It was nice to see the easy flow of ideas and decisions. As with iGEM, this group is in a very early stage. But already some things are becoming clear as to what it's going to take to keep growing.
One more thing (and I might be inviting a flame war): there is clearly some friction between the iGEM folks and the DIYbio folks. Part of this resides in prejudices towards amateur biologists (unfounded), part in worries about safety (well founded), part in the small difference in culture.
DIY home base
One of the things that happened is that iGEM required teams to be affiliated with an institution. That was a way to ensure safety concerns (indeed, the FBI was a sponsor of the Jamboree, go figure). Independently, the DIYbio groups in Boston and NYC (and I) realized that, while it would be nice to actually do kitchen biology, groups need some sort of entity with which they can buy supplies, teach safety and techniques, and, of course, enter into iGEM.
I'm all for it. In the past months, reading and following and talking to DIYbio folks, my thoughts on hack-spaces has evolved to include more than just a bench, but also seminars, safety certification, mini-grants, and even a store (check out Pearl Biotech).
I was also glad to finally meet Mac, one of the leaders in DIYbio. He's recently purchased a lab trailer, full of equipment. He's now looking for space (too bad my ample backyard is so far from town). His goal is to build this out as a hack-space, also hoping to mix novice and experience biologists, to get some culture and skills transfer.
That's super. I look forward to getting more involved. Mac has a ton of projects in mind and could use some help. And I want to learn from the DIYbio NYC folks who recently formed a non-profit and are acquiring space so that they can get out of their living rooms and get a nice space to play around in.
This is going to be fun.
And here's a video of the folks at the meeting: