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BioEthics regarding the Biological Ethics, discussing about biological issues, have been debated since ancient times. Bioethical issues gained widespread attention in recent years and are often extremely morally contentious. Considerable societal conflict exists regarding fundamental clinical issues such as: defining the beginning and end of life; appropriate standards of care; and broader environmental issues with potential social and health impacts such as growth of genetically-modified organisms and their use in the food supply.

BioEthics in Tsinghua iGEM

Here in Tsinghua iGEM 2010 Team, we are now focusing on some parts of BioEthics, such as animal handling requirement, care for animal welfare, appropriate standards of care, broader environmental issues with potential social and health impacts, impact of our products to be used in the manufacture and how to spread our ideas to make more people get this knowledge.

Thus we, Tsinghua iGEM 2010, pay our attention specially to BioEthics and keep our promise by two ways. One is to teach every member about keeping healthy, safe and being environmentally friendly while conducting experiments. The other one is to try visit and talk with more people, discussing about our projects, the current biological issues and how to promote the environment where we are living as well as let more people know about and start to be interested in Synthetic Biology and iGEM.



According to the WHO biosafety is the prevention of unintentional exposure to pathogens and toxins, or their accidental release, whereas biosecurity is the prevention of loss, theft, misuse, diversion or intentional release of pathogens and toxins. (From

We are always paying special care to the safety of our teammates and the people around. Thus we signed a document to keep in rules about the Safety in Laboratory, not only to protect ourselves but also help to keep a clean and healthy environment.

The model animals we used are harmless engineering strains of Escherichia coli. They are widely used in all kinds of laboratories around the world. We answered the questions about safety on the Safety Page from iGEM( as following:

Q1: Would any of your project ideas raise safety issues in terms of:

researcher safety,

public safety, or

environmental safety?

A: Our project is about how to use E Coli to simulate the production of Specific Antibodies. No serious safety problem can be caused by the harmless engineering strains of Escherichia coli and we kept our promise and rules which ensure the safety during the whole process.

Q2: Do any of the new BioBrick parts (or devices) that you made this year raise any safety issues?

A: No any potential safety issues.

Q3:Is there a local biosafety group, committee, or review board at your institution?

If yes, what does your local biosafety group think about your project?

A: Yes, it is. The safety check is operated frequently. This is organised and operated by the Laboratories and Facilities in Tsinghua University. During our project, they operated one of the safety checks in one year and they evaluated our laboratory as well as our project. Our lab construction is keeping in line with the policies in Tsinghua University and because our project is about how to use E Coli to simulate the production of Specific Antibodies and the models we use are Escherichia coli so they evaluated our project is in a safe category and meanwhile they spoke highly on our Tsinghua iGEM 2010 Safety Manual for "It helps to keep safety in everyone's mind and do really good job.".

Q4:Do you have any other ideas how to deal with safety issues that could be useful for future iGEM competitions? How could parts, devices and systems be made even safer through biosafety engineering?

A: The most invigorative way to inspire the teams to make up ways to deal with and improve the BioSafety is to establish a special prize in BioSafety, so that many teams could try their best to deal with the issues in BioSafety, like how to take experiments safely, how to build safe BioBricks and mostly how maintain the safe environment during our projects.

Also to recognize that importance from the bottom of one's heart is the most effective approach for dealing with some issues. So if more education, announcement, lectures, courses and many other kinds of teaching methods can be carried out to draw attention on the safety, to let people keep this in mind, the Safety Issues could no longer be an issue but a common sense.

All the staffs and students operating the infrastructures, devices and anything related with experiments are required to wear the gloves all the time while working. To keep these in rules and in case of any accidents we carried out a document to keep in line with.

Tsinghua iGEM 2010 Safety Manual

Besides this there is also a document in Tsinghua University emphasizing on the common Laboratory Sfety. Here are the Laboratory Safety Policy of Tsinghua University in Chinese Version and The Laboratory Biosafety Manual released by WHO (World Health Organization) in which Tsinghua University keep align.



Shanghai Meetup

More Info at 2010 iGEM China meetup

This year, on August 5th, teams from universities in China, SJTU-BioX-Shanghai, Tsinghua, Peking, ECUST-Shanghai, USTC, USTC_Software, ZJU-China and Sun Yat-sen University all gathered in Shanghai and had a nice day at the iGEM 2010 China Meetup.


Tsinghua University Lecture Day


On October 16th, we gave a lecture to the public in Tsinghua University. More than sixty Students of different majors and different grades all joined our lecture and participated in our heat discussion about bioethics and experimental safety.

First, Teng Li, the leader of our team, introduced the basic concept and central principles of synthetic biology. We are rather glad that a small part of participants already have knowledge of this subject and have paid some special attention to this field, not only students majoring in life science, but also those from other departments. Then we focused on the introduction of iGEM competition. The origin of the competition, the development history and some well-done projects, were all included in this section. The standard parts were particularly pointed out in our lecture, for it’s the central spirit of this competition. Most audiences were greatly fascinated by synthetic biology and iGEM competition, which really encouraged us.

