ABOUT iGEM MAKERERE UNIVERSITY TEAM 2018

iGEM stands for International Genetically Engineered Machine which is an annual international competition for synthetic biology around the globe with teams from different countries comprising of  the high school, undergraduate and graduate students who undertake projects in synthetic biology using Biobricks to create a solution for the world daily challenges.

In this, competitive students in synthetic biology, for its real-world applications for problem solving gather to develop ideas, set project goals, and build unique biological systems that can operate in living cells.

iGEM is an interdisciplinary project that joins students with diverse interests and talents and encourages them to explore new ideas and develop a plan for building genetically engineered systems to tackle issues in the their community and the world.

Every year, over 2000 undergraduate students from different countries worldwide gather at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( MIT), USA to compete in the International Genetically Engineered Machine(iGEM) competition.

 For 2018, Makerere University through one of our master student (Otim Geoffrey) at the college of veterinary medicine came up with the idea of creating a team that will take part in the 2018 iGEM competitions, he liaised with Dr. Boniface J Okuni who is currently the major PI ( Principal Investigator) of the Team. They shared the idea and started the team which comprised of 15 undergraduate students from the field of Veterinary Medicine, Bio lab Technology and Biotechnology. We began brainstorming with the help of our Team Instructor and PI for the future of the Team and laid strategies focusing on participating in the 2018 iGEM competitions which we finally successfully achieved late in the year through a tough journey experience. This gave birth to iGEM Makerere_University Team which is focusing on promoting synthetic biology in Africa through the iGEM competitions.

 About our first iGEM project 2018. (Plastic degradation using bacteria).

iGEM Mak 2018 Team after brainstorming as a team, we found out that the biggest challenge we have in our country and region is plastic waste effects, we then decided to start up the project of how we can manage plastic wastes using the cutting edge science of synthetic biology and that’s how our Plastigene project came about.

 Plastics are waste products that pollute the environment we live in in more especially clogging the sewage systems in urban and peri-urban areas and toxins from decomposed plastics are introduced into ecological systems that humans manipulate for food. A biological approach to solving this problem is favorable because of its practicability and efficiency. Ideonella sakaiensis is a bacteria that naturally decomposes polyethylene terephthalate, we decided to genetically engineer/ modify E.coli   cells to model the plastic degradation process by adding the Lipase and Chlorogenate esterase genes from Ideonella sakaiensis into E.coli bacterial cells. The by-products will be used produce biofuels.

We did all the lab work until the end of the year, we then presented our project in the iGEM competition in Boston MA, USA in October. We are finalizing the lab work soon and testing for the efficiency of the bacteria and how best we can control it outside the lab by developing a killer switch for the bacteria.

Previous wikis of the IGEM Team 

Achievements

As a team we have achieved a great success as our first time project as undergraduates from the beginning of the project, brainstorming, to the wet lab work. We won many grants and sponsorship and connections. It has taken us a step in the world of synthetic biology, a lot we have learnt from participating in the prestigious competition of iGEM to meeting key figures in the field of synthetic biology. Some of the grants and sponsorships are as seen below.

Grants and sponsorships 

We received the first sponsorship of our project from Twist Bioscience which wired our registration fees of 5500 USD and then our travel and living expenses of 4000 USD.

The Promega gave us the grant of 2000 USD in terms of reagents and then Opentrons gave us a grant of 4000 USD inform of  an OT-2 Robot which is the first of its kind in Africa for the lab micro pipetting procedures, this helped us  a lot in the lab. Then 2000 USD grant in terms of DNA parts from IDT. All this was for the best of our project and thus helped us to move forward.

Competitions Involved

Our team began as the iGEM Team ready to participate in the iGEM competitions but we ended up in other competitions like the Hult Prize which we participated in and our project became the best on campus, we have now been selected to go for the regionals in Cairo Egypt in April 2019.

iGEM stands for International Genetically Engineered Machine which is an annual international competition for synthetic biology around the globe with teams from different countries comprising of  the high school, undergraduate and graduate students who undertake projects in synthetic biology using Biobricks to create a solution for the world daily challenges.

