Can DIY biology change the world?
In a sea full of innovation, failures and far-fetched ideas most scientists face an obstacle. That obstacle is the likelihood of rejection. Rest assured, the emergence of the DIY biology movement fosters individuals to participate in a world of life science, no matter what their circumstance, where the possibilities are limitless. The appeal of DIY biology stems from lowered costs, the entertaining factor and its educational advantages. As costs fall, levels of innovations rise. The aim of this work is to discuss why DIY biology has become the new hype, its possibilities and criticisms. With the rapid expansion of biohacking comes enthusiasm, excitement and unease. Whilst its success is dependent upon its contributors, one must question whether DIY biology’s risks outweigh its innovations. To summarize, DIY biology is a powerful movement that has the potential to change the world.
Do it yourself (DIY) Biology is an emerging scientific movement towards great discovery using traditional analytical methods. However, DIY biologists work without the support of research institutions and the work is not necessarily hypothesis driven. The biotechnological approach all begins with an individual who seeks to study life science, some of whom have limited or no official training, who may then be overseen by research experts. Reasons for DIY biology vary; it may be a hobby, a desire to move fast with discovery, for profitable purposes, to begin a business or for community based learning. Whilst findings tend to originate from subsidised organisations, there exists many inventors separated from institutionalized projects to embrace free, innovative disposition. DIY biologists are advocates for access to resources for everyone, regardless of appropriate funding. Nevertheless, others argue that breakthrough discovery needs experienced academics in well-recognised, financially-supported laboratories. The topic is open to debate, with the fear of DIY biology doing more harm than good, there is also the possibility of grand success. As Linus Pauling said, ‘The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.’ So why not encourage individuals to embark on a journey of biological invention?
Throughout time untrained scientists have surfaced, like following Galileo’s development of the telescope was a community of amateur astronomers. DIY biology can be traced back to early scientific advances, but in recent years has become a movement that is widely supported. Rob Carlson wrote his book in 2005 on the appearance of the ‘garbage biology’ era. He too set up his own garage laboratory. The DIYbio organisation was established in 2008 by Mackenzie Cowell and Jason Bobe. The foundation aims to create a safe and productive group for DIY biologists, with the belief that it can potentially benefit all. One can use bioprinters, plasma generators, or even endeavour in making their own glow in the dark bacteria. Currently there are approximately 30,000 like-minded individuals that have a passion for life science innovation.