We have the best biotech classes, workshops & free events in New York City!
please note that all our classes are hands-on in the lab. safety gear and materials are provided. no previous science experience necessary!
August is Lab Skills Month!
8/6 learn Bacterial Transformation - $25
Part of our August Lab Skills Month workshop series. Learn how to load a DNA program into bacteria and turn them fluorescent colors, or make them glow in the dark! This is one of the most-used protocols in molecular biology, and is an essential lab skill for anyone who wants to learn genetic engineering or synthetic biology.
8/8 Learn to do plasmid preps - $25
Part of our August Lab Skills Month workshop series. Learn how to extract a DNA program from bacteria and archive it for later use. With Monarch DNA extraction kits from New England Biolabs, you will prepare your very own stock of a plasmid (loop of DNA carrying a genetic program) to take home. Plasmids can then be loaded into other bacteria, or their DNA spliced and engineered into biological circuits.
8/9 Lab Skills: Spectrophotometry - $25
Part of our August Lab Skills Month workshop series. Learn how to use a spectrophotometer to assay and quantify the results of your experiments. Nearly every biolab has some version of this workhorse piece of equipment. Check bacterial growth, measure biosensor output, and test your pipetting skills!
8/13 lab skills: DNA Scissors-restriction endonucleases
Part of our August Lab Skills Month workshop series. How do we engineer DNA? The information is analog and linear, like a videotape. The secret is restriction endonucleases. They act like tiny scissors, cutting the double helix. You'll learn to use these enzymes to precisely cut DNA where you want to, and how this can be a surprisingly useful tool for forensics, diagnostics, and genetic engineering.
8/15 Lab skills: Gel Electrophoresis
Part of our August Lab Skills Month workshop series. How do we analyze DNA? Gel electrophoresis is a 50-year-old technique that is still used in almost every biolab on earth. It's easy, cheap and fairly fast. From it you can tell whether or not your DNA prep worked, if a person has a mutation in a gene, and even prepare DNA for further genetic engineering steps. Come learn this basic technique and add to your lab skills!
8/20 Free PCR & Pizza
Come on down to BwB's regular Open Night! Pizza, beer, and lab work- what could go wrong? Extract DNA from yourself and amplify it using PCR to test yourself for a CCR5 mutation, or just relax and have some great conversations around democratizing science. No charge, but donations for the pizza and beer greatly appreciated!
8/22 The Science of Epilepsy: What is it and how can we understand iT?
A free knowscience talk by Stephanie Rogers
Epilepsy is one of the most misunderstood disorders, shrouded with stigma, and, in some parts of the world still associated with the supernatural. This talk attempts to demystify this disorder and addresses both the clinical appearance of epilepsy (what a seizure looks like) and what happens in the brain during a seizure. Through the course of the presentation, the audience will learn how to recognize a seizure and how to provide the proper first aid for someone who has epilepsy. Learn how seizures arise from the brain and how new understanding of this mechanism is being used to provide better therapies for patients suffering from epilepsy.
8/26 plant tissue culture workshop
Many plants and vegetables you see in the supermarket today are produced using tissue culture! In this 3-hour workshop, students will learn the fascinating history of this technique in research and agriculture, the basic principles of plant somatic embryogenesis, and how this process can be used to propagate various plants. Students will learn basic sterile tissue culture technique and take home their very own cultures. No experience in biology is necessary and all are welcome.
Optional: bring your own seeds!
9/15 & 16 diy tissue culture of mammalian cells
sat/sun two-part workshop 3-6pm
Henrietta Lacks' cells are immortal. They have been dividing in Petri dishes since the 1940s. How do we keep human cell lines growing endlessly? This workshop will introduce you to tissue culture. Working with a human lung cell line, you will learn what types of media human cells need to grow, how to propagate them and above all how to achieve good sterile technique. As a bonus, you will also use a DIY cell culture setup to isolate live cells from a chicken leg from the supermarket.
9/22 CRISPR Genome Editing Workshop $50
CRISPR is the new genome editing technology that has disrupted the biotechnology industry. Is it really plug-and-play? Are we gods now? During the workshop you will do hands-on lab work and edit the genome of yeast using CRISPR-Cas9. We'll also take a look at the latest CRISPR developments, from editing human embryos to bringing back the Woolly Mammoth, and the bitter battle over patents and the Nobel Prize.
