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!


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11/18 crispr genome editing workshop

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 to edit the genome of yeast using CRISPR-Cas9. We'll take a look at the latest CRISPR developments and the ethical questions created by them- from editing human embryos to bringing back the Woolly Mammoth- and the bitter battle over patents and the Nobel Prize.


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12/2 How To Run Mycelium: a Fungal Tissue Culture Workshop 3-6PM $40/$75

Most people typically encounter mushrooms either for sale at the market or on the menus of their favorite restaurants, without ever having to search for and identify them in their natural habitats. Which leads the question, what techniques made it possible for humans to go beyond foraging in the woods and cultivate Fungi on demand? This workshop will offer the answer through an elementary introduction to the theory and practice of Laboratory Mycology. Working with mushrooms from both the grocery and forest, you'll learn how to formulate agar media, culture fungal tissue samples on petri dishes, and understand the process of mycelial expansion that is essential to perform successful mushroom cultivation.


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12/2 Biomess and other recent works: a Talk by oron catts 7-9PM free

Oron Catts is a mesmerizing speaker, whose focus on the semi-living in his work gives him a unique connection to Biotech without Borders. He's here all the way from Perth, Australia. Don't miss this talk!

Biomess, currently on show at the State Art Gallery of Western Australia is a collaboration with the West Australian Museum. The installation includes (mainly) non charismatic specimens from the museum’s collection that defy common ideas about self, gender, identity and individuality as well as liveness, artificiality and technology. In addition to preserved/taxidermised specimens this installation presents living organisms and technologically “designed” and manipulated life forms. It uses luxury retail design tropes to ask what kind of aesthetics should be used when life becomes a commodity or objects of desire. How do we make sense of living forms that were constructed to blur what we consider specimen, scientific tool, product and an art object?

Another related project is titled Crossing Kingdoms. This is a collaboration with the UK National Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology at the University of Edinburgh where we are attempting to fuse human and yeast cell to create a life form the exists across biological kingdoms. The work in progress on this project have been presented recently at the Edinburgh International science Festival.

Lastly the talk will present a fascinating project in which he followed Victor Frankenstein’s footsteps; Oron wanted to find some material evidence to the fictional events described in the book published exactly two hundred years ago. He was particularly interested in Frankenstein’s second attempt to create a life form, a female companion to the creature he created in Ingolstadt. To his surprise, he found some evidence that may shed new light on that chapter of Frankenstein; to the extent that it is quite feasible that Victor Frankenstein failed in his attempt of his second creation and needed to retract his claims for higher moral ground and face this failure. In Oron's own words, "The issue of low success rates in the reproducibility of experiments has dogged science from its very beginning, and makes me wonder if, when scientists retrospectively claim the high moral ground in their research, they do this instead of admitting failure or that they have spent their career barking up the wrong tree? Is this one of the hidden lessons in Shelley’s story?"

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Oron Catts is the Director of SymbioticA, The Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts, School of Human Sciences, The University of Western Australia.

He is an artist, researcher, designer and curator whose pioneering work with the Tissue Culture and Art Project which he established in 1996 is considered a leading biological art project. In 2000 he co-founded SymbioticA, a biological art research centre at The University of Western Australia. Under Catts’ leadership SymbioticA has gone on to win the inaugural Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica in Hybrid Art (2007) the WA Premier Science Award (2008) and became a Centre for Excellence in 2008.

In 2009 Catts was recognised by Thames & Hudson’s “60 Innovators Shaping our Creative Future” book in the category “Beyond Design”, and by Icon Magazine (UK) as one of the top 20 Designers, “making the future and transforming the way we work”.

Catts interest is Life; more specifically the shifting relations and perceptions of life in the light of new knowledge and it applications. Often working in collaboration with other artists (mainly Dr. Ionat Zurr) and scientists, Catts has developed a body of work that speaks volumes about the need for new cultural articulation of evolving concepts of life.

Catts was a Research Fellow in Harvard Medical School, a visiting Scholar at the Department of Art and Art History, Stanford University, and a Visiting Professor of Design Interaction (2009-2012), and a Professor at Large in Contestable Design (2015-2017) at the Royal College of Arts, London. In 2012-2013 he set up a biological art lab called Biofilia - Base for Biological Art and Design, at the School of Art, Design and Architecture, Aalto University, Helsinki, where he was a Visiting Professor.

