I remember, about 1.5 years ago, a friend and me brainstormed about an open biolab accessible for everyone. We came across Open Insulin and were inspired by the vision. It contributed to the start of ReaGent in the summer of 2015. Today, we have joined Open Insulin to combine forces in research
Open Insulin is a great example of a new way of doing science. It’s clear in its goal, it’s technically feasible and it influences a large group of people. The story connects to many people, judging by their enthusiasm when they first hear about it. It has the right amount of ambition, which draws the right kind of people in to contribute.
The idea of valuable scientific research being done on a low budget, by citizens, independent of traditional institutes, never stopped fascinating us. Despite some local successes, we felt there was more work to be done in pushing the boundaries of what we can do with science. A few months back, we got in touch with Anthony of Counter Culture Labs through the Edgeryders.eu platform. It seemed like their team could use some help for chasing the Open Insulin dream. A group of biohackers in Sydney had also just recently started helping them and we decided to follow their example.
We put the word out and an enthusiastic group of volunteer researchers gathered in Ghent. The newly formed team will set up a local Belgian Open Insulin chapter. They will be supported in every way possible by the Belgian DIY biolabs: Open BioLab Brussels, KASK Laboratorium and ReaGent.
We all believe we can add something with this Belgian chapter of Open Insulin. There is a diverse set of skills in the local community: technical, arts, education, science communication and more. Above all, the right kind of energy is in place. We hope we can bring a breath of fresh air to the project, with –hopefully- new insights. First up is replicating and validating what the Oakland team has been doing and helping out with communication efforts.
Hopefully other people and organizations follow this example. The vision of multiple community labs all over the globe, working together on a noble cause in an open way is enticing. We are very excited to be a part of this and look forward to exploring new roads to fairer access to medicine.
Our research discussion and coordination are held openly online. We invite everyone to participate and interact with us at http://rea.gent/.
Winnie Poncelet, ReaGent, community organizer
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