diybio session at open science summit 2010

I am Jason Bobe. There si an organization called, it's not a real organization. It's a couple of different things: it's a website, it doesn't go much deeper than that. It's a movement, a label that people put on activities that they do, and one of the main sources of activities is a global mailing list. I am going to tell yuo first a little bit of background about where it puts us historically with citizen science in biology. One of the most interesting places to look for the harbringers of the future is to look at what kids are doing today. I am going to show some of my most favorite activities. My professional job is the Personal Genome Project. This is a- I think- an example of innovation if yuo define innovation as putting existing technologiesi nto something new. This is what a 15 year old did. An anonymous sperm donation that his mother had told him this, you know, I have a little bit of information about your father, I know his first name and the city in which he was born, and I think he had a - which was the year his anonymous sperm donor was born, and he took this information, took Geneaology, and worked through the mail for af ew hundred bucks, and used an online website like and for a few hundred bucks and a few weeks of work, he identified a few candidates for his father- they were relatives, or his father's brothers, and he showed up on someone's door and sad "dad?" and that's pretty astounding. That's amazing.

Another example which is fairly recent- High School students in NYC and sushi bars. They applied DNA sequencing technologies to samples of sushi that they had collected from restaurants, they took note of what it was being marketed as- a red snapper, or yellow-finned tuna, and they found that a large percentage of that fish was mislabeled. And these kids were 16 years old. And then this was another young woman who had been troubled- struggling with a chronic disorder. She had not been diagnosed. She requested her pathology slides from her doctor, took them into her biology lab, and got the first correct diagnosis. I just learned this yesterday- this is really interesting- there's a lot of excitement in diybio for doinng geneticc enngineeriinng. The hello world of geenetic engineering is inserting a GFP into ecoli and taking two tubes, mixing them together and then incubating them under your armpit for 6 hours, and you've done your first bacterial transformation. High school students are required to do this as part of the AP Biology program. There are percerloations of this- into the lives and minds of young teenagers.

And one of the things that excites me is- because I spent a lot of my years in DNA sequencing- is what's happening with desktop DNA sequencing? They are almost within the range of pro-hobbyist community. This was a 454 desktop machine called the Junior. They still cost $50k, and you can do a few million base pairs for a few hundred bucks. In a community lab near you, soon, you will be using these instruments. Biology is quickly becoming a hobby. DIYbio is growing all over the world. The newest most exciting thing- there's new labs where anyone can join. There's Genspace in NYC, there's BOSSlab in Boston (it's a mobile lab). About four people can work in there at a time. Bay Area- Tito is going to talk about Biocurious. And there's another project if anyone is interested in, about how we build a positive culture and set the patterns for responsible practice in non-traditional settings, I'd love to talk to you.