Open Biology: Revolutionizing biological researchReference
The realm of biology, ancient as it may be, constantly ushers in new discoveries and breakthroughs. Yet, the very tools driving these innovations—software, hardware, and methods—are often locked behind proprietary barriers. This exclusivity has led to a stark reality where only a handful of affluent nations spearhead most groundbreaking discoveries. The costliness of conducting biological research looms as an imposing barrier.
In my presentation, I aim to shed light on the imperative of embracing open-source principles in biology and the scope of such an endeavor. Within this discourse, I shall delve into three pivotal facets:
(i) Open Source Software: The transformation in open source software within the field of biology initiated with the advent of R. This groundbreaking platform not only empowers biologists to conduct statistical analyses but also offers libraries like "phytools," "genoPlotR". These resources facilitate the construction of phylogenetic trees and bioinformatics analysis.
(ii) Open Hardware: The backbone of biological data acquisition relies on various instruments, ranging from the simple microscope to intricate sequencing machines. Regrettably, these instruments carry exorbitant price tags, heavily impacting scientists and researchers in developing nations.
(iii) Open Biology: Beyond software and hardware, biology encompasses an arsenal of methodologies and tools indispensable for any meaningful discovery or innovation. Consider, for instance, the construction of plasmids, a critical process for efficiently transferring edited or novel genes into the genomes of study subjects, be they bacteria, viruses, plants, or others. Alarmingly, these constructed plasmids remain locked behind proprietary walls, stifling the advancement of science.
Toward the end of the talk, I will discuss the limitations in Open Biology, such as biosecurity and the need for policies to handle sensitive biological data.
About the speaker
I am currently working as a head of science at Softcircuits. I have a BS-MS in Biology from IISER-TVM, and a PhD in plant ecology from IISER Bhopal.