Thursday, December 23

NYC Gets Biotech Hacker Space Open to All

Want to genetically engineering your own breed of superkale to plant in the garden this spring, but your professor won't let you use the PCR machine on the weekends? Check out Genspace, an open-to-the-public biolab starting up in Brooklyn with a hands-on genetics class this January (I think). This place looks way better equipped than that mobile meth lab they found parked down the street from my old house. It was recently profiled in Wired Magazine. Here's a snippet from the report by Dave Mosher in Wired Science:
Out of concerns for bioterrorism and illegal drug production, the FBI and New York Police Department were initially alarmed by the idea of a public biotech lab in they city. But Grushkin [Genspace co-founder Dan Gruskhkin] said a lot of sit-down meetings with the agencies have convinced them.

"The FBI now uses pictures of our space to show people what a [methamphetamine] drug lab doesn't look like," Grushkin said. One of the FBI contacts even showed up at the grand opening last week to congratulate Grushkin.

Genspace's seven current lab members already have projects underway, including a bacteria-powered arsenic-detection kit and a biofuel algae experiment (part of a collaboration with startup Bodega Algae). Grushkin plans to create transgenic, multicolored microganisms that will "race" across a growth plate, primarily for fun but also for educational purposes. Jorgensen wants to use the new space to support personal genetic testing.