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OpenWetWare was created by graduate students at MIT on April 20, 2005. Initially, it served as a private lab wiki for the labs of Drew Endy and Tom Knight at MIT. The site was opened up to allow any lab to join on June 22, 2005. As of April 6, 2007, the site hosted 100 research laboratories from over 40 institutions, including Boston University, Brown University, Caltech, Cambridge Research Institute, CNRS, Duke University, and many others.
In addition to laboratories, a number of scientific communities are based on the site, including synthetic biology, Mimulus, and the BioBricks Foundation. One scientific community is the iGEM community with over 60 different teams represented on June 28, 2013, including the NRP-UEA-Norwich team and the Groningen team.
OpenWetWare runs on MediaWiki software on Linux servers. All content is available under free content licenses, specifically the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) and the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA) license.