These are "outlaws," as UCLA anthropologist Chris Kelty described them in a blog column, but not in a criminal sense.
They are instead "like Robin Hood, unaccountable but connected, poaching resources and distributing them to people who could never imagine having them.
Outlaw biologists love demystifying science," and they "can exist inside as well as outside of science."
Also out there doing it themselves, Kelty
wrote, are DIY explorers such as "bio-hackers" who "reconfigure the system from within," and "Victorian gentlemen scientists," who "have a circle of friends with access to the best tools and techniques, and a coterie of willing participants in their schemes.
In January, Kelty
organized a symposium on synthetic biology presented by the UCLA
Center for Society and Genetics at the California NanoSystems Institute
(CNSI) called "Outlaw Biology: Public Participation in the Age of Big Bio."
"I'm interested in how these new kinds of sciences are changing how scientific research gets done," he
explains, estimating that the gathering drew an eclectic crowd of several hundred high school students, Bruin undergrads, artists, lawyers and ethicists as well as scientists.
The research potential is why Kelty
identified patient advocacy group involvement as a key theme of his