Romie Littrell LA Biohackers

Thanks all the people. We are making biology projects that sometimes that don't belong in institutions. We pool personal resources to these projects. I have been doing molecular biology and engineering for about 10 years. My goal for LA biohackers is to create not just a place to work on our projects, but a place to do anything similar to it by people who just want to do science. My background is neuroscience, I want to setup open source hardware rig for experiments with a variety of experiments that anybody interested in neuro can come and do here. All of the venues or the well-funded institutions in industry projects are for making drugs or making biomedical devices. I just want to make something cool. I want to make something that people will look at and say wow, I want to join in.

We are lucky to have members with a mixed background. We have biologists, we have a lot of gurus, computer science gurus, we have people from the arts, we have lawyers, we have people from I guess, psychology fields, from medical fields, and all those people have some skill sets that when combined is really strong. With their knowledge, I am able to play around with things that I never thought I could do. Farmers would have to add ammonia-based fertilizers, which cuases pollution. We want to purify those genes and put those into the plant itself, or maybe you are working on the tools to put the genes into algaes for biofuels. We have a 3kb plasmid, GFPs, that's the actual gene that we want, that's the actual gene that we need to PCR.

Over the past year or so we have grown, we have 20 people in here and about 100 sq ft. It gets cramped and everyone trying to work on the same bench. There's been a rise across the world in hackerspaces. Plaes where people can work on their projects or hang out with certain types of people. We are lucky to have a small corner, but that corner is getting smaller every day. We want to start our own, it's going to be a biohackerspace. We want to create a similar atmosphere or similar space, except projects more oriented towards science and biotech, not just silicon. A lot of people came to us because of the Nullspace meetup, but we're getting more and more people who have read an article about bioart, so they look us up and walk in and find us. That's what people are buying.

So I tried to put as much pitch into it, and we're going to try to raise some funds with a Kickstarter to try to start us off.

80% of the groups that have been showing in early 2010, and our catalyst was the outlaw biology symposium. A lot of DIYbio people attended. In Los Angeles, this accomplished a density of people interested at one time. Starting with those core people, we have the hackerspace at nullspace labs. We would start off in April 2010 doing workshops at UCLA and machine project at an art space in Los Angeles. And then we ended up with a, this is a pre-dated slide with the Kickstarter that will hopefully happen this summer.

Our previous hackerspace (Nullspace Labs)-- I saw a little bit about how sometimes it's a good fit. We're still trying to find that fit, a general hackerspace that is interested in high-tech, security and electronics projects that would be interested enough in doing biology projects.. if you hae ideas on how to create that interaction, let us know. There's also this white hat versus blackhat. Is a redhat biohacker a good thing? Not sure.

So this is our little corner. We're now in my garage. Our capabilities were pretty simple molecular biology, the only thing we really yearned for was an ultracentrifuge so we could do agrobacterium work. Maybe we can find one for free.

The people broken down... about 50% have a biological background, and don't want to spend as much time at their work lab. A lot of people were just curious. We have people that just show up because they want to do something but they aren't sure what. A less than that want a hobby to pursue. A fewer is just people with small projects. We want more people who have an idea and can rally people around it.

My name is Dan Wright. I am a member at LA Biohackers. I am going to talk quickly, if you like to see the cars waving back there. I came from a criminal law background, where we tried to tie a suspect to a crime scene with DNA. You had to call expert witnesses and ask them questions. Maybe we could solve some crimes on our own, by barcoding for frog. There's a lot of fish that is fradulent. Some wholesalers have a box of fish, so they take fillets and slap a new more popular label on it, and they say it's redsnapper when it's actually rockfish. A lot of the fish being sold worldwide is actually fraudulent fish. We can barcode it and catch them- it's about $2500/fish sold in California.

An example of that fraud is in Santa Monica. There was a sushi restaurant, it was very expensive. They served Chef's Choice, which turned out to be a protected whale under the Marine Whales Protection Act. The chef would go back to his mercedes and cut his meat, and the receipt was in japanese but it listed whale. They were prosecuted federally for that. I have been trying to find more whale meat, but it's difficult. The japanese people tend to say that whale meat is delicious, but that's not the response I was looking for really in Los Angeles.

Our next most ambitious project is called Haber Project. It's Cory's project to take nitrogen from the air (8% nitrogen) and using bacteria that we found in a coal pile via a research paper from Germany, it's an extremophile that grows at 65 degrees Celsius, and we're trying to get it to work at 25 degrees Celsius in plants. We have obtained the soil sample in Germany.. nobody had a stock of it anymore. We finally obtained this from Germany and we are in the process of growing it. It's not hte easiest thing to work with because it requires this nitrogen carbon dioxide environment.

This is Gary the growth chamber. To the left is our biosafety officer. We have neuro nights where we do neuro projects. This is my bioforge, it's essentially a mini lab for designer, if you're not interested in data or not interested in what university labs are for, what's the minimum you need to make something, so that's what the box is for.