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iGEM Team

Since 2013

The largest international student competition in synthetic biology

What is iGEM?

Organized by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), the iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) competition has been bringing together teams of students from universities around the world since 2004 to invent innovative biological systems.

iGEM has quickly established itself as an open, fun and remarkably effective way to inspire the best biology, chemistry, computer science, physics and engineering students to become researchers and entrepreneurs.

By stimulating the team spirit and, above all, the inventiveness of the students, the iGEM competition has given rise to an abundance of ambitious ideas, some of which have led to publications in the world's leading scientific journals such as Nature.

Finally, by catalyzing the emergence of synthetic biology, iGEM is participating in a true revolution in the way biology is practiced, and many specialists anticipate very significant industrial spin-offs.

Created in 2013

TBI and the iGEM Toulouse team

The first iGEM Toulouse team was created in 2013 at the initiative of a few researchers from the laboratory. That year, out of 234 international teams, only 6 French teams appeared.

Very quickly a real craze for this competition develops within TBI and among the INSA student community. A team spirit develops: INSA students are joined by master students from UT3 -Paul Sabatier. Then other laboratories from Toulouse joined the competition by supervising these students, such as the IPBS (Institute of Pharmacology and Structural Biology), the CBI (Center of Integrative Biology) and the LRSV (Laboratory of Research in Plant Sciences).

In 2021, the team arrives on the first step of the competition with its ELIXIO project. This is the very first time that a French team has won the competition in the flagship U23 category.

The Toulouse team, world champions in synthetic biology in 2021.

Contact the team

Igem 2023 Calipso

iGEM Toulouse 2023


Le cancer est responsable d’une mort sur six, ce qui en fait la seconde cause de mortalité dans le monde. Face à ce constat, les étudiants ont voulu développer une stratégie thérapeutique innovante basée sur l’utilisation de liposomes*.

Ainsi est né le projet CALIPSO, pour Cell-targeting Advanced LIPosomes for Selective Oncotherapy. Le système CALIPSO repose sur l’utilisation de liposomes pour détruire les cellules cancéreuses de manière plus spécifique et ciblée. Il a pour but d’améliorer les traitements existants en les rendant moins invasifs et de limiter au maximum les effets secondaires de la chimiothérapie.

Cette année, l’équipe composée de 8 étudiant.e.s INSA, a remporté une médaille d’or et 4 nominations dans les catégories Best Therapeutics Project, Best Measurement, Best Model, Best Presentation.

iGEM Toulouse 2022


Objectif : développer une technique de détection des allergies à haut débit ! Les allergies touchent 25 à 30 % des personnes dans les pays développés et ce chiffre est en augmentation chaque année. Face à ce constat, et inspirés par l’un d’entre eux souffrant de multiples allergies, huit étudiantes et étudiants de l’INSA Toulouse et de l’université Toulouse III – Paul Sabatier ont décidé de monter une équipe afin de proposer une nouvelle méthode de détection et de traitement des allergies. Ils sont encadrés par des chercheurs et des doctorants venant du Toulouse Biotechnology Institute et du Centre de Biologie Intégrative (CBI – CNRS – UT3 Paul Sabatier).

equipe igem 2022

iGEM Toulouse 2021


The iGEM Toulouse 2021 team is composed of 6 students from INSA Toulouse and the University Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier and is supervised by researchers and PhD students from the TBI (Toulouse Biotechnology Institute), the CBI (Center for Integrative Biology) and the LRSV (Laboratory for Research in Plant Sciences).

The students were particularly interested in the emblematic flower of Toulouse: the violet. This flower is a so-called mute flower, because its fragrance cannot be extracted from the flower itself and is therefore currently produced in a petrochemical way. The team's wish is to reproduce this fragrance through an environmentally friendly biotechnological process.

At the end of the competition, the team achieved the feat of reaching the first place of the podium, succeeding Vilnius (Lithuania) in 2020 and NCKU-Tainan (Taiwan) in 2019. This is the first time ever that a French team has won the competition in the flagship U23 category.

iGEM Toulouse 2020


For the 2020 edition, the team was composed of 3 students from the University Toulouse 3 and 5 students from INSA Toulouse.

Their goal? To produce nutritional yeast for astronauts on space missions.

