“Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM” team invites you to support Vilnius University’s young scientists at the international prestigious synthetic biology competition iGEM 2023 (International Genetically Engineered Machine).
The iGEM competition marks the 20th year of the initiative to promote advances in synthetic biology. The competition encourages participants worldwide (around 400 teams from more than 65 countries!) to tackle local problems – it helps to create a global change in climate change, plastic pollution, sustainability, and more.
The participating interdisciplinary student teams from different universities worldwide seek solutions to real challenges based on molecular biology, engineering, computer science, and mathematics principles. While developing their project idea, the teams collaborate with scientists, government institutions, and business partners.
This partnership provides the opportunity to create solutions that can be implemented theoretically and practically in the real world. In this way, iGEM competition participants step towards a sustainable and innovative future, making scientific and social added value nationally and globally.
In addition to developing innovative scientific projects, participants in this competition also actively educate the public about synthetic biology and its potential. Throughout the project, students will not only become scientists but also facilitators of a change in public attitudes. More about the contest → https://igem.org
This Year’s Team
This is the 9th time that Vilnius University has participated in the iGEM competition. Previous projects:
Until now, Lithuanian teams have an impressive track record in the competition, winning gold medals every year and even being recognized as the best in the world twice, in 2017 and 2020.
This year’s “Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM” team: Matas Rarivanas, Marija Duchovskytė, Aistė Židonytė, Vincentas Raudys, Rusnė Uzielaitė, Vytautas Savickas, Augustė Stankevičiūtė, Martyna Vaitkūnaitė, Augustas Cibulskis and Vilius Rastenis. Principal Investigator – prof. Rolandas Meškys.
The specifics of the iGEM competition require the project to be carried out within 10 months. This includes all stages of the research, from generating the idea to conducting the research in the lab to summarizing the results and presenting them to the public.
EXULLOSE – 2023 Team’s Research Project
Komagataeibacter genus bacteria is a micro-organism that naturally synthesizes bacterial cellulose. This compound is typically associated with plants but can be synthesized by bacteria. It is exceptional in terms of its mechanical properties and purity, which makes the polymer particularly attractive for biomedical applications.
This year, the Lithuanian iGEM team is working in the field of biomanufacturing for the first time. Using synthetic biology principles, we aim to develop a new copolymer made of bacterial cellulose and chitosan. Chitosan is a modified compound of chitin, typically found in fungi’s cell walls and arthropods’ outer skeleton. The properties of chitosan allow it to be used in biomedical applications such as stopping bleeding and drug delivery.
By adding cellulose-enriching compounds to the bacterial cellulose/chitosan compound by gentler and more sustainable methods, we could expand the scope of its medical applications. For instance, amino acids attached to the cellulose-chitosan polymer would help improve wound healing. Combining the material, we plan to obtain with drugs could lead to a localized drug delivery system. The cellulose-chitosan polymer could be a sustainable replacement for plastic food packaging in industrial applications.
Other Activities of 2023 Team
The project’s human practices activities are the team’s efforts to spread the word about our work, raise awareness of local and global issues, and educate the public about the science of synthetic biology.
Our most significant example of public engagement this year is the ART X SCIENCE project. In this series of nine events, we aim to educate the public about the evolution of science, from the first human contact with nature to the discovery of synthetic biology and the possible future of science.
We involve as vast a section of society as possible in our project. For this purpose, we have produced a Braille publication, “Introduction to Synthetic Biology”, which will reach all Lithuanian audiovisual centers during the project.
Together with our instructor, biology teacher Paul Sungaila, we consider the changing curriculum in biology. Using the best practices of biologija.online and the 6th SinBio Sense, we are developing a new educational tool for students and teachers – atrask.bio, which will provide free 3D models, descriptions, and control questions to test your understanding of biological processes.
Why iGEM Team Needs Funding?
“Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM” team aims to crowd-fund at least EUR 6K additional funding. The money raised will be used to purchase laboratory instruments and reagents. Part of the funds will also be used for public activities, which will help to implement the ART X SCIENCE project and to develop and maintain the free biology education platform atrask.bio.
We will send each of our supporters personal thank-you notes and a newsletter with more information about our project. Follow the “Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM” Exullose journey on: vilniusigem.lt, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn.
You can also donate via a bank transfer:
IBAN → LT25 7300 0101 6832 6034
Recipient → Paramos fondas Vilniaus universiteto fondas (company code 304222713)
Subject → Support for “Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM”
"Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM" Team Lead
+370 602 71027