In this, competitive students in synthetic biology, for its real-world applications for problem solving gather to develop ideas, set project goals, and build unique biological systems that can operate in living cells.

iGEM is an interdisciplinary project that joins students with diverse interests and talents and encourages them to explore new ideas and develop a plan for building genetically engineered systems to tackle issues in the their community and the world.

Every year, over 2000 undergraduate students from different countries worldwide gather at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( MIT), USA to compete in the International Genetically Engineered Machine(iGEM) competition.

 For 2018, Makerere University through one of our master student (Otim Geoffrey) at the college of veterinary medicine came up with the idea of creating a team that will take part in the 2018 iGEM competitions, he liaised with Dr. Boniface J Okuni who is currently the major PI ( Principal Investigator) of the Team. They shared the idea and started the team which comprised of 15 undergraduate students from the field of Veterinary Medicine, Bio lab Technology and Biotechnology. We began brainstorming with the help of our Team Instructor and PI for the future of the Team and laid strategies focusing on participating in the 2018 iGEM competitions which we finally successfully achieved late in the year through a tough journey experience. This gave birth to iGEM Makerere_University Team which is focusing on promoting synthetic biology in Africa through the iGEM competitions.

 About our first iGEM project 2018. (Plastic degradation using bacteria).

iGEM Mak 2018 Team after brainstorming as a team, we found out that the biggest challenge we have in our country and region is plastic waste effects, we then decided to start up the project of how we can manage plastic wastes using the cutting edge science of synthetic biology and that’s how our Plastigene project came about.

 Plastics are waste products that pollute the environment we live in in more especially clogging the sewage systems in urban and peri-urban areas and toxins from decomposed plastics are introduced into ecological systems that humans manipulate for food. A biological approach to solving this problem is favorable because of its practicability and efficiency. Ideonella sakaiensis is a bacteria that naturally decomposes polyethylene terephthalate, we decided to genetically engineer/ modify E.coli   cells to model the plastic degradation process by adding the Lipase and Chlorogenate esterase genes from Ideonella sakaiensis into E.coli bacterial cells. The by-products will be used produce biofuels.

We did all the lab work until the end of the year, we then presented our project in the iGEM competition in Boston MA, USA in October. We are finalizing the lab work soon and testing for the efficiency of the bacteria and how best we can control it outside the lab by developing a killer switch for the bacteria.

Previous wikis of the IGEM Team 

Achievements

As a team we have achieved a great success as our first time project as undergraduates from the beginning of the project, brainstorming, to the wet lab work. We won many grants and sponsorship and connections. It has taken us a step in the world of synthetic biology, a lot we have learnt from participating in the prestigious competition of iGEM to meeting key figures in the field of synthetic biology. Some of the grants and sponsorships are as seen below.

Grants and sponsorships 

We received the first sponsorship of our project from Twist Bioscience which wired our registration fees of 5500 USD and then our travel and living expenses of 4000 USD.

The Promega gave us the grant of 2000 USD in terms of reagents and then Opentrons gave us a grant of 4000 USD inform of  an OT-2 Robot which is the first of its kind in Africa for the lab micro pipetting procedures, this helped us  a lot in the lab. Then 2000 USD grant in terms of DNA parts from IDT. All this was for the best of our project and thus helped us to move forward.

Competitions Involved

Our team began as the iGEM Team ready to participate in the iGEM competitions but we ended up in other competitions like the Hult Prize which we participated in and our project became the best on campus, we have now been selected to go for the regionals in Cairo Egypt in April 2019.

Alex, previous Team Leader who is currently the Regional Coordinator for iGEM Ambassadors program, Africa.

