The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Pentagon’s $2.9 billion technology research arm, plans to invest heavily in “synthetic biology” — a field focused on creating man-made life which is widely seen as a future source of drugs, materials, and biofuels.
Foreseeing brain implants, bionic limbs, and more Ebola-like outbreaks, DARPA says that biology “is rich in potential breakthroughs” for the military and national security, according to a report published on Thursday. A decade ago, physics and computer science dominated its efforts. Now more than than $300 million of the agency’s budget goes toward biological projects — a number that is expected to grow.
“We think there are very potent opportunities to harness biology as a technology,” said DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar at a briefing last week on the new report.