Engagement with the Society Questionnaire 1 Execution Questionnaire 2 Street Interview (passer-by Interview) Charity Show Event Educational Material

Human practice remained an essential portion of the work as the team works around the goal of serving and being responsible to the community/society. Under this opinion, MelaBios has drawn its human practice goals. These goals include educating people about synthetic biology, publishing our research, and having charity actions toward related under-expressed social groups.

Engagement with the Society


The primary purpose of human practice reaches the point of benefiting society and being responsible for the community. The team approaches these purposes via various activities. We aimed to educate, spread, and help different social groups in society. The team has created videos, written a short book on synthetic biology, and even made a video game about the field through education. The opportunity to share content on MelaBios' official account has provided the unprecedented advantage of the internet for communication. For some social groups that correlate with the team's research topic, the team supported them using the profit earned in the online shop, such as donating to an agency called "Laibixin" to improve the lives of children with autism.

Questionnaire 1

To understand the public's knowledge about the field we worked on, we used survey to gather public opinion.

Sleep Quality Research

In the guide from iGEM's official website, a process is mentioned in the human practice guide named exploring context. The process means exploring topics that are up for better solutions and finding out who benefits from this advancement in solutions. For example, after the team settled on the topic of synthesizing cheaper and greener melatonin biologically, the team conducted a survey that investigated the sleep quality and the understanding of melatonin in people. Over 600 participants from across China with different careers filled out the form. The highlighted results are presented in the following paragraphs.

The team has summarized six conclusions by analyzing the investigation results. The first conclusion is that over 50% of people investigated periods of sleep during hours between 22:00 to 24:00 (54.39%), and most participants slept for 6-8 hours (64.62%).

According to the official website of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, adults need more than 7 hours of sleep, which means some participants do not have enough sleep. Also, the first and second largest age group of participants, ranging from 14-40 years old, add up to 71.22% of people who responded to the survey. In summary, most people that the team investigated are not having enough sleep. If there is insufficient melatonin to aid their sleep, they might experience insomnia and health damage. The first conclusion connects our products to a broader context with more significance worldwide.

The second conclusion the team found was that participants generally have contact with screens from electronic devices. Excluding the option “others,” the top three respondents did before sleeping is chatting with friends on social media, watching tv, and reading. These activities may, more or less, involve screens from smartphones or TV. An article from Dr.Amit Green and his team mentions that “A significant 2-way interaction of wavelength and time on melatonin secretion was also noted (F(1,17) = 5.01, p < .05), with follow-up analyses showing the suppression of melatonin levels being greater under exposure to SWL-conditions compared with LWL-conditions, irrespective of light intensity (Table 2).” (Green et al, 2017). Clearly, the habit of contacting smart device screens is relevant to melatonin suppression and, in turn, disturbs the body’s rhythm and causes sleep loss. This result gives the team insights into finding an efficient and cheap method to produce melatonin.

The result shows that 14.47% of people have no insomnia, 50.63% have little insomnia, 29.56% of people have insomnia 1-3 times a week on average, and even 5.35% of people experience insomnia more than four times a week. It can be seen that the insomnia problem in modern society is still not to be underestimated. Most people will have insomnia experience. However, whether people understand the harm caused by insomnia, it can be seen that people are most aware of the most fundamental harm they can feel. Mental exhaustion accounted for 90.75%, and memory loss 82.45%. There are other, less obvious risks that they know about. The most minor cancers accounted for 26.96%, so people are aware of the dangers of insomnia.

The result also shows that many people with insomnia will choose to use health products or drugs to improve their insomnia, and they will prefer the health products of melatonin, and most people say that melatonin is effective.

Opinion about Melatonin

In our survey, 75% of the people responded that they have heard about melatonin, but only 25% of them chose the correct answer on the question which asked the function of melatonin. Firstly, it is beyond our expectation that a lot of people actually heard about melatonin, since melatonin is a very specific biology term. However, only about 25% of the respondent answered correctly on the function of melatonin, which indicated that people heard of the melatonin is but do not understand what it can do or how does it work. This provided us with a clear purpose of to spread more knowledge about melatonin to people, and therefore, induce medical awareness.

Regarding tools of receiving promotions and information, respondents preferred Official Account blog article, short video platform, or through talking to people who they can trust, like doctors or friends.


In order to response to the public taste, we launched an WeChat Official Account and made short video to popularize relevant knowledge, which is in line with the channels expected by people. By now, our Official Account has published 9 articles and received more than 2000 reads. This showed that we successfully reached to a larger group of people and spread the knowledge. Through our approach, we can make people who have never heard of melatonin and don't know what melatonin really does learn about melatonin. For people with sleep disorders, our popularization can also help them know about us and maybe take melatonin in the future to treat their sleep disorders.

To better understand if our project is suitable and meaningful for the market, we have conducted some interviews with experts and general public.

