Synthetic Biology

Biohackers, Bioinformaticians and Biotinkers!


According to an article in the Times [1], now the fashionable thing is to be a biohacker. What is a biohacker? Well, it’s someone who is able to do fun things using some kind of DNA recombinant technology to create new functions in living organisms. I would define “biohacking” as a glorified version of Synthetic Biology, built on a) cheap kits of DNA technology (such as the PCR [2]), b) the Internet as the source of information sharing and c) the application of a few engineering principles used for electronic circuits. Want to get started but do not know how? Well, here I write a couple of places that are a must if you want to be part of it:

-BioSysBio [3]: conference happening in Cambridge UK from 23d-25th March 2009. You will get here some of the best renowned Synthetic Biologists in the world such as Drew Endy and Christina Smolke.

– iGEM [4]: an international competition where student teams compete to design and assemble engineered machines using advanced genetic components and technologies. It is hosted at the MIT. Here you can have an idea of the kind of projects that have been done in the past in Synthetic Biology.

What’s the next step? Well, make ready some garage space at home in a Silicon Valley fashion, but if that is not possible, probably your kitchen table could do as well. Next, order a few parts from the BioBricks foundation [5], design your experiments and… Have fun!

[1] http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/the_web/article5400645.ece

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polymerase_chain_reaction

[3] http://conferences.theiet.org/biosysbio/

[4] http://parts2.mit.edu/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

[5] http://www.biobricks.org/

Categories: Synthetic Biology

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