CRISPR/Cas9 has become a household name within the genome editing techniques since its inception in 2012, and the acknowledgement as 2015’s Breakthrough of the Year pulled the trigger for a greater investment in this promising asset - the highly-precise alteration of DNA sequence makes it potentially applicable for genomic studies and therapeutic purposes. As stated by Dr. Dana Carroll, expert in the area, the ease and accessibility of CRISPR/Cas9 application brings about the “democratization of gene targeting”.
Talking about democratization of science, is the concept of “biohacking” new for you? If so, stay tuned, because the community labs are emerging and the DIYbio (Do It Yourself biology) is a ground-breaking reality! These concepts are based on the idea that every person should have access to lab infrastructures and be able to “do their own science” in an open framework.

Thomas Landrain

PILI, France
Dr. Thomas Landrain is cofounder and president of La Paillasse, the first french and one of the world's largest community labs that foster open science and technology. After graduating from Ecole Normale Superieure, he co-founded the first french synthetic biology lab at Genopole where he did his PhD, as well as PILI, a startup that uses synthetic biology to produce natural dyes without petrochemicals and pesticides.
Dr. Thomas is currently working on the foundation of an open and distributed research institute, using the CommonGround framework, whose goal will be to synchronize and empower millions of independent researchers. He is a strong advocate of open science, collaborative research practices and biohacking/DIYbio, with a particular vision about the upcoming open biotech revolution.

José Bessa

IBMC/i3S, Portugal
José Bessa completed his PhD degree in Developmental Biology at ICBAS (University of Porto; 2008), acquiring advanced knowledge in the development of Drosophila and Zebrafish visual systems, under the supervision of Dr. Fernando Casares. As a postdoc, he has joined the laboratory of Prof. J.L. Gomez-Skarmeta, an expert in Functional Genomics. Currently José Bessa is the group leader of the Vertebrate Development and Regeneration group, at I3S - "Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde" and IBMC - "Instituto de Biologia Molecular e Celular", Porto.
His current research interests are within the field of transcriptional cis-regulation, and his research addresses the impact that non-coding mutations have on pancreas development, function and disease. To reach this goal, the Bessa´s laboratory uses the Zebrafish as a vertebrate model system and employs genome wide techniques to detect pancreas cis-regulatory elements and state-of-the-art genome engineering approaches to induce cis-regulatory mutations. Among several recent achievements, Jose Bessa was awarded an European Research Council starting grant.

Carla Sá Couto

DEBRA Portugal
Carla Sá Couto is the representative of DEBRA Portugal, the national chapter of the international association on behalf of the patients of Epidermolysis Bullosa, a rare and painful skin disease. DEBRA Portugal supports those affected by the disease and sponsors scientific research towards better care and more efficient treatments. This year, DEBRA Portugal is also one of the partners of the Symposium on Bioengineering.