We had today a discussion with Srishti students, Yashas, Timbil (from Lifepatch), and other hackterialab participants Togar, Robertina, Urs, Marc, Babitha and others. This was the last day for me in Bangalore, and so we took the opportunity to go over what we have learned in the past week.

The concern for taking the genetically modified organism (GMO) out of the lab is still a major concern, both of Yashas and the students. It was agreed that we need to know the exact legislation in each country, but for now, we thought that in Biosafety Level 1 (BSL1), containment of GMOs and persons responsible were the most pertinent points.

“why arsenic?”
Then Marc, who has already had conversations on potable water, asked – “why arsenic?”. His point was that sometimes, more impact on public health could be had by learning the benefits of consistently washing hands – not some fancy bacteria sensor.

This brought us back to the core idea for this class to develop a technology that is for the community. In effect, the aim isn’t to build an arsenic sensor. What is already done is that water samples are taken by professionals, and brought back to be analyzed in institutions. The aim is not to replace the official and research data and analysis. The aim then is to bring awareness of water contaminations – and bring the ability to check the water quality to the community.

a mobile lab
“people can bring the samples to the lab.”
or the lab can travel to the people – a mobile lab capable of handling the genetically modified Arsenic GFP reporter bacteria within the legal requirements. As the GMO has to stay in the lab, the lab can go out to the field.

what would be necessary in a mobile lab?

-the -80C glycerol stocks. “do we have to carry the glycerol stock around?”
No, this is long-term storage. The stab culture traveled from Switzerland to India at room temperature
-do we always need the antibiotic for the selection?
-there will have to be some certification of this mobile lab for BSL1 experiments.

By going out to the communities and detecting arsenic in local waters, we create an opportunity to have a conversation on safe water, and its health impacts.


We have Lifepatch’s experience in many many community projects and workshops, and also in replacing the LB with dilute molasses. Timbil reminded us that rat poison usually contained arsenic.
We talked about mapping, with the Bangalore water map, and within the team, Lifepatch’s river project map, and Robin (EPFL team)’s experience in safecast radiation mapping in Japan.

Yashas concluded with an immediate assignment to research if any Bangalore waters were known to have arsenic contaminations.

It felt buoyant this closure session, the interactions within and as a part of hackterialab.

The students parted, “see you at the next Skype session”. — yes, see you soon!

One thought on “biodesign wrap up at hackterialab

  1. Pingback: BIODESIGN for the REAL WORLD – biopoiesis

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