The Student News Site of Taipei American School




iGEM’s COVID-19 Coronavirus bioethics discussion panel held in the Solomon Wong Tech Cube


The 2020 International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) team held a bioethics roundtable discussion during flex on March 17 in the Solomon Wong Tech Cube’s fourth floor. Students and faculty members discussed the ethics of the COVID-19 Coronavirus. The discussion was centered around three topics: Quarantine, Different Cultural Perspectives, and Media Coverage.
iGEM’s COVID-19 project is a very timely subject and the team’s instrument-free project this year is focused on developing a rapid universal viral detection method. The iGEM members, along with their advisors Mr. Jude Clapper, Dr. Jonathan Hsu and Dr. Nicholas Ward, are working to find a universal platform to detect all virus types. The team creates synthetic samples by synthesizing DNA and RNA sequences based on specific gene segments of the virus the team is looking to target. Through synthetic samples of viruses, the iGEM team utilized a colorimetric setting to show the detection of the targeted virus. According to Project Head Wilson H. (‘21), the preliminary trials have already shown some success.
The Bioethics Discussion Panel, held as part of the iGEM tradition, also helped the team gain insight into this topic. This will help the team better develop prototypes to suit different stances on topics such as quarantine as well as learn more about the public’s views on certain topics. “One portion of the iGEM competition is to fulfill the human practice criteria and the discussion panel allowed us to educate the public about the ethics of coronavirus,” Activity Head Kelly Y. (‘21) said. 
The iGEM team also emphasizes that the public should be wary of misinformation spreading about COVID-19 and only visit credible sites to get their information, such as the Center for Disease Control. The iGEM team will proceed by utilizing the information they have gathered from the discussion panel to optimize their tests for a clearer differentiation in their results as well as make their tests easier for the public to use.

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