Gold medal for UG and MUG Biotechnology students in the iGEM competition final in Paris!


‘Other universities have considered participating in the iGEM competition in recent years but deemed it impossible in Poland. And yet we succeeded!’ says the leader of the EDC Seas student team, Mateusz Rudnicki, a student of the second cycle studies in Biotechnology. ‘First gold medal in 7 years, fifth in 20 years of the competition for the Polish team,’ he adds.

At the beginning of November, students from the Intercollegiate Faculty of Biotechnology UG and MUG received a gold medal from the judges of the iGEM international synthetic biology competition. The initiative was first organised in 2003 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and has been attracting young biologists from around the world for 20 years.


Almost 400 teams participated in this year’s edition. Each prepared different solutions to local and global problems using modern biotechnology methods. However, the teams are not competing against each other. ‘We try to put in as much commitment as possible and collaborate with each other. Silver and bronze medals are awarded when certain requirements are met, and a gold medal is awarded to teams whose project is judged to be impressive in several additional categories,’ explains Mateusz Rudnicki.

Regarding the proposal by the team from IFB UG and MUG, the judges considered the scientific, entrepreneurial and educational aspects impressive. Among other things, the team conducted workshops for more than 120 high school students, teaching them how to prepare synthetic biology projects.

The EDC Seas team’s work has also resulted in a prototype of a filter that would purify water from phthalates - endocrine disruptive compounds harmful to humans and animals. Phthalates are used to soften plastic; they get into sewage water and then into rivers and seas. ‘The entire system we have developed breaks down phthalates to benzoic acid - a common food preservative that is easily degraded in the environment - and allows for easy implementation,’ explains Mateusz Rudnicki.


After a year of intensive work on the filter, workshops, laboratory research, and promotion, the students travelled to the final of the competition in Paris to present their project results in front of judges and other teams from around the world. On November 5, they found out that they had not only met all the requirements but also had done so impressively. ‘This is the result of a lot of work and sacrifice. Everyone in the team gave their all until the very end. After the results were announced, we felt a lot of joy and relief that we could finally relax,’ comments Mateusz Rudnicki, ‘I would also like to thank everyone whose invaluable support helped us achieve our goal.’

Success at the Paris final is probably not the end of the project. The students are considering the possible commercialisation of the filter prototype and the continuation of enzyme research.


The team consists of:

Mateusz Rudnicki (team leader), Maciej Małolepszy, Marta Sobolewska, Marta Kustosz, Aniela Kosobucka, Julia Karasińska, Laura Anastazja Kur, Adam Gackowski, Maksymilian Dalecki, Erwin Balcerak, Mikołaj Jacyno.

Supervisors: dr hab. Robert Czajkowski, prof. UG, dr Katarzyna Węgrzyn, mgr Marcin Borowicz.

More about the project.

The entire project can be viewed here.

Partners and sponsors of the team are:

Intercollegiate Faculty of Biotechnology UG and MUG, University of Gdańsk, FNP Foundation for Polish Science, City of Gdańsk, Pomeranian Voivodeship Government, Gdańsk Foundation for Economic Development, BIOTON S.A., BioForum, A&A Biotechnology, Biokom Cell Biology, Twist Bioscience, Integrated DNA Technologies, New England Biolabs, Merck Group, SnapGene.

The EDC-Seas project is supported by the City of Gdańsk. The City of Gdańsk supports talent.

The EDC-Seas project is supported by the Self-Government of the Pomeranian Voivodeship.

Marcel Jakubowski/ Press Office UG, photo EDC Seas