Synthetic Biology for Naval Applications

This program aims to extend the natural capabilities of living organisms (such as microbes) by using synthetic biology to create systems that will provide new naval capabilities. The potential to design purpose-specific organisms — for environmental sensing and information processing, or, for production of electronic materials and devices — is attractive as a platform technical approach. Note that this program is not interested in mammalian cell engineering, biomedical applications, or metabolic engineering to produce fuels/pharmaceuticals.

Research Concentration Areas

  • Environmental Surveillance
  • Synthetic Microbial Electronics

Research Challenges and Opportunities

  • Fundamental research is needed to understand and exploit unique regulatory control, and sensing elements, particularly for microbe-mineral or microbe-metal interactions
  • Research is also needed to understand the microbial genetics, physiology and respiratory processes that control the morphology and composition of biogenic mineral/metal nanomaterials and structures
  • Strategies to shorten the cellular sense-to-response interval are needed to enable practical applications (e.g., avoiding genetically-encoded responses dependent on transcription/translation)
  • Applied research is needed to integrate engineered microbes with complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) or optoelectronic interfaces to enable monitoring of seawater (or other media) for analytes of interest (e.g., organic/inorganic pollutants, energetic materials, pathogens or their toxins)
  • Research directed at integrating living, engineered cells into autonomous systems to enable bi-directional communication and control is also desired

Program Contact Information

Name: Dr. Linda Chrisey

Title: Program Officer

Department: Code 342

Email for Questions:

How to Submit

For detailed application and submission information for this research topic, please see our Funding Opportunities page and refer to broad agency announcement (BAA) No. N00014-21-S-B001.

  • Contracts: All white papers and full proposals for contracts must be submitted through FedConnect; instructions are included in the BAA.
  • Grants: All white papers for grants must be submitted through FedConnect, and full proposals for grants must be submitted through; instructions are included in the BAA.

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