In 2007, and his research team at the University of California, Berkeley started developing software that could engineer synthetic biological systems and improve how the data behind them was managed. Their work had the potential to improve disease diagnosis and treatment.
Five years later, their research is still going strong. Densmore was recently awarded a three-year grant totaling $1.1 million from the National Science Foundation’s Advances in Biological Informatics for his open source platform, better known as .
“We’re very excited to work with the NSF to take Clotho to the next level,” said Densmore. “This will start paving the way for Clotho to go from proof-of-concept to viable commercial software.”
Clotho uses an App environment similar to an iPhone so that anyone can share and create new tools. In addition, it provides a mechanism to begin the process of creating standardized data, algorithms and methodologies for synthetic biology. The grant will provide Densmore and his research team with funding that will allow them to complete the development of the software. Their will serve as both a portal for Clotho development and a community resource.
The project includes collaborations with researchers at Boston University, UC Berkeley, the University of Washington, and BIOFAB: International Open Facility Advancing Biotechnology. UC Berkeley Assistant Professor J. Christopher Anderson is a co-principal investigator on the grant and a co-founder of the Clotho framework.
Earlier this year, Clotho also acted as an educational resource by providing students with a chance to develop their own automated design software. Using Densmore’s platform, a team made up of BU and Wellesley College students used Clotho to create software tools that could potentially lead to more effective diagnostics and drugs for tuberculosis. They went on to win the at the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) World Jamboree at MIT.