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DIYbio in 5 minutes – O'Reilly Ignite Boston 2008

July 9, 2008


DIYbio in 5 minutes – O’Reilly ignite Boston from mac cowell on Vimeo.

Here is an overview of DIYbio in 5 minutes – recorded at O’Reilly’s Ignite Boston 2008.


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  1. JonathanCline #
    October 1, 2008

    DIY biology is a fascinating realm and just like your group of hackers, I have been interested & studying the field for some time. Recently I entered the "mad scientist" Design-a-Biobrick contest to see how actual "DIY" is possible in with synthetic biology (I received an honorable mention). In the process, I learned more about biology and the wetware involved in genetically modified organisms, and most importantly came to the not-so-startling conclusion:The hype of synthetic biology and "garage hacking genetics" is greatly exaggerated.In truth, it does require nearly a graduate degree PLUS a scientific-quality-level research laboratory in order to actually get anything to work. And even in that case where individuals are so equipped, getting anything to grow, let alone perform and/or activate the "newly designed" biological function, is a very rare feat indeed.Thus, actual garage hacking of biology is still some number of years off, especially for those outside the technically trained lab tech, graduate level or Ph.D. trained field. Since right now it's the end of 2008, that means garage biology labs are still very difficult until 2012 or so.The best way, today, in my opinion, to get trained on this technology, in order to actually hack and/or build anything, is to probably spend a year towards "professional/graduate biotech lab training" oriented community college classes. This would include a couple bio classes, an organic chem class, and a bunch of lab training in a real lab. After 15 to 30 credits worth of training, then it will likely be at least possible to hack something in the garage — whether or not it grows is up to the DNA and the protocols.

  2. Leslie MacGregor #
    December 29, 2008

    I’m a biotech patent attorney, and would be happy to answer questions about how to protect and possibly patent new ideas your group comes up with. It’s important to file a preliminary patent application before disseminating information about a new concept to the public, and this is an integral part of the process of bringing a potentially important new development in biotech/biopharm to development. Let me know if you’d like to talk further. I’d be happy to do this pro bono. I was formerly director of intellectual property at Harvard University, including the med school.

    • Jen #
      January 13, 2009

      Hello Leslie,
      Would you have any suggestive resources for patenting a laboratory method?

  3. Eddy Goh #
    January 7, 2009

    Hello all,
    i read about DIYbio in the NewScientist and am very much fascinated by DIYbio efforts and as such i looked into your website. I agree that Science should never be restrictive, furthermore im sure with time discoveries will come outside of academic instituitions from people untaught in the traditional scientific ways….

    I am a Research Scientist at the University College of London in cellular signalling, and am completing my PhD studies right now. i am famuiliar with DNA and Protein investigation techniques, although of course using overly priced laboratory equipment, but i would be more than happy to answer any questions…..

    strive on

    • Vladimir Karasek #
      January 7, 2009

      I just read about DIYbio in the NewScientist. I have a degree (B.S.) in biology and biochemistry and 8 years in medical research lab as a technician. Past 28 years, I was working as a system analyst/programmer misc. universities and clinics. I am following developments in biological sciences my whole life. I have recently read and followed many ideas of Aubrey de Grey. My question is how probable is his success with human maintenance to postpone or even eliminate ageing.

  4. Fernando Acosta #
    January 7, 2009

    Hello everybody, Im really interested in this. Unfortunatelly I live in a Central American country and we do not have many people/resources available to study and do genetics.

    Im interested in start something down here, Is there any starting point recommendation or anyone can provide me some guidance on what do we need to start?

    thanks and happy new year for all!

  5. January 13, 2009

    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for the kind words! I’d strongly, strongly anyone who is interested in this to join our discussion mailing list at – there are hundreds more people there who will be interested to discuss your questions. Hope to see you there!

    Also, Fernando, perhaps there are others on the mailing list who are near you. When you says “guidance on what we need to start,” are you looking for physical locations where you can use equipment and get help, or looking for introductory learning materials so that you can start such a place?


    • Fernando Acosta #
      January 17, 2009

      Jason, thanks for your reply. Im looking for start a place, so learning materials will be needed. Im pretty sure nobody is doing anything down here, I went to some Universities and they are not willing to provide anything unless you enroll on some of the courses.(very expensive and very basics).

      So any help you can provide me will be useful.

      Im joining mailing list now, thanks for the advice.


      • January 30, 2009

        Hola Fernando,
        Soy una redactora de la revista Quo y estoy haciendo un reportaje sobre las redes sociales y sus usos más allá del chateo con amigos. Me gustaría que me contaras algo sobr esta red ¿Puedes ponerte en contacto conmigo? (
        Muchas gracias

  6. January 14, 2009

    I have written to someone at DIYBio, whose name I foregt, about linking developing country scientists to DIYBio. I think that this is a very good idea and would like to hear what you think about it. Developing country scientists lack the necessary equipment for biotehnology but could learn a great deal from DIYBio. Please email me with a response.
    John Woodend

  7. Charles Stone #
    January 27, 2009

    Hey everyone! This may be a little off topic, but I was really excited about this project when I read about it on Yahoo! Unlike many of you (I’m assuming), I am only 15 years old, and am fascinated by this new field of ‘synthetic biology’. In a few years, I will be choosing my university to attend, and was wondering if any of you experts out there have any recommendations. All I’m gonna say about academics are i have a 4.5 GPA and am taking AP Biology next year (I’m a sophomore now). My top schools to go to are: Drexel University, Carnegie Mellon, University of Pennslyvania, and MIT. What college(s) would you recommend?

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