Ethics and Human Practices

Ethics Podcast and Paper

Synthetic Biology is a new and emerging field with many potential benefits. Because the public perception of synthetic biology is still very limited, knowledge and understanding of projects relating to synthetic biology continues to remain limited, as well. Therefore, the iGEM Calgary team believes that it is essential to recognize the ethical implications of our project. We hope to improve the public's understanding of Synthetic Biology and alleviate common concerns with the field. With this aim, our team began working on two major projects for the Ethics and Human Practices component.

One project examines Synthetic Biology from a general perspective, while the other discusses the ethical implications of our project specifically. In the first project, we have created a series of podcasts regarding various issues relating to Synthetic Biology. In the podcasts, members of our group have an open discussion about issues such as the concept of synthetic life and the nature of open-source science. This allowed us to reflect on the potentials of Synthetic Biology, and hence, enrich our understanding about this field. We also wrote a paper where we discuss the ethical, economical and social implications of our project. This allowed us to understand our project from different perspectives. The significance of this paper is that it allowed us, as a team, to reflect on the potential benefits and risks that our project can entail. Apart from working on these two projects over the summer, we have also incorporated an outreach program into our Ethics portion. We have presented to several high schools, with the aim of increasing awareness of Synthetic Biology to high-school students. As a team, we believe that high school students will be the generation that will be increasingly exposed to this field.

iGEM Project Ethics Paper

High School Presentations

Synthetic Biology is a new emerging field of Science and the general public are still unfamiliar about its potentials. High school students are an important generation who should become aware of this fascinating approach to science. This is not just to increase public awareness but also because high school students are the ones who will be most exposed to Synthetic Biology in the upcoming years. With that intention, we went to several high schools to introduce Synthetic Biology and its potentials. We discussed with the students about the three components of projects related to Synthetic Biology in iGEM: Wetlab, Modelling and Human Practice. We emphasized on the interdisciplinary characteristic of projects in iGEM that are related to Synthetic Biology. With this, we hope that students of next generations are more interested in Synthetic Biology. In addition, we hope to empower the students with the growing techniques and perspectives of looking at biological functions.

Research Symposiums

This year our iGEM team participated in a few research sympoisums. This was a great way to raise more awareness for iGEM at our own Univeristy while getting to practice presenting our work to varied audiences.

BHSc Research Symposium

On October 7th, we presented an oral presentation as well as a poster presentation at the Bachelor of Health Sciences Research Symposium. This was a great way to get more people from the Faculty of Medicine interested in iGEM. There was a mix of undergraduate students, researchers and professors in attendance, so this was a great place to show off what we did this Summer.

USRP Research Symposium

On October 7th, we also had the opportunity to present a poster at the USRP Markin Research Symposium at the University of Calgary. This was a great opportunity to get the word out about iGEM and our project to a wider audience at our university. There were students and faculty members from all faculties present and it was good practice trying to explain our project to people with very little biological background.

Student’s Union Research Symposium

Still to come, we have the Univeristy of Calgary’s Student’s Union Research Symposium in late November. This will be a good platform to start recruitment for next year’s team as this symposium attracts students and faculty from across the university. This will also be a great wrap-up to our iGEM season a couple of weeks after the actual iGEM Jamboree.

Bake Sale


This year, the purpose of the bake sale included two aspects: firstly, it was to raise awareness about Synthetic Biology in our Health Sciences department and secondly, it was a fundraising activity to have the financial support to complete the Wetlab portion of our project.

The Bake Sale was a great way to interact with the undergraduate and graduate students in the Health Sciences department of the University of Calgary. Many researchers were interested in finding out more about Synthetic Biology to find out what kind of project their money was going towards.