Team:TAS Taipei/human practice


Human Practice - TAS Taipei iGEM Wiki

Human Practice

Science is not complete without considering its ethical and social ramifications, as well as relaying its intricacies and promoting it to the general public.

What we discovered through our findings in human practice helped shaped the trajectory of our project. Rather than focus on the unattainable goal of immortality, we realized that an even more desired and tangible goal is to use our project to increase healthy life span.

Human Practice is organized into three sections: Research, Outreach, and Entertainment. We first sought to collect opinions from experts in the field and from all age groups in the public, and also debate the ethical considerations. Our next step was to bring synthetic biology and our project to the community. The last section deals with having a little bit of fun with our project and spreading the joy of iGEM.

Q: Is death a necessary aspect of nature?

“The short answer would be.......................yes.”

— Mr. Jaami Franklin


This first component of human practice focuses on collecting opinions from experts in the field and from all age groups in the public on the topics surrounding our project such as immortality, science, synthetic biology, and life. Whether it is through collaboration with other iGEM teams, surveys, interviews, or panel debates, we reached out to a wide variety of people from all walks of life.

Interviewing Senior Citizens

We visited a retirement home and interviewed the senior citizens living there. This experience was extremely inspiring as we got to know the residents on a personal level, and obtained some surprising answers. We discovered that these senior citizens had comments such as “We are all sitting here waiting to die”, rather than wanting to live forever. These responses helped us reshape our project to focus on extending human lifespan and sparked further research on public opinion.

YOLO Survey

In order to gain more opinions on our project from a larger sample group, we set up a survey with questions about immortality and synthetic biology. In the end, we collected over 200 responses, which gave us valuable insights into the public's opinions of our project. This feedback steered us away from our focus on immortality into a more widely supported consensus of extending life with emphasis on good health.

iGEM Interview

Guest Lectures

Throughout the year, we were extremely fortunate to have Stanford professor Dr. Boxer, National Yang Ming University professors Dr. Li and Dr. Tsai, and previous MIT iGEM member Charles Hsu, come present on various research in their fields of expertise. Their lectures included topics such as green fluorescent protein, regenerative stem cell medicine, neuronal cell migration, and past experiences. These talks helped us along in our planning and research and allowed us to gain first-hand experience from professors.


Science is foremost and should be a collaborative and communicative affair. We formed a friendship with the National Taiwan University and National Yang Ming University iGEM teams through presenting our projects to one another, receiving constructive feedback, and inspiring one another.

Interviewing A Cancer Specialist

We reached out to a professional radiation oncologist, Dr. Yen, who is working at Cathay General Hospital, to discuss the impact and practicality of our project in her field. Through a thoughtful conversation, we learned about the process of how cancer drugs get approved and implemented, and what our project means for society in the future.

Ethics Panel

In order to collect opinions from multiple angles in a collaborative environment on the ethical issues, we invited professionals from varying fields in Science, History, Math, and English. It was an hour-long, heated, debate and discussion on topics such as the impact of immortality on society, the state of modern science, and whether or not longevity is desired. It was an open event attended by many students, teachers, and administrators, who also had the opportunity to ask questions of their own.

“Do I want to die from natural causes... or do I want to witness the heat death of the universe and watch my cells fall apart as entropy just takes over everything?”

— Dr. Allan Bayntun


Overview: A crucial aspect of human practice is reaching out to the community, at school, in the local neighborhood, throughout the country, and beyond. This section deals with our efforts in promoting synthetic biology, iGEM, our project, both in and outside of school. This was achieved through teaching kids of various ages, handing out fliers during an exploration of the city, fun activities, and a plethora of media outlets for publicity.

Public Awareness

To promote our project to the Taipei city public and to showcase our cultural heritage to the world through the introduction of famous destinations in Taipei, we travelled throughout the city, passing out fliers to people and explaining our project to them. It turned out to be a great success, and a lot of fun. Check out our video!

Synthetic Biology Education

We organized classes for kids from 8th Grade, 5th grade, and Kindergarten to spark their interest in science. We introduced them to topics such as DNA, synthetic biology, and our project. Also, we showed them around our lab and taught them lab skills such as pipetting and loading gels. To spice things up, there was a competition to see who could make the coolest design with colored water using pipettes. For kindergarteners, we performed various skits and taught them basic knowledge on bacteria and the importance of washing hands.

Research Symposium

We hosted a science symposium and fair every semester of school to showcase our research results and findings to the TAS community and to gain experience in presenting to audiences. These presentations spread excitement and knowledge of iGEM and our project. It was a fun and interesting experience to have all sorts of different booths filled with passionate discoveries.

School Fairs

During an annual spring fair hosted by our school, we set up a fair booth that people from all over Taipei could visit. By doing this, we hoped to spread awareness about synthetic biology throughout the community. We taught children and adults alike about DNA and telomeres through our “Pin the Telomeres on the Chromosome” game. We also gained helpful data from the public regarding their opinions towards synthetic biology and our project.

Media Outlets

We utilized different mediums, generating excitement throughout the school and the larger Taiwan community. Some ways we accomplished this were through publishing articles in several widely-circulated newspapers and magazines, featuring on a Facebook page, and participating in an exclusive interview on Taiwan Television.


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iGEM High School Meet-Up

In order to learn more about different iGEM team projects and to prepare for the June Jamboree, we invited the Taipei Mingdao team to our school. We presented our project and tried to gain perspective on the other team's topic. It was a great pleasure to host Taiwan's first iGEM high school meet-up.

iGEM Club

We founded a new iGEM club to gather interest for this competition and to ensure that there is a continuous stream of incoming students who are interested in joining us in the future.

“If I had the opportunity to live forever with pharmaceutical aid, then I would take that and let my next course of death be a truck... or a cliff...”

— Mr. Matt Fagen


Overview: Science doesn't have to be too serious all the time. This facet of human practice deals with spreading the word through mainstream media, games and art, and ultimately having some fun!

Music Video

We created a music video for our original song named “Let it Grow”, a playful parody of Frozen's “Let it Go”, in order to exhibit our lab and stimulate interest towards iGEM and our project. We spent several days filming and editing our music video, and had a blast in the process!

iGEM 2048

Through customizing the game “2048” into iGEM members' pictures, we not only created an outlet to relieve stress after frustrating failures in the lab, but also allowed others to learn more about the team members through an interesting approach.

Montage Video

We created a video to capture daily events in the lab, including documentations of our experiments and of our team members in action. This video captures the progress we have made throughout the year and the long hours we've spent in our lab.

Riders of Rohan

After an age of absence

The alchemists have returned

Except this time

Not in fine linen robes

But in pristine white lab coats

Armed with their prima materia—bacteria

—To solve the ultimate mystery

And create the philosopher's stone

To confront this daunting task

We need the true creed of a researcher

Arise, arise

Riders of Rohan!

Mortal foes galore: cancer and death!

Pipette shall be paraded, plasmid be purified

A gel made

A plate poured

Ere the clock chimes!

Ride for research...and a new beginning!

Death! Death!

Forth iGEMers!