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Opening Ceremony

Here is our coverage from the opening session of the Europen iGEM regionals 2011:



If any of you want to come work at iGEM headquarters, pay attention, we’ll be putting out announcements for job opportunities at the iGEM foundation!


New branches: Entrepenurial divisiom, high school division, maybe a software tool division.


iGEM has evolved from being something happening in Randy’s lab to being too big for all of MIT. That is why iGEm is moving out of MIT and being based on the iGEM foundation. The competition is also branching out, with the addition of a highschool branch that will schedule a separate competition for these teams.


Up until the industrial revolution your potential was determined by your muscles, your slaves’ muscles and the muscles of your critters. In the industrial revolution we discovered that energy is a fundamental entity in the world, and got good at applying it. Later, in a discovery analogous to that of energy, we discovered that information too is a fundamental entity. The industrial revolution did energy, the computer revolution information and synthetic biology will do matter.

Biology deals with molecules with precision and grace, synbio is about utilizing these properties.


Randy Rettberg now takes the stage. Everybody remember to set your posters up this morning, the judges will go around all day, not only at the poster session.

Randy gives a little history lesson, from the greeks to the romans, to religion as being the answer for everything. Is he going to suggest synthetic biology as the latest stage of this evolution of mankinds intellectual progress?


I’d like to give you some background on iGEM history and what’s happening in iGEM right now.


iGEM – international genetically engineered machine competition or collaboration? In this competition we’re competing in collaboration. Collaboration against ignorance and competition against each other.


The speaker now moves on from “In silico” in synbio to “In vivo”. He mentions iGEM as one of the main arms of the research happening in in vivo synthetic biology. There are alot of controversies around our field and the speakers draws comparisons to all the controversies in Amsterdam – you can’t get coffee in a coffee shop for example. Afterwards he describes the iGEM competition as a a collaboration towards performance so that everyone is a winner in the end!


In silico systems biology: modelling cells by using characteristics of their metabolism, such as enzyme kinetics, and predicting what will happen if a particular characteristic is modified.


For the development of drugs and systems biology we need a good understanding of networks. Synthetic biology gives us a chance to test our understanding of this subject, a chance we have at iGEM.

From here he carries on with a short history of synthetic biology, one of the milestones:

2005 – The creation of the partsregistry, Megan Lizarazo.

2011 – The iGEM Regional Jamboree in the Netherlands, Douw Molenaar.

Interesting take on the evolution of SynBio!


Synthetic biology is the best way to test our knowledge of systems biology.


“Usual rational drug design focuses on targeting individual molecules. But for network diseases we need to apply a network approach.”


We are starting out with a discussion of systems biology and it’s relation to curing diseases. A rather unusual way to start the jamboree which is normally opened by Randy, let’s see where this goes.


“Partly because we have cured many infectious diseases, we’re entering an age of multifactorial diseases or systems diseases.”


Hans V. Westerhoff opens this session. He is the chair of microbial physiology at the VU Amsterdam and professor of systems biology at at the University of Amsterdam.


Opening session starts 08:45. Check back in 25 minutes for the live coverage.