DIYbio

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The nice folks at MediaLab-Prado in Madrid, Spain brought to our attention the Garage Science Workshop-Seminar that will be taking place between January 28th and February 14th 2009.

What is a Garage Science Workshop-Seminar, you ask? MediaLab-Prado explains:

The socialization of technology and the accessibility of information available on the Web make it increasingly easy for anyone to have the possibility of building a home laboratory. Garage science is nothing new but home laboratories are connected now more than ever before. There are home laboratories of all kinds: technology factories, chemistry or biology labs, artists’ studios, places to rehearse, etc.

These home laboratories have a worldwide scope via the Web, which serves as a space for the dissemination of projects and the exchange of knowledge and techniques. These online communities are accompanied by a proliferation of onsite events, such as dorkbots, barcamps and hackmeetings, where people who only knew each other via the Web can meet face to face and share their achievements and experiences.

The communities formed this way provide citizens with the capacity to develop scientific-technical knowledge comparable to what is produced in the major laboratories. “Citizen science” can serve to explore questions such as: How are the foods we eat made? What possibilities exist in biogenetic research? What is the code that makes the machines we use work? How are those machines manufactured? Based on this knowledge, experimental and critical formulations and objects can be produced proposing new paths and goals in these fields.

Interactivos?’09 aims to explore these practices, where art, science and technology meet. We invite the participants to turn medialab into a garage laboratory where low-cost, accessible materials are used to develop objects and installations that combine software, hardware and biology. There’s license to fail!

As you can see, this event looks to be quite interesting and should be quite inviting for the DIYBio folks and their projects.

Keep in mind that final call for projects and papers is December 14th 2008.

Alright, the title is a little of a stretch. However, the efforts of Mackenzie Cowell and Jason Bobe have demonstrated that hacking biology can and may some day become as common as hacking away on your computer (think positive!).

A recent article in the Boston Globe lists some of the issues related to doing biological work from home and how there are rules and regulations that need updating and revision.

Unlike hacking on your computer, biological work usually generates waste that may (or may not) be harmful and work is not as “straight-forward” as coding.

The movement is getting much of its steam from synthetic biology, a field of science that seeks to make working with cells and genes more like building circuits by creating standardized biological parts.

Although it’s not as simple as it’s portrayed, synthetic biology does allow for genetic transformation of bacteria and other types of cells with great ease, however it should not be something taken lightly and performed by amateurs. Or should it?

What is your opinion about DIY Bio? I’d love to hear your opinion.

The Do-It-Yourself (DIY) movement has been growing quite significantly recently. I should say regrowing, given the fact that I recall reading Popular Mechanics do-it-yourself encyclopedias at least 15 years ago!

Anyhow, enter the Forbes DIY e-gang. Forbes has put together a short list of prominent names in the newly revived DIY movement like Dale Dougherty & Tim O’Reilly (Make Magazine), Neil Gershenfeld (Fab Labs), Jim Newton (TechShop), just to name a few.

Ginkgo BioWorks Transformation GuideAmong the group spotlighted in Forbes is Reshma Shetty (Ginkgo BioWorks), a PhD graduate from MIT and also co-founder of OpenWetWare.

Shetty and colleagues (also MIT PhD graduates and co-founders of OpenWetWare) recently demonstrated how microorganisms can be manipulated quite easily to produce interesting results. In this case, they genetically transformed bacteria (E. coli) to produce a red glow. All this was done in a few simple steps as illustrated.

On a side note, I found it interesting that there was no mention of DIYbio, a group recently founded by Mackenzie Cowell and Jason Bobe in Cambridge, MA. Although not yet quite as grand as the DIYers mentioned in Forbes, but still noteworthy.