Young scientists from Peshawar win silver medal at iGEM 2017 in United States

Young scientists from Peshawar consisting of two girls and ten boys have just made Pakistan a very proud nation. The team of these scientists has secured a silver medal at the International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition held in Boston, United States.

The iGEM Peshawar team had 90+ other projects competing for the title by various students from across the world. They won the silver medal for developing something they call a ‘reporter fish’.

Team Peshawar’s iGEM 2017 project

The ‘Reporter Fish’ is a synthetic fish able to detect any metal contamination in the water by changing its color, alarming fish farmers or businesses that are related to fishing.

The reporter fish effectively helps fish farmers to keep the fish in the water in good health ensuring that humans only consume healthy fish. A sensor system on the fish is also capable of sending text messages to the fish farmers whenever it detects any kind of contamination in the water.

The reporter fish was designed by the team because alarmingly high concentrations of heavy metals in the waters of Pakistan has affected more than 60 million people alone by just arsenic.

Because detection of these metals was difficult, the fish was designed which can detect 5 different kinds of metal and change color.

The team was also nominated for the Best Biosafety Award at the competition.

Meet the Peshawar iGEM 2017 team

The iGEM Peshawar team consisted boys and girls from across Pakistan including cities from Attock, Lahore, Multan, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Khyber Agency, Charsadda, Peshawar, Mardan, Swabi, and Nowshera.

Here are just a few of the members of the team.

Muhammad Dawood 

Meet Muhammad Dawood. He is a 21 years old undergraduate student of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering from Kohat University of Science and Technology, Kohat.

Ushma Farooq

Meet Ushma Farooq, the face behind all of our social media.
She’s 20 and belongs to Lahore.
Ushma is a rising junior, majoring in Applied Biosciences from the National University of Sciences & Technology.
Besides social media, she has also designed the official logo for this year.

Ahsan Raza

Ahsan Raza, 21, belongs to Islamabad. He is a Bio-Informatics undergrad from COMSATS Islamabad and is responsible for the mathematical modeling of our project.

Shaheer Sabz Ali

Meet Shaheer Sabz Ali, the 21-year-old lad from Mardan KP. He is a student of BS Biotechnology at International Islamic University, Islamabad. Shaheer is one of the team leads for iGEM Peshawar this year. He is working on human practices and is focusing mainly on different and new aspects of outreach.

Hassnain Qasim

Meet Hassnain Qasim, the 21-year-old lad from Attock. He is a senior year undergrad at ASAB, NUST, Islamabad.
In the team, he is our very own Polymath, as he looks after Content, Media, Graphics, and also iGEM Peshawar’s Instagram account.

The team was supported by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Directorate of Science and Technology and was hosted by the Institute of Integrative Biosciences of CECOS University of IT and Emerging Sciences Peshawar.

These young Pakistani scientists have proven that if support is given by the government, they too have innovative ideas to fix issues in the world through synthetic ways.

Team Peshawar at iGEM 2016

Team iGEM Peshawar took part in iGEM competition last year and won a bronze medal for their project. They had developed a strip test for detecting levels of CO and NOX in vehicle exhaust. It was designed to be cheap, simple, lightweight and a quick way to find out levels of CO and NOX in vehicle emissions.

More about the iGEM competition

The iGEM competition is a premier student team competition in Synthetic Biology. For more than 10 years, iGEM has encouraged students from across the world to work together and try to solve real-world issues by developing genetically engineered biological systems having standard and interchangeable parts.

The students are allowed to design and develop their projects over the summers and then present them at the annual Jamboree. Teams who take part in the competition are able to secure funding and advocate their research.