Molecular biologist Ellen Jorgensen, Ph.D., discusses her New York City lab, Genspace, in the current issue of Physchology Today’s print magazine . It is the nation’s first do-it-yourself nonprofit biotech lab and has launched a movement to bring biology to the masses.
One of Genspace’s greatest values is its diverse membership. “If you take people from diverse backgrounds and put them together in a neutral space, they’re better at solving problems than people with the same background,” said Jorgensen. Professional scientists are solving problems alongside artists, hobbyists and self-described closet scientists. It is this coming together of unlike-minded people that creates the value.
One example cited involves a bacterium called Gluconacetobacter found in kombucha teas. The material weaves a mat of pure cellulose on top of tea culture that one of Genspace’s designer members is using to make clothing out of. Jorgensen sees this unexpected collaboration as the promise of genetic engineering and synthetic biology to create new biomaterials. “That’s a place where science meets design – biomaterials are things scientists can create and designers can use, and we can give each other ideas as to what would be an interesting next step.” Promising indeed.
One goal of Genspace is “to give anybody who wants it a taste of what it’s like to work in a lab.” The organization may also want to make a goal of sharing more about the value of unexpected collaborations. Not just in biology, but across other disciplines and industries. If scientists and designers can team up to develop the future of biomaterials, who can professionals in your industry team up with to bring new perspectives and ideas on future innovations?
For more on Genspace, watch Jorgensen’s TED talk HERE.
image credit: Genspace
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