Start A Team/Team Anatomy



So you want to start a team

The three most important components of each iGEM team are its students, faculty mentors, and a space in which to work. You’ll need all three to successfully start a team. You will also need funding to support the team’s operating expenses


iGEM is primarily an undergraduate competition. We use an inclusive definition of “undergraduate” - if you are and undergraduate student, a just-graduated undergraduate, or master's student, then we classify you as an undergraduate. High school students can also participate on a team.

Most iGEM teams have between 6-12 members. IGEM teams are most successful when composed of a multidisciplinary mix of students. Try to recruit biologists, engineers, mathematicians, computer scientists, etc. for your team. Put up posters, solicit departments and clubs with emails, hold information sessions, and generally get the word out about your team. Do interviews with interested students and then accept.

Many Universities have official programs that support undergraduate organizations and clubs. Your team may want to take advantage of these programs in order to help provide structure, year-to-year continuity, and access to internal university funding.

Faculty advisors

Each team is required to have at least two advisors. At least one of the advisors should be a faculty member at the school hosting the team. The other advisor can be an instructor at the school or a graduate student who would like to hold an advisory role. Advisors provide the team with educational and technical guidance, to help the team acquire the resources it needs to be successful - particularly lab space and funding - and to act as the official contact person with the iGEM organization. They are also responsible for communicating with iGEM HQ.

Lab Space

You can’t build biological machines without a lab to work in. Most teams are able to find space with the help of their advisors, often working out of one of their labs. In a few cases, teams have been able to find unused space and furnish it with (often donated) lab equipment.

Not all iGEM teams will need wetlab space, however. Teams competing in the new software tools track, which is focused on developing computational tools that enable the engineering of biology with standard biological parts, will not necessarily need a wetlab.

New: Open Division

There will be a new way of participating in iGEM 2009. We will be opening the competition to teams who would like to participate in iGEM in a reduced capacity. For more information see the Open division page.

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