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- Research Programs from BAA - Life Sciences
Research Programs from BAA - Life Sciences
The ARO Life Sciences Division supports research efforts to advance the Army and Nation's knowledge and understanding of the fundamental properties, principles, and processes governing DNA, RNA, proteins, organelles, prokaryotes, and eukaryotes, as well as multi-species communities, biofilms, individual humans, and groups of humans. The interests of the Life Sciences Division are primarily in the following areas: biochemistry, neuroscience, microbiology, molecular biology, genetics, genomics, proteomics, epigenetics, systems biology, bioinformatics, and social science. The results of fundamental research supported by this division are expected to enable the creation of new technologies for optimizing warfighters' physical and cognitive performance capabilities, for protecting warfighters, and for creating new Army capabilities in the areas of biomaterials, energy, logistics, and intelligence.
The Division's research Programs are currently focused on six research areas. The titles, scopes and points of contact for these Programs, each of which address general aspects of basic research in life sciences, are listed below. Communication with the appropriate ARO Technical Point of Contact is encouraged for preliminary discussions of ideas. The best starting point is an email and/or informal white paper (one to two pages) describing a specific research objective, scientific approach, and the anticipated scientific impact. A small number of symposia, conferences and workshops are also supported in part or in whole to provide an exchange of ideas in areas of Army interest.
This Program seeks to understand and control the function, structure, and organization of biomolecules to enable the development of novel systems, materials and processes that enhance Soldier protection and performance. This Program emphasizes innovative high-risk fundamental research in biomolecular self-assembly, molecular recognition and specificity, structure-function relationships, enzymology, biomolecular engineering for novel or enhanced function, sensing and responsive capabilities of biomolecules and cells, mechanisms of biomolecular energy generation and mechanical motion, and molecular and macromolecular organization. Of particular interest are studies exploring the controlled organization of biomolecules at the nanoscale, the integration of biomolecules with synthetic materials or systems, and innovative approaches for supporting biological activity outside of the cellular environment and in non-aqueous conditions.
Technical Point of Contact: Dr. Stephanie McElhinny, e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org, (919) 549-4240
1.2 Molecular Genetics
This Program supports basic research in molecular genetics, genomics, epigenetics, and systems biology in areas that may enable the optimization of the Soldier’s cognitive and physical performance capabilities, enhance Soldier protection, and improve Army logistics in areas such as biomaterials, energy, and intelligence. This Program emphasizes innovative high-risk fundamental research in areas such as identification and characterization of gene function, gene regulation, genetic interactions, gene pathways, gene expression patterns, epigenetics, mitochondrial regulation and biogenesis, and nuclear and mitochondrial DNA replication, mutagenesis, oxidative stress, and DNA repair. This Program is interested in identifying and understanding the molecular factors that affect human performance and human protection under both normal conditions, and when affected by a variety of stressors that are likely to be encountered in battlefield situations, such as dehydration, heat, cold, sleep deprivation, fatigue, caloric insufficiency, pathogens, and psychological stress. Also of interest are molecular responses to pathogens, pathogen identification, and pathogen inactivation, as well as host-pathogen interactions, host components of infection and resistance to infection, and mechanisms of prokaryotic adaptation. Finally, this Program supports research into biological components of social instability.
Technical Point of Contact: Dr. Micheline Strand, e-mail: email@example.com, (919)549-4343.
This Program supports fundamental high-risk, high impact research in microbial physiology, genetics, ecology, and evolution with Army relevance. Included are studies to elucidate antimicrobial resistance mechanisms, microbial community interactions, population dynamics, studies of organisms that are not culturable, studies of organisms at the single cell level, and studies of organisms that have adapted to extreme environments. Of special interest are studies on microbial adaptation to changes in their environment, and studies to enhance stabilization of materiel. Also included are fundamental studies that enable development and exploitation of microbial systems for unique biotechnological applications and bioengineering processes such as by developing innovative approaches to metabolic engineering or protein evolution. Basic mechanisms underlying biodegradation of anthropogenic compounds, mechanisms underlying the synthesis and assembly of biomaterials, and studies of microbiological mechanisms with potential for contributing to the remediation of sites contaminated with toxic wastes will also be considered. Additionally, of joint interest with the Biomathematics Program, are research efforts that advance our ability to work with complex biological data sets to increase understanding of biological systems, ranging from single-cell processes to multi-cellular interactions.
Technical Point of Contact: Dr. Wallace Buchholz, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, (919) 549-4230.