Past Classes, Workshops & Events
Biotech Crash Course
saturdays july 7th, 14th & 21st 3-7PM $150/$300
The original biotechnology class for the general public developed by Dr. Ellen Jorgensen who has been teaching it in biohackerspaces since 2011. No previous science experience necessary!
Have you ever wanted to program a living cell? This is the class for you! We assume no prior knowledge of biology, and take you through the process of genetic engineering step-by-step. You will learn the basic techniques that enabled the biotech revolution, including gel electrophoresis, PCR and bacterial transformation. Extract DNA from your own cells and anaylyze it for markers of maternal ancestry. Learn how genes are moved from one organism into another. Cut and paste DNA using enzymes and load your DNA circuits into a bacterial cell. This is a hands-on class, so wear comfy shoes- you will be at the bench most of the time.
Minimum age is 13, and anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a parent.
Hacking DNA with Synthetic Biology -
sundays july 8th, 15th and 22nd 3-7PM
What if building a new life form was as easy as Lego bricks? Synthetic biology aims to simplify genetic engineering by creating libraries of DNA 'parts' that can be hooked together to form biological circuits. By the end of class, your will have designed and built a biosensor circuit and loaded your DNA program into a bacteria cell.
Are We Ready for Designer Babies? A Public Forum on Human Genetic Engineering
July 12th 7-9PM - FREE
Join us at Biotech Without Borders for a public forum around engineering the human genome. For 100 years we have been imagining it in science fiction, but we are now at the point where it may become everyday reality through new technologies such as CRISPR.
The Forum will begin with a brief talk/question & answer by Dr. Ellen Jorgensen (What You Need To Know About CRISPR) about the newest developments in the area. Then we'll run through some very real scenarios to explore the social, economic and moral implications of editing our own evolution.
Food and drink will be provided!
This event is held in collaboration with the Museum of Science in Boston, who developed the Forum content for their NSF grant "Building With Biology".
july 16th & 17th 6-9PM
Henrietta Lacks' cells are immortal. They have been dividing in Petri dishes since the 1940s. How do we keep human cell lines growing endlessly? This workshop will introduce you to tissue culture. Working with a human lung cell line, you will learn what types of media human cells need to grow, how to propagate them and above all how to achieve good sterile technique. As a bonus, you will also use a DIY cell culture setup to isolate chondrocytes (the cells that make collagen) from a chicken leg from the supermarket!
biotech for coders: a crash course in programming dna
a two-part class - july 23rd & 24th 6-9PM
DNA is our source code, the molecule that contains all the information necessary to recreate an organism from scratch. The molecular pathways of a cell are similar to electrical circuits. How far can we take this analogy? In this class you will learn how DNA carries information, how genetic circuits are arranged, and how to start programming life instead of machines. By the end of the class, we will load a DNA program into a cell and see the results.
artificial cells and programmable dna in a test tube
How close are we to mimicking life? Harnessing recent advances in synthetic biology, extracts containing the inner machinery from bacterial cells can be directly programmed with DNA that encodes synthetic gene circuits or networks. They can be used as the 'guts' of an artificial cell, or used in a test tube. "Cell-free" synthetic biology has major applications for rapid design of regulatory circuits and biosensors, but also getting closer to building a functioning cell out of non-living molecules; both to guide our understanding of life at a cellular level and revolutionize engineering of biological systems.
In this workshop, you’ll use a cell-free extract to take first steps in cell-free synthetic biology by designing and programming a logic gate with DNA, expressing DNA in a cell-free extract and visualizing the results.
developing a bio strategy for your business
a practical workshop with Karl Schmieder
The last 50 years have been dominated by microprocessors, information technology, and the countless ideas people dreamed up to use them. The next 50 will be brimming with living systems designed by people to bring value to their work, their homes, and our society.
Synthetic biology – the rapidly advancing field concerned with crafting organisms to function as biological machines and making that process easier to engineer – is quickly transforming industries and changing the rules of business.
