Not only has a Pakistani team gone and represented the country for the first time at the International Genetically Engineered Machines Competition (iGEM) 2016, but they have also managed to bag a bronze medal in the exclusive event.
The winning team of 12 students from Peshawar presented their project on a BioSensor device that can detect the two most dangerous constituents of exhaust fumes: Carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen.
A recent World Health Organization (WHO) air quality report named Peshawar as the world’s second most polluted city. Since air pollution is a major global problem which is caused to a large extent by vehicular emissions, the aim of the Peshawar team was to produce a portable, quick and easy to use BioSensor device that can detect the levels of carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen in vehicle exhausts. The sensor could be used by environmental law enforcement agencies in the country.
Over 300 teams competed in the competition this year, which brought together students from diverse fields such as diverse fields such as Biotechnology, Bioinformatics, Computer Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Statistics among others.
The Peshawar team made their mark in iGEM 2016 and even received a shout out from Randy Rettberg, President of iGEM, in front of 2500 synthetic biologists who had come from all around the world for this competition. Rettsberg said, “I appreciate the efforts that all the teams have made. It’s hard. We know that. We’re ok with that if it’s worth it.”
The team of five girls and seven boys who participated in the world championship jamboree were trained by Dr. Faisal Khan at the Institute of Integrated Biosciences at the CECOS University in Peshawar.
iGEM is the flagship international student competition of the global synthetic biology community. First held at MIT in 2004, the competition sees hundreds of students work together to solve synthetic biology solutions for local and global problems.