1.4 Neurophysiology and Cognitive Neuroscience
Research in the perception and cognition subfields of neurophysiology and the cognitive neurosciences, covering several or all areas of electrophysiology, psychophysiology, sensory and perceptual physiology, computational neurobiology, psychophysics, neuropsychology, and integrative neurobiology is of interest. Specific examples can include physiological, neuro-psychological and/or cortical/cognitive mechanisms underlying successful completion of complex task behaviors applicable to non-laboratory environments under non-ideal conditions, including both amelioration of induced losses as well as enhancement in defined perceptual, cognitive and/or motor abilities in healthy humans. Investigations can span the gamut from multi-unit recordings through evoked potentials and neuro-imaging technologies to humoral and psychological correlates of both central and peripheral nervous system function. Non-medically oriented research in both human volunteers and animal models designed to elucidate the fundamental physiology underlying cognition and possible non-invasive methods of monitoring, and using cognitive states and processes during normal activity is appropriate. Perceptual and/or psycho physiological implications of mind-machine interfaces ranging from optimizing auditory, visual and/or somatosensory display, and control systems based on physiological or psychological states through modeling of individual cognitive dynamics is appropriate to this research area.
Technical Point of Contact: Dr. Frederick Gregory e-mail frederick.d.gregory2.us.army.mil, (919) 549-4318.
1.5 Cultural and Behavioral Science
The goal of this Program is to gain a better theoretical understanding of human behavior through the development of mathematical, computational, statistical, simulation and other models that provide fundamental insights into factors contributing to human socio-cultural dynamics. This Program is divided into two research thrusts: (i) Predicting Human Behavior, and (ii) Complex Human Social Systems. Within these thrusts, high-risk, high pay-off research efforts are identified and supported to pursue the Program’s long-term goal. The Program supports scientific research that focuses on the basic theoretical foundations of human behavior at various levels (individual actors to whole societies) and across various temporal and spatial scales. This includes, but is not limited to, research on the evolution and dynamics of social systems and organizations, human adaptation and response to both natural and human induced perturbations (e.g., global climate change, mass migration, war, attempts at democratization), interactions between human and natural systems, the role of culture and cognition in accounting for variations in human behavior, human decision-making under risk and uncertainty, the search for organizing principles in social networks, and the emergent and latent properties of dynamic social systems and networks. The research involves a wide range of approaches, including computational modeling, mathematical modeling, agent-based simulations, econometric modeling and statistical modeling, to name a few. The Program also recognizes the fact that the building and validation of models in the social sciences is often limited by the availability of adequate and appropriate sources of primary data. Thus some of the supported research includes the collection of primary data for the development and testing of models. Finally the Program also supports research in the development of methodologies (e.g., measurement, data collection, statistical methods, and research designs) that have the potential to help advance our scientific understanding of human behavior. Research focuses on high-risk approaches involving highly complex scientific problems in the social sciences. Despite these risks, the research must have the potential to make significant contributions to the Army through applications that will, for example, improve decision-making at various levels (policy, combat operations), create real-time, computer-based cultural situational awareness systems for tactical decision-making, increase the predictability of adversarial intent, and produce integrated data and modeling in situ for rapid socio-cultural assessment in conflict zones and in humanitarian efforts.
Technical Point of Contact: Dr. James Harvey e-mail: email@example.com,(703) 696-2533.
1.6 Institutional and Organizational Science
The objective of this Program is to understand the emergence, maintenance, and evolution of human organizations and institutions, including but not limited to societies, states, religions, markets, economic systems, legal systems, bureaucracies, political parties, social movements, and formal and informal networks. Currently, subject matter expertise, which varies in quality, and is subjective and unreliable are the main tools of policy and decision makers in this area. Social scientific analysis, when applied, is applied post-hoc once crises are over to provide important insights and lessons learned, but are not employed to anticipate crises or evaluate social change in real time. This is to a large degree because current methods for collecting and analyzing data are too time-consuming and costly to employ until an area of operation and specific research question are identified. Two specific goals of this Program are to (i) identify general theory, abstracted from the details of particular social contexts, to be used universally to anticipate crises or change, and (ii) make data collection and analysis less costly and sufficiently efficient to make feasible the consistent monitoring of events around the globe. Research projects in this Program can include a broad range of approaches including empirical approaches that require primary data collection, such as random control trials, quasi experiments, field experiments, surveys, comparative and observational studies, as well as the use of secondary data sources, such as archival data or news reports, and also formal, mathematical or computational approaches. Of special interest is research on the reciprocal effect of individuals on institutions and institutions on people: how do institutions shape attitudes and opportunities and constrain behavior, and how do the choices and actions of people and groups, impact and change institutions. The development of a systematic and efficient approach to collect and analyze data to describe fundamental social processes and detect changes in institutional structures can provide military decision makers with the means to understand and anticipate the decisions and activities that impact U.S. interests and national security.
Technical Point of Contact: Dr. Elisa Bienenstock, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, (703) 696-2530.