How to start learning bio?


very general question here. I work as a software engineer (studied business informatics) and really like to learn more about biology (workings of a cell, basic lab practices for starters). But not just the theory, also the wet lab part. Has anyone here a recommendation, where I should start?

I’ve already bought the book Molecular Biology of the Cell and right now am busy refreshing my math skills (forgotten everything). I wish there was a course or DIY bio kit, that teaches you some basics. Like from the well known shop in the USA, but their kits are forbitten in Switzerland.

Anyway, I’d be glad about any recommendation. I just want to learn as much as I can right now and get my hands dirty with some home experiments.


Dear Sarif

Thank you so much for your contribution. There is much to explore into biology and curiosity invents us anew. Please let me answer and ask some questions as well to get a better idea.

So far as I know is the The Odin Kit is still legal to order to Switzerland but not in Germany, please correct me if I know wrong.

We have been in contact with the swiss officials since a longer time and are updating each other on regulations exchange and projects ongoing in order to have a transparent discourse.

Remember Hacking is about breaking rules not laws. So best if you are interested in DIYbio you have to be aware on the Biosafty rules. Here is a link on how to open your own DIY biolab according to biosecurity levels and also some links to the official ordinances working with living organisms and cell cultures.

I also send you here the Open Science Manifesto from the EPFL University in Lausanne “promoting open sharing, transparency, reproducibility and accountability as means to advance science, innovations and service to society”

It might be nice to meet around? Together with Hackteria we are about to build our own Biolab in our newly moved place in Zurich and are just about to start new projects. Are you close to Zurich? Would you like to come visit? There are also other communities in Switzerland and Open Science Labs, one based in Luzern and the other in Lausanne I could tell you about.

Looking forward with kind regards
Maya Minder

Maya Minder

Hi Maya

Thanks for the links. Regarding the Odin Kit (the one with CRISPR), I’ve found this NZZ article: respectively (outline for paywall). It doesn’t say that the KIT itself is forbidden, but certainly its application outside of a lab. So I’m a bit cautious.

Also, I live in Zurich and would love to come by. How do you organize yourself?


Hello Maya ,

thanks for the links! I had replied days earlier, but my post seems to be hidden. Maybe, because I’ve quoted a link to the NZZ concerning the legality of CRISPR DIY kits in Switzerland.

Anyway, I live in Zurich and would love to come by. How do you organize yourselves?


Hei Sarif

Sorry for answering late. Nono its not because of the link, the post is visible in the Forum.
Thank you also for the Article, as it says they dont attest it is illegal but you need BSL1 notifications of your Lab. Thats it! Switzerland is very easygoing on this topic, and as we said, we keep transperency with the officials, to make things tracable. We are much anticipating your visit and then we can talk further on. Just pass by at our new Biolab and Makerspace here at ZWZ. The address is below.

ZWZ - Bitwäscherei
3rd Floor
Neue Hard 12
8005 Zürich

I would be available, you can send me a mail here for visit: mayaminder’at’

All best

Maya Minder

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Little update for everyone else who is interested in this:

I’ll visit the Biolab (Bitwäscherei) Tuesday next week (28.07) at 16.00. There is certainly room for more visitors. And if you read this later on, Bitwäscherei seems to be open for everyone who is interested in biotech.

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we could start a small learning group again, similar to what we tried in Winter 2019. only that this time we have a much nicer place to do and leave the experiments around.

We still have a lot of that material lying around in our fridges.

@baggenstos.rudolf @yves @gaudi @alecrimi @mamaya

Who else is interested?