Biomolecular Circuits for Rapid Detection and Response to Environmental Events

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This project funded by the ARO Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies, an Army University Affiliated Research Center (UARC)

Project participants:

  • Andrew Halleran (Alumni, BE)
  • Victoria Hsiao (PhD student, BE)
  • Joe Meyerowitz (PhD student, BMB)
  • Andrey Shur (Alumni, BE)
  • Emzo de los Santos (PhD student, BE → U. Warwick)
  • Dan Siegal (-Gaskins) (postdoc, BE → Schafer Corp)*



The goal of this project is to develop a set of biomolecular circuit modules for detecting molecular events that can be interconnected to create biological devices capable of monitoring the local environment around a cell, detecting and remembering complex temporal patterns, and triggering a response. We will build on previous ICB-supported work in design of biomolecular feedback circuits for modular, robust and rapid response, including design of proteins with programmable modulation of activity, design of domain-based scaffolds for programmable sensing and computa- tion, and development of forced response testing for signal response and robustness to environmental conditions. We will also exploit ongoing activities (funded by DARPA) in the development of biomolecular breadboards for proto- typing and debugging of biomolecular circuits.

Specific objectives for this project include:

  • Demonstrate individual components for signal detection, event memory, species comparison and basic logical operation in a mutually compatible set of technologies.
  • Demonstrate a simple set of event detectors that trigger expression of a protein (reporter or enzyme) for the conditions “A > B” and “A followed by B”.
  • Demonstrate the ability to interconnect individual event detectors to monitor the environment for more complex temporal patterns


Research supported by the Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies through grant W911NF-09-0001 from the U.S. Army Research Office. The content of the information does not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of the Government, and no official endorsement should be inferred.

  • Agency: Army Research Office
  • Grant number:
  • Start date: 1 Dec 2013
  • End date: 30 Nov 2018
  • Support: ~2 graduate students + supplies
  • Reporting: annual reports due in June