Team:UCL/Achievements

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MEDAL CRITERIA

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 will develop several new BioBricks, including a new enhancer region to make any minimal eukaryotic promoter sensitive to oxidative stress.

Silver Medal

• We will prove our BioBricks work.

• We will characterise a novel BioBrick in E.Coli and HeLa cells, by creating a zeocin kill curve with and without our zeocin resistance BioBrick.

• We will submit these improved parts to the registry.

• 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 intend to improved minimal promoters in the registry by adding our new enhancer region to show that they increase transcription in mammalian cells under oxidative stress.

• We intend to collaborate 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 debate, and Imperial College, by demonstrating that one of their key BioBricks for plastic degradation may be used in medicine as an amyloid protease.

• 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.

ABOVE AND BEYOND

Project

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 highligh5t the impact of fiction on society's views.

• 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.

Modelling

Wiki

Mentoring iGEM HS

Two members of the UCL iGEM team volunteered as advisors to the UCL Academy iGEM team – Ruxi [link to Ruxi’s profile] and KhaiCheng [link to KC’s profile], 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 [http://www.ucl.ac.uk/biochemeng]

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 [http://2013hs.igem.org/Main_Page] 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.