Last week, the third annual Global Summit on Community Biotechnology took place in Boston. The goal is to provide a space for the global community of DIY biologists / community biologists / biohackers / bio-makers and members of independent and community laboratories to convene, plan, build fellowship, and continue the evolution of the movement.
I was one of the lucky ones that got selected to participate this year! I got to spend 3 days with the most awesome open biology practitioners from around the world. We shared our initiatives with each other, discussed ethics, diversity and inclusion, and geeked out over bio-materials.
I wanted to share some of my insights and learnings and get you excited about the open bio community.
Open Biology Community
At first, I felt out of place, intimidated, as if I wasn’t a part of this community, but as the hours passed, this changed completely. They succeeded in creating such a welcoming environment, that made me feel as if this was exactly where I belong. The summit makes you feel the work you’re doing is important, you’re part of something bigger than yourself and your own work. You’re part of a movement, the people attending from all over the world share values, transcending any cultural differences we might have.
The community is very open-minded, sharing is a main value, sharing of experiences and dreams for the future we want to shape. Everyone is valued equally, no one project is deemed better than another. All are made to feel welcome to share their ideas with love and understanding. Don’t get me wrong, we did not sing Kumbaya around a campfire, we’re still nerdy scientists :)
Check out some of the coolest projects I learned about:
I can not stress the significance of ethics in biotech enough. Ethics are relevant and important in any discipline, but the exponential developments in the biotech industry will impact all of our lives and even our physical essence more and more in the coming decades.
Thinking and planning for how we’re going to put in place mechanisms to help us assure ethical considerations in developments will be essential. Not only for big corporations, but also for our open bio community. As biology is becoming more accessible the question is no longer if we can develop something, but if we should! Should we develop medicines to live forever? Should we improve ourselves as humans? Should we modify our ecosystem?
If you want to read more about the Summit and how you can become a part of the open bio community read more here: https://www.biosummit.org/
If you’re in Ghent, join the open bio lab Reagent
In Brussels please check out the Open Biolab Brussels.
"What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make" Jane Goodall.
Diversity and Gender in Biotech
When I started Tiamat, I wanted to succeed where society often fails in terms of gender equality and tolerance. I wanted to consciously promote and provide a diverse working environment in which racism and sexism stand no chance. Departing from my own experience, I realised that there were many others I forgot to include in my vision on diversity like non-binary and trans-people and even many others because they are not a part of my daily reality.
The « Diversity and Gender in Biotech » workshop made me realise the importance of this subject. The language used was very clear and direct and the problems were shared from first accounts. Many potential solutions were provided on how to pay attention to diversity and inclusion and how to include it in company culture. The Bio Summit organisers were very serious about unrespectful behavior which again created a very inclusive and safe environment for all participants.
In merely one hour, I was able to understand what I need to study to promote a new type of company. For now, Tiamat is run by women, women that tick more than one box when it comes to diversity. I am very proud of that, but I also know that we will have to continue to make diversity and inclusion a priority and put processes in place to assure it’ll be followed through.
Read more about how you can do this in your company here: https://genderedinnovations.stanford.edu/
This awesome event filled me with so much new energy, I feel ready to achieve what I started out to do and to be more involved in the global community. The people I met inspired me and comforted me in my vision for the future.
A big thank you to the organisation and the entire community, you are amazing !!!
This article is proposed by France-Emmanuelle Adil, Founder & CEO of Tiamat Sciences.