HDIAC Webinar - DNA as a Molecular Engineering Platform for Defense Applications
DNA is more than a blueprint for living organisms. In the right hands, it can be used as a self-assembling, nanoscale building material with exquisite design properties. Over the past 15 years, DNA nanotechnology has emerged as one of the most promising platforms for the rational design of nanoscale devices.  By “programming” DNA sequences to take advantage of DNA’s inherent complementarity (“A’s bind to T’s; C’s bind to G’s”), DNA can be made to precisely fold into complex shapes with rich functionality, giving nanoengineers precise control over many aspects of a design, such as size, shape, surface charge, surface hydrophobicity, choice of functional elements, and their spatial arrangement. Because a wide variety of molecular species can now be attached to DNA via a growing number of oligonucleotide chemistries, it can be used as a self-organizing substrate that enables a wide array of molecular species to be integrated into sophisticated macromolecular devices.

In this presentation, Dr. Steven Armentrout will describe how DNA nanotechnology is being used to create molecular devices, some less than 100nm in size, for defense applications ranging from nanosensors for pathogen detection to nanocarriers for delivery of drugs, genetic material, and cognitive boosting compounds. He will also show how computer-aided design (CAD) and virtual reality (VR) software, partially developed with DoD funding, is enabling nanoengineers to create, inspect, and edit nanoscale designs with ease and precision. Participants in this webinar will leave with an appreciation of the potential of DNA nanotechnology, its ability to address a variety of nanoengineering challenges, and an awareness of the many potential defense applications to which it can be applied.

Presenter:
Steven Armentrout, PhD, is co-founder and CEO of Parabon NanoLabs, a DNA technology company named by Inc. Magazine as one of the Top 5 Most Innovative Companies in 2018. Dr. Armentrout is a machine learning expert, with nearly 30 years' experience designing and using high-performance computing solutions to solve challenging problems in a wide range of domains, including stock selection, facial recognition, and DNA nanocarrier design.  Under his leadership, Parabon revolutionized forensic DNA analysis with its Snapshot® Advanced DNA Analysis service, which began as a Department of Defense contract with the original intent of identifying bomb makers who had created improvised explosive devices.  Since being made available to law enforcement, the technology has generated leads resulting in over 130 positive identifications in cases that had been cold, on average, for over 25 years.  He has also served as Principal Investigator for research projects funded by NASA, NSF, DoE and NIH, and he is currently working on a technique for DNA nanostructure design, which he will describe in this webinar.  Dr. Armentrout holds a PhD in Computer Science specializing in neural networks from the University of Maryland.
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