Human Practices


Placeholder page for information regarding human practices and iGEM. This page is under construction and subject to revision at any time. Anything on this page should not be considered official. Please see the judging criteria and FAQs for further information.

Page Contributors

  • Ken Oye
  • Megan Palmer
  • Sara Aguiton
  • Jane Calvert
  • Emma Frow

Proposed New Section for FAQs

To be added to the iGEM FAQ page. Please edit and/or add new FAQs by Saturday July 23rd.

Human Practices

1. Our team will be competing for the award on “Best Advance in Human Practices.” Would iGEM please provide examples of good human practices work?

  • iGEM has recognized a wide range of human practices work through formal awards and informal shout outs. In 2009 and 2010, awards went to Imperial College London for projects that integrated systematic analysis of risks and risk perception with technical work to address these risks through the re-design of organisms; and to the University of Paris for anthropological work that fostered team engagement with ethical issues. In 2009, shout outs went to PKU Beijing’s DIYBio research including a study on delivery of biological materials to home addresses in Beijing; Valencia’s portfolio of previous work on human practices; and Edinburgh’s multifaceted review of risks and regulations in the EU and US. In 2010, shout outs went to Art Sciences Bangalore’s artistic exploration of an ecology in which synthetic and wild-type organisms interact; and Weimar-Heidelberg Arts imaginative trip to a synthetic supermarket of the future. Many other iGEM teams also deserved praise for imaginative and accomplished work on human practices.

2. What might our team consider in choosing an approach to Human Practices?

  • As highlighted above, iGEM values thoughtful, well-designed and innovative approaches to Human Practices, which can take a diversity of forms. Below are some examples of questions on which your team might reflect in designing your approach.
    • How does it relate to your project?
    • Why do you want to do it?
    • Does it help us think about, and act differently in, the practice of synthetic biology? How?
    • How will you communicate this (on your wiki, in your presentation, to others etc)?

Potential Structure for Additional Information (i.e. leading to a more formal, complete page for future years)

  • Introduction to Human Practices, situating it in broader HGP ELSI context but also talking about the differences from ELSI.
  • Examples of good human practices projects (perhaps picked by former judges), covering a broad range of different projects with a couple of sentences maximum explaining why these projects are interesting and with a link to each wiki.
  • Description of common pitfalls in the design of Human Practices projects (not naming any teams!)
    • e.g. poorly-designed surveys (ask for help!)