The Community Biology Biosafety Handbook is an open manual that offers biosafety protocols, practices, and recommendations aimed specifically for the community biology movement.

It was authored by Angela Armendariz, Patrik D’haeseleer, David Gillum, Daniel Grushkin, Eric Harness, Todd Kuiken, and Biomakespace Co-Founder and Director Jenny Molloy and was launched and opened to the community during a session at the Global Community Biosummit on 10 Oct 2020.

The lessons learned while setting up Biomakespace and the hard work of our safety team contributed greatly to the development of the book.

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What is in the Handbook?

The goal for the project was to establish a shared foundation for biosafety and security practices for the Community Biology labs. The authors recognized that while many labs have already developed their practices, other labs are only now coming online and need not reinvent the wheel. 

For well-established labs, the information here can serve as a reference or template for updating safety and security practices. For newer labs or those seeking to build labs, the information can serve as a foundation for establishing biosafety and security practices.

The authors tried to make the information accessible, deep, and expansive and as best as possible to cover the breadth of safety practices in community labs. This includes biological, chemical, and equipment safety, but also subjects unique to community labs such as interview practices for screening potential lab members, considerations when working with children at festivals, building tips for creating labs in unconventional spaces, and much more. 

Creating a Foundation

The handbook is designed as a living document that can be updated and expanded by the community. Because both biotechnology and the Community Biology movement are rapidly evolving, the information here will need to be updated periodically. Also, given the variety of labs, the diverse local and national laws and regulations around labs, and the variety of interests among lab members, there will always be more that can be covered.

It is therefore hosted as a google doc through a portal at Genspace. In the coming weeks and months a community committee will be established with the support of the Association of Biology Safety Officers (ABSA). 

The Authors

The authors of the handbook are people who have dedicated a significant portion of their careers to the community lab movement. Five of the seven authors have started or led community labs, one is president of the American Biological Safety Association, the leading association of biosafety officers and the final author has been a policy expert on community biology for over 10 years. 

The project was supported by Open Philanthropy.

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