Functional Genomic and Computational Assessment of Threats (Fun GCAT)
The Functional Genomic and Computational Assessment of Threats (Fun GCAT) program intends to develop new approaches and tools for the screening of nucleic acid sequences, and for the functional annotation and characterization of genes of concern, with the goal of preventing the accidental or intentional creation of a biological threat. Advances in biotechnology and synthetic biology over the past decade have the potential to address important societal challenges in food, energy, and medicine. Despite the promising advances these technologies might enable, the potential for their deliberate or accidental misuse exists, warranting the development of approaches to help prevent the creation of biothreats. Currently, biological threats are organized based on genetic relatedness, resulting in static, threat-based lists that fail to emphasize biological functions, or assess the risks of unknown sequences. In order to better address biosecurity concerns, the Fun GCAT program intends to develop next-generation computational and bioinformatics tools to improve DNA sequence screening, to augment biodefense capabilities through the characterization of threats based on function, and to advance our understanding of the relative risks posed by unknown nucleic acid sequences. These tools will enhance the ability to computationally and functionally analyze nucleic acid sequences, ascribe threat potential to known and unknown genes through comparisons to the functions of known threats, and facilitate the ability to screen and identify sequences of concern, including genes responsible for the pathogenesis and virulence of viral threats, bacterial threats, and toxins.
Performers (Prime Contractors)
Battelle Memorial Institute; Harvard University; Signature Science; SRI International; and Virginia Tech
- DNA sequence screening
- Functional genomics
- Systems biology
- Infectious disease
- Synthetic biology
To access Fun GCAT program-related publications, please visit Google Scholar.
- The DNA Cops Who Make Sure the World’s Deadliest Viruses Aren’t Rebuilt
- UMIACS Partners with Fraunhofer, Signature Science on DNA Screening Technologies
- Intelligence Agency Wants to Keep ‘Novel Organisms’ From Threatening Humans