 (held at UCL) along with other UK iGEM teams to discuss projects and potential collaborations.

• Through Eternal Sunshine and the creative writing competition we have successfully reached out to a diverse range of people from every corner of the globe, from the USA , to China, to Saudi Arabia and so on.


• We are the first iGEM team to use a protein network analysis approach. Network based bioinformatics can feedback into synthetic biology by informing the choice of parts in therapeutic genetic circuits.

• We have developed an advanced piece of software in C# with both numerical and graphical output. The model takes into account all major elements of the proposed mechanism.

• We have used the model to qualitatively demonstrate the feasibility of our proposed mechanism – setting all variables with their real values, microglia cells effectively clear plaques from a region of the brain.

• We have also used our model to investigate the effect of altering various parameters. Although the model is artificial, since it accurately represents the real world, the results of these investigations could be used to better design our plaque clearing mechanism. Additionally, we used the model to produce an accelerated-time animation of microglia cells clearing plaques, and 3D images of signal distribution once simulation is complete.

• We have made the entire source code available via GitHub.

• Furthermore, we have developed an entirely separate model for the Westminster iGEM team. The entire source code for this has been sent to them for further development, in addition to a published version of the software which members of their team, even those without any coding experience, can use.


• We have developed an, original attractive wiki using art work by our artists in residence, Fong Yi Khoo and Oran Maguire.

• We have included an extensive neuroscience background section, which explains and compares multiple theories for the causation of Alzheimer's disease, so that readers can fully understand the pros and cons of our genetic circuit.

• We have included a full complement of citations that link to PubMed pages so that it is easy to see from where our ideas and explanations have been drawn, and which papers have inspired us.

Collaboration with Westminster iGEM


We have modelled the movement of bed-bugs towards blood meal, which can be found on our modelling section.

Mentoring iGEM HS

Two members of the UCL iGEM team volunteered as advisers to the UCL Academy iGEM team – Ruxi and Khaicheng, under the guidance of Aurelija Grigonyte, a member of the UCL iGEM 2012 team. During the high school team’s brainstorming process, we provided them with guidance and resources for their research. We also supervised their lab work in the UCL Biochemical Engineering department.

UCL is the first university in the UK to be the sole sponsor of an academy – a non-selective mixed state school in our home borough of Camden. UCL Academy represents a unique opportunity to blur the boundaries between secondary and higher education.

The academy is one of the first UK high schools to participate in iGEM this year, and is the only UK team so far to have attended the High School iGEM Jamboree at MIT, Boston. The team aimed to revolutionise the recycling industry by proposing a home system that converts cellulose into glucose, allowing the up-cycling of paper into a commercial product of bioplastic - polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB)

For information about their iGEM project, check out their wiki here.