In this next post I am very happy to present the brand new Stockholm iGEM team, which is a wonderful group comprising 19 enthusiastic students from three higher educational institutions based primarily in the Stockholm area: Karolinska Institutet (KI), Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan (Royal Institute of Technology, KTH) and Stockholms Universitetet (SU).
iGEM – acronym that stands for International Genetically Engineered Machine – is the global competition that aimes for the development of a synthetic biology field, including safe and innovative applications of the biological technology as well as improvement and optimalisation of the tools for engineering biology that may be invaluable in tackling various medical problems, from pancreatic cancer to Ebola virus disease. First based at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in 2012 iGEM became an independent organisation that annually hosts the official final gathering (called Jamboree) of all the teams in Boston. As for 2015, there are 281 teams registered from all over the world, with the largest number of them established in China and the United States; Europe is represented by 72 groups. Some of the iGEM competition laureates from previous years include teams from Heidelberg University, Imperial College London, University of California (Davis) and Paris Bettencourt.
Stockholm, until now, has not had initiative to create its own group that would represent it on the international level, despite the presence of the other teams from Göteborg, Linköping and Uppsala. And it would not probably change if not tremendous work done by Felix, who promoted the event, recruited the candidates for the team members and asked potential teachers to become our official supervisors. The effects of the enrollment is depicted on this photo (with almost all of us):
Our team comprises, as previously mentioned, students from three different institutions. Subsequently, KI students come from Master’s programmes in Biomedicine, Toxicology and Bioentrepreneurship as well as Biomedicine Bachelor’s programme. Biomed and Tox students are mostly involved in the scientific part of the work, while our bioentrepreneurs take care of the finances and sponsoring of the team. Furthermore, the scientists are divided into three distinctive subgroups, focused on modeling, signaling and detection of the process that we are working on.
The main part of our work will take place over the summer at KTH campus, so right now we are mostly planning the experiments, promoting iGEM and getting to know each other since soon we will spend a lot of time together. Let me show you some of our common activities:
1) Almost every Sunday we are meeting at the KI campus to discuss the progress of the work, talk about potential sponsors, exchange our ideas and analyse their feasibility.
2) Every week there are also technical meetings, where each of us has a chance to present or learn laboratory technique that can be useful during the experimental part of the project:
3) Following that, we also meet in subgroups to discuss the parts of our project in detail:
4) Finally, we have some casual meetings where we plainly have fun and play random games together:
Additionally, the idea of the iGEM competition is also to spread the knowledge of life sciences and to collaborate with other scientific institutions. Our Stockholm iGEM group cooperates with the teams from Institut Pasteur (Paris), University of Uppsala and Aalto University in Helsinki. We have regular Skype meetings and, most probably, we will meet each other in the near future.
So, if you are a prospective student thinking now whether to come and study at KI or not, an opportunity to participate in the huge competition, gathering the students from the most prestigious institutions in the world, may be really convincing. If you are ambitious, open-minded and hard-working, studying at KI will present you many occasions to develop and gain knowledge necessary in your future scientific career.
Finally, if you are still hesitant and do not know whether to use your chance, remember to contact the student ambassadors that have already experienced their first year here in Stockholm and are willing to advise you in all the matters that now may seem discomforting and discouraging.