Doing biotech in my bedroom
February 17, 2012 | Source: Technology Review
A new generation of “do-it-yourself” (DIY) biologists embraces the DIY ethic of computer programming.
Cathal Garvey dropped out of a PhD program at a big cancer lab two years ago to set up to equip a $4,000 laboratory in his parent’s house.
His goal: show that biology can be done in an open-source fashion and on a shoestring budget. Instead of beakers, he uses recycled jars. A sterilizer is rigged from a pressure cooker and a hot plate. To feed his germs, he boils potatoes into a starchy mix.
George Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, helped pioneer the DIY movement in biology. One reason he thinks the trend can’t be dismissed is that the cost of both synthesizing and decoding DNA molecules is now falling five times faster than the cost of computing power.