iGEM McMaster’s Human Practices team ensures that the Wet Lab’s project is safe, accessible, and responsible for our world.
Behind research lies an intrinsically human element – no discovery is made in a social or political vacuum. The Human Practices team seeks to address the gap between our project’s lab work and the transfer of scientific knowledge across communities.
Last year, mGEM Human Practices investigated the potential impact of the Wet Lab’s rapid diagnostic assay on Hamilton’s healthcare climate, particularly in relation to the antimicrobial-resistant bacterium C. difficile.
Our research began with compiling literature reviews on the ethics and policies surrounding synthetic biology in healthcare, as well as the statistics representing the expansion of C. difficile and AMR as a pressing issue in Canada and internationally. We then chose to interview national experts and organizations to help us understand differing perspectives within AMR, the need for rapid diagnostic assays, how to modify our project in order to best suit those needs, and the translation of scientific knowledge to facilitate public awareness and education.
Our interviews spanned six months, and we had the opportunity to speak with national stakeholders in AMR and C. difficile. This experience was particularly helpful to understand the complexity of bringing a clinical technology to market, let alone one grounded in novel scientific principles and biological engineering. We wrote a discussion paper synthesizing our qualitative data, with the goal of presenting the overarching challenges in antimicrobial resistance and C. difficile diagnostics, and how pursuits in synthetic biology may fill those gaps. You can find our discussion paper here.
TO THE FUTURE
mGEM Human Practices is looking to continue discussions with Hamilton Public Health, the city of Hamilton’s Public Health Division. Our long-standing objective is to align the topical focus of mGEM’s project each year with a public health concern in our city. This strategic alignment affords mGEM the opportunity to apply synthetic biology to problems with deep relevance to our broader community.
Find out about the Human Practices team's current project here.