Posts Tagged ‘DIYBio’

Brazilian Sandflies and Hacked Webcams

Monday, July 30th, 2012

DIY feeder with mad invetor and an enthusiastic assistantOn the 29th July, the Manchester DIYBio group hosted a double bill of scientific wonders featuring Brazilian sandflies (that’s Phlebotominae to you and me ) and DIY microscopes.

The first session was led by Dr. Rod Dillon from the the University of Lancaster who, along with his team, gave us some background information on the Brazilian sandfly and, most importantly, the diseases it spreads. Sandflies infected by the protozoan Leishmania parasite spread a disease called Leishmaniasis, a disease with the next worst impact on humans after malaria. This disease can cause disfiguring afflictions as well as lethal complications within the spleen which can be seen as the victims’ abdomens swell up, leading to their eventual death. Scientists are still working on a vaccine, so research into the parasite’s genome is crucial. In fact, genome based screening techniques are already used to screen potential vaccines.

We were introduced to several techniques commonly used in the lab – all with a suitably DIY twist. For example, instead of using a commercial feeder filled with blood kept at a constant temperature, Dr. Dillon gave a demonstration with a cocktail jigger filled with warm sugar solution (and some added red dye for artistic effect), some pieces of chicken skin and a makeshift clamp made out of bamboo and elastic bands. (more…)

DIYbio – learning to code or learning to type? – Postponed

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

NESTA Hot Topic

This event has been postponed till next year. The new date will be announced soon.

Title: DIYbio – learning to code or learning to type?
Location: MadLab
Description: NESTA Hot Topics series introduces the technological tools that will change our lives in the next few years. This event looks into DIYbio.
Start Time: 15:00
Date: 15-11-2012
End Time: 21:00

DIYbio: learning to code or learning to type?

Biological organisms do not follow the neat logic of a software program. They interact in unpredictable ways; they need care and time to grow; and, fundamentally, they come with the unknowns of natural systems rather than the order of manmade technologies. DIY biology and facilities to do this at a community level has parallels with the early stages of the open source computing movement, but at the same time, the complexities of biology might limit the potential success of amateur initiatives.

So how much is DIY biology like learning to code, or really more like learning to type?  As biological tools become part of the armory of today’s makers, is there a new set of skills and norms that come along with these? How does the routine of the lab mash with a creative hack culture? And what level of understanding do you need to do something truly inventive with a petri dish rather than html?

Nesta have teamed up with Madlab to run an event on 15 November at their facilities in Manchester. The event starts with an afternoon workshop (introducing biohacking in a biolab space), followed by an evening panel discussion on the theme of biological literacy. The panelists include; Asa Calow, DIY Biologist and Founder/Director of the MadLab in Manchester; John O’Shea, artist and creator of the world’s first bio-engineered football; and Philipp Boeing, UCL iGem and  London Biohackers.

The workshop is designed as a taster for those with little knowledge of these techniques, but more experienced users are also welcomed for the panel discussion.



Registration: 2.30pm

Workshop: 3-5pm


Registration and refreshments: 6.30pm

Evening panel discussion 7.30-9pm

Bacterial Painting Workshop

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Bacterial Painting

Title: Bacterial Painting Workshop
Location: MadLab
Description: Learn how to paint with microbes and create your own colourful, responsive, living masterpiece.
Date: 3-11-2012
Start Time: 14:00
End Time: 16:00
Booking: places are limited, book here.

The first ever microbial art was created by the father of penicillin, Alexander Fleming, who drew a stick figure in bacteria. Come join us to create ‘living’ art. See the possibilities of this medium in these posts.
This is an example of Sir Alexander Fleming’s artwork.

“His microbial art paintings were technically very difficult to make. He had to find microbes with different pigments and then time his inoculation such that the different species all matured at the same time.”

Check out more microbial art work at

Image from the Smithsonian Magazine.

MadLab spends time with the FBI

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

A version of this post was originally published in the Guardian on June 18th

At MadLab we’re used to unusual requests. We run a 3,000 square foot community space for science, technology and art in the centre of Manchester, and as a consequence organise and play host to a wide variety of events – from “hacking” toy robots to play football to making kimchi or dissecting octopuses (and eating them). But back in May we received one of our most unexpected queries yet:

I wanted to reach out to everyone to invite you to an upcoming workshop being put on by the FBI. Please join us for the workshop, June 12-14, 2012 in California.


DIYBio: Self-cloning Bacteria (AKA genetic modification for beginners)

Saturday, May 26th, 2012

Bio Hacking in Manchester

Title: DIYBio: Self-cloning Bacteria (AKA genetic modification for beginners)
Location: 44 Edge Street
Date: 30-08-2012
Start Time: 19:00
End Time: 21:00

Self-cloning is a super simple form of genetic modification, which involves recreating the behaviour of naturally occurring bacteria in a (DIY!) laboratory environment using contemporary microbiology techniques. We’ll be running through the Transformer protocol from the NCBE on the night, modifying K12 lab-grade e.coli to express the enzyme lactase and turn their living environment blue!

To book a place, go to

NB. We recommend you bring something that could pass as proper lab attire.