DIY biology

I'm a big of learning from data. There are many things we can learn about swine flu and other kinds of flu by using public databases.

In digital biology activity 1, we learned about the kinds of creatures that can get flu. Personally, I'm a little skeptical about the blowfly, but...

Now, you might wonder, what kinds of flu do these different creatures get? Are they all getting H1N1, or do they get different variations? What are H and N anyway?

We can discuss all of these, but for now, lets see what kinds of flu strains infect different kinds of creatures.

... Read more

Genome sequences from California and Texas isolates of the H1N1 swine flu are already available for exploration at the NCBI. Let's do a bit of digital biology and see what we can learn.

Activity 1. What kinds of animals get the flu?

For the past few years we've been worrying about avian (bird). Now, we're hearing about swine (pig) flu.

All of this news might you wonder just who gets the flu besides pigs, birds, and humans. We can find out by looking at the data.

Over the past few years, researchers have been sequencing ... Read more

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 ... 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 ... 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

Cloning the gene for green fluorescent protein is fun. Lots of fun. Cloners have put the GFP gene into rabbits, plants, cats, fish, and worms, and made mutants that code for proteins in every color of the fluorescent rainbow. Teachers like GFP so much that every year, high school students throughout the U.S. clone GFP in biology class.