COBRA academics are involved with an innovative new approach to engaging the public with biology, and with science in general. Manchester DIYbio is a new collaborative project, based at the Manchester Digital Laboratory (MadLab), and funded by the Wellcome Trust.
The 15 month project (which started in March 2011) has created an innovative "citizen science" community, to enable wider participation in biological research. Amateur scientists collaborate with researchers from MMU to develop and carry out a wide range of experiments, as part of the growing worldwide "biohacking" community.
Successful projects so far include the Manchester Microbe Map (a bacterial "atlas" of the city centre), workshops on topics as diverse as octopus dissection and microbial fuel cells, the first ever UK DIYbio summit meeting, and the construction of a "homebrew" thermal cycler, which they intend to run against both our brand new OpenPCR machine and a commercial machine, in what we are calling the "PCR Challenge".
In addition to creating and encouraging a whole new set of citizen scientists in Manchester and beyond, the project has successfully drawn positive attention to the emerging DIY biology movement. This has manifested itself in numerous press appearances, radio interviews and even filming with the BBC's main Science Editor, David Shukman, for the main evening news (above).
Listen to an interview with Martyn Amos about DIYbio »
More information at the DIYbio website »