Private at-home labs have been springing up around the country in recent years, and not only for cooking meth. Biotechnology is now at a point where beakers, petri dishes, and incubators are slowly replacing volt meters, soldering irons, and vice grips as common tools of hobby tinkerers. A group of science enthusiasts in New York City have setup a Center for Disease Control’s biosafety level 1 compliant laboratory for amateur researchers to practice their trade.
Here’s a snippet from a report by Dave Mosher in Wired Science:
Out of concerns for bioterrorism and illegal drug production, the FBI and New York Police Department were initially alarmed by the idea of a public biotech lab in they city. But Grushkin [Genspace co-founder Dan Gruskhkin] said a lot of sit-down meetings with the agencies have convinced them.
“The FBI now uses pictures of our space to show people what a [methamphetamine] drug lab doesn’t look like,” Grushkin said. One of the FBI contacts even showed up at the grand opening last week to congratulate Grushkin.
Genspace’s seven current lab members already have projects underway, including a bacteria-powered arsenic-detection kit and a biofuel algae experiment (part of a collaboration with startup Bodega Algae). Grushkin plans to create transgenic, multicolored microganisms that will “race” across a growth plate, primarily for fun but also for educational purposes. Jorgensen wants to use the new space to support personal genetic testing.