Kyabarongo Alex, A third year Veterinary medical student at Makerere University Uganda. He is a member of the Synbio Africa Association, which is the pioneer community and a registered hub for synthetic biology in Africa, based in Uganda with registered members all over Africa. He is also the Previous Team leader of the iGEM 2018 Makerere University Team and led his team to participate in the 2018 iGEM competitions that took place in Boston MA, USA in October 2018. He led his team as the sole team member presenting at the jamboree.   He is the current interim instructor of the 2019 iGEM Makerere University Team. “With great love, passion, inspiration, enthusiasm and experience in synthetic biology, I am creating a strong Team and workforce through collaborations to engage synthetic biology based projects spreading the works of iGEM and promoting synthetic biology in Africa and my aim is to see more institutions and teams from Africa participate in synthetic biology and iGEM”. 

iGEM MAKERERE UNIVERSITY TEAM 2018 REPORT

“As I always say that it takes patience to work with a bacteria, the same as working on a project as an undergrad and also taking part in international competitions like iGEM, with a lot of deadlines, the strongest survives just as in the play of a jungle”.

Introduction:

iGEM stands for International Genetically Engineered Machine which is an annual international competition for synthetic biology around the globe with teams from different countries comprising of the high school, undergraduate and graduate students who undertake projects in synthetic biology using Biobricks to create a solution for the world daily challenges.

In this competition students in synthetic biology and its real-world applications for problem solving gather to develop ideas, set project goals, and build unique biological systems that can operate in living cells.

iGEM is an interdisciplinary project that joins students with diverse interests and talents and encourages them to explore new ideas and develop a plan for building genetically engineered systems to tackle issues in their community and the world.

Every year, over 2000 undergraduate students from different countries worldwide gather at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA to compete in the International Genetically Engineered Machine(iGEM) competition.

For 2018, Makerere University through one of our master student (Otim Geoffrey) at the college of veterinary medicine came up with the idea of creating a team that will take part in the 2018 iGEM competitions, he liaised with Dr. Boniface J Okuni who is currently the major PI( Principal Investigator) of the Team. They shared the idea and started the team which comprised of 15 undergraduate students from the field of Veterinary Medicine, Bio lab Technology and Biotechnology. We began brainstorming with the help of our Team Instructor and PI for the future of the Team and laid strategies focusing on participating in the 2018 iGEM competitions which we finally successfully achieved late in the year through a tough journey experience. This gave birth to iGEM Makerere_University Team which is focusing on developing synthetic biology in Africa through the iGEM competitions.

iGEM Mak or iGEM Makerere University Team is an Undergraduate Team of 14 undergraduate students from veterinary medicine, Bio medical Laboratory Technology and Biotechnology and these included, Kyabarongo Alex and Mukabaliisa Patience who were the Team Leaders for 2018, Nalumenya David Paul, Baluku Erikan, Opiyo Lawrence, Wagaba David, Kyoyagara Sarah, Ssemanda Paul, Mukisa Puis, Singoma Crispus, Matovu Wycliff, Ssemambo Ronald, Tamale Henry Charles, Ayoto Christine. With our Team Instructor Otim Geoffrey and the PIs Prof. Okuni Julius Boniface and Dr. Ann Nakazibwe. We really give great hands of appreciation for everything they did for the team especially administrative duties and for the time offered in technical laboratory duties.

This Team was being guided by a number of advisors including Dr. Odongo Steven, Dr. Ann Nanteza, Prof. Samuel Majarija, and Prof. Clovis Kankya, These took their time with great words of wisdom to help mentor the team through the project period.

Through the time in preparations, as a team we managed to work together from developing the proposal and concept to the time of the lab work with the help of the team from molecular biology lab that enabled us prosper through the steps of engineering the bacteria that required the molecular lab techniques including transformation and other steps.

Throughout the journey has learnt on how to do a project as undergrads with a lot of patience because I for one I always say that working with bacteria takes a lot of patience and indeed working on a project takes a lot of patience, courage and motivation. We believe that the future for our Team is bright and we are soon recruiting new members for the 2019 competitions there by giving chance to the young stars to show up their talent and love in science with the new technology of synthetic biology urging everyone interested to join us in Synbio Africa to move the world.

About our first iGEM project 2018(Plastic degradation using bacteria).

iGEM Mak 2018 Team after brainstorming as a team, we found out that the biggest challenge we have in our country and region is plastic waste effects, we then decided to start up the project of how we can manage plastic wastes using the cutting-edge science of synthetic biology and that’s how our Plastigene project came about.

