Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Infectious Disease

Relating to ailments caused by pathogens

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DARPA has enjoyed a strong relationship with Silicon Valley since the early 1960s, working with innovators to lay the groundwork for new industries built around Agency investments in semiconductors, networking, artificial intelligence, user interfaces, programming, materials, microsystems, and more. Biotech is now emerging as a breakthrough opportunity space and it represents an area that is ripe for fresh collaboration among DARPA, the nation’s top researchers, venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs.
Avian influenza (H7N9). MERS coronavirus. Ebola. Hepatitis E. Yellow Fever. Lassa. Zika. When you consider the viral infectious diseases that emerged and reemerged around the world in 2017 alone, what many of them have in common is that they originated in animals and spilled over into humans after a series of mutations that enable the pathogens to jump species.
Bacteria underpins much of our world, acting behind the scenes to affect the health and behavior of animals and plants. They help produce food, provide oxygen, and even reshape the environment through a vast array of biological processes. They come in a phenomenal number of strains—many still unknown—and thrive in different ecological and environmental niches all over the world. But while their diverse behaviors makes them essential to life, bacteria can also be deadly.
The increasing threat of infectious diseases is intensifying the need for breakthrough technologies and capabilities to protect first responders and equip them with therapeutics that can halt the impact of infectious agents. Current approaches for recent public health emergencies due to infectious diseases have not produced effective preventive or therapeutic solutions in a relevant timescale. Examples from recent outbreaks such as H3N2 (flu), Ebola, and Zika viruses highlight the significant lag in deployment and efficacy of life-saving solutions.
Protection against many common pathogens and environmental stressors is written into our DNA. Our skin responds to sun exposure. Our immune system mounts defenses when we get the flu. Our bodies inherently work to mitigate the potential for harm caused by these health threats. However, these intrinsic responses are not always quick, robust, or appropriate enough to adequately defend us from harm, which is why many people experience sunburn after intense sun exposure or suffer severe symptoms, even death, following exposure to the flu.