Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Apply Biological Complexity at Scale

Relating to insights that can be derived from examining living-system dynamics at an enormous range of spatial, physical and temporal scales

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FunCC aims to uncover fundamental principles of resilient self-organized complex systems applicable to domains spanning autonomous systems to biological networks, the immune system, and ecosystems. The dynamics and evolution of complex collectives are explored using new frameworks that embrace agent heterogeneity, stochasticity, distributed control, and diffusion of (mis)information.
The Insect Allies program is pursuing scalable, readily deployable, and generalizable countermeasures against potential natural and engineered threats to the food supply with the goals of preserving the U.S. crop system. National security can be quickly jeopardized by naturally occurring threats to the crop system, including pathogens, drought, flooding, and frost, but especially by threats introduced by state or non-state actors. Insect Allies seeks to mitigate the impact of these incursions by applying targeted therapies to mature plants with effects that are expressed at relevant timescales—namely, within a single growing season.
Panacea is a fundamental research program designed to provide novel, multi-target therapeutics that address under-met physiological needs of Department of Defense operators. To do so, the program is applying a systems-pharmacology approach to address the intrinsic complexity of biological processes and unlock more of the potential drug target space in the human proteome. If it succeeds, it will yield new drugs that address some of the challenging physical demands faced by warfighters, including metabolic stress — as with prolonged exertion at high altitude — and activity-related soft tissue injury and resultant pain and inflammation.
The Persistent Aquatic Living Sensors (PALS) program aims to leverage biology to augment the Department of Defense’s existing, hardware-based maritime monitoring capabilities. The program will tap into marine organisms’ innate abilities to sense and respond to perturbations in their environments and apply those abilities to the detection, characterization, and reporting of manned or unmanned underwater vehicles ranging from small autonomous vessels to large nuclear submarines.
Pathogens with pandemic potential, toxic chemicals, and radioactive materials all endanger public health and pose a threat to national security. Despite investment in the development of medical countermeasures (MCMs) to address these threats, many existing MCMs suffer from limited applicability, insufficient efficacy, requirements for repeat dosing, lengthy and complex manufacturing processes, and logistically burdensome storage requirements. In many cases, unique threats require unique responses, setting up a “one threat, one MCM” paradigm.