The latest adventures of DIY biologist Thomas Landrain

Sylvie Reinhard, Jun. 5, 2013

Very exiting stuff has been going on at "La Paillasse", France's first biotech community lab. They just were awarded the "Maker" award by the OuiShare Fest in Paris and selected for a SpaceGambit grant to develop their open source bioreactor. Time to sit down for a short interview with La Paillasse president Thomas Landrain.

What have you been up to since your talk at Lift last July?

We've been very active on the launch of new projects. We recently finished a working prototype of an open-source transilluminator, an essential piece of lab equipement to visualize DNA in your experiments, it is 50 times less expensive than commercial solutions and you can also easily build it yourself! Since a few months, a couple of engineers from Sony work in La Paillasse to experiment on open-source biodegradable electronics. 

Decipher your Food with DNA Barcoding for only 3 Euros

We now propose regular workshops to initiate people to DNA barcoding, a powerful protocol that can decipher the nature of your food. Is it GMO? Is it horse meat? We created a cheap and easy version of DNA barcoding that can process DNA information in 4h and for 3 euros per sample while a commercial analysis would take 3 days and 300 euros!

We are finally really excited by the advancement of a project that makes possible to brew ourself blue ink using bacteria. This first of its kind open-source biological ink is cheap, easy to make, non toxic and easily recycled. When we know that ink is one of the most expensive fluid on the planet and a pollutant, this project could be a milestone for the field and it's coming from a biohackerspace. We'll soon lauch a crowdfunding campaign for this project, so stay tuned! 

How can I get started with DIY Biology?

The best to try out DIY Biology would be to join your local biohackerspace if there is one close to you. They usually run workshops to initiate people to biology. I have to say that biology is not simple at first, so a lot of our new members often remain passive at the beginning, adopting a observer status, until they feel confident enough to join projects or launch their own! 

La Paillasse is open several days a week, so feel free to contact us on our mailing list or on our website, we're always happy to welcome new visitors! Also, on the 22nd of june in Amsterdam will be hold the 2nd meeting of DIYbio Europe, it is an open event. This is the first european network of biomakers and promises interesting development for collaborations between biohackerspaces.

To learn more about La Paillasse's biotech lab activities, check-out the video of Thomas' Lift speech in Marseille.