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IONIS iGem Team Goes to Competition with Crop-Protecting Prototype

Each year since its creation by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2004, the number of teams taking place in the iGEM synthetic biology contest has grown.

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Nicolas Delettre, Gaétan Christien, and Thomas Lhernould

The international competition has particular importance in France, where teams receive government support and grants in order to promote research and make science more interesting for lay audiences.

IONIS Education Group will be sending its student team to the competition this year with a concept aimed at improving crop resistance to extreme temperatures.

The team has developed a novel prototype for a temperature-activated crop protecting compound that would activate different chemical reactions to respond to different weather conditions. One type of compound would be only be produced below freezing, and another will only be produced at temperatures high enough to harm crops. The prototype is called SofterShock and is in the testing stage.

The chemical reactions depends on the changing shape of certain molecules in response to weather conditions, which relies on RNA modeling. RNA is notoriously difficult to model through normal modeling methods, however. The team therefore decided to use computer-based modeling methods to simulate, analyze and design the structure of the molecules used in their prototype.

The students in the team, Nicolas Delettre, Gaétan Christien, and Thomas Lhernould, said that although they want to create an excellent prototype, their long-term goal is to "understand the factors that determine the optimal interactions between the different molecules in [our] plasmids and ribosomes", and contribute to scientific knowledge of molecule interactions by publishing their findings in a scientific journal. This would be valuable because the detailed structures of their RNA molecules are unknown.

"Our work and publication in this area could demonstrate the utility of molecular modeling and make it more accessible to others teams", they said in a statement.

IONIS iGem Developing Antifreeze, Drought-Proof Biological Solution for 2017 Competition in Boston

This year, IONIS iGem, a student group that includes students from several IONIS campuses, is developing a synthetic biology project as part of the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGem) competition to be held in November in Boston.

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The 21-member group, comprised of students form Sup'Biotech, Epita, and E-artsup, among others, is developing a concept that would create an optimized biological solution for direct application to small crops sensitive to temperature changes.

"Sup'Biotech Students Reach Podium In Major Tech Competition"

Their idea is to create a thermo-sensitive bacterium resistant to extreme temparatures. It would be capable of responding to changes in temperature and producing substances capable of counteracting the effects of cold and heat. It could thus be used both as an anti-drought and antifreeze solution for plants.

iGem outside photo.jpgIONIS iGem held a bakesale to raise funds for their concept's development

The group is comprised of four teams: one responsible for research and scientific development of the project, one ensuring visibility and financial viability, one working on project modelling, and another working on safety, human practice and design application. A security committee will also be implemented during the "proof of concept" phase.

"The importance of this project lies in its pluridisciplinarity and the opportunity for us to develop skills and experience essential to our future professional life within the framework of an engineer's curriculum", the group said in its team presentation.

"The completeness of the project requires a multidisciplinary approach, which is why we also recruit students from other different training schools, such as computer science or design. The ability to make complex and scientific concepts affordable and understandable is therefore paramount. In addition, our data and results are considered 'open-source': they are in the public domain, and can therefore be reused by other companies, laboratories, or future iGEM teams, for their projects or to advance research."

2016: "IONIS iGem Team Wins Gold Medal!"

Sup'Biotech students have a history of winning or placing highly in national and international conceptual engineering contests. Last year, IONIS iGem took first prize in the same competition.

France's "Nature Festival" Brings Biodiversity and Big Bunnies to Sup'Biotech's Campus

Things got a little wild on campus this week as a section of Sup'Biotech's campus turned into a petting zoo for "Fête de la Nature" (Nature Day), a national event in France that celebrates the richness of wildlife and nature.
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A petting zoo brought some wild beasts to Sup'Biotech's campus.
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As a biotechnology school, Sup'Biotech is heavily involved in the study of natural processes. Many Sup'Biotech Innovation Projects (SBIPs) involve the manipulation of technology through nature-inspired concepts.

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Long bunny.jpgSup'Biotech had already begun preparations for the "Fête de la Nature", with some students creating a permaculture garden in a forgotten patch of grass on campus.

