On the top floor of an old bank converted into an artist collective, just past prop design for Bjork’s next music video, the do-it-yourself biotechnology revolution has begun.
A cadre of science entrepreneurs recently opened Genspace, the world’s first government-compliant community biotech laboratory. The bedroom-sized facility was two years in the making and, for a $100-per-month membership, anyone can use the space for whatever experiments they dream up.
“If you work in a university lab, you have to do what your adviser tells you to do,” said Genspace co-founder Dan Gruskhkin, a freelance journalist and self-described science enthusiast. “Here, you work under mentors and can do things you’re interested in immediately.”
The small space is made of found parts. A sliding patio door, Plexiglas panels and old wire screens enclose the lab, and stainless-steel restaurant tables serve as lab benches.
The lab’s glassware, micropipettes, centrifuges, electrophoresis machines, incubators, microscopes and other scientific equipment were donated. Genspace president and co-founder Ellen Jorgensen, a biomedical researcher at New York Medical College, used to work for Vector Research and got the company to donate the gear after it shut down a facility.