Worldwide Network of Community Labs

Ellen Jorgensen

Community biolabs are a natural environment for thoughtful examination and discussion of the implications and ethics surrounding cutting-edge DNA-based technologies. Creating a network of such spaces could have a profound effect at the grassroots level on both science education and the public perception of synthetic biology. Organizations such as Genspace have demonstrated that reframing the synthetic biology laboratory facility as a neighborhood resource can demystify and democratize biotechnology, allowing it to have a more open relationship with the eventual end user. Here, anyone can become an innovator or inspire others through peer-to-peer teaching. Community labs supplement existing educational programs and encourage the next generation of young researchers by providing hands-on lab training and mentoring. Identifying and distributing best practices for community lab startup and making them freely available would accelerate the development of a network of these resources both nationwide and worldwide.