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Advancing Synthetic Biology Education through Low-Cost SynBio 101 Labs

$35
Pledged
1%
Funded
$4,000
Goal
11
Days Left
  • $35
    pledged
  • 1%
    funded
  • 11
    days left

About This Project

Synthetic Biology is an emerging field with tremendous potential to solve economic and ecological challenges. To kindle the development of this field, students internationally need more accessible educational resources. At iGEM Community, we aim to fill this gap by developing affordable, instructional SynBio 101 kits that will introduce students to Synthetic Biology and empower them to imagine a future in which this technology is used to solve problems - small or large.

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What is the context of this research?

There is a history of student engagement in the field of Synthetic Biology. For example, the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition is an event featuring high school and undergraduate students that consistently drives progress at the frontier of the field. In order to encourage involvement in events like iGEM, hands-on experience in the field is crucial for students. Currently, while projects like BioBuilder, Bits in Bio, and miniPCR's BioBits do exist, many of them are not readily open to everyone. Thus, there still remains a need for a low-cost, easily accessible kit to introduce students to Synthetic Biology, expanding on our prior community biology efforts like Friendzymes (Subramanian) and GEM-Gate (Camenares).

What is the significance of this project?

If successful, this project will represent a dramatic expansion in the number of students that are aware of, and interested in, Synthetic Biology. In addition to fueling increased participation in complementary programs (such as iGEM), it should help accelerate the development of this field, of adoption of Synthetic Biology curriculum at high schools and colleges, and spark rapid growth of the bioeconomy in a wide variety of regions. By making an easily accessible and affordable kit, this project will be the first foray into Synthetic Biology that students in many regions have. As such, this project will fill a significant gap in the current synthetic biology educational ecosystem, expanding it both domestically and internationally, beyond the current hubs of Cambridge and San Francisco.

What are the goals of the project?

This project will evaluate the role of low-cost Synthetic Biology kits on participation in the life sciences over two years. Initially, we will gain feedback from students on the availability of existing synthetic biology education in their countries. Next, we will use this feedback to target our kits towards developing regions that we have identified a lack in such curricula, coordinating with institutions in order to optimize their affordability and accessibility. As such, it will not require a specific type of institution, prerequisite knowledge, or setup for the workshops to be conducted and maintain value. Finally, after this first year, we will measure participation by tracking enrollment in iGEM or other partnering, synergistic initiatives during the second year.

Budget

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In order to educate students in Synthetic Biology at the regional level, we believe that partnerships with local academic institutions are essential. By partnering with local high schools, community colleges, and four-year institutions to manufacture SynBio 101 kits in the region of use, our kits will cost significantly less for the organizers to implement.

After trial events in Indonesia and the US, we estimate each kit to cost $25 USD for production. By allocating $2000 USD in the grant towards production, we seek to produce 80 kits. By allocating $1000 USD in the grant towards distribution, we aim to help partners locally transport kits from the production to implementation site.

SynBio 101 is also interested in advancing Synthetic Biology education by encouraging the growth of regional biofoundries. As such, SynBio 101 will allocate $750 in microfunding opportunities for community labs.

Endorsed by

This project that increases interest in learning about and practicing synthetic biology is an easy one to support. Both Sakti and Devin have the capacities to realize the SynBio 101 educational kits and get them in the hands of community biologists and those in the iGEM community. I fully endorse this fine project.
SynBio 101 is an exceptional project that is poised to significantly contribute the field of synthetic biology education. The project paves the way for increased interest and engagement in synthetic biology research. The collaborative approach with NGOs, and other organizations ensures a wider reach, making synthetic biology accessible to diverse communities and inspiring future scientists and fostering a global understanding and appreciation for the field.

Project Timeline

Overall, we estimate our project to last 45 days, from July 1, 2024 to August 15, 2024. We will implement our hands-on kits, accompanied with relevant instructional modules, in classrooms in the Midwestern US, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and Brazil - each receiving 16 out of the 80 kits.

May 24, 2024

Project Launched

Jul 05, 2024

Train educators regarding the lecture modulesย 

Jul 12, 2024

Implement lectures in classrooms with students

Jul 19, 2024

Deliver kits and train educators regarding them

Aug 02, 2024

Implement kits in classrooms with students

Meet the Team

Sakti Subramanian
Sakti Subramanian
Director

Affiliates

Great Lakes SynBio
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Devin Camenares
Devin Camenares
Director

Affiliates

Great Lakes SynBio
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Richard Jiang
Richard Jiang
Student

Affiliates

Duke University
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Team Bio

SynBio 101 at iGEM Community is dedicated to bringing the field of synthetic biology to the scientists of tomorrow through frugal DIY kits and interactive workshops, aiming to teach younger audiences how to engineer biological systems.

Sakti Subramanian

Sakti Subramanian is currently a research scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, leveraging his synthetic biology and medical diagnostics expertise to reduce healthcare disparities.

Previously, Sakti served as an iGEM Coordinator and Wet Lab Director at the Bio Blaze Community Lab.

Devin Camenares

Devin Camenares is currently a research scientist at the Environmental Microbiology division of the University of Dayton Research Institute, leveraging his synthetic biology and bioinformatics expertise to address client needs.

Previously, Devin served as an iGEM Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at Alma College.

Richard Jiang

iGEM

Lab Notes

Nothing posted yet.

Additional Information

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2024: Issues in Science and Technology (Camenares, Subramanian, Petersen)

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2024: SynBioBeta, California (Subramanian)

2023: International Genetically Engineered Machine, France (Subramanian)


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