The steps iGEM Guelph has taken to ensure a safe space for all, and promote inclusivity in the scientific community.




Our Team

For the first year ever, iGEM Guelph required inclusivity modules in our training, including the “Principles of Belonging: Anti-Oppression and Anti-Racism,” and “Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Awareness Training Module for Students,” courses. These courses align with the views of our institution, and help foster a safe and inclusive environment within the team. At iGEM Guelph we believe diversity is a key aspect of building a strong team. Our team is also the most diverse it has ever been, with minority identities being strongly represented. At the beginning of the year, a team census was conducted. The census was completely optional, and participants were able to answer some questions and not others. In advance, participants were advised that the questions pertained to identity, are completely optional, but may cause some discomfort. Here are some of our results:






Outreach to Inspire Young Women

As part of our outreach this year, we visited the Guelph branch of Girl Guides Canada to talk to their Sparks about science and run some interactive activities. This allowed young girls to see real women in STEM. We believe that this representation can help inspire young girls to pursue a variety of STEM related fields.




Our Project

Our project also targeted groups that are traditionally under researched in healthcare. One of the reasons iGEM Guelph chose to investigate solutions to B12 deficiency is its impact on women and the elderly. Women, specifically those of reproductive ages and especially those who are pregnant, are considered to be at a high risk of vitamin B12 deficiency (Green et al., 2017). Historically, women, specifically women of colour, have been underrepresented in research and clinical trials (Brierer et al., 2022). iGEM Guelph took this into consideration when looking at what to investigate for our project. We wanted to target populations traditionally under-researched and underrepresented in healthcare. Vitamin B12 deficiency also disproportionately impacts the elderly. As we age, it becomes increasingly difficult for our bodies to absorb vitamin B12 from our diets, which can sometimes be due to the lack of the gastric intrinsic factor (Wong, 2015). While they make up a large portion of the national disease burden in the United States of America and are major consumers of novel therapies, elderly populations are often underrepresented when it comes to clinical trials (Herrera et al., 2010; Petrovsky et al., 2022). Due to the lack of representation, iGEM Guelph wanted to create a solution to vitamin B12 deficiency centered around issues seen within older populations.




Looking Towards the Future

At iGEM Guelph, we believe science can be accessible for all, regardless of ability or identity. Next year, we hope to add more training modules for our executive members to make the iGEM Guelph team a more accessible space for people of all abilities. Therefore, we will be requiring any executive members to complete the “Accessible Service Provision” module, provided by the University of Guelph. This module educates the learner on different disabilities, how to make different situations accessible for others, and how to recognize an inaccessible situation and properly report it to the university to be fixed.





Bierer, B. E., Meloney, L. G., Ahmed, H. R., & White, S. A. (2022). Advancing the inclusion of underrepresented women in clinical research. Cell Reports Medicine, 3(4), 100553.

Green, R., Allen, L. H., Bjørke-Monsen, A.-L., Brito, A., Guéant, J.-L., Miller, J. W., Molloy, A. M., Nexo, E., Stabler, S., Toh, B.-H., Ueland, P. M., & Yajnik, C. (2017). Vitamin B12 deficiency. Nature Reviews Disease Primers, 3(1).

Herrera, A. P., Snipes, S. A., King, D. W., Torres-Vigil, I., Goldberg, D. S., & Weinberg, A. D. (2010). Disparate Inclusion of Older Adults in Clinical Trials: Priorities and Opportunities for Policy and Practice Change. American Journal of Public Health, 100(S1), S105–S112.

Petrovsky, D., Doan, L., Loizos, M., O’Conor, R., Prochaska, M. T., Tsang, M., Hopman-Droste, R., Klinedinst, T. C., Mathur, A., Bandeen-Roche, K., Odette, & Kritchevsky, S. B. (2022). Key recommendations from the 2021 “inclusion of older adults in clinical research” workshop. Journal of Clinical and Translational Science, 6(1).