Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Harness Biological Systems

Leveraging genetic technologies to engineer synthetic or natural organisms

Showing 39 results for Bio-systems RSS
04/28/2015

Because DARPA’s programs push the leading edge of technology, they are sometimes society’s first notable encounter with the societal dilemmas associated with new capabilities. DARPA pursues these technologies because of their promise, and the Agency is committed to exploring domains that could leave the Nation vulnerable if not pursued. But DARPA’s leadership and team members also understand that, in this pursuit, the Agency’s work will at times raise ethical, legal, security or policy questions that cannot and should not go unaddressed.

Biological sensors often display high sensitivity, selectivity, and low false alarm rates while being fabricated and operated in dirty, noisy natural environments. Attempts to emulate these sensors synthetically have not fully met expectations. Recent evidence suggests that some biological sensors exploit nontrivial quantum mechanical effects to produce macroscopic output signals. Examples of such sensors include the highly efficient energy transfer properties of photosynthesis in plants, bacteria, and algae; magnetic field sensing used by some birds for navigation; and the ability of some animals to detect odors at the single molecule level.
The Safe Genes program supports force protection and military health and readiness by protecting Service members from accidental or intentional misuse of genome editing technologies. Additional work will leverage advances in gene editing technology to expedite development of advanced prophylactic and therapeutic treatments against gene editors. Advances within the program will ensure the United States remains at the vanguard of the broadly accessible and rapidly progressing field of genome editing.
The Synergistic Discovery and Design (SD2) program aims to develop data-driven methods to accelerate scientific discovery and robust design in domains that lack complete models. Engineers regularly use high-fidelity simulations to create robust designs in complex domains such as aeronautics, automobiles, and integrated circuits. In contrast, robust design remains elusive in domains such as synthetic biology, neuro-computation, and polymer chemistry due to the lack of high-fidelity models. SD2 seeks to develop tools to enable robust design despite the lack of complete scientific models.
Program Manager
Dr. Blake Bextine joined DARPA as a Program Manager in March 2016. He is interested in novel approaches to addressing issues facing agricultural biotechnology and biosecurity, including nucleic acid-based anti-pathogen/anti-pest strategies, insect and plant transformation strategies for rapid trait selection, and innovative approaches for altering insect behaviors.