Drop the pippette for a second. Close your eyes. And imagine. Imagine the possibility of working in what you REALLY like: Science. Now, imagine doing it without having to meet deadlines or commiting yourself to work on a project that just has to produce an outcome for industry or a high impact paper To be able to decide your working hours freely, for real. And even get to tell people what you’re doing and why, just because you want to. Of course, all while having fun.
With my colleagues in the lab it has been a running joke for a long time that we should just start our own scientific community, leave Academia and break all ties to the system (we are that idealist sometimes). And it was a joke because we always tought it impossible, we always came up with a hundred reasons for it to fail, and yet…
It is REAL. It is called Genspace. And it started as the initiative of a group of crazy scientists, artists and computer geeks that decided to get together to play biology, first in a kitchen and now in their own space in New York.
Now, is this really possible? We all know how expensive research material is, but there is also a big market for second hand lab equipment, specially because in good labs they always want the most advanced versions and as soon as they get them the old ones are disposed of, they even mention having gotten their PCR machine and their incubator from eBay. The money is not big, though. You can never get to achieve a megalomaniac goal that would require the use of a 2-photon microscope worth tens of thousands of dolars when you are self-sustained. That means the money they get comes from donations, either from particulars or companies, as well as from their communication and outreach activities (they give lectures and offer practical courses on molecular biology open to anyone interested).
This is a ground-breaking idea, so much so that the journal Science, in their Synthetic Biology section dedicated them an article. The DIY-BIO (Do It Yourself Biology) is becoming increasingly popular among scientists, tired of the restrictions of a systems more and more capitalistic and resourceless. Actually, in the other american coast, BioCurious are others who decided to play solo.
The more I learn about these sort of initiatives the more I feel I want to take part in the DIY revolution. Who wants to join?!