Computer Scientists Lead NSF-Funded DNA Nanotechnology Project

September 11, 2012

The National Science Foundation has awarded a three-year, $925,000 research grant to Computer Science faculty members Jack Lutz, Robyn Lutz, and Jim Lathrop, and Genetics, Development, and Cell Biology faculty member Eric Henderson for research in DNA nanotechnology. 

DNA nanotechnology, also known as molecular programming, exploits the information-processing capabilities of nucleic acids to design self-assembling, programmable structures and devices at the nanoscale. Simply stated, molecular programming isprogramming matter to do our bidding at molecular scales, and it is programming in the literal sense of computer science. 

This project will combine methods from molecular biology with methods from computer science, and especially software engineering, to begin the development of a discipline of robust molecular programming. This will be a systematic process for programming DNA nanosystems with a high level of confidence that they will do what they are supposed to do, despite the probabilistic vicissitudes of the chemical kinetics of their environments. 

The project team includes graduate and undergraduate students and will be interdisciplinary at all levels. The long-term objective of this research is to make DNA nanotechnology--with its anticipated applications to medicine, materials science, information technology, manufacturing, energy production, and other enterprises of twenty-first century society--more productive, predictable, and safe. 

Inquiries about this project may be directed to Jack Lutz.