Do-it-yourself biology: challenges and promises for an open science and technology movement
- 1.9k Downloads
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.
KeywordsDIYbio Synthetic biology iGEM Health Innovation Biosecurity
The authors would like to thank Jason Bobe and the members of La Paillasse for useful comments and criticism over the manuscript Thomas Landrain is supported by a Ph.D. fellowship from the AXA Research Fund.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Anderson J, Sassaman L, You E (2010) The rise of distributed, decentralized, amateur/citizen science and do it yourself biology: safety and security concerns. Open Sci Summit, Berkeley USA, July 29–31Google Scholar
- Anonymous (2009) Garage Biology. Amateur scientists who experiment at home should be welcomed by the professionals. Nature 467(7316):634Google Scholar
- Carlson R (2010) Biology is technology. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Carothers J (2013) Design-driven, multi-use research agendas to enable applied synthetic biology for global health. Syst Synth Biol. doi: 10.1007/s11693-013-9118-2
- Delfanti A (2010) Genome Hackers, rebel biology, open source and science ethic. University of Milan, DissertationGoogle Scholar
- Gorman B (2011) Patent office as biosecurity gatekeeper: Fostering responsible science and building public trust in DIY science. Marshall Rev Intell Prop L 3(10):423–449Google Scholar
- iGEM UCL (2012) A survey on biohackers and the use of BioBricks. http://2012.igem.org/Team:University_College_London/HumanPractice/DIYbio/DIYbio
- Kera D (2012) Hackerspaces and DIYbio in Asia: connecting science and community with open data, kits and protocols. Journal of Peer Production, Issue 2Google Scholar
- Kuiken T, Pauwels E (2010) Beyond the laboratory and far away: immediate and future challenges in governing the bio-economy. http://www.synbioproject.org/process/assets/files/6642/beyond_the_laboratory_and_far_away_a_wilson_center_policy_brief.pdf
- Meyer M (2012) Build your own lab: do-it-yourself biology and the rise of citizen biotech-economies. J Peer Prod, issue 2Google Scholar
- National Strategy for Countering Biothreats (2010) http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/National_Strategy_for_Countering_BioThreats.pdf
- PCSBI Synthetic Biology Report (2012) http://bioethics.gov/cms/sites/default/files/PCSBI-Synthetic-Biology-Report-12.16.10.pdf
- Sawyer E (2011) The promises, demands, and risks of garage biology. Nature 18 Aug 2011Google Scholar
- Tocchetti S (2012) DIYbiologists as ‘makers’ of personal biologies: how MAKE Magazine and Maker Faires contribute in constituting biology as a personal technology. Journal of Peer Production, Issue 2Google Scholar
- Tucker JB (2011) Could terrorists exploit synthetic biology? The New Atlantis.comGoogle Scholar
- Wohlsen M (2011) Biopunk: DIY scientists hack the software of life. Current (Ed)Google Scholar