Cambridge website for Synthetic Biology resources

Compiled by Jim Haseloff at the University of Cambridge. SpannerPlantLogo140This site contains details of recent papers and activity in Synthetic Biology, with particular emphasis on: (i) development of standards in biology and DNA parts, (ii) microbial and (iii) plant systems, (iv) research and teaching in the field at the University of Cambridge, (v) hardware for scientific computing and instrumentation, (vi) tools for scientific productivity and collected miscellany.

Similar to the Cambridge-based Raspberry Pi and OpenLabTools initiatives, we promote the use of low cost and open source tools - in our case for use in biological engineering.

Google: Synthetic Biology news

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Tekla Labs Wants To Help You Print Your Own Lab | PCWorld

Tekla Labs Wants To Help You Print Your Own Lab

A few members of the Tekla Labs team get together to build a Magnetic Stirrer.A few members of the Tekla Labs team get together to build a Magnetic Stirrer.

Schools play a vital role in expanding scientific knowledge. But a lack of teachers, budgets cuts, and teenage clumsiness have prevented many schools from updating--or even obtaining--basic lab equipment for experiments. The folks at Tekla Labs are hoping to fix that, by designing and publishing do-it-yourself guides for 3D-printed lab parts.

To build out its library of 3D printing blueprints, Tekla Labs is hosting the PRINTmyLAB design challenge, crowd-sourcing ideas from the general public and offering prizes for top designs that show how to design do-it-yourself alternatives, or create novel, useful pieces of lab-ware.

Wiring diagram for that magnetic stirrer. The design was submitted by a contributor from Massey University in New Zealand.Wiring diagram for that magnetic stirrer. The design was submitted by a contributor from Massey University in New Zealand.Tekla Labs is an organization started by students at the University of California, Berkeley (with a branch at UCSF) after they visited labs in South American universities. The group noticed that many labs lacked what’s considered to be standard equipment back in California. Without things like water baths and stir plates, the labs could not perform many relevant experiments, limiting their research opportunities. A lack of equipment is a common problem, and not just for public schools and universities. Scientists working out of their garages and even some companies lack the resources they need to acquire vital supplies and equipment.

The group at Tekla Labs knew that direct equipment donations would be costly and unsustainable. Time-consuming logistics and large payments would be required to get packages shipped across the globe, and there would be no way to ensure upkeep or repair for the instruments. The problem goes beyond complex machinery--a simple test tube rack can cost upwards of $20. When I met with some members of the Tekla Labs team, they told me that with a 3D printer, a scientist could make racks that suit their needs for a few dollars’ worth of plastic.

Building the magnetic stirrer's motor bracket.Building the magnetic stirrer's motor bracket.Having the right equipment is critical for research; many researchers have already figured out workarounds and built jury-rigged machines. Modern lab tools may seem like magic boxes where samples go in and results come out, but many are based on pretty basic designs, once you crack them open. For example, a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine copies and amplifies DNA, but it’s really just a very precise heating element on a timer -- thanks to open-source enthusiasts anyone can build one. Not wanting to reinvent decades of optimization and design, Tekla Labs took a community-based DIY approach.

Tekla Labs is working to connect those who know how to make something with those who need it--like an Instructables for science. The DIY plans generally use common, locally available materials, and Tekla Lab members review and build plans to make them as easy and universal as possible. The idea is if a researcher canbuild their own magnetic stir plate then they can customize it, and (more importantly) fix or replace it when it breaks. And 3D printers can help. They’re rather expensive, but can be a solid investment with access to the right plans.

And it's done! A magnetic stirrer uses rotating magnets to mix fluid samples.And it's done! A magnetic stirrer uses rotating magnets to mix fluid samples.The accessibility offered by 3D printing can provide the tools needed in schools, labs, and even outer space. Tekla Labs is using a recently acquired RepRap Huxley to aid them in their mission to design inexpensive lab equipment using free, open-source tools. They’re a young organization, but they have already garnered support from MAKE, Autodesk and BigIdeas@Berkeley. If you’d like to get involved or offer your own DIY plans for the contest, head on over to the Tekla Labs website. But you’d better act fast--the last day to enter submissions for the PRINTmyLAB challenge is April 30th.

Research news at Cambridge University

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European Association of Students & Postdocs in Synthetic Biology (EUSynBioS)

EUSynBioSprelimLogo240The European Association of Students & Postdocs in Synthetic Biology (EUSynBioS) invites you to join its pre-launch community. The EUSynBioS initiative seeks to shape and foster a network of young researchers active the nascent scientific discipline of synthetic biology within the European Union by means of providing an integrative central resource for interaction and professional development.

Key objectives of EUSynBioS include i) the implementation of a central web platform for sharing news and opportunities relevant to members of the community as well as for academic networking, ii) the arrangement and support of events for academic exchange and professional development, iii) liaison with representatives of industry, and iv) establishment of a primary contact for collaboration and exchange with related communities of synthetic biology students and postdocs abroad.

Registering as a member is free and can be completed within 30 seconds via the following link Students and postdocs who register as a EUSynBioS member will be able to:
o Access a large network of young researchers in synthetic biology for academic collaboration and exchange
o Share technical resources and teaching materials
o Stay informed about relevant events such as conferences, workshops, or social outings o Browse relevant jobs in academia and industry
o Use site visits and mentoring opportunities to interact with prospective employers
o Connect with members of related communities all over the world

By registering as a member prior to the official launch of EUSynBioS, you will not only make a statement of support which will have an impact on the resources available to the community in the future; you will also be given the chance to actively shape EUSynBioS right from the start, and have an edge when applying for a position on the Steering Committee. We are looking forward to your joining us ! Christian Boehm, University of Cambridge.