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Biology Student to Hold Biohacking Meeting at CCBC

March 3, 2010
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Interested in biohacking? Ryan Ogle, a local massage therapist and first-year biotechnology student at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC), wants to meet you.

Even if you have no hands-on experience with the world of biohacking, DIY science, or synthetic biology, if you’re curious about any of these subjects, Ogle thinks you should come to a meeting he’s holding on Monday, March 8 at the CCBC-Catonsville campus to discuss participation in the International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition (iGEM), a synthetic biology competition based at MIT. Students who compete in iGEM are given a kit of biological parts—protein domains, DNA parts, and plasmids, for instance, if those terms mean anything to you—and work at their own college campuses on projects that meld biology and engineering. The goal, according to the iGEM web site, is to “to build biological systems and operate them in living cells.” In 2009, for instance, one team created a plant-specific pathway in the bacteria E. coli that could be used to produce an eco-friendly insecticide; another worked to create a gluten-digesting probiotic organism that would live in the stomach’s of individuals with celiac disease, a condition that makes it impossible to digest gluten.

The Baltimore area already has two BIY biohacking centers—Harford Hackerspace (which actually operates in Baltimore city), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that says it exists to create a place for “real people” who are “interested in learning everything about everything,” and the Baltimore Node hackerspace, which operates in a space at Load of Fun studios. Ogle says he’s acquainted with both organizations, and he wants to gather the entire biohacking-curious community together in one space to discuss the possibility of creating a team—or teams—of people interested in competing in iGem.

Ogle has put together a web site where anyone interested can learn more about his ideas for iGEM. You can also email Ogle at admin@genoblasts.com.

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