The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) — the advanced research and development arm of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence — recently launched a program to develop new innovations for tackling threats and advances inherent within the rapidly changing biointelligence and biosecurity landscapes.
The Biointelligence and Biosecurity for the Intelligence Community (B24IC) program represents the Intelligence Community’s (IC) latest investment in research that pushes the boundaries of our biointelligence and biosecurity understanding and technologies. The resulting innovations could have far-reaching impacts, with the potential to develop new ways to collect, detect, analyze, and prevent traditional biothreats, while addressing possibilities and dangers associated with biotechnology. To address these challenges, the IC seeks to advance research across multiple biology sub-disciplines.
The program aims to create technologies that:
- Enable biological material attribution and/or origination and new sensing modalities for austere environments and living systems;
- Facilitate methods for improving biosecurity through cellular memory;
- Lead to new capabilities to effectively and securely transfer biological data;
- Detect and/or characterize highly-sensitive biomolecules and biological targets of interest; and
- Strengthen digital and physical security of infrastructure, instrumentation, databases, and data associated with synthetic biology, biological samples, and biotechnologies.
“The rapid proliferation of biotechnology stands to pose new national security risks that the IC will need to counter and mitigate,” said B24IC Program Manager Dr. Michael Patterson. “B24IC could boost our approach to biointelligence and biosecurity far beyond our current understanding and years or decades into the future.”
Through a competitive Broad Agency Announcement, IARPA awarded B24IC research contracts to the following lead organizations, which together bring a group of nine academic institutions, non-profits, and businesses into the program:
- Exodigm Biosciences
- Quantitative BioSciences, Inc.
- The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Inc.
- Raytheon BBN
- Georgia Tech Research Institute
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Ginkgo Bioworks
- Battelle Memorial Institute
The B24IC test and evaluation team consists of Los Alamo National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratory, and the Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific.
The program is anticipated to run in two phases for a total of 24 months. Phase A will last nine months, while Phase B will be a 15-month effort.