Thus, the iGEMINI project reached the 2nd place of the podium!

igem 2018

iGEM Toulouse 2018


For the sixth consecutive year at the international iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) competition, the IGEM Toulouse 2018 team comes back with its arms full of medals with the CERBERUS project: 

  • Medal: For the sixth time in 6 participations, the 2018 IGEM team obtained the Gold Medal of the competition, rewarding the most complete projects (experimentally and socially). A third of the participating teams obtained it this year.
  • Nomination : the nominations reward the three best teams on a particular theme (oral presentation, topic theme, engagement with the general public, etc.). This year, the team was nominated twice, for the best topic on the theme "Manufacturing" and for the best "Basic part".
  • Price the prizes identify the best project of the year on a specific aspect. This year, the team obtained the "best basic part" award for the Cerberus protein platform. This platform allows the attachment of a wide range of organic or inorganic molecules to cellulose, thus giving it new properties (color, fluorescence, magnetism, conductivity, antibiotics etc.). The award identifies Cerberus as the best construction of this year.
These results place the 2018 IGEM Toulouse team in 9th place in their category out of 191 participating teams.

iGEM Toulouse 2017

Croc'n Cholera

For the first time in the iGEM adventure, students from INSA Toulouse and the University of Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier are joined by two students from INSA Lyon to participate in this renowned international synthetic biology competition.

With a new gold medal, the best project award in the "Information processing" category, the best "applied design" award as well as their nominations in six other categories, the INSA-UPS France team achieved outstanding results at the iGEM 2017 competition!

igem toulouse 2017

iGEM Toulouse 2016


The iGEM Toulouse 2016 team is back with an innovative project to preserve the paintings of the Lascaux cave. The team is composed of 8 students from INSA Toulouse and the University Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier. The team is interested in the problem of deterioration of the paintings in the Lascaux cave. Indeed, since its opening to the public, it is a victim of many fungi and bacteria that attack the frescoes and threaten to make this famous heritage classified as a world heritage site by UNESCO disappear. Many treatments have been applied, but the problem persists.

The iGEM Toulouse team wishes to use a new approach to fight against these micro-organisms. The idea is to propose a biological solution which consists in modifying the Bacillus subtilis bacterium, already present in the cave. First, the predatory capacity of the bacteria will be stimulated so that it feeds on bacteria that are harmful to the cave. These bacteria live in community with colored fungi, allowing Bacillus subtilis to target these fungi and produce antifungals. The goal is to rebalance the cave ecosystem in favor of bacteria that are harmless to the paintings. This project is a proof of concept in the laboratory, with work on the control of the bacteria, and extensive research on ethics. The team was awarded a gold medal.

iGEM Toulouse 2015


For the third year in a row, the iGEM Toulouse team won the gold medal at the Giant Jamboree in Boston! The team was also nominated for the Special Award for Best Applied Design.

The 11 students of the iGEM 2015 team named their project ApiColi.

This project consists of setting up a proof of concept to combat Varroa destructor, a parasite of honey-producing bees. This parasite is indeed one of the major players in the decline of bees worldwide. The health of bees has become a concern today, as they represent an essential element in the balance of our ecosystem thanks to their pollination work. If there is a lot of communication about the harmful effect of pesticides on bees, few people, apart from beekeepers, have heard of the varroa mite. In the same way as the tick does for humans, the varroa mite attaches itself to the adult bee or larva and feeds on its hemolymph (equivalent to blood in bees). In doing so, the parasite weakens the bees and transmits various viruses to them.

iGEM Toulouse 2014


The Toulouse 2014 iGEM team won a gold medal and received the award for the best experimental approach at the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition organized by MIT University in Boston.

The Toulouse team, composed of 11 students from INSA Toulouse (4th year) and Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier University (Master 1 MABS), presented the SubtiTree research project, to protect plane trees from the invasive fungus, canker color. 

The project: to find an innovative biological alternative to fight the invasion of this devastating fungus, using a synthetic biology process. The bacteria developed by the students can target the fungus and produce different fungicides to destroy it.

This project emerges in an ambitious context since for several years, the 42,000 plane trees of the Canal du Midi have been affected by this disease. Currently, to limit the spread, the trees are cut down (already 900 plane trees concerned). This is a costly and destructive solution for the Canal du Midi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.

iGEM Toulouse 2013

E. Calculus Project

En 2013,  le projet « E. Calculus » permettait à l’équipe de Toulouse de remporter sa première médaille d’or au concours iGEM grâce à leur projet visant à construire un calculateur binaire à partir d’organismes vivants. Leur travail a consisté à concevoir puis construire les « biobriques », qui, une fois assemblées, pouvaient produire un calculateur entièrement bactérien. Ils ont ainsi montré que la bactérie échappait à sa propre logique, et qu’il était possible d’introduire des éléments de régulation artificielle au sein d’un organisme vivant.