Expert Interview with Dr. Wang

As an authoritative source, we interviewed melatonin expert Dr.Wang. Dr.Wang is a doctor from a prestigious hospital. From Dr.Wang we learned that there are two kinds of drugs that can help with a sleeping disorder. The first type is melatonin. Another type is products like herb extraction. According to research, about 70% of people will choose melatonin. This is because melatonin has a good effect, and it doesn’t have other side effects from sleeping pills. This benefited our research because if more and more people trust the use of melatonin, people will be more able to adapt the use of new melatonin if we start to popularize our biological synthesized melatonin.

The interview also mentioned that customers are not very sensitive to the price of melatonin. Since melatonin benefits the human body, more people purchase it as a gift rather than buying it themselves. In Chinese culture, people always like purchasing gifts like health care products such as melatonin. Therefore, if the price of our biological synthesized melatonin is high, people are still willing to adopt it because they don’t care about the price. This also makes it easier to popularize our product to more target audiences.

Expert Interview with Ms. Tang

To better promoted our project, we interviewed another expert, who is a expert in social media market. She works at the social media company Bytedance, which is associated with TikTok.

This interview with the marketing expert has inspired the team to develop new methods on existing tracks. The main central idea for the team to gain more importance and reputation is to go commercialized and go for originality. The expert also provided advice on connecting hot topics of the time with the team’s effort, which may bring more audiences to view the team’s blog and videos. Lastly, the marketing expert has shared some marketing skills, such as dividing our target customers into different groups and advocating other aspects of the product to them to provide the best results.

Questionnaire 2

After the interview, we released the second questionnaire to collect the public's intention on the production mode of melatonin, which is also our topic, to improve the production of melatonin by environmentally friendly plants in a biosynthetic way. We learned from this that most people don't know biosynthetic, but they would consider using biosynthetic methods. Safety was the primary concern, followed by environmental protection and price. As for the cost of melatonin supplements on the market, many people still think that the price is too high.

We obtained the public's support intention for us through the second questionnaire. For the safety issues they mentioned, we also continued to release Official Account articles and explanatory videos for popularization during the questionnaire survey so that the public could understand the safety of our project. Secondly, we also popularize the significance of our topic. Plant production avoids the pollution of chemical by-products brought by chemical production, which will be more environmentally friendly. In addition, our method can increase the yield of melatonin produced by plants, which means a decrease in the price, which can meet the demand of more people for melatonin health care products.

Street Interview (passer-by Interview)

Next, we conducted a passer-by interview to learn what people know about melatonin and how it is produced. We believe that communicating with people face-to-face can receive their most direct feedback compared to online surveys. Most of them also experience insomnia but are less aware of melatonin and how it is produced. Moreover, in this interview with passers-by, they put forward their views on plant production. After we popularized all the production methods of melatonin for them, they mainly favored the synthetic biological plant production method.

Charity Show Event

In addition, we conducted a charity show, since we want to use interesting ways to get more people to focus on our topic, let more people aware of the advantages and significance of our project. At the same time we sold many souvenirs that we designed and customized by ourselves, for example color-changing cups, environmental-friendly bags, and customized cushion. Due to the epidemic prevention and control policy, we only conduct online charity sales. However, we have raised about 3500RMB profit so far. The funds will act as public welfare funds donated to “Laibixin" Group, who work with Children with autism. and it also made a significant contribution to the society.

Educational Material

To show our responsibility to the world, and based on our feedback from public, we also designed several education materials to make the public better understand our project and meaning of synthetic biology.

Video game related to synthetic biology

A video game is also a revolutionary method for us as a way to educate! The targeted audience is also young people. Traditional learning method takes a learning system and time. We have conducted some internal research on our team. Some team members said that biology is somewhat not easy to understand, especially for beginners.

On the other hand, video game is top-rated among young people. As long as the game is fun, users will remember the concepts even if they usually are hard to understand. Learning from the game: This is a new way of acquiring knowledge. We worked closely with an FRC robotics team 8813 from Beijing and developed the game. We have developed a prototype. The game is accessible here:

Educational books

Books are the most traditional way of education. We also retained this traditional way of education in this year's iGEM program. This year, we cooperated with SZ-SHD team to complete an educational book, which introduces the primary experimental process of our two teams and the equipment and materials needed for the experiment. Such educational books can help more people who have a preliminary understanding of synthetic biology to understand our scientific research project better and better popularize scientific knowledge to the public. The book is divided into three parts, a brief introduction about synthetic biology in real life and the biology techniques used in both groups (such as the agrobacterium-mediated transformation we used). In each section, there is a discussion about the purpose of each method and the general step of performing the lab and some simple question that help the public to have a better understanding on what we are doing. Our main popularity group is set in China, so our books are currently in Chinese. In the future, we will translate English, French, and many other languages. For detailed information of the book, please refer to our education & Communication wiki page.

To sum up, human practice is an essential part of our project. We have used multiple ways to prove that our project is good and responsible for the world. And important decisions are based on the consideration of feedback from the public and certain experts in certain areas. We believe that human practice activities have also helped shape our project into a better form. Those feedback are essential to our projects. They help us deliver more useful outcomes.

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