Team:Valencia UPV/Practices

Valencia UPV iGEM 2015


Valencia-UPV team strongly believes that Synthetic Biology has the potential to change our world for good. To fulfil this potential, we as technologists should avoid repeating earlier technology mistakes, and very especially we should avoid developing a technology that ends up benefiting only a few.

In line with this, the Philosophy guiding the Valencia-UPV iGEM team considers Synthetic Biology as a technology that should be employed to the benefit of the Society in its broadest sense, and should be mainly directed to benefit those that need it most. In other words, we at the UPV-Team envision a Synthetic for the People.

We also believe that the most efficient strategy to reach this aim is by narrowing the gap between the technology and the society. For this we need to increase the understanding of the technology, simplify procedures, develop open-source tools and instruments, and popularize its use. In other words, we envision a Synthetic Biology not only for the people, but also by the People.

Popularization of Synthetic Biology should not be at odds with safety. Broad use of the technology should walk along with a deep understanding of the risks/benefits balance of each project and should be always accompanied by the development and fulfilment of strict safety measures that ensure that each technical development brought to practice is harmless for the people and the environment.

These are the three principles that inspired our Policy and Practices activities and indeed our project as a whole: Synthetic Biology for the people, by the people, and harmless by all means.

Philosophy meets Practice

Early in our brainstorm meetings we were looking for a project that helped to improve the life conditions of the people, right now and in the near future. ….and UPVteam created AladDNA. Our eukaryotic decoder is first and above all projected as a portable factory of medicines; we engaged experts in our community (Farmamundi) to sort out which were the most needed medicines that could be produced with our system. See more on this in collaborations.

Our team also wanted to bring a new social dimension to our project, that is, the ability to explain it (and explain Synthetic Biology) in a completely unusual language. A language employed by more and more people in the world, especially by young people, those that we hope will be not only users but also developers of our technology: the language of the Computer Games...and UPVteam created SynBioCraft. Our Minecraft Mod is a virtual tool for building Synthetic Biology projects. SynBioCraft has allowed us to interact with many young people using their same language. SynBioCraft is a virtual SynBio lab with the doors wide open to everyone with curiosity. See more on this in SynBioCraft.

Finally, we investigated the risks associated to our AladDNA design and elaborated a set of technical recommendations aimed to minimize these risks, with special attention to detect and turn innocuous any unintended release of AladDNA components into the environment... and UPVteam saw that it was safe. Our risk analysis concluded that the risks associated with environmental release are low, and could be brought virtually to zero with the implementation of additional biotechnology measures. See more on Safety