Interview with Alexander Murer | Founder | Open Biolab Graz Austria

The "Open BioLab Graz Austria" or "OLGA" is an open joint laboratory for molecular biologist , bio-hacking and part of real space s. 
Use the menu next to the logo to learn more about us. 

They provide space for new ideas! Students, pupils or hobbyists of (molecular) biology and related fields barely have the possibility to pursue their own ideas; they provide the equipment and room for own projects. They work together to build machinery and create protocols to achieve the most with limited ressources. Compared to molecular biology, there is hardly any field where fresh ideas can make such a difference. Joining and working at OLGA is free of charge.

Tell me something about your project? 
Personally, I see managing the biohackerspace as my main "project". Right now I amongst others are establishing CRISPR/Cas9 for yeast there, others are looking to produce several chemical compounds in yeast.

Who is/are part of this project (people, company etc.)? 
Most of us are students of molecular biology or dropouts, personally I run my own biotech start-up besides being a dropout. When it's about making lab machinery work, also people with electronic/programming background usually get involved.
 

So, how many are you now in Open Biolab Graz Austria?
About 10 people are tinkering there on a regular basis, many more visit more or less often for meetups, talks etc.

What are the challenges you encountered?
Especially limited time due to my job. Takes plenty of time to get and keep projects & teams going,  especially when you try to do too much yourself to save money. 
Also working with limited resources like few lab devices.
 

How did you get the funding of this project? 
Some resources come from the biohackerspace, which is funded by small membership fees, benefit-parties, prize money and student association grants. Some resources are donated by my startup and privat.

What motivates you to create this project? 
The certainty that we with our biohackerspace can implant and apply cutting edge technologies in the field.

What equipments did you use/are using? 
Apart from standard lab equipment we could recently aquire a cooling centrifuge and a capillary electrophoresis system.

Can you tell us something what cooling centrifuge and a capillary electrophoresis system do?
Centrifuges are frequently used in biolabs to seperate solvents from dispersed particles, like bacteria from water. A cooling centrifuge is an important tool for biolabs, because it is able to cool liquids while beeing centrifuged, which is important in some cases, like to genetically modifying cells.

Capillary Electrophoresis systems are a more sophisticated version of gel boxes to analyse DNA for example. They apply voltages of 30kVolts and more, which results in a much faster analysis speed, than with a gel box, which usually works with 0,2kV.

When did you started this project and when do you think it will be finished/when did you finished it? 
Half year ago.

What do you think your project can be useful to help the world? 
Rather trying to make high technology accessible than saving the world.

What are your plans after this project? 
I'm also involved with the "Engineers Sans Frontieres" and working on a water analysis project.

Lastly, can you give us a brief of the what "Engineers Sans Frontieres" is?
The Engineers Sans Frontieres are similar to the better known and older organisation Medicines Sans Frontieres. Both work in the field of development aid, but the Engineers are more involved in engineering projects like water supply, housing and other infrastructure projects.

Alex Murer - "Learning and having fun is always useful."