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Throughout the year, we worked with other iGEM teams on scientific, human practices and education and public engagement aspects:

French teams’ meetings and scientific discussions

Parisians teams’ meeting

We first met Parisian iGEM teams at the beginning of June to discuss our own projects and to see if we could work together and on which aspects of our projects. That is where we met both Alexandre Trubert (Ionis_Paris team leader) and Louise Destouches (Paris_Bettencourt team leader).

Both the Ionis_Paris and our team worked on a different microbial fuel cell (MFC) device with a different application. However, our two projects used the same biological principles that is external electron transfer from the cytoplasm of an electroactive microorganism (Shewanella oneidensis MR-1) to generate an electric current.

Moreover, during the brainstorming part of our project we considered using Psox, a specific inducible promoter sensitive to redox conditions changes, as the Paris_Bettencourt team.

This meeting allowed us to discover strong connections with both the Paris_Bettencourt and Ionis_Paris teams, that we consolidated afterwards by having regular meetings during which we discussed our scientific approaches and thus improved our projects.

The initial collaboration with Ionis_Paris developed into a real partnership (see the Partnership page on this wiki).

Two-days-meeting in Toulouse

All the French iGEM teams were invited on the INSA-Toulouse campus between the 7th of July afternoon to the 9th of July morning by the Toulouse_INSA-UPS iGEM team to present our project, to get advice and to share useful "tips and tricks" together.

During this MeetUp, we all presented our project through posters and oral presentations oriented both on the theory and the marketing aspects of our project. Thus, we had the chance to talk about our project to all Toulouse_INSA-UPS iGEM team’s PIs, advisors and all French iGEM students present.

It was a great opportunity to question ourselves about different aspects of our project. Indeed, it is thanks to Dr. Brice Enjalbert, PI of the Toulouse_INSA-UPS iGEM team, that we learnt that blood as a source of lncRNA for our test would not be enough to get a proper ON/OFF electric signal output, because in cancer cases lncRNAs are overexpressed in tissues where is located the tumor, but a small part of them leaks into the blood. Then, we contemplated the idea of using tissue instead of blood samples in the future implementation of our project.

We also exchanged with Younes Bouchiba, PhD student and advisor of Toulouse_INSA-UPS iGEM team, who already did iGEM as a team member in 2018, judge and advisor several times. He notably warned us that one key mistake to avoid during project conception is to try not to follow a project that does not result in an improvement in any area of research.

Overall this event in Toulouse was very enriching, but also convivial. We really enjoyed it in both social and scientific terms. It will for sure be remembered in the iGEM France history for a very long time.

Ionis_Paris iGEM team hosted in our lab

From the beginning of September, we hosted the Ionis_Paris iGEM team leader (Alexandre Trubert) in our lab to allow his team to execute one important experiments in the context of their project.

As mentioned above, our both teams are working with Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 to get an electrical output through a microbial fuel cell device (MFC). However, the Ionis_Paris iGEM team needed an electroporator to transform the S. oneidensis MR-1 cells, an equipment absent in their lab but available in ours. This device allows the formation of huge holes in both cells' wall / membrane upon discharging a brief high voltage electrical current and thus electro-permeabilized cells are able to receive extracellular DNA.

The use of our electroporator (Eppendorf 2510) was crucial for the advancement of the Ionis_Paris iGEM team’s project, as the transformation efficiency of S. oneidensis MR-1 cells through electroporation was dramatically increased compared to the heat-shock technique used by the Ionis_Paris iGEM team in their lab.

“Fête de la science”/ Science Festival event

As usual, this year, the Evry_Paris-Saclay iGEM team was a part of the “Fête de la science” event in Paris at “La Cité des sciences et de l'industrie” (The House of Science and Industry) during both the 8th and the 9th of October 2022. This is a French nation-wide event that aims to share and popularize scientific knowledge.

We co-organized the iGEM booth together with the 4 other Parisian iGEM teams (GO_Paris-Saclay, Ionis_Paris, Paris_Bettencourt and Sorbonne_U_Paris) under the close guidance of Ms. Valérie Lerouyer (BioLab chef manager at “Cité des sciences et de l'industrie”).

During the brainstorming meeting we planned the activities and selected those that we considered more interesting for young people. We also took into consideration the safety and security rules and did not propose activities that are a risk for humans or the environment (e.g. no live bacteria on petri dishes, no chemicals).

