Post/Biotics

Royal College of ArtUnited Kingdom

Empowering

Production / Student

Team

Vidhi Mehta (Designer) & Josiah Zayner (Scientist)

Overview

I feel that Post/Biotics deserves a chance to win IXDA awards in the category of Empowering Projects as it discusses the idea of empowerment through developing tools and platforms for scientific discovery to be more opensource. Post/Biotics is a citizen science platform that enables general public (children, curious geeks, DIYers, backyard scientists) with platform and tools to let them help in scientific research for new antibiotics.

Sir Alexander Fleming found first antibiotic known to us, Penicillin when he saw that fungus growing on the petri-dish was killing the bacteria. This radically changed healthcare, operations were no more life threatening and people did not die of small infections. He also warned us while he received his Nobel Prize for the discovery that we must be careful with how we use antibiotics as bacteria could soon develop resistance to it if not used effectively. Unfortunately we are soon retracing back to pre-antibiotics era. We are facing a massive antibiotic crisis in the future, we are exhausting our existing ones far too fast than finding new ones. And yet the task of finding a solution to this problem, finding new antibiotics is left at the hands of a few well qualified scientists, in their research lab.

A lot of the antibiotics we have found so far have come from natural resources: plant extracts, algae, fungus, soil have all yielded good antibiotics. Thus a new antibiotic could be lurking anywhere, even in your backyard.

What if the world’s next antibiotic is in your backyard? Post/Biotics offers a chance for everybody to become a “Fleming”. It is a science lab in a box that anyone can use to help test new samples in their surroundings to test for their antimicrobial values. The database generated by lots of Post/Biotic toolkit users goes back into scientific database and is then further validated by microbiologist and scientists that are working on researching on new antibiotics.

It looks at science as a collaborative effort, what happens when the tools to do perform science are available for everyone, how does that change how research is conducted, how discoveries and inventions are made? And how does that value our esteemed scientific achievements such as Nobel Prize?

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