Impact Case Study

Public engagement via citizen science

EPSRC research project leads to Wellcome Trust-funded citizen science project, which influences US government policy on "homebrew biology"

How it started 

The EPSRC-funded Bridging the Gaps: NanoInfoBio project supported cross-disciplinary research at Manchester Met, across chemistry, biology, health sciences and computer science. As a direct result of this project, another separate project was created, funded by the Wellcome Trust, to support a citizen science project on “do it yourself biology” (DIYBIOMCR).

Why it matters

The university has helped DIYBIOMCR to become the UK’s largest DIY biology group. Projects including the Manchester Microbe Map (a bacterial ‘atlas’ of Manchester bus stops) and a ‘homebrew’ DNA replication kit. DIYBIOMCR has helped MadLab (hosts of the group) to report strong financial growth – of which 80% can be attributed to DIYBIOMCR.

The project reached 5 million viewers when it was featured on the BBC Ten O’ Clock News, and participants visited the US at the invitation of the FBI, to help inform the US DIYBIO strategy.

"DIYBIOMCR has brought much positive attention to MadLab, and exposed the organization to a wide range of new audiences… Much of the money raised has come from local and national sources that have been developed and nurtured as a direct result of DIYBIOMCR."

Rachel Turner, Director of MadLab