, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 115-126
Date: 02 Aug 2013

Do-it-yourself biology: challenges and promises for an open science and technology movement

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Abstract

The do-it-yourself biology (DIYbio) community is emerging as a movement that fosters open access to resources permitting modern molecular biology, and synthetic biology among others. It promises in particular to be a source of cheaper and simpler solutions for environmental monitoring, personal diagnostic and the use of biomaterials. The successful growth of a global community of DIYbio practitioners will depend largely on enabling safe access to state-of-the-art molecular biology tools and resources. In this paper we analyze the rise of DIYbio, its community, its material resources and its applications. We look at the current projects developed for the international genetically engineered machine competition in order to get a sense of what amateur biologists can potentially create in their community laboratories over the coming years. We also show why and how the DIYbio community, in the context of a global governance development, is putting in place a safety/ethical framework for guarantying the pursuit of its activity. And finally we argue that the global spread of DIY biology potentially reconfigures and opens up access to biological information and laboratory equipment and that, therefore, it can foster new practices and transversal collaborations between professional scientists and amateurs.