As part of the interview process, Carolina Rossini asked me to write a short report on “The Problems of Patents on Diagnostic Testing Kits” (pdf).
Later that summer, I read Steven Levy’s “Hackers: The Heros of the Computer Revolution.”
Now I’ve started to see an analogy between the tools used by nascent biotech hackers today and the computer hackers of the late ’70s.
The upshot of improvements in diagnostic kit technology are more than just clinical: cheaper, faster, broader ways of interrogating the natural world will be a boon to everyone interested in understanding it. In particular, I believe the amateur / non-institutional biotechnology community requires easy, low-cost methods for asking questions and getting answers about biological systems, and my intuition tells me a lot of those methods will be based on diagnostic kit technology. To me, the impact of future diagnostic kit technology on amateur biotechnologists will be roughly analogous to the impact microcomputer kits had on the “amateur computer scientists” of the late 1970′s and early ’80s.