Synthetic Biology for Naval Applications
This Office of Naval Research program aims to extend the natural capabilities of living organisms such as viruses, microbes, algae and plants using synthetic biology to create systems that will provide new naval capabilities. Among the objectives of the program are:
- The development of ‘sense and respond’ robust sentinel organisms that are able to communicate with non-living autonomous devices such as robots; and
- Improving tools needed to advance the field such as new sensor circuits with optical/magnetic/electrical input/output capabilities; novel information processing circuits; rapid screening of circuits in cells; and, an expanded toolkit of orthogonal, validated genetic regulatory elements.
The potential to design purpose-specific organisms—for environmental sensing or possibly information processing in autonomous systems—is attractive as a future DOD platform technical approach. To attain this ‘design for purpose’ capability, and to fully realize the promise of synthetic biology for both civilian and DOD-specific applications, research is needed to elucidate or to create new genetic functions, to understand regulatory control elements and unusual metabolic capabilities, perform computer-aided biological circuit design, and to rapidly synthesize and test complex multi-gene constructs.
See list of recent awards.
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