Back in the 1970s, engineering enthusiasts formed homebrew computer clubs that later gave rise to the first consumer-grade computing machines. A similar movement is afoot in the world of biology. Of course it's starting in Cambridge, Mass., city of mad scientists. Calling themselves the DiYBio Club, they had their first meeting last month to talk about biology hobbyists and backyard labs. And they've started a blog.
Right now, the blog contains a pretty interesting writeup of the group's first meeting, and a lot of questions about whether biology hobbyists' time has come. A presentation from bio hobbyist Mackenzie "Mac" Cowell focused on how easy it is to get all the stuff you need for your wet lab online, and also explored the accomplishments of bio hobbyists. Mac described one such hobbyist:
A ham-radio hacker, turned reluctant cancer patient, recently combined his expertise about radio waves with spare parts from his home to build a prototype device capable of targeting the destruction of cancer cells. This device is undergoing clinical trials at two major medical research centers, after attracting investments from venture capitalists and the collaboration of a Nobel Laureate who was intrigued by preliminary results generated from the DIYers garage.
This is exactly the kind of bio-tinkering io9 wants to encourage. And in fact, we're willing to put our money where our many mouths are and actually hand out some cash to people who are doing DiYbio in their backyards. Oh yes, my pretties. Watch io9 for more details next week!
In the meantime, check out the DiYBio club. They have a pretty active Google group too.