Plastics are waste products that pollute the environment we live in in more especially clogging the sewage systems in urban and peri-urban areas and toxins from decomposed plastics are introduced into ecological systems that humans manipulate for food. A biological approach to solving this problem is favorable because of its practicability and efficiency. Ideonella sakaiensis is a bacteria that naturally decomposes polyethylene terephthalate, we decided to genetically engineer/ modify E.coli   cells to model the plastic degradation process by adding the Lipase and Chlorogenate esterase genes from Ideonella sakaiensis into E.coli bacterial cells. The by-products will be used produce biofuels.

We did all the lab work until the end of the year, we then presented our project in the iGEM competition in Boston MA, USA in October. We are finalizing the lab work soon and testing for the efficiency of the bacteria and how best we can control it outside the lab by developing a killer switch for the bacteria.

Our future aspects are that we can finish expression which we had not yet done by the time of the competitions so that we can test the product and we do commercialization with the help of Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI). We have managed to do a lot of collaborations through this project with several Universities abroad including Tec-Monterey in Mexico, Hamburg University in Germany, Queens University in Canada and University of Maryland in Washington DC USA.

GRANTS AND SPONSORSHIP RECEIVED:

We received the first sponsorship of our project from Twist Bioscience which wired our registration fees of 5500 USD and then our travel and living expenses of 4000 USD.

The Promega gave us the grant of 2000 USD in terms of reagents and then Opentrons gave us a grant of 4000 USD inform of  an OT-2 Robot which is the first of its kind in Africa for the lab micro pipetting procedures, this helped us  a lot in the lab. Then 2000 USD grant in terms of DNA parts from IDT. All this was for the best of our project and thus helped us to move forward.

Achievements.

  • Selection of a team which is hard working and committed and serves together.
  • Won the grant from opentrons which offered to us an OT-2 robot worth 4000 USD.
  • Won a grant from Promega Corporation that offered us lab reagents for our project worth 2000 USD. This helped us prosper in our lab.
  • We were also given a grant from IDT which supplied us with free DNA that we requested for and we managed to use the genes during our engineering procedures in the lab.
  • National Water and Sewerage Corporation also supported the project with 2 Million Ugandan Shillings which aided in facilitating the team representatives USA visas.
  • Finally, the Team managed to represent the great Makerere University in the most Prestigious world’s most popular synthetic biology competition which depicts the name of our team, the iGEM Giant Jamboree 2018 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston Massachusetts USA, from 24th-28th October 2018. Our team was the pioneer team from East Africa and only 2 teams from Africa that represented the other being the medical academy of Libya from Cairo. The Team Leader Kyabarongo Alex managed to travel by the help of Twist Bioscience and Dr. Ellen Jorgensen of Biotech without Borders Brooklyn New York. Being our first time, we acquired the experience although we dint win the medal or an award but it gave us the starting step into the journey of synthetic biology and this showed us that we can do it!
  • After participating in the iGEM competitions, the team had registered for the on campus Hult Prize competitions. Using the Team’s project, we managed to be the second best chosen best project on campus and so selected to go for the regional competitions in Cairo in April 2019. This gave us hopes that we are moving to change the world with science especially with synthetic biology.

Contact Information:

For More Information about the iGEM Mak 2018 Team Please reach out to these People.

 Kyabarongo AlexTeam Leader 2018Tel +256-778446627 +256-705545497alexkyabarongo@gmail.com. Dr. Okuni JBMain PITel +256-754459568      +256-780679441jbokuni@gmail.com
    
 Otim GeoffreyTeam InstructorTel +256-777777800+256-752454718otimgeoffrey25@yahoo.co.uk  

Team Information:

iGEM Mak

College of Veterinary Medicine Animal Resources And Biosecurity (COVAB)
Livingstone drive, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda.

Tel +256-705545497

Fax +256-777777800

iGEM Mak/SybioAfrica

15th December, 2018.

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