After the introduction, another student of our team, Yunxiao Zhang, gave a presentation of our project to all the participants. He generally described the aim of our project, the experimental design and the results we have got as well. Questions and very good advices were proposed, which we really appreciate. Thank you very much!

Then we iGEM team members and all the other participants had a heat discussion, mainly emphasize on the public health and safety of products from synthetic biology. Opinions are divided on this issue. Some people think that food or medicine yielded by bacteria is safe or usable if they can pass the series of tests. Others are against this idea for we cannot well control the metabolism products of bacteria, more complicated than we think. On the other hand, we find the fact that diverse education backgrounds are somehow relative to the opinions held by them. Most people who have little knowledge of biology and microorganism are just reluctant to use products from synthetic biology, due to the uncomfortable feeling about bacteria. However, students from school of life science pay more attention to the biological function and the clinical assay result of the products. Another interesting issue we discuss about is the name of the bacteria we use. Because the Chinese name of E.coli usually leaves bad impression on the public, ordinary people may prefer products from Lactobacillus than those from E.coli. The name may be more important and impressive than function to some degree in public eyes. That’s a rather interesting phenomenon.


Survey and Discussion


1. Have you ever heard about “synthetic biology”?

A. Yes B. No

2. Do you know something about “synthetic biology”?

A. Pay special attention to it

B. Only know a little about it

C. Know nothing about it

3. Are you willing to use any products in the field of synthetic biology? Such as food or medicine produced by E.coli?

A. Yes

B. Case by case

C. No

4. Should such reverse modification of organism be forbidden?

A. Yes B. No

5. Do you agree that synthetic life is somehow threatening?

A. Yes B. Sometimes C. No

6. Have you heard about “Bioethics”?

A. Yes B. No

7. Should the use of animals especially mammals in experiment be forbidden?

A. Yes

B. Case by case

C. No

8. Are you concerned with lab safety, such as the use of toxic reagents and potentially threatening apparatus?

A. Yes B. No

9. Have you ever received some relative training about experimental safety?

A. Yes B. No

10. Do you think it is potentially threatening to produce antibody with modified bacteria?

A. Yes, because we cannot guarantee that it is safe.

B. No, because we can solve these clinical problems with the development of medical research.

11. Do you think it goes against principles of bioethics to produce antibody with modified bacteria?

A. Yes B. No

12. Do you think it will cause social disorder if bacteria for research spread out?

A. Yes B. No


A Visit to Macquarie_iGEM

Tsinghua and Macquarie iGEM Teams have an impressive relationship both in the cooperation of projects as well as in Human Practice.


On 27/9/2010, GU Xiang, one of the team students in Tsinghua iGEM paid a visit to the Macquarie iGEM. GU Xiang, Yagiz Aksoy, the leader of Macquarie iGEM Team, and Hilal Varinli met together on the beautiful campus of the University of Macquarie, in Sydney. They firstly visited the Life Science Building in Macquarie, "It is amazing" said by GU Xiang. Then they three dropped in the Biology Museum in that building. Later GU Xiang together with Yagiz and Hilal did some of their experiments on that day. The research devices and environment in the labs of Macquarie are absolutely at world leading-class level. They started with biosafety and ethics topics related to the iGEM. They both recognized the biosafety to be the first important issue in the Biological Research and Education. Then they exchanged some ideas about how to improve and draw everyone's attention to this issue. The strict biosafety regulations in Macquarie are good examples for many institutes to learn about.


After that, they introduced and talked about each other's projects. Through that they found the project of Macquarie iGEM can be a potential screening method for the project of Tsinghua iGEM. This was the climax of that day when they found this potential cooperation between these two teams and they followed further discussion immediately. As the Macquarie team was to build up a system which can reflect the change by showing different lights. Thus this could be useful in the screening for the antibodies. They finally agreed on this proposition and decided to find more details to see how to make this come true if they both had enough time. They took the first step of their collaboration together by running that day’s experiments with GU Xiang at Macquarie iGEM Labs.

Also hearing that Macquarie iGEM is a newly built team, GU Xiang generously gave his ideas and experience in iGEM to Yagiz and Hilal, promoting them to build better wiki to let more people know about their ideas. Finally they three expressed freely about the issues in Biology and Life Science as well as the Chinese Culture, especially the Kungfu. They had a wonderful day!

The leader and all the teammates from Tsinghua iGEM were pleased with this visit and cooperation, they said they were willing to cooperate with Macquarie iGEM to build up and finish a BioSystem together, especially in such a contemporary society where cooperation is extremely of significance.

We hope that every team in iGEM could find this opportunity to cooperate with an other team to build up a system other than just by only one team. In this cooperation we Tsinghua iGEM got one new way to screen our antibodies which we never heard about and Macquarie iGEM supplied their system with another crucial application and even more applications based on this idea. Thus if all the teams in iGEM can cooperate with at least another one, or even more teams, we may can build up a wonderful Genetically Engineered Machine, definitely it is an international one, thus iGEM!!!