Life after the Grand Jamboree: Wrapping-up iGEM
‘A challenging rollercoaster, but also a very bonding and insightful experience,’ that’s how the team of iGEM Leiden 2022 wraps up their participation in the iGEM contest. The contest for synthetic biology climaxed during the Grand Jamboree in Paris. The team ended up in the top 10 of over 360 teams and complimented that achievement with a gold medal and three special awards.
The team won special awards for the project with Best Wiki, Best Safety and Best Supported Entrepreneurship and got nominated for Best Model, Best Measurement and Best Presentation.
You all traveled to Paris together for the grand finale. How was that?
Eva: ‘The Grand Jamboree in Paris was such a special experience. Finally, we could show proudly what we had been working on for so long. It was also really fun to see what other teams had been doing for the past few months.’
Jean Richard: ‘And it’s nice to see that others saw our hard work and believed it deserved recognition.’
Anna: ‘We also got to meet the founder of iGEM, that was very special.’
Matthijs: ‘All the hard work of the past ten months was suddenly totally worth it. After the ceremony, we stayed in Paris a few more days and had a fancy dinner. It was fun just hanging out with the team.’
What is iGEM?
During the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM), student teams try to solve societal problems with synthetic biology. Every year, more than 350 teams participate worldwide.
How do you feel about the final results?
Jennifer: ‘It was absolutely not what I expected, it is still so surreal to grasp the fact that we ended up with 3 prizes, 3 nominations and, best of all, landing in the top 10 among 360 teams. I am very proud of the entire team!’
Zainab: ‘I had been hoping we would win at least one award, but we ended up winning 3! I am still amazed.
Elise: ‘You always hope that you win something, but at the same time you keep yourself from expecting anything.’
Tino: ‘When we got nominated for the Best Safety award, I already lost my mind, but then we did win it. Crazy… it still feels unreal.’
The 2022 iGEM Leiden team Binanox aimed to develop a better treatment for patients with head and neck cancer. ‘Our goal is to use synthetic biology to make E. coli bacteria produce metal nanoparticles for improved photothermal therapy,’ says communication manager Windi Putri Wulandari.
What will happen to the BINANOX project now?
Anna: ‘We’re unsure yet what our future plans are. Whatever we decide to do with our project, we hope future teams can build upon what we’ve done.’
Eva: ‘I do think Binanox has proven a lot of potential. I hope it can function as a foundation for the biomanufacturing of metal nanoparticles, for both future iGEM teams and academic research.’
‘And of course we will be a beacon for the most slick wiki ever,’ Tino addss laughing. ‘And a source of inspiration for entrepreneurship and safety.’
How would you summarise the whole iGEM experience this year?
Olivier: ‘Like our nanoparticles, the whole experience had its ‘spikes’ and downs. But in the end, it was precious and worthwhile. I would do it all again.’
Maxim: ‘It was a rollercoaster, but a bonding and insightful one. We’ve had a good impression of what it’s like building a start-up, with colleagues that become your friends. That teamwork and communication were very educational, and of course also the personal development.’
Windi: ‘We are full of stories about our experiments, obstacles and successes. These experiences will be really precious for our future. I’m afraid there’ll be a little hole in my heart now this journey has come to end. I’ll miss the weekly meetings, and even the stress and intensity before the deadline! We’ve become great friends and I would love to stay in contact with our team for the rest of my life!’