Expert talks & Conference
Throughout the competition we visited various experts to deepen our knowledge in different themes related to our project. In this way we were able to improve and adjust our project approach by adopting the specialists´ advices.
Prof. Dr. Stefan Jockenhövel - ITA at RWTH Aachen
We thank professor Jockenhövel for the very interesting and revealing expert discussion about tissue engineering at the ITA in Aachen. This expert discussion gave us the insight that the in medical applications commonly used plastic PLA is degraded into acidic remains in the body. In this point our polymer has an advantage as it contains significantly less acidic groups .
Dr. Phillip Urban - 3D Printing Technology IGD Fraunhofer
The expert talk with Dr. Urban gave us a good overview about 3D printing technologies. Our used method SLA 3D printing is currently market-leading and can be improved by the similar method Polymer-Jetting.
Dr. Harald König, Reinhard Heil, Christoph Schneider - ITAS KIT Karlsruhe
The three experts at ITAS helped us bring forward our application scenario with a very interesting talk. We analyzed the usage, the impact on society and the implementation of open source in our application. We thank them for spending so much time in our discussion and also for coming to Darmstadt and joining our panel discussion. We are looking forward to work together in future projects.
Prof. Dr. Chichkov - LZH Laserzentrum Hannover
Dr. Chichkov is working with Two-Photon Polymerisation that is even more precise than SLA 3D printing. We thank him for his offer to test our polymer with his devices and for the backround information about alternative photo initiators.
Prof. Michael Grätzel, Toby Meyer - EPFL Lausanne
Prof. Dr. Grätzel and Dr. Toby Meyer - Old memories come to mind: We visited the famous chemistry professor and the CEO of Solaronix a year ago as a support in our last iGEM project. This year we came by to thank them for their help and to discuss our current project. We wish them the best for the future and hopefully we will meet again!
Conference: Community labs and synthetic biology
In 2012 our team held a public panel discussion about bioethics. Moreover, in the last years we had a lot of debates about the future of synthetic biology and the chances and risks of community labs during our work for Synenergene and the german iGEM meetups. Since a new biohackerspace is forming in Darmstadt, with close connections to our team, we decided to lead a panel discussion about these two topics. As a first step we had a round table discussion with the iGEM team of RWTH Aachen. Here we talked about the pros, cons and possible trends of community labs (please visit the wiki of RWTH Aachen for further details and results). This formed the fundament for our panel discussion.
The panel discussion
We had several experts for the discussion, which was divided in two subtopics. The discussion was moderated by members of our team while the audience was encouraged to ask questions and thereby become an important part of the debate. The investigated questions lead to interesting results that gave our team new views on the prior executed researches as well as on possible future projects.
Discussion 1: The future of synthetic biology
- Prof. Dr. Heribert Warzecha, professor for plant biotechnology (TU Darmstadt)
- Dr. Harald König, biologist on the Institute for technical aftermath (KIT Karlsruhe)
- M.A. Reinhard Heil, philosopher on the Institute for technical aftermath (KIT Karlsruhe)
Discussion 2: Risks and chances of community labs
- Prof. Dr. Alfred Nordmann, professor for philosophy of technology (TU Darmstadt)
- Kai Ruf, founder of the biohackerspace lab3
Results discussion 1
Within the next five to ten years synthetic biology will not change our life or our society completely. This scenario is mostly envisioned by some American scientists whose companies need big investments. Thus they have a crucial interest in the upkeep of “radical visions”. It will take much more time and development until synthetic biology could have such a big impact on society like computers, the internet etc.
Until now the socio-cultural advantage of synthetic biology is the possibility of lower production costs for already existing products. If somebody had to choose between two similar products he would not select the one manufactured with synthetic biology, except when the price difference is significant. The only chance to increase the acceptance is to provide additional products which cannot be made without synthetic biology. The consumer can see directly the benefit for his life and thus the benefit of synthetic biology.
Results discussion 2
Against the general opinion in Germany that community labs can be founded easily, there are detailed laws concerning the fundation of a lab at home. These laws are very strict and make the establishment of a biohackerspace rather difficult.
Community labs include the threat of bioterrorism. But this seems to be an emotional fear rather than a rational one. The creation of bioweapons has several big limitations. To get them weapon-grade, deep expertise and very expensive equipment is needed. For common citizen, both things are close to impossible to achieve. Community labs won't change this situation.
A great benefit of “open science” is the verifiability of companies and scientific work. Broadly spread community labs would give the people the chance to make chemical and biological tests of water quality, food, medicine etc. It can largely increase the consumer protection if everybody is able to check the statements of companies etc.