Wednesday, 21 September 2016

DYI biohacking rears its ugly head in Australia?

Gene Ethics, 8 September 2016:

DIY biohack threat

US biohacker Ellen Jorgensen, of Genspace New York, toured Australia in Science Week to promote DIY gene hacking, in informal labs, and to encourage untrained nerds to do genetic manipulation. The OGTR promised to tell her audiences that Australian GM laws require training, contained labs and expert supervision, but did not. The OGTR has also failed to define new 'gene editing' techniques and their products as GM, so they remain unregulated. We advocate tough laws banning any DIY genetic manipulation of living things. Humans invented computer programs but they fail, are hacked and virus infected for fun. Untrained, risk-takers, aspiring to be the next bio-Gates or Jobs, must be stopped.

University of Sydney, Faculty of Science:

Biohacking events at Sydney Science Festival
Get down with DNA
10 am, Thursday 18 August, Royal Botanic Garden Sydney
Stage 6 biology students and their teachers will meet Dr Ellen Jorgensen and spend the day exploring exciting DIY bio techniques and the amazing things biohackers do. The DIY bio movement gives bio-entrepreneurs low-cost access to facilities for proof-of-concept experiments. Hands-on science workshops will be delivered by Sydney’s leading science organisations including the Royal Botanic Garden, Taronga Conservation Society, UTS Centre for Forensic Science and the Australian Centre for Wildlife Genomics. Students will also experience a behind the scenes tour of the Royal Botanic Garden’s Plant Pathology laboratory to look at gel electrophoresis, a DNA transilluminator and participate in an interactive demonstration of plant DNA extraction.
The Global Biohack Revolution
6pm, Thursday 18 August, ATP innovations
Meet the biohackers from Australia and around the world who are leading the global biotechnology revolution! This all-star panel of biohackers will discuss the challenges and opportunities in democratisation of science through biohacking with a focus on education and the commercialisation of research. Dr Ellen Jorgensen will be joined by JJ Hastings (BioQuisitive, London Biohackspace), Meow-Meow Ludo (Biohack Sydney, BioFoundry), Andrew Gray (Biohack Melbourne, BioQuisitive) and Oron Catts (SymbioticA Perth).
DNA groundswell
10 am, Friday 19 August, Royal Botanic Garden Sydney
This session is an opportunity for science communicators and scientists across Sydney to think about how they can incorporate exciting open access programs into their work. Learn how Genspace uses biohacking to engage the community through courses, cultural events, educational outreach and experiences for students and the public. Meet the people behind BioFoundry, Australia’s first open access lab that also runs courses for enthusiasts and curious amateurs. Discover how biohacking is democratising science around the world by lowering the financial and technological entry barriers to science education and research training. International guests Dr Ellen Jorgensen will be joined by local biohacker Meow-Ludo Meow-Meow, Co-founder of Sydney's BioFoundry.
Biohacking: why should we care?
6 pm, Friday 19 August, University of Technology Sydney
How is biohacking changing the world? Should we be concerned about safety? Can DIY labs ferment a revolution? What are the opportunities? Can they create a culture of start-ups and entrepreneurs? In this public lecture, Dr Ellen Jorgensen will provide insights into biohacking, novel applications it has produced and how it can serve as a useful education tool. This will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Dr Sheila Donnelly, Prof Peter Ralph and Prof Michael Wallach from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

Jackie Randles is Manager Inspiring Australia (NSW). Dr Ellen Jorgensen’s Sydney visit is part of a national tour supported by Inspiring Australia for National Science Week 2016.

Inverse, 8 September 2015:

Biological research and experimentation is no longer the sole realm of Ph.D-having, grant-backed, hypothesis-wielding scientists. As science moves into more and more complex territory, it is also — somewhat paradoxically — becoming more and more accessible to those who lack the bonafide to wear a white coat. In Australia, Biofoundry is at the heart of the movement to democratize experimentation. Biohacker Meow-Ludo Meow-Meow (his real name; an homage to the 2001 cult classic Super Troopers) founded the lab, the first of its kind on the continent, last November. And he says he’s thinking about building a chain
Inverse caught up with Biofoundry’s Meow-Ludo Meow-Meow (his real name; an homage to the 2001 cult classic Super Troopers) and picked his brain about what the lab is up to and what it hopes to achieve.
How did you get interested in biohacking and creating a place like Biofoundry?
I was halfway through my molecular biology degree. My job prospects weren’t very good. In Australia, we pretty much have no innovation and technology work. Basically, molecular biology graduates are fucked in this country. In New South Wales, which has about 6 million people, we only have about 12 jobs for biotech.
So I started to get concerned, because I wasn’t a grade-A student or anything. I looked around, and I found BioCurious [in California] and Genspace [in New York City]. But in Australia, nothing like this was happening. So I figured it was on the burden of me to get things happening.
I had a meeting with a group of people about 4.5 years ago. We had a huge group that shrunk down to about 12, and we continued to meet for four years. That culminated in a few of us just saying, “Fuck, let’s set up a lab. It’s been too long, let’s make this happen.”

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