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Highlights from iGEM 2020 in Greece

For the first time, iGEM Competition took place online aiming to spread the word of SynBio worldwide, for everyone. The Greek iGEM teams were part of that journey and they are sharing their experience.

Virtual Giant Jamboree, Photo from Abobe, iGEM Foundation

2020 has been undoubtedly a very challenging year that affected our lives in multiple levels. iGEM Competition could not remain unaffected. For the first time ever, the Giant Jamboree took place online on 13 – 22 November 2020. 9 days were dedicated in the advances of Synthetic Biology, the amazing effort of 249 teams from all over the globe as well as collaboration and contribution.

The Greek teams managed to develop innovative research projects that can be applied in disease diagnosis and therapy as well as sustainable innovation in industry. The 2020 projects are:

iGEM Athens

Morphæ: An engineered biofilm for the production of a novel structurally coloured material

iGEM Patras

Hippocrates: Genomic Analysis & Artificial Intelligence at your heart's disposal

iGEM Thessaly

Amalthea: a modular platform for monitoring gastrointestinal health

A few days before the Virtual Giant Jamboree, we had the pleasure to welcome the Greek iGEM teams, on the first OMIC Webinar. The teams presented their projects and then we discussed their plans for the future. In parallel, Konstantinos Mathiopoulos, OMIC-Engine’s coordinator, shared not only his vision regarding Synthetic Biology in Greece but his experience during iGEM 2019, as well. Finally, Athina Milona, European Ambassador of iGEM and iGEM Thessaly 2019 Alumni, presented the plans of the Virtual Giant Jamboree and expressed her warmest wishes for the 2020 teams.

Re-watch the first OMIC Webinar, here.

Aiming to promote accessibility in science and society for all, for the first time ever, iGEM teams created exceptional promotion and presentation videos, freely available on iGEM Video Universe. During the Virtual Giant Jamboree, the teams presented their project in posters and judging sessions, while they had the opportunity to watch a plethora of keynote talks and take part in interactive activities shaping the future of Synthetic Biology.

The Greek teams managed to earn a Gold Medal (Thessaly), two Silver Medals (Athens, Patras) and the Best Project Promotion Video community award (Athens). Below we are sharing their experience during the iGEM 2020 journey.

We are really grateful for working efficiently as a team, and for us that is our biggest achievement

As iGEM Patras is mentioning “one word that could describe this year’s competition, is uncertainty”. The teams had to drastically change their plans, trying to adapt to the newly formed routine. Nevertheless, the members of iGEM Athens, were not discouraged, on the contrary, they pushed their limits harder. iGEM Thessaly states that “despite, online meetings are not the same as the physical ones, we are really grateful for working efficiently as a team, and for us that is our biggest achievement”. On the same ground, iGEM Athens stated that “during this experience, we developed a new research project on our terms, discovered the interesting world of Synthetic Biology and we had the opportunity to learn a plethora of different techniques. Collaborations as well as friendships that were developed through the competition, will remain unforgettable for our team”.

“What does iGEM mean to your team”, was one of our questions and iGEM Patras mentioned that “iGEM is not just a simple competition. It is an amazing opportunity to make your dream project come true”. In parallel, through iGEM, members from team Thessaly managed to discover themselves, their limits as well as the values of interdisciplinary collaboration. iGEM Athens shared with us that “iGEM was a unique opportunity aiming to discover the appropriate tools to express our ideas, while in parallel gave us the chance to propose innovative solutions to crucial societal challenges”.

The collaboration between iGEM teams and Greek Academic Institutions, should be established, aiming to make research, more accessible to undergraduate and postgraduate students.

iGEM teams are the best ambassadors for the future of Synthetic Biology. In our question “How do you envision the future of iGEM and SynBio in Greece”, all teams hope that more and more Greek participations will enroll in the competition during the upcoming years. iGEM Patras, hopes that High Schools could also participate in the competition, while iGEM Thessaly supports that the intensive collaboration between Research and Innovation initiatives and iGEM teams will bridge the gap between Synthetic Biology research and industry. On the other side of the spectrum, members of iGEM Athens firmly believe that the collaboration between iGEM teams and Greek Academic Institutions, should be established, aiming to make research, more accessible to undergraduate and postgraduate students. On that ground, Synthetic Biology will meet an enormous progress beyond the competition’s limits.

We would really like to thank and congratulate all the teams for their achievements and we really hope that iGEM could be established here in Greece. Through this effort, we aim to promote the principles of interdisciplinarity and collaboration in Synthetic Biology research.

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