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iGEM 2023



iGEM is the largest worldwide competition in synthetic biology. Every year hundreds of universities compete for the grand prize. Do you want to design your own scientific project, be involved in its fundraising and execution? iGEM Leiden offers you a place to challenge yourself in every way imaginable, from learning to present in front of large audiences to mathematically modeling your project and from setting up an educational program to introducing a real-life product on the market. Your ambitions are the limit. Since 2004, participants of the competition have experienced education, teamwork, sharing, and more in a unique competition setting. This competition aims to build biological systems from standard, interchangeable parts and operate them in living cells. However, iGEM is much more than a competition; the iGEM community has a long history of involving students and the public in the development of the new field of synthetic biology. This project will start in January 2023 and it ends in October 2023 with a large conference where you get to present your own scientific findings and project.

To give you an idea, this is what the iGEM Leiden teams worked on in the past:
2016: E. colinizer: develop bacteria that can detoxify Martian soil and produce oxygen (Bronze Medal)
2018: Fifty Shades of Stress: develop a new technology to detect bacterial stress, making it easier to develop new antibiotics (Gold Medal; Best Therapeutics (overgraduate), Best Model (overgraduate); nominated for Best Wiki, Best Entrepreneurship, Best Integrated Human Practices, Best part collection)
2019: S.P.L.A.S.H.: develop a suckerin-based hydrogel to cure burn wound patients (Silver Medal; Best Manufacturing (overgraduate)
2020: Rapidemic: develop a novel technology for detecting pathogens (Gold Medal; Grand Prize (overgraduate), Best Track (Diagnostics), Best Wiki, Best Inclusion, and Best Supporting Entrepreneurship; nominated for Best Poster, Best Human Practices, Best Model, and Best Basic Part)
2021: DOPL LOCK: develop a widely applicable biocontainment system based on a combination of Safe-by-Design techniques (Gold Medal; Safety & Security Award)


January 2023: team members are selected
February 2023: brainstorm sessions
March 2023: designing your project, PR, marketing and fundraising.
Summer holidays: labwork
September: finalizing your project
October: Giant Jamboree (conference)

Mode of instruction

Teamwork through various regular meetings, intensive period in the lab, excursion to the Giant Jamboree in Paris.


iGEM is worth 18 EC within the Bachelor Honours program. For MSc students, 15 EC can be counted as your elective credits, and 3 EC can be counted as extracurricular credits.


The application deadline is the 27th of December. You should hand in your resume and a motivation letter (max. 1-A4). In the motivation letter, please describe the following: Why do you want to do iGEM? Why should we choose you? How do you see your role in the team? What do you consider an important problem that you would like to solve using synthetic biology? Please send these documents to: iGEM Leiden (, Prof. dr. Han de Winde ( and Prof. dr. Dennis Claessen ( In January, there will be interviews with the project supervisors.


For more information, you can contact Dennis Claessen via or the project supervisors via