Navigating iGEM

Learn about how to navigate through iGEM here!


This page is focused on helping teams navigate through iGEM. The staff at iGEM Headquarters has created a series of pages this year with the idea of helping teams work through some of the more challenging aspects of the iGEM competition. These topics include: understanding and following the safety guidelines, troubleshooting and reporting cloning problems, working on telling your story in a clear and concise manner, and learning how to use the Registry and submit new parts. We've also kicked off a new program called the HQ Representative Program to help encourage teams to have regular contact with the staff at iGEM HQ.

It is our hope that these pages will be helpful to all iGEM teams, whether this is your first time participating in iGEM or if you are returning as a seasoned veteran. If you have any suggestions for content or questions, please send an email to your team's HQ Rep or contact us at hq AT igem DOT org!

The iGEM Cycle

The iGEM competition cycle can be seen below. Not all teams follow this cycle (for example, you may start work earlier or later than this shows), but this is the general flow of the major tasks involved with participating in iGEM. This is based on the 2015 season, with the Jamboree taking place in September.

The "Off" Season

October through February

  • Have an iGEM debriefing with your PI and team
    1. Assess successes and failures, discuss interest in continuing next year, etc.
  • Raise awareness of iGEM at your school
    1. Run informational sessions, post flyers, talk to Professors and fellow students
  • Find a PI to mentor your team and provide lab space
    1. This may be a challenge if you're a first-time team, but stay positive! Make sure to talk to numerous Professors in your Biology, Biomedical Engineering, and Engineering departments and gauge interest early.
  • Recruit interested students
    1. Advertise that you're looking to find interested students with flyers and/or recruit students from courses
  • Start fundraising efforts (this can be an on-going effort)
    1. Email and call local companies, talk to the head of your department or college, investigate other on-campus funding sources like undergraduate research opportunity programs (UROP)

  • March, April, and May
  • Start a Team
    1. Decide the final team from the group of interested students
  • Brainstorm Project Ideas
    1. Many teams will have multiple brainstorming sessions, with and without the team instructors
  • Determine Team Goals and Tasks
    1. This can be challenging, but well worth the effort in the end. A list of high level goals and a detailed list of tasks needed to reach those goals will help your team stay focused on the project

    May, June, July, and August
  • Start Wet Lab Work on Project
    1. You should get trained in protocols and follow your school's safety regulations, and start working on your project
  • Run Functional Experiments
    1. This can be done throughout the cloning process once you have a functional device. Test your device and collect your data.
  • Process and Plot Results
    1. Determine which software you need to use to process your data, determine the units you want to display, and make sure you include your controls during data analysis and show them on your graphs/plots
  • Work on your Team Wiki (not shown on cycle)
    1. You should be continually working on your Team Wiki throughout the project. Don't wait to the last minute!

    August and September
  • Prepare and Practice Oral Presentation
    1. Similar to your Team Wiki, you should try to work on the presentation throughout the project. Final touches should be done in September.
  • Prepare Poster
    1. Once you have your final data plotted and ready to show, you should make your poster and practice presenting it.
  • Attend the Giant Jamboree
    1. Come to Boston, meet other iGEM teams, celebrate your work, and have fun!!

    Useful Pages

    Telling Your Story

    We've created a new page this year to help teams tell their story to the general public and to the iGEM community. Telling Your Story offers general tips and examples of how to present your project on your Team Wiki and Poster. Topics include writing your Project Overview, explaining your Project Design, showing your Project Results, and creating a Medal Criteria checklist.

    HQ Representative Program

    This year, we decided to implement the new HQ Representative Program to encourage teams to interact more with the staff at iGEM Headquarters. This page lists all of the registered teams and their assigned HQ Representative, along with a list of email address for the HQ staff involved with the program. If you have any questions about iGEM, ask your HQ Rep!

    Cloning Help

    Another new page we've implemented this year is a Troubleshooting page to help teams with general tips and advice for cloning. Included are links to the iGEM Protocols, tips for ligations and restriction digests, and information about how to test your competent cells. If you're having trouble with your cloning this summer, please check out this page! If you're still having trouble, please ask us a question or send an email to Traci at traci AT igem DOT org.

    Safety Page

    Our iGEM Safety Page has been updated for the 2015 season. This page has information about the safety rules we expect teams to follow, links to the safety forms due throughout the season, and general information to help teams understand the importance of safety in iGEM. Please make sure to check-in any parts that aren't from the White List of organisms. If you have any questions on safety, please send an email to Kelly at kelly AT igem DOT org.

    Using the Registry

    If you're having trouble using the Registry of Biological Parts, please check out the Registry At A Glance page. This page has information on searching for parts, understanding the information shown on the Registry pages, using the protocols developed at iGEM HQ, and much more.

    Submitting a Part

    We have created a simple, new page this year to help guide teams in Submitting a Part to the Registry. This page shows a very brief workflow with the links to the detailed pages for submitting a new part to the Registry. All of this information can also be found on the Registry of Biological Parts.