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Sup'Biotech students created a sustainable agriculture project

The events on Sup'Biotech's campus were part of a larger event organized by the town of Villejuif, the suburb just south of Paris where Sup'Biotech is located.

Sup'Biotech hosted a conference on Friday that ended with an airing of the film "Demain", as well as speeches given by a Sup'Biotech professor and other experts flown in from other countries.

Sup'Biotech Creates New Partnership with Asia Exchange

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Sup'Biotech has created a new partnership with Asia Exchange, a key organization for students wishing to study abroad or conduct internships in Asia.

Sup'Biotech will be working with Asia Exchange's locations in Putra University, Malaysia for third-year students. Udayana University and Mataram University in Indonesia, as well as Siam University in Thailand, will be opened to fifth-year students.

Asia Exchange is an organization that allows students to take part in study abroad semesters and internships at its partner universities throughout Asia. It strives to do so in a convenient and affordable way. This partnership will allow Sup'Biotech to expand its long list of partner universities and create further study abroad possibilities for students.

Student Council Campaigns Bring Fun and Puns to Chilly April Week

Sup'Biotech's campus has become a cross between a battlefield and a fairground as two competing groups, Sharkomere and Western Shot, try to win votes for this week's student union elections through a charm offensive on students and professors.

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Pop music blasting out of monitors, inflatable plastic buildings, saloons, teepees, pools full of sharks and crêpe stands characterized the two campaigns, which sought to stand out as the funnest, most dynamic group before the votes are cast.

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Western Shot also had a day centered on Asian cultures.

Elections for student board, or bureau des élèves in French, occur every few years. The teams consist of second-year students who, if elected, will comprise the student board until they graduate, when a new selection will take place.

Western Shot, whose campaign followed a cowboy theme, said they wanted to stand out for their dynamism and lack of formal structure.

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"We want to have a great week and demonstrate what great events we can put on", said Léonard Raimbault of Western Shot.

"The other group is more strict and militaristic; we have a more laid-back approach that we think people will appreciate," said one member.

The group set up a "saloon" full of games and wore tan outfits with their logo on them. Proving that engineering students are no strangers to wordplay, the group take their name from "western blot", an analytical technique used to analyze specific proteins in tissue samples.

Sporting a similarly impressive name were Sharkomere, who took their name from sarcomeres, the basic unit of muscle tissue which is responsible for contraction and release. The group adopted an aquatic theme with inflatable buildings and a pool full of balloon sharks.

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"Our campaign is more human and endearing than the other one", said Sharkomere member Paul Goudeau.

"Sharkomere is more like a family," said member Adrien Rocha. "We want to create a great atmosphere on campus and make students happy".

While whether the differences between the two campaigns are profound or merely cosmetic is to Sup'Biotech students to decide at the end of this week. One thing the groups have in common? They both make fantastic crêpes (this is a French university, after all).

The Permaculture Revolution Comes to Sup'Biotech!

As part of their Sup'Biotech Innovation Project (SBIP), a group of enterprising Sup'Biotech students have set up a permaculture ecosystem in an unitilized patch of earth next to one of the educational buildings.

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"This was previously a very inactive part of campus", said Jonathan Naccache of the plot of land where they set up their farm. "We wanted to rehabilitate the soil and give the area new life."

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The ecosystem was constructed using waste materials acquired at industrial zones. It utilizes a self-sustaining virtuous cycle in which the waste products created by some plants feed the growth of the others. It also uses a high degree of biodiversity in order to reinvigorate the soil with nitrates and other fertility-providing compounds.

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The students said they had not previously worked on permaculture-related projects, but simply felt passionate about the idea and had a great time putting it into motion. They haven't set their sights on transforming agriculture practices, just on reinvigorating the interest in agriculture on Sup'Biotech's campus.

"The school didn't have a great agricultural life before", said Antoine Alliaume. "We hope this idea will catch on and inspire or motivate others to take part in permaculture."

