centrifuge with handwheel.
A very basic centrifuge with handwheel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

DIYBio” got it’s start in 2008, when a group of enthusiasts got together and asked the question: Can molecular biology or biotechnology be a hobby? There was already evidence to suggest that it could be, including instructions posted online for how to isolate DNA using stuff you find in your kitchen. And at least one tinkerer, John Kanzius, who had no prior knowledge of the field, had invented a potential cancer therapy which is being tested and  investigated today. Practitioners believe that the movement has the potential to bring new technologies to bear on biological issues faster than traditional methods allow.

Today, members of the DIYBio community are working on projects like cell-pickers and centrifuges, and they’re involved in things like Genspace, previously covered on this blog.

It’s no surprise that “do-it-yourself biology” is gaining interest; nothing is more personal than your health. Internet searches for health-related questions typically number in the tens of thousands a month, and the advent of cheap, and increasingly sophisticated personal measurement devices has lead to things like the  “quantified self” or “personal analytics.”

If you’re interested in finding out more about the DIYBio movement, there are local groups from Victoria to Sydney. Check out the directory here.

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