نبراس- Nebras: a biohacking space


I am Dorsaf from Medenine, Tunisia. I am a Biology Engineer. I was one of the participants in the innovation camp that took place in Medenine in the late December 2017, where I got introduced to this outstanding community of Edgeryders.

This experience was rewarding on so many levels. I had the opportunity to interact with amazing people and discovering that we share the same ideas and passions.

Yet the biggest outcome was finding the courage to start my own initiative: creating a biohacking space. It was an excellent fit for me since I have been having these thoughts and ideas of practising biology out of the academic context from the day I graduated. Special thanks to @anique.yael who enlightened me to this new practice.

So my idea for this project is to create a Biohacking space where I can introduce Biology to normal people, with a focus on kids who would be interested to dig deep into it and really get to the bottom of something they want to understand that has to deal with either their body or their ecosystem in order to help them improve their life (link for Prezi presentation). I want to be among the best but since I am a newbie in this field, I definitely need help from expertise, someone who has a sound knowledge in biohacking and here comes the magic of Edgeryders community: I got to meet @winnieponcelet here in Tunisia.

It was a fruitful encounter. We had the chance to share ideas and discuss different aspects of the project. By telling him what set of skills that I think I need to acquire in order to launch my initiative the right way, he pointed out the best practices to lead this project successfully and clarified many misunderstanding that I had in terms of defining the purpose of my project and establishment of my goals. He also shared with me how he started his initiative and the different stages that he went through and what are the obstacles he overcomes to achieve his success. All of this gave me a great help to organise my mess of ideas and to try putting them into actions.

I had also the pleasure to give him walking tour in the old city of Sidi Bousaid and the ancient Carthage where we explored the remaining ruins of the once mighty Phoenician city of Carthage and enjoy the beautiful sightseeing and to take in the atmosphere of a glorious long-gone past era. It is definitely one of the top things to do when visiting Tunis.

Finally, I am looking forward to connecting with more people here and share ideas and why not collaborate on future projects. @winnieponcelet again thank you so much for providing me with such valuable advices and hopefully, I can meet you again in Brussels and learn more.


Hi! @Dorsaf, this is something that is so wonderful to read. I hope that we on this platform continue to be a resource to you as you take the next steps. @anique.yael & @winnieponcelet are both awesome at facilitating visions and glad you were able to connect with them in Medenine! Thank you for sharing and looking forward to following your journey.


This is very exciting to me, too! Would be great to help in some way! I am lucky to have been pulled into this community because of meeting Winne at another event, and am doing workshops in London right now thanks to that (with Cindy!) on open-sourcing DNA damage detection and environmental microbial sampling, hoping to activate more real ‘citizen science’ everywhere! Here is the link to the prezi I used last night. Citizen Science with Science has no Borders by Rachel Aronoff Today we will see what grew on the microbe plates and do more hunting for micronuclei! :blush:


Ladies (and Winnie) this is fantastic news. Great to see all this action around biohacking. We’ll try to support as best we can.

And @Dorsaf: I visited those ruins too, back in 2010!


Thank you for your kind words :blush::blush: i m really excited to be part of this great community! Can’t wait to put my ideas into actions and continue networking with you :blush::blush:


Thank you @alberto :smile: I am really delighted by these words of encouragement.
About the ruins, aren’t they just magnificent? :smile: and if you are planning on coming again, i’ll be more than happy to show you other beautiful historical monuments :slight_smile: .

I feel the same @rachel :smile: and it’s really thrilling to know that it became possible to create these workshops now :smile: and I can totally relate to the content of the workshop since my graduate project was in the field of medical entomoloy. The prezi presentation is really engaging and interesting! thank you for sharing it.

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So so wonderful to see this moving. All the power to you dear @Dorsaf!

And special thanks to you @winnieponcelet for getting there and beginning to break it down. I’ll continue to share links and guidance as they come, and as mentioned people like Winnie @rachel @ramykim @cindys @unknown_author @lucy @pin are some of the best in the field to defer to as the process unfolds.

You got this.


