Team:Freiburg/HumanPractice/mind map



What is synthetic biology? This is what we asked people of all age groups. We wanted to know what comes to the mind of “non biologist” when they hear the term “synthetic biology” so that we can meet the hopes and fears reported to us in our human practice approach.

The most frequent idea of synthetic biology in our survey was to imitate nature by designing and manufacturing “things” or organisms in the lab. The technical realization of biological systems so that we are able to control these systems was the continuation of this idea. Pupils of a biotechnology school also proposed bio fuels and bio plastic to be connected with the term of synthetic biology. They also thought about a process of artificial manufacturing useful resources and of combining biology and chemistry to achieve this goal.

As another area of application the health and medicine sector was recognized. Here the catch phrase “gene therapy” appeared. This application of synthetic biology is a very broad and promising area that truly interested the sample of the survey. Personalized medicine and tissue engineering are terms mentioned and discussed in this context. Of course also cancer therapy was a frequent stated topic we addressed and informed about in our human practice actions. As our uniCAS toolkit could potentially be used for all these gene therapy approaches we really emphasized this aspect of synthetic biology during our human practice work, e.g. when we gave talks in schools.

Only very few people came up with critical input. Here the possibilities of creating new drugs or biological weapons were suspected to be potential fields of application of synthetic biology. We eliminated these misgivings by clarifying the term synthetic biology and explaining the tremendous research importance of synthetic biology. After telling how we understand the term synthetic biology explaining our work for iGEM everyone was very positive about this field of research.

“iGEM” was also something people answered when we asked them what they connect with synthetic biology. The competition is already quite famous in Freiburg, not only under biology students. Of course we were very happy to explain the exciting but quite complex project of Freiburg for this year's iGEM competition. This can be kind of challenging when your counterpart is a “non biologist” but in the end we were successful in fascinating people about what we do.

Overall we were really overwhelmed of the positive resonance to synthetic biology and iGEM. The human practice work of the former Freiburg iGEM teams seems to have been very efficient.