Wednesday June 15th, 2016
By: Jia Tanwani
The QGEM team had the pleasure of being invited to the 66th Annual Conference of the Canadian Society of Microbiologists in Toronto, Ontario to represent the Ontario iGEM collective known as oGEM. oGEM consists of six Ontario universities: University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, Queen’s University, University of Ottawa,
Ryerson University, and McMaster University. We started off the day at the iGEM booth set up at Hart House, the gorgeous conference venue. The purpose of the iGEM booth was to promote synthetic biology awareness amongst the conference delegates while also telling professionals about our research in the field of nonribosomal peptides. A major project that oGEM is working on this year is creating a synthetic biology network for professionals in Ontario. The aim of this network is to increase awareness and support for synthetic biology in Ontario, as well as to find potential professionals interested in the various projects that Ontario iGEM teams take on each year. The CSM conference was a splendid opportunity to meet and network with microbiologists from all across Canada.
Photo: QGEM members (from left to right) Dragos Chiriac, Hillary Chan, Jia Tanwani, Danai Topouza, and Yifei Wang at the iGEM booth at the CSM Conference venue in Toronto
Afterwards, all of the iGEM teams in attendance headed up to a difference venue in Wallberg Memorial Building to have an oGEM meeting. The oGEM meeting enabled each university’s team to discuss their project ideas and explain what planning had been done, what advances had been made, and what setbacks had been encountered in the Wet Lab, Dry Lab, and Policy & Practices components of the project. We also had an opportunity to discuss how all the teams that are part of the oGEM collective can specifically collaborate on certain projects, whether through sharing wet lab protocols or designing synthetic biology workshops collectively. Furthermore, we discussed new platforms across which oGEM communication can happen in the future in a more direct, efficient, and non-redundant way. It was a very productive meeting overall despite our meeting room being boiling hot at a temperature of 27 degrees.
Photo: Members of oGEM (Ontario iGEM collective) who attended the CSM Conference
The final portion of our day consisted of presentations at Macleod Auditorium, at the U of T Medical Sciences Building. Each team presented a brief overview of their research to the other iGEM teams and conference delegates. Each team has diverse interests. For example, Waterloo iGEM is working with prions this year, McMaster iGEM is working on IL-2 delivery using lactobacilli in the GI tract, and Toronto iGEM is working to create paper
that can detect and quantify gold.
Looking back on our day, it was an amazing opportunity to learn, showcase our research and network. We had a blast at CSM! Thank you to the co-chairs of CSM 2016 for giving oGEM and Queen’s the opportunity to showcase our passion for synthetic biology research and to oGEM for their continual support and guidance.