The pleasure was all mine @Dorsaf :slight_smile:
It would be really cool if you come spend some time here. I’m sure you’d be welcome in other community spaces or projects as well like Hackuarium (@rachel ). Let’s see how we can make it work and support you in this! We’re not that rich with the lab, but I think we can come up with some support for you :slight_smile:


Certainly sounds good to me.
However, Hackuarium is run fully on volunteers’ efforts. There are no paid positions or research fellows, unfortunately.
Is there a particular project you would like to pursue, if you could come to Switzerland? Even though we have the problem of no paid positions, mini-grants can support specific projects, maybe to help for you to join in something fun…
Will have to think more, and get creative!
But that’s what hacking is all about!


thank you @anique.yael :smile:

thanks again @winnieponcelet :slight_smile: it was so reassuring for me to meet you and talk to you about my ideas. I am currently trying to find suitable space for biohacking and also contacting people who would be interested to help.

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Also, another person of great insight is @thomasmboa. He just set up his own biohacking space in Yaoundé, Cameroon and it is launching this Saturday :raised_hands:


that’s great to hear ! :smile: congratulations in advance @thomasmboa perhaps we can help each other in the future :slight_smile:

Thank you @Rachel :smiley:
For me now any project would be great 'cause I believe that I need to gain more training and the know-how in order to master biohacking and launch my initiative the right way, but if I could choose, I would like to be part of the open sourcing DNA damage project cause I happened to be reading your article " Open-Sourcing DNA Damage Detection for Citizen Science" and I really loved the Big picture concept that is dedicated to the public interest cause I believe only that way we can connect biology to the real world, and besides it goes well with my skills since I have practiced molecular genetics knowledge during my graduate project.
so if I could be part of this, I would consider it a golden opportunity ! :grin:

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the cheek cell micronuclei method is pretty simple and the protocol is already in that prezi. the great challenge is getting in the quantitative aspects. if you have a few micronuclei in 1000 cells, for instance, it is entirely normal, but if you have 20-50 in 1000, there might well be something you are exposed to that you should watch out for… in London with Cindy the other week, one person got up to about 300 cells, with no micronuclei, but it was slow going. (the foldscopes are tricky for keeping track of where you are, and we only had one proper scope) Then, in some cases (for instance a woman who had already had cancer and was scared that she might have serious signs of damage) you really don’t want to find any… She got to see some of her own cells looking aok, so I was happy too! It is still a great learning experience, for sure! I only heard about all this biohacking myself a few years ago, although I got very interested in the idea of dynamic genomic integrity quite a while ago now… (I guess it was 2006 when the hair dye dilemma hit me… :slight_smile:) . Anyway, it would be great for you to join in these efforts for real citizen science (and I am happy to advise to the best of my ability)! My dream is to have biohackers all over getting good baselines for the ordinary levels of damage then do some sort of intervention (running, eating blueberries, drinking green tea) to see if there is some significant effect. Ex situ expts are also possible on the cheek cells (gentle collection with a toothbrush provides a lot of cells to work with) - for the comet assay just putting hydrogen peroxide is a very good positive control (but that protocol is still very far from being simple, especially when you try for ‘kitchen sink’ ingredients).
Thank you for your enthusiastic message!


and maybe we can figure something out? @winnieponcelet ideas??

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Thank you for your detailed explanation :smile: it is really an interesting topic that I need to further learn about it.

So we’re planning to have Dorsaf join us for a while here in Belgium. We could provide you with materials here @Dorsaf to get going with @rachel 's experiments, with the aim of taking it back to Medenine?

Maybe you have capacity at Hackuarium to also have Dorsaf join you for a bit @rachel? Not sure if that works visa wise. She will anyway be in the area and if you have a host place, costs would be limited.

Also would be nice to hear people’s input as to what is a good model for Dorsaf to take back to make her space sustainable (financially & otherwise)


that would be perfect @winnieponcelet that’s exactly what I had in mind :slight_smile: if you could provide me with the materials I would definitely be able to do it here in Medenine.