If you want to understand how synthetic biology might impact your business, then this class is for you. No prior knowledge of biotechnology is necessary. You’ll gain an overview of synthetic biology, its current applications, and where the field is going. Then, we’ll work on a ‘bio strategy canvas’ to guide your business into this synthetic biology future. The class will be taught by Karl Schmieder, MS/MFA founder messagingLAB and author, What’s Your Bio Strategy?
free bioentrepreneur talk: how MouSensor is using Super-sniffer mice to digitize the sense of smell
MouSensor, Inc. is an early stage biotech startup based on technology developed at Hunter College of The City University of New York by the company’s co-founders Drs. Paul Feinstein and Charlotte D’Hulst. MouSensor, Inc. generates super sniffer mice to build a live, human nose-on-a-chip with the bold vision to detect, discover and digitize every single smell on this planet; from the fragrances in a perfumer’s palette to the odors associated with diseases such as Parkinson’s. It is the company’s ultimate goal to establish the first-ever Digital Database of Smell, much like the RGB code for vision.
on Monday December 4th WLIW Channel 21 at 7:30PM watch Hari SreenivasAn's interview with our own Dr. Ellen Jorgensen on the PBS series SciTech Now!
Make Your Own Taq Polymerase
The enzyme Taq polymerase is an essential part of the process of copying DNA via PCR. It is also one of the most expensive parts of the process. In this workshop you will purify your own stash of Taq from an E. coli stain genetically engineered to produce it. You’ll use your new Taq to run a PCR reaction, and take some home with you. Taq is derived from a thermophilic bacteria and is quite stable when frozen!
Free Talk: Stem Cells and Brain Health
Every single cell in your body comes from a stem cell. Even stem cells come from stem cells! Come learn about these special cells, especially the ones that populate the brain. When these brain stem cells are damaged, neurodevelopmental diseases occur. Cutting-edge research will be presented about defects in brain stem cell division, human diseases, and potential help that stem cell therapy can provide.
Biohacking for Beginners: A Crash Course in Genetic Engineering
Have you ever wanted to program a living cell? This is the class for you! We assume no prior knowledge of biology, and take you through the process of genetic engineering step-by-step. You will learn how DNA is extracted form one organism and loaded into another, how to cut and past DNA code using enzymes, and how to copy, analyze, and preserve DNA circuits.
Build Your Own Biolab
Have you ever wanted your own lab? It’s become easier to reverse-engineer lab equipment and obtain the needed supplies. In this intensive four-day camp you will build several key pieces of key equipment to take home, including an incubator, PCR machine, centrifuge, hood and gel electrophoresis box. No prior experience necessary in biology or electronics
BArbarians at the Gate: The Truth About Antibiotics
The development of antibiotics has revolutionized our society – we’re now much less likely to die from infections following a small cut in the hand or even open heart surgery. There are, however, serious consequences of our the extensive use of antibiotics. I will talk about how microorganisms produce antibiotics to compete with each other, and how we have exploited this natural arsenal of weapons to our benefit and detriment. While the advantages are obvious in the clinic, antibiotics are used also in cases where they are not needed, and as growth enhancers in life stock. The two main problems we are now facing are antibiotic resistance and disturbance of our beneficial microbes. I will explain how resistance arise and spread, and how the loss of “friendly” bacteria from our gut may lead to problems with obesity, diabetes and asthma.
Dr. Sandra Breum Andersen is a postdoctoral research fellow in the lab of Dr. Martin Blaser at the Langone Medical Center at NYU, funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation, where she works with the intricate social lives of Helicobacter pylori stomach bacteria. Prior to arriving in NY in 2016, Sandra acquired a Ph.D. in Evolutionary Biology in her native Denmark, working with behavior-manipulating fungi that turn ants into zombies. Reluctantly leaving behind fieldwork in tropical forests, Sandra turned to the social lives of bacteria causing lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients. This research was done at the University of Oxford and the Technical University of Denmark and revealed how bacteria can cooperate and cheat in our bodies.
