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Community Labs Gather At MIT For Global Summit

on September 5, 2019 - 8:09am

Sophia Li, a former LAPS student, learning safe biotechnology practices at Biodidact. Li is now a student at MIT. Courtesy photo

Leaders of the American Biological Safety Association and community lab leaders from around the world came together in Baltimore, Md. for an extensive biosafety and biosecurity meeting. Courtesy photo

Biodidact News:

Community labs are laboratory spaces that provide facilities for members of the community to explore and engage in scientific experiments. Popular citizen science projects such as “The Real Vegan Cheese” and the “Open Insulin” projects started in community labs.

Although community labs are not formal business incubators, they also serve as shared lab spaces for very early stage and pre-startup initiatives.

The MIT Media Lab will organize the third annual Global Summit on Community Biotechnology Oct. 11 in Cambridge, Mass. The “shared purpose” of the Community Biotechnology initiative is to “fundamentally transform life sciences and democratize biotechnology to inspire creativity and improve lives.”

Like any professional lab, community labs emphasize safety. Last week, leaders of the American Biological Safety Association (ABSA) and leaders of community labs around the world came together in Baltimore, Md. for a 3-day biosafety and biosecurity workshop, covering anything from risk assessment to facilities design.

Four continents were represented (Australia, Europe, Africa and America). Biodidact of Los Alamos represented New Mexico. Although Biodidact is a local private research facility, it has had a commitment to community STEM outreach from its inception. Biodidact is a founding sponsor of Los Alamos Makers, the local fabrication lab (or makerspace). The organization also has worked with local public schools for hands-on cutting-edge biotech activities, including the upcoming Biotech Club at the Los Alamos Middle School, piloted with the help of science teacher Megan Rains.

Los Alamos Makers also has partnered with Biodidact to put together a local team of high school and/or university students to participate in the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM).The iGEM foundation is an MIT spin-out that fosters “an open, cooperative community” to build “a better world by solving problems with the help of synthetic biology”.

Students from all over the world come together once a year in Massachusetts for a friendly competition.

“The iGEM competition gives students the opportunity to push the boundaries of synthetic biology by tackling everyday issues facing the world. Made up of primarily university students, multidisciplinary teams work together to design, build, test, and measure a system of their own” (iGEM.org).

Local students interested in participating in the competition or just seeking internship positions are encouraged to contact Biodidact directly at info@the-c-lab.net.

For anyone with an idea that can potentially impact health, agriculture or the environment, community labs are a great resource. More information on the local community lab is available at www.Biodidact.net.


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