Catts’ ideas and projects reach beyond the confines of art; his work is often cited as inspiration to diverse areas such as new materials, textiles, design, architecture, ethics, fiction, and food.

Catts curated nine exhibitions, developed numerous artistic projects and performances. His work was exhibited and collected by museums such as MoMA NY, Mori art Museum, NGV, GoMA, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, Ars Electronica, National Art Museum of China and more. His work was covered by The NY Times, Washington Post, Wired, New Scientist, Time, Newsweek and other TV, radio, print and online media.


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12/8 -12/9 DIY TISSUE CULTURE OF MAMMALIAN CELLS

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.


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12/8 pcr & pizza night

Come on down to BwB's regular Open Night! Pizza, beer, and Lab work. 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!

Past Classes, Workshops & Events

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11/8 the science of gmos - a free knowscience talk

Is your Thanksgiving Turkey a GMO? Are GMOs safe? Celebrate the holiday with a talk by Kate Bredbenner of Rockefeller University.

Getting information on GMOs from the internet can be a scary experience.This talk will explain the what, why and how of GMOs in an unbiased, informative and scientifically accurate way. Kate will examine real-world examples of GMOs and give a scientist's perspective on the upsides and downsides of the technology.


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who’s reading your genes? a public forum on genomic privacy


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hacking DNA with synthetic biology


cliMaTE CHANGE TRUTHS: Earth in the Hot Seat - A FREE KNOWSCIENCE TALK

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Dr. Ángel G. Muñoz is an Associate Research Scientist in IRI’s climate program; he also leads the Latin American component of the Columbia World Project "Adapting Agriculture to Climate Today, for Tomorrow" (ACToday). Muñoz holds a BS in physics (numerical general relativity), and a PhD in climate sciences (Columbia University, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences). His present research interests are associated with how cross-timescale interferences of climate modes impact predictability and predictive skill of extreme events at subseasonal-to-decadal scales; how these interferences can be used to diagnose misrepresented processes in a hierarchy of atmospheric circulation models; and the development of climate services, especially those regarding food security, vector-borne diseases and lightning.


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The Ecstasy of the False Positive - a talk by richard pell - free

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Richard Pell is the founder and director of the Center for PostNatural History, an organization dedicated to the collection and exposition of life-forms that have been intentionally and heritably altered through domestication, selective breeding, tissue culture or genetic engineering. The Center for PostNatural History operates a permanent museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and produces traveling exhibitions that have appeared in science and art museum throughout Europe and the United States including the Victoria and Albert Museum and Wellcome Collection in London, the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, the CCCB in Barcelona, the ZKM in Karlsruhe, the 2008 Taipei Biennial, and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History as well as being featured in National Geographic, Nature Magazine, American Scientist, Popular Science and New Scientist. The CPNH has been awarded a Rockefeller New Media fellowship, a Creative Capital fellowship, a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, and received generous support from Waag Society and the Kindle Project. Pell was award the 2016 Pittsburgh Artist of the Year. He is currently an Associate Professor of Art at Carnegie Mellon University.


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Pills, Bricks, and Spies: a Synthetic Biology Story of the Microbiome

A free  talk by Dr. Harris wang

Harris Wang is an Assistant Professor at Columbia University jointly appointed in the Department of Systems Biology and the Department of Pathology and Cell Biology. Dr. Wang received his B.S. degrees in Mathematics and Physics from MIT and his Ph.D. in Biophysics from Harvard University. His research group develops enabling genomic technologies to characterize the mammalian gut microbiome and to engineer these microbes with the capacity to monitor and improve human health. His work has been published in numerous high impact journals including Nature and Science. Dr. Wang is an Investigator of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the recipient of numerous awards, including the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award, NSF CAREER, Sloan Research Fellowship, ONR Young Investigator, and was named in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Science. In early 2017, Dr. Wang received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) from President Obama, which is “the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.”

http://wanglab.c2b2.columbia.edu/


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Biotech Crash Course

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.



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Are We Ready for Designer Babies? A Public Forum on Human Genetic Engineering 

Special Event!

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".


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biotech for coders: a crash course in programming dna

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.


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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.



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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?


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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.

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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!

 


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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!

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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.


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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.


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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


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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

 


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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.

 

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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. 


Biotech 101

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.



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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.

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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.