“CPU_China” Team Won Gold Medal of iGEM 2018 World Championship

Release date:2018-11-05  Release:主页英文版

Oct. 29, 2018: A team of 13 students from China Pharmaceutical University won the gold medal among the 343 teams registered for the iGEM World Championship competition held at Boston, USA. CPU_China team and its project “RIG” (A gene therapy strategy to target hepatocellular carcinoma based on conditional RNA interference) had caught enormous attentions. The team was founded in 2015 and composed of 13 undergraduate students from different schools of CPU, guided by Associate Professor Tian Hong, Song Xiaoda from CPU School of Life Sciences, Huang Yan the CPC Vice Secretary of CPU School of Pharmacy, and Huang Hui the Guidance Counselor of CPU School of Sciences.


The “RIG” therapy is based on the AND gate system composed of the cancer cell-specific promoter hTERT and the liver cancer-specific promoter HULC. With the action of microRNA, the small molecule system (Ted-Off system) is used as a regulatory method to target cancer, to suppress the high expression of protein MAP4K4 (which is closely related to the apoptosis and invasion ability of tumor cells), thereby killing cancer cells. Compared with traditional cancer treatment methods, the RIG therapy has many advantages such as high targeting, high safety, small side effects and good regulation. In addition to the treatment of cancer, the system can be used in the treatment of other diseases, such as Parkinson's disease and atherosclerosis, by replacing specific promoters and targets of certain diseases. Therefore, it was highly praised by the judges and the experts.


International Genetic Engineering Machine Design Competition (iGEM) started in 2005 and was firstly hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It is the highest level of international student science and technology competition in the field of synthetic biology, and is known as the World Championship in the field of synthetic biology. The teams need to use standard biological modules to build genetic loops, establish effective mathematical models, predict, manipulate and measure sophisticated and complex artificial biological systems, and complete the competition through social research, practice, on-site defense and wall poster display. The 2018 iGEM attracted 343 teams from the world's top universities including MIT, Harvard, Yale, Cambridge, Peking University, and Tsinghua University.


The competition and research results are reported by top academic journals such as Science, Nature, Scientific American, The Economist, and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), with its massive international influence.




TIAN, Hong

Associate Professor

Molecular Biology


Tian Hong is one of the instructors of the CPU_CHINA team. She mainly instructs experimental design. She said that the drug project has distinctive pharmaceutical characteristics. This is the second time she has guided the iGEM team. Compared with her previously guided competitions, she said the CPU_China members had much better independent research skills, from selection of the project to the experimental design, they almost accomplished everything on their own. She said to the members: You are doing great! I am so proud of you!


SONG, Xiaoda

Associate Professor



Prof. Song said that the pharmaceutical background of CPU_China is its competitive advantage. Recalling the history of the team project, he said: The students are excellent. When the project was about to finish, we found that one of the RNA card is partially reversed. There was no time to re-do the whole project, but we figured out the best solution. The students worked hard overnight and finally solved the problem. Their persistence and dedication are most unforgettable. I believe they will have much to do in the future.



XU, Huandi

Class of 2015 Undergraduate Student

School of Pharmacy

Team leader of CPU_CHINA

The former leader of CPU Bio-X Club


 “Pressure is unavoidable, especially competing against many top universities such as Imperial College, Heidelberg University, Peking University, Zurich Federal Institute of Technology, etc. Some teams spent two years to prepare a project. But it is also exciting because opponents are also friends. It’s good to know peers from all over the world and with different backgrounds, and their excellent ideas. Preparing for the competition is very time consuming and laborious. As with all options, you need to make sure if you are suitable for the iGEM competition or not. You will gain a lot, not only academic knowledge, but also teamwork skills. I hope that in the future CPU teams can focus on in-depth projects, flying freely in the sky of iGEM and in the sky of science!”


Translated from the article written by CPU New Media Center

Edited by CHEN Meilin, GAO Yue

Written by JIANG Chen, HUANG Hui, MENG Jinmian, SHI Yaxin, KAN Houxiao

Translated by LIU QI, School of International Education

Photos by CPU School of Sciences