biotechnology

Last spring, I gave my first hands-on workshop in working with Next Generation Sequencing data at the Eighth Annual UT-ORNL-KBRIN Bioinformatics Summit at Fall Creek Falls State Park in Tennessee. The proceedings from that conference are now on-line at BMC Bioinformatics and it's fun to look back and reflect on all that I learned at the conference and all that's happened since.


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Liveblogging from the Hi-Tec conference

I'm currently at the Hi-Tec conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. (If you follow me on Twitter - www.twitter.com/@digitalbio - you may have seen me complaining about the temperature). It's an interesting conference, so I'm going to share some of the things that I'm learning.

Dr. Travis Benanti and Dr. Steve Fonash from Penn State University are presenting an interesting session this morning on nanotechnology.

Luckily, you don't have to know anything about nanotechnology to find ... Read more

We had a great discussion in the comments yesterday after I published my NJ trees from some of the flu sequences. If I list all the wonderful pieces of advice that readers shared, I wouldn't have any time to do the searches, but there are a few that I want to mention before getting down to work and posting my BLAST results. Here were some of the great suggestions and pieces of advice; 1. Do a BLAST search. Right! I can't believe I didn't do that first thing, I think the ... Read more
This is a video that a friend made that shows, very clearly, how to pour an agarose gel, load the samples and run it. I especially like the way he used a bit of time lapse photography to show the dyes separating as the gel ran. Read more

A long-sought goal in genetics has been to develop therapies that can use correctly functioning genes to replace genes with defects. If we had the technology to predictably modify our genomes, we would have the ability to cure many diseases instead of having to place people on medications for their entire lives.

For a long time, gene therapy has remained an elusive dream. But, in the past few years the dream has come closer to reality, especially in the case of ten children, who live because of researchers who kept that dream in sight (1).

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The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is a non-profit organization that opened it's doors in April, 2008. One of the great things about this institute is it's commitment to sharing biotech knowledge with the surrounding community. For the general public, HudsonAlpha has a ongoing written series on biology topics called Biotech 101. Teachers will probably find this useful too. There's a great description of Copy Number Variation written by Dr. Neil Lamb, their director of ... Read more
I don't know if any DIY biologists are looking for projects, but I think engineering yeast with a gene to detect heavy metals might be a good DIY biology project and I have some ideas for how to do this. What are the advantages of using yeast and working on this kind of problem?
  • This could have a socially beneficial result. Contamination of soils, water, and even toys with heavy metals like lead, arsenic, and others, is a
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Some of the things that are attracting people to DIY biology are:
  • the idea of doing science with others for fun
  • the possibility of doing something that might be beneficial to society
  • being part of larger movement
All of those notions appeal to me and since I've been involved with biotech for many years, I have lots of project ideas. After thinking about the yogurt and melamine detection project, I started to wonder if a DIY project could even have a bigger impact, and say, ... Read more
My oldest daughter's favorite sweatshirt is one from the Seattle Children's Theatre Drama School, with the motto, "What's your motivation?" I was reminded of motivation the other day, as I talked about projects with the DIY biology group. It's pretty clear that you can't pick a project without knowing whether you're motivated by the discovery or the application. Many of the people I've known in academia, either researchers or science educators, are motivated by the prospect of discovery. They either want to discover something new or help their students make ... Read more
This afternoon, I attended the first meeting of a DIY biology group in Seattle, after a kind invitation from one of the founders.
 
DIY, for those of you new to the acronym, stands for "Do It Yourself."
 
But, you say, there are lots of people who do biology on their own. Some people keep pets. Some have children. Others raise tropical fish, go bird watching, or mushroom hunting. Some people even make yogurt or cheese, or brew beer, or make wine. ... Read more

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