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Straight talk with...Mac Cowell and Jason Bobe

An Erratum to this article was published on 01 April 2009

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Biological innovation typically takes place within the walls of academia and industry. But a relatively new grassroots movement to organize hobby scientists is afoot. The movement—dubbed 'do-it-yourself biology', or DIYBio for short—is seen by some as a throwback to the times when key discoveries were made by solitary scientists toiling away in their basement labs. Mac Cowell, 25, and Jason Bobe, 35, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, are the co-founders of DIYBio, a fledgling organization aimed at providing amateur biologists a common framework for striking out on their own.

Cowell, who has an undergraduate degree in biology from Davidson College, North Carolina, was drawn to the idea after a stint managing a 'wiki' website for the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He joined forces with Bobe, the current community director for the Personal Genome Project—a DNA sequencing effort launched by Harvard Medical School scientist George Church. Cowell and Bobe spoke (pictured above, left to right) to Prashant Nair about their plans for amateur biology.

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  • 06 April 2009

    In the print version of this interview, the first response contained an unrelated excerpt from the previous month's Q & A. The text begins with “who could mobilize...” and ends with “…results and more results.” The error did not appear online in the HTML and PDF versions of the article.

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Nair, P. Straight talk with...Mac Cowell and Jason Bobe. Nat Med 15, 230–231 (2009).

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