The iGEM team from Makerere University in Uganda faced seemingly insurmountable challenges in their research on plastic degradation. They had little previous lab experience and their university lacked the supplies and infrastructure to support their project. Even with sponsorships from Promega and several other biotechnology companies, they struggled to gather the funding necessary to get through the competition. Nonetheless, when I met team leader Alex Kyabarongo, he was optimistic about the future of synthetic biology research in Uganda.
“We want to extend this to the community,” Alex told me during the iGEM Giant Jamboree. “We want to remove the negativity around bacteria and tell people, ‘Look! There are bacteria that are deadly, and bacteria that are helpful. How can they be helpful?’ And I believe we have managed to establish our roots.”
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