The Do-It-Yourself Revolution

Volume 27 Issue 3 | March 2013

Cover Story

Do-It-Yourself Medicine

By Jef Akst | March 1, 2013

Patients are sidestepping clinical research and using themselves as guinea pigs to test new treatments for fatal diseases. Will they hurt themselves, or science?

Featured Articles

image: Bedeviled by Dengue

Bedeviled by Dengue

By Beth Marie Mole | March 1, 2013

The global spread of dengue virus has immunologists and public-health experts debating the best way to curb infection.

image: Instant Messaging

Instant Messaging

By Savraj S. Grewal | March 1, 2013

During development, communication between organs determines their relative final size.




Meet some of the people featured in the March 2013 issue of The Scientist.


The Rebirth of DIYbio

Do-it-yourself science is likely as old as science itself, driven by an inherent curiosity about the world around us.

Speaking of Science

Speaking of Science

March 2013's selection of notable quotes


Sea Change

A normally land-based microbiologist sets sail to find the building blocks of novel antibiotics in marine bacteria.

Bacterial Buddies

A chance encounter with a crab apple tree leads to the discovery of a new bacterial species and clues to the evolution of insect endosymbionts.

Coral Clocks

Uranium dating of coral tools used by the earliest settlers of the South Pacific island kingdom of Tonga offers unprecedented precision in reconstructing their history.

Teenage Drug Hunter

An Oregon teenager spent a summer in a New York biochemistry lab helping to discover a novel molecule that could become the next commercial nonaddictive painkiller.

Critic at Large

DIYbio: Low Risk, High Potential

Citizen scientists can inspire innovation and advance science education—and they are proving adept at self-policing.

Critic at Large

Regulating Amateurs

How should the government ensure the safety and responsibility of do-it-yourself biologists?

Modus Operandi

Sticky Lithography

Scotch tape and a scalpel provide a MacGyver-esque approach to microfabrication.

The Literature

Crack Control

Nanoscale cracks in bone dissipate energy to protect against fracture, a process that appears to be regulated by the interaction of two proteins.

Antibiotic Bouncer

Contrary to previous assumptions that macrolide antibiotics completely block the exit tunnel of ribosomes, new evidence shows that some peptides are allowed to pass.

Sleep Protection

Inducing certain brain patterns extends non-REM sleep in mice.


Tough Bugger

Fearless cockroach hunter Coby Schal investigates how insects communicate via chemical cues, then subverts those signals for pest control.

Scientist to Watch

Emily Scott: Enzyme Explorer

Associate Professor, Medicinal Chemistry, University of Kansas. Age: 43

Lab Tools

Set It and Forget It

A tour of three systems for automating cell culture


Buying Cell-Culture Products

A survey of The Scientist readers reveals who buys cell-growth products from whom, and why.

Lab Tools

DIY in the Lab

Things break in the lab. Here’s how to protect your equipment, and what to do when it stops working.

Bio Business

Biology Hacklabs

Fueled by donations, sweat, and occasional dumpster diving, community laboratories for DIY biologists are cropping up around the country.

Reading Frames

CSI: Ancient Alexandria

A reexamination of the facts surrounding the death of Cleopatra VII reveals that the Egyptian queen was murdered—and not by an asp.

Capsule Reviews

Capsule Reviews

The Undead, Frankenstein's Cat, The Universe Within, and Physics in Mind


A Sea Dragon Revealed, 1823

A sharp-eyed fossil prospector and self-taught paleontologist, Mary Anning discovered several extraordinary Mesozoic marine reptiles.

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