Friday, July 8, 2011

Crowdfunded, open source PCR machine now available!

A couple of months ago, I helped my husband pick out a used microscope (his hobby, collecting and identifying wild mushrooms, sometimes requires 1000X magnification for spores) and joked that I can't get away from biology equipment, even at home. Now it's also possible to kit out our basement laboratory with an inexpensive, open source PCR machine.

I sort of love the idea of backyard biologists using these OpenPCR devices to replicate their BioBricks, but a more likely application would be for science labs at public schools, or medical diagnostic facilities in the developing world. The PCR machines at my lab cost around $10,000 each; OpenPCR costs $512.

Of course, for PCR to work you also need access to DNA primers, nucleotides, and polymerase, which you aren't likely to have lying around the house. Determined citizen scientists will have to track down a source of those materials if they want to get into the PCR game. Still, pretty cool!

(Via BoingBoing.)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Journal of Neuroscience launches "Journal Club"

My graduate program director just emailed to say that The Journal of Neuroscience is soliciting reviews of recent articles for a new series of features that they call "Journal Club." Trainees (students and postdocs only) are invited to review publications from the past two months, although "inappropriately harsh or glowing reviews will not be considered." Submissions should be no longer than 1500 words.

This should be of special interest to neurobloggers, who are often creating this sort of content anyway for their blogs. (Although, this bit will be tough for bloggers: "Titles should be informative; the Journal discourages word play.")

I'm intrigued, and also a little intimidated. I mean, it's fine for me to spout off about a paper on the internets, but J. Neurosci? That's playing for keeps.

Do you plan to submit any Journal Club reviews?