The Biological Control program seeks to build new capabilities for the control of biological systems across scales—from nanometers to centimeters, seconds to weeks, and biomolecules to populations of organisms—using embedded controllers made of biological parts to program system-level behavior.
This program will apply and advance existing control theory to design and implement generalizable biological control strategies analogous to conventional control engineering – for example, for mechanical and electrical systems. Specifically, the Biological Control program will demonstrate tools to rationally design and implement multiscale, closed-loop control of biological systems, through the development of biological controllers, testbeds to evaluate control of system-level behavior, and theory and models to predict and design effective control strategies. If successful, the resulting advances in fundamental understanding and capabilities will create new opportunities for engineering biology.
Projects in the Biological Control program are leveraging the full range of regulatory mechanisms that have evolved in living systems, by assembling those mechanisms to pursue a variety of approaches to design control into engineered biological systems. Examples include the manipulation of small molecules, such as transcription factors and riboswitches, to large proteins with multiple subunits, such as molecular motors and transmembrane receptors. The resulting biological controllers and control strategies will be generalizable to a variety of living systems, from cell-free systems and traditional laboratory microbes to synthetic organoid systems and animal models. Theorists working in parallel with experimentalists will develop new, predictive models for biological control. Each performer team will conclude the program with a demonstrated application of a controlled biological system that solves a practical problem of DoD significance.
You are now leaving the DARPA.mil website that is under the control and
management of DARPA. The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute
endorsement by DARPA of non-U.S. Government sites or the information,
products, or services contained therein. Although DARPA may or may not
use these sites as additional distribution channels for Department of
Defense information, it does not exercise editorial control over all of
the information that you may find at these locations. Such links are
provided consistent with the stated purpose of this website.
After reading this message, click to continue