IARPA-Funded Research Aims to Develop Rapid Identification of Gene-Based BioThreats

Fraunhofer USA CESE teams with UM, Others to win 2nd Round of FunGCAT Project Funding

23.4.2019

College Park, April 23, 2019:  Advances in biotechnology and synthetic biology over the past decade have the potential to address important societal challenges in food, energy, and medicine. But these technological advances come with the potential for their deliberate or accidental misuse, warranting the development of approaches to help prevent the creation of bio threats.

The federal government’s Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) has supported the Functional Genomic and Computational Assessment of Threats (FunGCAT) program beginning in 2017. The initiative’s objective is to develop new approaches and tools for screening nucleic acid sequences, and for the functional annotation and characterization of genes of concern, with the goal of preventing the accidental or intentional creation of biological threats. To do this, FunGCAT researchers focus on development of next-generation computational and bioinformatics tools to improve DNA sequence screening, augment biodefense capabilities through the characterization of threats based on function, and to advance our understanding of the relative risks posed by unknown nucleic acid sequences.

IARPA’s recent announcement of second round funding awards will allow College Park-based Fraunhofer USA Center for Experimental Software Engineering CESE to continue teaming with the University of Maryland, Austin-based Signature Science, Rice University, and several other partners in the program’s next phase. Fraunhofer USA CESE will continue to provide software and systems engineering and quality assurance support over the course of the 14-month project to ensure delivery of robust and reliable software systems.

“We’re extremely proud to be working on this project with such a high caliber project team. This project requires the building of very complex software that works quickly and reliably under tight resource constraints. Our project team brings together top expertise in biology, bioinformatics and software and systems engineering to solve that challenge”, said Dr. Adam Porter, Fraunhofer USA CESE’s Executive and Scientific Director.

This effort is supported by the U.S. Army Research Office. The content of this release does not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of the Government, and no official endorsement should be inferred.

Fraunhofer USA, Inc.  is a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit charitable organization incorporated in Rhode Island, dedicated to the advancement of applied research. Fraunhofer USA, Inc. was founded in 1994 to conduct applied R & D for customers from industry and state and the federal government in the United States.

Working closely with Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Europe's largest application-oriented research and development organization and its sole corporate member, Fraunhofer USA, Inc. can offer both domestic and international resources to enhance its portfolio of R & D services.

Fraunhofer USA CESE, one of seven Centers comprising Fraunhofer USA Inc., conducts applied research to support the software-enabled innovations created by our customers in industry, government, and academia.

For more information go to www.cese.fraunhofer.org

Contact: Pete O’Neill

Phone: 301-314-6053

poneill(at)fc-md.umd.edu