In this episode of our Voices from DARPA podcast, Eric Van Gieson, a program manager since 2017 in the agency’s Biological Technologies Office (BTO), recounts how a boyhood fascination with DARPA ultimately led to his current role overseeing a portfolio of envelope-pushing programs. These include a program that seeks new diagnostic tools for perhaps the earliest-possible detection of exposure to pathogens, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19; an effort to identify and leverage the biomolecular bases underlying optimal performance in such roles as piloting aircraft or participating in special forces missions; research toward new personal-protection technologies that combine advanced featherweight fabrics with designed, bio-based agents applied directly to the body where they can neutralize injurious chemical and biological agents before they can do damage; and a bold biomedical strategy that stands a chance of replacing some medicine-based treatments (for conditions ranging from irritable bowel syndrome to post-traumatic stress disorder) with treatments based on the electrical stimulation of the peripheral nervous system, specifically the far-reaching vagus nerve.
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