Now, the main event …

At the start, we were supposed to spend the whole weekend in the room you can see in the photo above and to get into the biolab on Sunday too. However, since the very beginning of the event we were tested. Indeed, during the two first hours, we only had 3 visitors in our room.

So we asked ourselves “why is nobody visiting?” since our room was indicated with big red arrows and with a great lighting. We rapidly found out the reason. In fact, due to the glass windows of the room, we could see people passing in front of us from our room perfectly, but nobody could see us from the outside.

So, as you can see in the above photo, we decided to leave the room to occupy a large space in the main corridor, while being respectful of emergency security instructions.

We would not have imagined how much this change would impact our situation. If you look closely at the same photo above, you can notice a door opened on the top-left corner. It was a very particular booth driven by a doctoral student in economics who needed to gather survey responses for his own work based on food habits from parents toward their children (between 3 and 10 years old). His booth was a success because he gave people a bit of money to answer their questions during 20/30 minutes.

However, little kids were bored during this whole process. As we were very close to their front door, we decided to ask the parents if we could take care of their children during the time that they were answering the questions, and they accepted. Thanks to this idea, we had the opportunity to let parents focus on the questions without their loud children who were calmed down by our relaxing pipetting activity.

As we were very limited in number during both Saturday and Sunday, we needed to optimize the work of each person. In the above picture you can observe both Kevin Dradjat (in green from the Sorbonne_U_Paris team) and Paul Weimer (in blue from our team) peeling onion skin for the DNA extraction activity.

We decided to adopt a particular strategy for the biolab, as we wanted to focus as much attention as possible on our visitors. We would just take 2 groups of people, make them do all the biolab activities and answer all their questions during 30 minutes. However after our first intervention, we were not satisfied enough with the way we performed our activities and we found ourselves a bit disorganized.

So, as you can see in the above photo, we decided to brainstorm about how we could and should improve our intervention to be more in touch with the public.

Thus, we decided to be all available for the very beginning of the activities. When we got 2 distincts groups, we began to introduce iGEM, ourselves and our team very rapidly to make visitors more comfortable with us. We then made the DNA extraction part altogether, making interactive questions to the public on the product we were using and why we were using those specific ones. We would then split up for microscopic cell observation and be gathered again at the end to see what they learnt from all of our activities, if they did enjoy them and if they had any particular questions.

The final thing that we needed to adapt to was the lack of pure dye. Indeed, 2 hours before the end of our pipetting activity, we finished our pure dye sample, so we needed to adapt ourselves to the situation knowing that the color concerned was the yellow (the most successful color) and that there were a lot of children waiting for yellow.

So we needed to adapt ourselves very rapidly taking into account the use rate of the yellow color and the volume we would need for the last 2 hours. We put the last pure dye drop into a 50 mL Falcon tube filled with water serving as our yellow stock, we then dilute it 4 times in another 50 mL Falcon tube to get 4 diluted 50 mL Falcon tubes for the last 2 hours.

These 2 days were very enriching. We learnt a lot of things, like how to manage a booth full of children who could quickly transform into troublemakers. We learnt how to deal with things that were not supposed to happen, how to split our forces into different activities to interact with as many people as possible.

We encountered several difficulties during this weekend but we tackled all the challenges together as a united team.

We cannot wait to see all of you at the Jamboree!

A new collaboration tool in our biobrick game!

The iGEM Evry_Paris-Saclay 2021 team developed the BioPuzzle application. Following the feedback of judge n°4:

“Your "Biopuzzle" game is a nice idea and something that would be nice to see more widely used since it can make the ideas of building biological parts more intuitive. I hope you plan to expand on that in future years rather than trying new apps each year, since it's a great start to expand”

we expanded it and integrated new features, among which is a new collaboration tool. Now, every iGEM team, student, researcher, or novice, can create their own genetic constructs!

Each creation will be integrated into a database and presented to users as a game level in its own right. One also has the possibility to rate the level played to support the team and its construction and to be able to find the levels with the greatest number of votes through a filter system which also allows you to sort the levels by team.

The iGEM Evry_Paris-Saclay 2023 team is already planning to move forward. For this reason, we added a "contact" button for the users to be able to submit ideas, recommendations or problems. That way we can, with you, continue to develop a powerful tool which will allow all to understand synthetic biology. Indeed, we hope that this game with educational virtues will one day be a teaching support at school and all this thanks to your participation and precious advice!