Laboratory-on-a-Chip for Multiplexed Bioassay Analysis

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) is seeking information on the topic of Lab-on-a-Chip (LOC) technology. This request for information (RFI) is issued solely for information gathering and planning purposes; this RFI does not constitute a formal solicitation for proposals. The following sections of this announcement contain details of the scope of technical efforts of interest, along with instructions for the submission of responses.



The purpose of this RFI is to learn the current state of the art and challenges in the area of lab-on-a-chip (LOC) technology. IARPA is interested in the respondents' perspectives on and analysis of the maturity of LOC technologies. IARPA also seeks to identify organizations that are interested in providing infrastructure support via existing, modified or new LOC platforms. IARPA is interested in the development of portable LOC platforms able to provide simultaneous rapid and reliable detection, analysis, and read-out of chemical and biological exposure omni-omic signatures in less than ten minutes. Achieving this goal will require autonomous microfluidic processing methods to take a raw human body fluid sample (i.e., blood, saliva, sweat, feces, urine or tears) in order to extract and subsequently analyze its relevant constituents for subsequent biochemical analysis of proteins, cells, nucleic acids, etc. IARPA therefore seeks innovative approaches directed toward achieving an ability to extract large and diverse types of protein, cellular, and nucleic acid information from small quantities (<100 µL) of actual human fluids. Approaches to realizing integrated LOC platforms capable of performing meaningful sample clean-up, extractions, and subsequent multiplexed bioassay analysis are also sought.

Background & Scope

IARPA is interested in understanding the intelligence value of human physiological changes associated with involvement in chemical and biological weapons manufacture and materials handling reflected through omni-omic response signatures, i.e., based on immunological, transcriptional, genomic, proteomic, metabolomic, epigenetic and microbiomic characteristics. The human adaptive immune system is known to carry a long-term memory of exposure to antigens, i.e., molecules derived from the chemical constituents of pathogenic organisms and viruses. Human immune memory resides in T and B memory cells (lymphocytes), and also in plasma cells that secrete circulating antibodies into the bloodstream directed against specific antigens. The adaptive immune system is purposefully stimulated by vaccines, which are designed to provoke lasting responses that can lead to disease resistance. Immune memory, whether natural or by vaccination, can be extremely long-lived. Certain forms of persistent response have already been well established through biomedical research, while other forms presently remain less well-characterized.

To support the above vision, LOCs that can detect and identify specific proteins, modified DNA, microRNA, toxins and metabolic products (omni-omic signatures) will be of great interest. Analyses will need to be accomplished with high reliability and based on the collection of small volumes (<100 µL) of human body fluids.

Responses may address any or all of the following questions:

  • Are there any LOC platforms currently available to conduct these analyses and assays? What is the level of detection of the current platforms for proteins, nucleic acids, metabolites and related analytes?
  • Are there available LOCs that are adaptable to meet the IARPA applications of interest?
  • What new LOC technologies can address IARPA's interests?
  • What are the challenges of sample clean up and should this step be on-chip or off-chip?
  • Based on sample size and molecular type will the proposed LOC technique require any amplification or pre-concentration steps? What are the challenges?
  • What are the challenges associated with developing a reconfigurable microfluidic chip that can perform real-time assays for a specific agent of interest?
  • What time, analyte concentration, and fluid property constraints are associated with the microfluidic processing capabilities described?
  • What are the scalable methods that would enable rapid and high extraction efficiency of specific proteins and nucleic acids?
  • What are the realistic power, weight, and volume for a proposed hand-held multianalyte processing system?

Preparation Instructions to Respondents

IARPA solicits respondents to submit ideas related to this topic for use by the Government in formulating a potential program. IARPA requests that submittals briefly and clearly describe the potential approach or concept, outline critical technical issues/obstacles, describe how the approach may address those issues/obstacles and comment on the expected performance and robustness of the proposed approach. If appropriate, respondents may also choose to provide a non-proprietary rough order of magnitude (ROM) regarding what such approaches might require in terms of funding and other resources for one or more years. This announcement contains all of the information required to submit a response. No additional forms, kits, or other materials are needed.

IARPA appreciates responses from all capable and qualified sources from within and outside of the US. Because IARPA is interested in an integrated approach, responses from teams with complementary areas of expertise are encouraged.

Responses have the following formatting requirements:

  1. A one page cover sheet that identifies the title, organization(s), respondent's technical and administrative points of contact - including names, addresses, phone and fax numbers, and email addresses of all co-authors, and clearly indicating its association with RFI-13-04;
  2. A substantive, focused, one-half page executive summary;
  3. A description (limited to 5 pages in minimum 12 point Times New Roman font, appropriate for single-sided, single-spaced 8.5 by 11 inch paper, with 1-inch margins) of the technical challenges and suggested approach(es);
  4. A list of citations (any significant claims or reports of success must be accompanied by citations, and reference material MUST be attached);
  5. Optionally, a single overview briefing chart graphically depicting the key ideas.

Disclaimers and Important Notes

This is an RFI issued solely for information and planning purposes and does not constitute a solicitation. Respondents are advised that IARPA is under no obligation to acknowledge receipt of the information received, or provide feedback to respondents with respect to any information submitted under this RFI.

Responses to this notice are not offers and cannot be accepted by the Government to form a binding contract. Respondents are solely responsible for all expenses associated with responding to this RFI. IARPA will not provide reimbursement for costs incurred in responding to this RFI or reimbursement for travel. It is the respondent's responsibility to ensure that the submitted material has been approved for public release by the information owner.

The Government does not intend to award a contract on the basis of this RFI or to otherwise pay for the information solicited, nor is the Government obligated to issue a solicitation based on responses received. Neither proprietary nor classified concepts or information should be included in the submittal. Input on technical aspects of the responses may be solicited by IARPA from non-Government consultants/experts who are bound by appropriate non-disclosure requirements.


For information contact:



Posted Date: June 6, 2013
Responses Due: July 5, 2013