Office of Naval Research Awards Densmore for Synthetic Biology Research


Assistant Professor Douglas Densmore (ECE, BME)
Assistant Professor Douglas Densmore (ECE, BME)

Synthetic biology is a newer area of science and engineering that focuses on creating innovative biological systems in hopes of finding out how life works and ultimately providing societal benefits such as improved disease diagnosis and treatment.

Boston University Assistant Professor Douglas Densmore (ECE) focuses on the engineering side of this cutting-edge field and researches how to better collect and manage data about synthetic biological systems.

Progress in synthetic biology research is, in part, dependent on obtaining data quickly and accurately. One of the hindrances of progress, Densmore said, has been obtaining characterization data, or information about the behavior over time of DNA and protein in biological systems.

“The work has not only begun to slow in the wet lab as time is wasted on making constructs that do not function as predicted; it’s also slowed in our computational lab as our software tools are used to integrate characterization data into a shared database,” said Densmore.

To help with this problem, the Office of Naval Research recently announced that they will award Densmore $419,220 to purchase flow cytometry machinery. The funding is part of $54.7 million that the Department of Defense is giving to academic institutions to support the purchase of new research equipment under the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP).

“Our efforts and those of our collaborators have begun stalling due to lack of characterization data,” Densmore said. “Having flow cytometry machinery available for our research projects will alleviate this situation.”

To view a complete list of winning proposals, view the U.S. Department of Defense press release.

-Rachel Harrington (

Related link:
“NSF Awards Densmore $1.1M for Clotho Research”