November 18, 2009
A bunch of interesting projects ideas were discussed at the DIYbio meetup during the iGEM Jamboree 2 weeks ago – here are my notes:
- Yashas Shetty wants to organize an international DIY microscope building session and subsequent videoconference for early December based on his DIY Microscope guide. See http://hackteria.org/wiki/index.php/DIY_microscopy for instructions
- Alex Hornstein told us he had just been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and wanted to synthesize his own insulin, DIY-style. Would we help? Hell yes! A grad student from Harvard who had dropped in pointed out that the Registry of Standard Biological Parts already has an insulin-generating biobrick. Alex and the grad student went off to talk.This is radical self-actualized DIY theraputics. Extremely controversial.
- A variety of brave souls volunteered to start writing for the (so far, low-volume) blog at diybio.org in an attempt to amplify the signal that inevitably gets lost in the noise on the diybio mailing list and in the DIYbio ecosystem of blogs. Want to help? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for an account.
- volunteers from each DIYbio region present (Ellen from NYC, Tito from SF, Paul from MIT & myself from Boston) thought it would be useful to describe the organizational blueprint for the local group in a central place, perhaps on the new forums, for comparisons sake and to help new groups bootstrap more intelligently and more quickly.
- Alec Nielsen, myself, Jason Bobe, David Thompson, and iGEM volunteer from MSU, and the DIYbio-NYC folks all were excited about developing a standard DIY-friendly DNA barcoding protocol. 16s rDNA sequencing of soil microbes was the initial suggestion, followed by interest in plant barcoding, in which sample collection and genome isolation may potentially be easier (using the COI gene).
- I announced the Boston Open Source Science Lab, a volunteer research center where PhDs and amateurs can work together to develop and document low-cost, low-waste “open source” tools and techniques for biotechnology and synthetic biology. 12-month goal: build and distribute one unencumbered (IP-free or freely-licensed) BioBrick under the new BioBrick Public Agreement to the DIYbio community, preferably a device with an obvious and fun phenotype. In the process develop comprehensive and practical resources and protocols for DIY biobrick creation and use that bridge the gap between high-school and PhD-level lab instructional material. Along the way, we’ll figure out how to make it all financially sustainable with a combination of workshop tuition, membership fees, donations, and grants. We might even be able to put together some DIY kits.