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The Defense Sciences Office (DSO) at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is soliciting innovative research proposals that investigate electromagnetic signaling in biosystems. The RadioBio program aims to definitively establish whether purposeful signaling via electromagnetic waves between biological systems exists and, if it does, determine the mechanisms involved and the information being transferred. If electromagnetic communications between biosystems exist, then systematic study of the phenomenon may reveal new knowledge. New applications and capabilities in biology may result from this program, in addition to potential new strategies for dealing with communications in a cluttered electromagnetic environment. The RadioBio program will determine the validity of electromagnetic biosignaling claims and, where evidence exists, learn how the structure and function of these natural “antennas” are capable of generating and receiving information in a noisy, cluttered electromagnetic environment.
Over the last 100 years, biologists have studied communication between cells and a wide variety of biosystems. Chemical signaling between cells has been well studied and is accepted as an essential component of many biological processes. Nevertheless, biosystems are composed of physical entities, many of which are charged and in motion, and therefore generating electromagnetic waves. Within a single cell, distinct biological structures exist over a huge range of spatial dimensions (nanometers to meters) and a similarly large range of phenomenological time scales (picoseconds to minutes). These spatial and temporal scales, combined with the physical diversity of individual biological structures, make it inevitable that a broad spectrum of electromagnetic waves must interact with biosystems. In addition, numerous biological structures are structurally similar to artificial resonant structures and antennas and may respond similarly to electromagnetic radiation.
o Abstract Due Date: March 7, 2017
o Full Proposal Due Date: April 12, 2017
Areas of Interest
TA1: Hypothesis Testing: This is the primary focus of the RadioBio program. Teams responding to this TA must propose, model, and experimentally test specific hypothesized channels for electromagnetic communication in biological systems
TA2: Theory Support: A team, with a strong track record in, for example, antenna design may alternately propose to provide theoretical support for the program. In this case, a proposing team should demonstrate that they can provide a specific theoretical capability that will be useful to the overall goals of RadioBio. TA2 performers will model how the structure and function of biosystem structures, identified as natural antennas, are capable of generating and receiving information in what is likely to be a noisy spectral environment. Models will provide quantitative and parametric descriptions and predictions. This support may guide experiments towards definitively establishing whether purposeful communication via electromagnetic waves between biological systems and model what mechanisms are involved and what information is being transferred.
Multiple awards are anticipated. The level of funding for individual awards made under this BAA will depend on the quality of the proposals received and the availability of funds. Awards will be made to proposers2 whose proposals are determined to be the most advantageous to the Government, all evaluation factors and the availability of funding considered.