September 19th, 2012 | Category: Beginner's Guides, Ethics, iGEM, Media coverage, Seminars, Synthetic Biology | Leave a comment

The 1st public biobrick: exploring public access to the tools of synthetic biology

For those in London next week, University College London are hosting a synthetic biology exhibition and Q&A session. UCL have teamed up with a group of ‘biohackers’ (citizen scientists in molecular biology) to create the world’s first ‘Public BioBrick’. Join them for an evening exhibition and Q&A hosted by UCL iGEM with C-LAB.

Grant Museum of Zoology, 24th September, 7-8.30pm
Free drinks will be served (with a unique molecular science twist!)
Please join us in the Jeremy Bentham Pub on University Street for a reception after the event.

Details and registration here.

Fig. 1 DIY gel

Further detail (stolen from their website):

Synthetic biology, which is based on principles from engineering, attempts to standardise genetic sequences like electronic components, so that lego-like ‘BioBricks’ can be plugged into each other with ease, to create entirely new functional systems in microorganisms. This could include transforming bacteria into machines for sensing and degrading pollutants.

The UCL team participating in this year’s international competition for synthetic biology, iGEM, are attempting to highlight issues of public access to these tools, by being the first team to work with the London Biohacking group to create a ‘Public BioBrick’ to be submitted to the iGEM registry for future use in competitions.

The London Biohacking group are part of a wider DIYBio movement which is dedicated to the democritisation of science, and making biology an accessible pursuit for citizen scientists. Working with the UCL group over the last few weeks, the ‘biohackers’ have chosen to create a BioBrick which can degrade mercury, a common water pollutant in India. To do this, they have designed the necessary genetic components and used their public lab at the London Hackspace to replicate the gene and prepare the E.Coli for genetic transformation. The second stage of actual genetic modification has been completed in the licensed UCL lab to comply with UK regulations.

Artistic Advice for the exhibition comes from C-LAB’s Howard Boland, an artist/researcher working with Synthetic Biology.

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