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Signature Science Wins $2.9M IARPA Contract for Biological Threat Detection Computational Tools

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity has awarded Signature Science a $2.9 million contract to develop new computational tools to screen DNA sequences to detect biological threats that may arise from synthetic microbial manipulation.

Austin, Texas-based Signature Science is a subsidiary of the Southwest Research Institute. Under the IARPA grant, researchers from the company and other collaborating institutions hope to develop a bio-threat detection method that focuses on picking out functional genetic elements to increase analytic speed and precision, thereby dramatically improving predictive capacity to isolate the toxic gene that constitutes the threat.

Collaborators on the project include the Fraunhofer Center for Experimental Software Engineering, the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, the Bioinformatics Core of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, and synthetic biology firm ATUM.

IARPA is a division of the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and aims to invest in high-risk, high-payoff research programs to solve some of the most difficult challenges faces by the intelligence community.