windows of the soul: the science of vision
As most primates we humans rely heavily on our visual perception to guide ourselves around the world and therefore our brains are very good in processing visual information about different shapes, colors and brightness variations. But putting together all the physical attributes is not enough to recognize something (or someone). To recognize something is to give meaning to it. The meaning of an object however is not an intrinsic physical feature of the object, but something also defined by internal representations in our brains, often based in past experience. You cannot recognize what you never saw. There are also many levels of recognition. I can show a green leaf and you will tell me “that’s a leaf” while someone else would tell me “that is a leaf from a red oak”. Thus visual perception is not just the processing of information about the physical attributes of what we see, but the combination of these physical attributes to the internal representations the already brain has. How is it that our memory and expectations influence our visual perception? Join us in an exploration of how we perceive reality through the windows of the soul.
Dr. Tiago Siebert Altavini is a neuroscientist working in the Laboratory of Neurobiology in The Rockefeller University. He has been studying different aspects of the visual system since he was a biology undergrad student at the University of Brasilia. The interest in neuroscience of vision led him to a PhD at the University of Rio Grande do Norte where he worked with Dr. Kerstin Schmidt at the university’s Brain Institute. His PhD research was on the visual connections in the brain and their influence in patterns of spontaneous brain activity. Now working with Dr. Charles Gilbert he is investigating the top-down influence of feedback connections on object recognition. The aim of such research is to understand the mechanisms by which expectation influences visual perception.
Methuselah's Return: Aging and Longevity Science in the 21st Century
Must we grow old and die? Understanding how and why we age and, by extension, devising a "cure" for our own mortality,has long been part of humanity's quest since earliest recorded history. In the relatively short period of time that tools of molecular biology have been developed, they have now been applied to questions of aging and longevity with incredibly fruitful results. These findings, along with their application to new classes of therapeutics being developed to inhibit and even reverse aging, will be discussed.
Dr. Oliver Medvedik, TED Fellow and open-source synthetic biologist and director of the Maurice Kanbar Center for Biomedical Research at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. He is cofounder and Vice President of the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation, a nonprofit organization that maintains a crowdfunding platform Lifespan.io for funding of longevity and life extension research. Dr. Medvedik’s career stems in part from his doctoral work in which he used single-celled budding yeast as a genetic system to map pathways that underlie the processes of aging in complex organisms, such as humans. Since then, he has worked as a consultant for Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company specializing in the research and development of small- molecule therapeutics to treat age-onset diseases. He obtained his bachelor's degree in biology from Hunter College, City University of New York, in 1998, and holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. from Harvard Medical School in the Biomedical and Biological Sciences program.
Channel your inner biohacker! A 12-hour class over four weeknights. This introductory hands-on class is specifically designed for those with no previous knowledge of molecular biology, or those who wish to brush up on their training. You will practice the techniques that are the basis of the biotech revolution, including DNA extraction, gel electrophoresis, bacterial transformation and PCR. We will discuss the history of biotech and where the field is going, plus the social and ethical implications of this fast-evolving technology. Three four-hour sessions on consecutive Sundays.
This class is a prerequisite for advanced classes. Minimum age is 13, and anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a parent.
a 21st Century Revolution: How Epigenetics is Transforming our Understanding of Health and Disease
One should be wary of understating the importance of DNA in biology. Its elucidation in the 20th Century must surely count among humanity’s greatest scientific achievements, transforming the way we think about life and providing a common thread between organisms as diverse as bacteria and chimpanzees. However, there are many profound biological questions that genetics is unable to resolve, not least among them some of our most intimate concerns about human health and disease, and the critical role of our lifestyle and other environmental factors in shaping these. The exploding field of epigenetics has the potential to address these questions. In this talk we will explore what we mean by epigenetics, why it is so important, and how we might be able to harness it for a healthier future.
Andrew Abrams grew up in London, England and studied Natural Sciences and Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During this time, he conducted research into DNA repair in organisms that thrive in the incredibly harsh conditions of volcanic springs. He has since blended his scientific interests with more commercial ones, having worked as an Associate in J.P. Morgan’s healthcare investment banking practice in London, advising organizations spanning the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical device, diagnostic and other healthcare sub-sectors. He also holds an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School and is currently working at a venture capital fund that invests in life sciences and information technology companies.