Danny Chan received his MSc in microbiology during the course of his PhD candidacy at the University of Chicago studying the interaction of methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) with lab-grown skin in an a department focused on infectious disease. However, he was haunted by the lack of explicit intellectual work to contextualize the curiosity-based approach to research he loves with the perpetuation of global inequity by leading research institutions. He has been a Research Technician for many years in multiple fields including cellulostic ethanol production, protein crystallography, prefrontal cortex development, and heat shock proteins. Later, he worked as a Medical Editor fact-checking and editing for pharmaceutical advertisers. He seeks to apply his skills and knowledge of science and industry with compassionate sensibilities in order to foster new institutions that empower folks with the tools of biotech so we can meet the challenges of our damaged world. Currently, he freelances, organizes with various autonomous collectives, teaches, and pursues independent research centered around protocol development for the DIY science community.
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What was your first experience in biotechnology?
2nd year of University I got hired as part of my co-op program into a fermentation lab at Iogen in Ottawa, Canada working on cellulostic ethanol fermentation. There I supported the engineers on the pilot plant by running their samples on a HPLC, weighing yeast, and testing the effects of different sugars on different yeast metabolism.
Where are you currently based?
What do you want others to know about your current project(s)?
I want people to imagine their kombucha or sourdough cultures (or the cultures of their friends) fermenting a common waste product and produced something useful around the house like window cleaner. This is the biotechnology I want to help create.
How does Biotech Without Borders help you with your goals?
It gives me access to an affordable lab space I can tinker in and a community I can help shape into the cooperative unit I want to see in the world.
How do you imagine/see biotechnology improving the lives of all on this planet?
By providing a technological framework that allows biologically relevant molecules to be produced in a distributed fashion thereby helping close the gap between the owners of the means of production and the workers.
Outside of biotech, what’s something you find fun?
Playing Magic the Gathering, but without buying any cards. Telling collaborative stories via a tabletop RPG. Eating and making good food.