Assist. Prof. Mirela Alistar – Atlas Institute, USA

Biohacker actively involved in biotech research, Mirela has created interactive systems based on digital microfluidic biochips, i.e. devices that manipulate droplets or fluids in order to automate biochemical processes. Her work of art is the OpenDrop hardware, which got her to publish four journal and seven conference papers at top-tier academic venues, to contribute to open-source hardware and to engage the society in a critical analysis of biotechnology. She held numerous workshops and public forums; she organized cross-disciplinary hackathons and she is the founder/ chairwoman of three community wet labs across Europe. Some of her STEAM workshops include “Let it glow” at Maker Faire and “The life of single organisms” at Art Laboratory Berlin. Mirela’s talks range between synthetic and digital biology, while her art installations have been exhibited at Transmediale and Transart.

About OpenDrop

OpenDrop is a desktop digital biology laboratory developed as a community project on with the aim of making personal lab-automation accessible to more people. Being an open-sourced integrated electro-microfluidic platform, OpenDrop can be used in developing and programming lab-specific protocols, with either scientific or aesthetic purposes. The device is already used in research institutes to overcome tissue printing challenges, to transform bacteria cells or to generate new phages by genetic alterations. It can easily shift its purpose towards an interactive display that mixes colours in a controlled and precise manner (electrowetting) or even stand out as a chemical video game. OpenDrop is a DIY biochip, compatible with Arduino IDE, comprised of a double layer PCB, an array of gold plated electrodes and a DC power converter, that uses electrical voltage to manipulate droplets. According to Mirela Alistar and Urs Gaudenz, only 47% of attempts to replicate the device are successful with the main challenge remaining the assembly of the OpenDrop [1].

[1] Alistar, M. and Gaudenz, U., 2017. OpenDrop: An Integrated Do-It-Yourself Platform for Personal Use of Biochips. Bioengineering, 4(2), p.45.

Workshop structure

The workshop will be structured as a three-day event (16-18 March) for tech/engineering and bio enthusiasts. The first two days will unfold in the hackerspace provided by Robochallenge Laboratory, CAMPUS Center (Bulevardul Iuliu Maniu 6), while the wet lab experiment of the third day will take place at the Research Platform in Biology and Systems Ecology – PCBES, Faculty of Biology (Strada Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu).

Day 1 @ Robochallenge Lab, CAMPUS Center

Hardware and electronics work sessions, where the participants will build the latest version of the OpenDrop device following the instructions of Mirela Alistar, with the help of Modulab experts.

Day 2 @ Robochallenge Lab, CAMPUS Center

Testing and programming sessions, where the participants will learn how to use the OpenDrop platform and how to program their own protocols. In the second part of the day, a biotech community meet-up is planned, so that the participants could share their ideas and projects in a more relaxed environment.

Day 3 @ PCBES, Faculty of Biology

Bioprotocol session and final lecture on Personal Biochips (OpenTalk) – the participants will run their own biological protocol and share final thoughts and ideas in a public forum setting, covering the development of the OpenDrop platform, its mechanism, as well as its usage in the wet-lab.

During the three days of the workshop, each participant will experience working in an interdisciplinary team, will have a solid idea on how to assembly a open-hardware device, will learn how to program bioprotocols and gain practical experience in droplet microfluidics.


UPDATE: Your interest in the OpenDrop Workshop has determined us to move the registration deadline! Please register for the OpenDrop Workshop at the following link, no later than 5th of March:

If you’re only interested in Mirela’s OpenTalk on Personal Biochips, please register here:


DAY 1 – 16th March @ Robochallenge Lab

10:00 – 11:00 – Intro Day 1

11:00 – 11:30 – Coffee break

11:30 – 13:00 – Hardware Session #1

13:00 – 14:00 – Lunch*

14:00 – 15:00 – Hardware Session #2

15:00 – 15:30 – Coffee break

15:30 – 18:00 – Hardware Session #3

18:00 – 19:00 – Dinner*

19:00 – Hardware Session #4 – until OpenDrop is up and running

*Lunch and dinner on your own (option to order pizza or something else at the location)

DAY 2 – 17th March @ Robochallenge Lab

10:00 – 11:00 – Intro Day 2

11:00 – 11:30 – Coffee break

11:30 – 13:00 – Testing Session

13:00 – 13:30 – Robochallenge Demo

13:30 – 15:00 – Programming Session

15:00 – 17:00 – Lunch* & Biotech Meetup – location TBA

*Lunch and dinner on your own (option to order pizza or something else at the location)

DAY 3 – 18th March @ PCBES, Faculty of Biology

10:00 – 11:00 – Intro Day 3

11:00 – 11:30 – Coffee break

11:30 – 15:00 – Bioprotocol Session

15:00 – 17:00 – Lunch*

17:00 – 19:00 – OpenTalk, a seminar on Personal Biochips – PCBES Conference Hall

*Lunch and dinner on your own (option to order pizza or something else at the location)

Workshop Goals

Access to personal tools has been a synergist for innovation throughout history. The apparition of personal computers has already changed the course of technology, however other fields such as biology and chemistry have remained cryptic to the large public. The decentralization of biotechnological tools is one revolution yet to come, with multiple hidden ethical aspects. A series of questions guiding our workshop therefore emerges:

  1. What are the opportunities and risks of moving the work of a biologist in a clinic at the level of a personal laboratory and at-home operations?
  2. How does an interdisciplinary researcher look like and how does he use the DIY skill set towards open science?