2 Sup'Biotech Students Go to Amsterdam for Study Abroad Fair

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2 Sup'Biotech students were sent to Amsterdam's Radboud University to represent their school while attending Radboud's international fair.

The event, Radboud Beyond Borders Live, took place at Radboud's Nijmegen campus as part of the Faculty of Science's study abroad week. The students were invited to strengthen the connection between the two schools and participated in several site visits, a dinner with the faculty board and guided tours within the department of study. They also gave a presentation promoting Sup'Biotech during the information evening for study abroad.

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"Everything is going great", said Sup'Biotech student Solène Foe. "We had a really nice first day!"

"It started a bit roughly because there was an accident on the railroad, so there was no train to Nijmegen from the airport. We struggled for 3 hours and arrived an hour late; unfortunately we missed the welcome speech."

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"The rest of the day was more positive. We met the other embassadors: two Spanish girls from Barcelona, a German boy and two German girls from different universities and a boy from Glasgow. We plan on getting more information about their respective universities soon. We are accompanied by the Beyond Border Welcoming committee of three boys and two girls. Everybody is really friendly and we all got along very quickly!"

On Tuesday the students visited the city and the school's astrology department.

Check in soon for more information about Sup'Biotech students' travels!

2 Sup'Biotech Students Go to Amsterdam for Study Abroad Fair

2 Sup'Biotech students were sent to Amsterdam's Radboud University to represent their school while attending Radboud's international fair.

The event, Radboud Beyond Borders Live, took place at Radboud's Nijmegen campus as part of the Faculty of Science's study abroad week. The students were invited to strengthen the connection between the two schools and participated in several site visits, a dinner with the faculty board and guided tours within the department of study. They also gave a presentation promoting Sup'Biotech during the information evening for study abroad.

IMG_2109.JPG

"Everything is going great", said Sup'Biotech student Solène Foe. "We had a really nice first day!"

"It started a bit roughly because there was an accident on the railroad, so there was no train to Nijmegen from the airport. We struggled for 3 hours and arrived an hour late; unfortunately we missed the welcome speech."

Telescop pic.jpg

"The rest of the day was more positive. We met the other embassadors: two Spanish girls from Barcelona, a German boy and two German girls from different universities and a boy from Glasgow. We plan on getting more information about their respective universities soon. We are accompanied by the Beyond Border Welcoming committee of three boys and two girls. Everybody is really friendly and we all got along very quickly!"

On Tuesday the students visited the city and the school's astrology department.

Check in soon for more information about Sup'Biotech students' travels!

Two Sup'Biotech professors speak on popular French radio show

On February 23, 2017, Sup'Biotech professors Frank Yates and Rafika Jarray were the featured guests on a popular French radio show that interviews cutting-edge thinkers in a variety of fields.

Entitled "Cloning: 20 Years After Dolly, A Dead End?", the show, "The Scientific Method", asked Frank Yates and Rafika Jarray about their research at CEA and Sup'Biotech on cellular reproduction as a means of preventing neurodegenerative disease.

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The podcast can be found on France Culture's website.

Sup'Biotech Goes to Taiwan!

In order to expand Sup'Biotech's international network and find new partnerships, Sophie Picavet, Director of the International Department, often goes on trips to international education-related events in other countries.

This spring she went to Kaohsiung, Taiwan for the APAIE Conference, an annual meeting for international education professionals.

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Ms. Picavet with partners from ESME Sidria and NCTU

Mrs. Picavet made progress on the creation of new agreements, met with potential partners, and experienced as much Taiwanese culture as she could during a very busy week.

APAIE drapeaux.jpgAPAIE flags in Taiwan

APAIE is an international non-profit organization whose goal is to activate and reinforce the internationalization of higher education in the Asia-Pacific region.

The APAIE Annual Conference and Exhibition is one of the most well-known forums in the Asia-Pacific region for bringing together policy-makers and education experts from around the world to improve professional skills and learn about new developments in international education. The nine local host universities, led by the University of Melbourne, will welcome distinguished guests to the 11th Annual APAIE Conference from 29 February - 3 March, 2016, in Melbourne, Australia.

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