iGEM is the World Championship in Synthetic Biology for students. Every year thousands of students from all over the globe gather at MIT to share the fruits of their hard labor and compete for the honor.
Step into your future
Being part of iGEM is much like stepping into the shoes of your future as a scientist or as an bioscience-entrepreneur: You will be part of planning, developing and executing your own science project that makes a difference in the world - You will build a global network of peers - You will learn to interact with foundations and companies to gain funding for your project - as well as with media and the general public to gain attention and share your knowledge; also through social media and your own website - You will gain interdisciplinary collaborative skills, both within your team and across the iGEM community - And you might even do a business plan for taking your project into the real world.
The best teams bring together a variety of compentences and knowledge. Previous years iGEM teams members came from physics, biotech, business, philosophy, entrepreneurship, communication, medicine, graphic design etc. Are you studying theology, math, languages, history or journalism? You are welcome!
SpaceMoss and CosmoCrops
Teams at University of Copenhagen have in recent years decided to focus on how synbio can be used for space travel. In 2015, team SpaceMoss engineered moss that was able to survive traveling to Mars and grow on Mars. Here the moss would be the vehicle for production of food and medicines, so that it shouldn't be send from Earth. In 2016, team CosmoCrops developed the idea creating a co-culture that can host both sugar-producing cyanobacteria and bioplastic-producing bacteria, thereby hopefully making future Mars travelers able to produce food and material for all sorts of tools. The 2013 team Magneto made "the Copenhagen strain", magnetic bacteria with cancer treating potentials.
"Instead of hanging out on the beach, we have worked as ’real scientists’. We designed and planned our own experiments, which has given us a lot of experience with techniques, which the lab courses only has introduced to us
- molecular biomedicine student Charlotte Navntoft, iGEM 2012
Care to pipette even though you major in economics? Not only natural sciences
Like in the real world, projects does not succeed without the combination of many great minds with diverse backgrounds. Great project management is crusial for the project, as well as fundraising, spotting the business idea, getting media attention, taking the ethical aspects into consideration, good design, coding, biotech lab skills, space physics, patenting issues, etc.
And team members learn from each other as well, you don't just do your part in parallel, you truely work across disciplines. Teams are measured on their lab results, outreach and presentation.
About the competition
The iGEM competition is unlike any other experience available to undergraduate researchers. Teams work extremely hard over the duration of the competition to achieve things that are great, not only for undergraduate researchers, but for research in general. There have been many examples of teams pushing the boundaries of their respective sub-fields and advancing the state of the art.
Each year cross-disciplinary teams are formed at universities all over the world. The teams register for the competition and in May each team get kits of standard interchangeable DNA parts shipped to their school. During the summer they work out ideas to build simple but meaningful biological systems and operate them in living cells (here some examples). In the fall the teams meet up for a giant jamboree with project presentations and awards ceremonies.
While the iGEM competition originally was spun out of a student seminar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, it became an independent nonprofit organization located in Cambridge, USA in 2012. The iGEM Foundation today fosters scientific research and education through organizing and operating the iGEM competition and by operating the Registry of Standard Biological Parts, a community collection of biological components.