Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Biology versus Bioterrorism (Biotechnology and Society 2016)

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Bioluminescent Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco). From Krichevsky et al. 2010.


Required Reading/Viewing

Download Pre-Discussion Questions (PDF)

  1. Jorgensen Ellen Jorgensen TED Talk "Biohacking -- you can do it, too." 10 min. Intro to DIY biology by co-founder of GenSpace.
  2. Jefferson C, Lentzos F, Marris C (2014) Synthetic biology and biosecurity: challenging the “myths”. Front. Public Health. 2:115. PMID: 25191649

Czar Assignments

Download Policy Czar Template (MS Word)

1. DIY/Biohacking Czar

  • What types of projects do most citizen scientists pursue at BioMaker spaces? What types of training and equipment are available?
  • Prominent BioMaker spaces: GenSpace (NYC) | BioCurious (Bay Area)
  • Kelty CM. (2010) Outlaw, hackers, victorian amateurs: diagnosing public participation in the life sciences today. J. Sci. Comm. 9:1-8. Available online here. Contains several examples of citizen scientist projects.
  • Search for new citizen scientist or DIY biology projects on sites like: and Here are some to get you started: Bento lab and DIY CRISPR
  • What is the relationship between some example projects and potential bioterrorism/biosecurity threats?

2. Glowing Plant Czar

3. Bioterrorism Czar

  • What are the biggest historical examples of bioterrorism . Choose 2-3 to research in more detail (excluding the Anthrax attacks).
  • What are the biggest current concerns of the biosecurity community? Who are the most likely and least likely perpetrators? What is the risk?
  • What types of responses is the U.S. prepared for if a bioterrorism incident occurs?
  • Riedel S (2004) Biological warfare and bioterrorism: a historical review. Proc. Baylor Univ. Med. Cent. 17:400–406. PMID: 16200127 // General review of history of biowarfare and bioterrorism.
  • TDSHS History of Bioterrorism (Texas Department of State Health Services) // In-depth history and timelines that are useful for thinking about historical examples to highlight.

4. Anthrax Case Czar