Indie Biotech

Libré Biotech, Emerging Rights, Policy, Privacy, Miscellany

A Primer on Plasmid Design (For IndieBB)

So, in the preceding blogpost I introduced my current crowdfunding project, IndieBB: ..If you navigate to the “updates” panel on that crowdfunding page, I've been busy keeping things current. Among the promises I've made lately was to run through my workflow for total-plasmid-design as I plan to apply to IndieBB. So, here we go. Before clicking “more”, be aware that you do not need to understand any of the below to complete the IndieBB kit.

IndieBB: Open Source Biotech Starter Kit for Everyone

So I started a crowdfunding campaign today, and I'm really happy with the response and enthusiasm so far. I should probably have had a draft blog-post lined up prior to the launch, but my laptop took a dive and I suffered broken-screen-syndrome for 2.5 hours, so things were rushed. The video in the crowdfunding page on IndieGoGo and embedded here says it all; I want to create a kit that will let everyone get involved in genetic engineering, and from there to help democratise synthetic biology so we can all have a chance to shape the future of technology.

Reasons to be in Ireland this October: Synbio AXLR8R, Grow Your Own

As is often the case when I fail to post for months, I've been busy. In addition to my own work in the lab, which currently entails bypassing and leapfrogging existing affinity chromatography standards while making DIY protein purification trivial (!), I've been roped into organising an ambitious Synthetic Biology business accelerator programme in my home city, Cork, and I'm officially a co-curator for the upcoming Synthetic Biology exhibition in Science Gallery, “Grow Your Own".

Been Busy!

It's been ages since I've blogged. I guess now is a nice time to get back on track, both here and on I have been far from idle! However, much of my work has been biotech-related, which belongs yonder on indiebiotech, so I'll just share some of my non-biotech pet projects here for now. TinyStatus In response to ongoing attempts to regulate “Unfettered Commentary” in Ireland, I wrote a peer-to-peer microstatus server/client in 30 lines of Python, in the hopes of making a similar point to the 15-line TinyP2P app written in response to P2P regulation attempts in 2004.

Yes, Indiebiotech is Down.

It's weeks late, but if you're looking for, or for that matter my old blog domain, they are both inactive right now. Well, not inactive. Rather, fruitlessly pointing at random IP addresses rather than the correct server. This is something that I'm trying to address, and failing to address. Oh yea, and months without an update.. there's loads I'm planning to post here STOP I've got a lot of news, probably too much to digest in a single post STOP Migration

Hi all, quick notice: I'm changing my hosting from to, because the latter is in a country with a greater regard for freedom of expression. Some bugs may result! Wordpress has a fantastic export/import function that so far appears to work really well, but please let me know if anything's amiss. Work at Indie Biotech progresses really well, and I'll have some exciting stuff to share here soon!

Hello again, world!

I've migrated my old blog from to It's not entirely a matter of vanity, although I do rather like having my name on top: It's part of a broader migration of my online stuff from the US to Iceland. The reasons for this are chiefly that Iceland is one of the world's best countries in terms of free speech and free access to information. In fact, trends in Iceland suggest that more free speech may be on the way, not less; that's bucking a scary global trend towards censorship and surveillance.

Performing Minipreps with Homebrew Buffers

The alkaline-lysis miniprep is a critical tool in the arsenal of a molecular biologist. It allows one to rapidly isolate only plasmid DNA from a bacterial cell by leveraging the increased resilience of this (usually supercoiled) form of DNA against highly basic conditions. Minipreps are routinely performed to isolate plasmids that serve as substrates for further assembly work, for PCR amplification of specific gene segments, for direct application in other species or strains, or simply for archival uses (DNA can be easier and cheaper to store than the cells containing it).

The Shortlist of Free-Speech Software For Our Newly Censored Ireland

So, our great and glorious Minister Sean Sherlock just signed SOPA into law in Ireland, despite a huge civil outcry. The poorly defined statutory instrument will allow anyone claiming “Copyright Infringement” to seek a court injunction against any website, without having to present evidence and without a consultation with the accused website. The form of the resulting censorship is unclear, but will probably require ISP-level DNS censorship of websites outside Ireland, or direct seizing of those within the Irish jurisdiction.

Tuur Van Balen shows how to hack L.delbrueckii on stage

A little while ago, I wrote an article detailing how one might go about hacking S.thermophilus, one of the two strains that co-operate to ferment yogurt from milk. I chose S.thermophilus randomly of the two; I could as easily have chosen L.delbrueckii. Fortunately, I didn't, because Tuur Van Balen, syn-bio-artist extraordinaire, has given a practical demonstration for Next Nature on how to do so!