The OpenDrop Workshop aims to:

  1. Create a formal collaboration and common environment for people from different fields of study (biology, electronics, computer science);
  2. Support multi-disciplinary approaches;
  3. Support the emerging DIY biology community in Bucharest;
  4. Spark the public interest in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics);


Modulab – Hardware training/assistance

Modulab is an interdisciplinary platform that explores the intersection of new technologies with art, design, social innovation, public space and pop culture. The constant endorsement of tech culture, both theoretically and in practice, as well as the open event program have already created a community around the lab. By prototyping and developing event-based installations, Modulab’s solutions have represented the interactive context of exploration in various public and private contexts. Thus, Modulab works as an independent innovation lab with multiple collaborators from the makers/ hackers community that provides space for new projects, tools, know-how and especially a heterogeneous social context – the catalyst for leading-edge experimentation.

Computational Biology of Aging Group, Institute of Biochemistry of the Romanian Academy

The Computational Biology of Aging Group was founded by Dr. Robi Tacutu in 2016 and is part of the department of Bioinformatics and Structural Biochemistry at the Institute of Biochemistry of the Romanian Academy. With a highly multi-disciplinary team, their projects include both computational aspects (data aggregation and processing, multidimensional data analysis, network-based methods, systems theory approaches, deep learning, etc.) as well as wet-lab experiments (in particular in-vivo testing of the computationally predicted interventions).


Romanian Society of Bioinformatics

The Romanian Society of BioInformatics – RSBI – aims to further the effort of advancing bioinformatics capability in Romania for the development of life sciences and medicine. Since its conception (approximately one year ago), RSBI established itself as one of the leading bioinformatics communities in Romania, organised several scientific and training meetings, and improved communication between Romanian entities expressing interest in bioinformatics.

RSBI organises the @RoBioinfo Seminars – a series of meetings focused on training and building bioinformatics capabilities, by bringing together the local community and leveraging the expertise of prominent research centres. RSBI is also currently surveying Bioinformatics training resources available in Romania, aiming to facilitate access for students.

Center for Advanced Research on New Materials, Products and Innovative Processes (CAMPUS), University Politehnica of Bucharest

CAMPUS is UPB’s advanced research and development center for multi- and inter- disciplinary technologies. The center is uniquely designed, from both the infrastructure point of view, as well as functionality. It holds a state of the art 7 stories green and intelligent building with unconventional power sources, energy recovery, reuse of resources, and intelligent management systems. The building integrates 42 research labs, spread over more than 8,000 square meters, equipped at European standards. The labs are connected in a complete inter-disciplinary technological flow, starting with the study of materials, going to electrical engineering and electronics, power and mechanics, and then telecommunications, information technologies and computer science. Apart from research, CAMPUS is also an educational center for undergraduate and postgraduate studies and e-learning.

Robochallenge Laboratory, CAMPUS, University Politehnica of Bucharest

Robochallenge is a robotics competition designed for those students who are passionate about applied projects and for those who are willing to learn new things. The competition is aimed to both beginners and experts but mostly to robotics enthusiasts. Robochallenge is the biggest robot competition in Europe and one of the biggest competitions in the world with participants from 15 country with over 500 people with 500 robots each year in 13 challenges. The Robochallenge Laboratory is located at 7th floor in the Campus advanced research & development center. The laboratory is dedicated for robotics research, building, testing and teaching. The robots built here are mainly for competition purpose, but they are a very good learning platform for many areas of expertise like mechanics, electronics and programming. The space is suitable for any needs regarding the mechanics, electronics and the testing of the code. Here the students are trying to test and discover new ideas and material that can be incorporated in to the robots.

ICUB – Research Institute of the University of Bucharest

ICUB – The Research Institute of the University of Bucharest is a newly established research institute, a research division of the University of Bucharest. Its mission is to promote excellence in research and to encourage international collaborations. ICUB offers a wide range of research fellowships and grants for young researchers and visiting professors and is organized into four divisions: Earth, Environmental and Life Sciences, Exact Sciences, Humanities, Social Sciences.


Leona Chitoiu –, +40723372204

Anton Kulaga –

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