Signature Science Team Awarded Phase 3 Funding for IARPA Fun GCAT Program

AUSTIN, TEXAS – April 21, 2020 – Signature Science, LLC has been selected to continue their support of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) in Phase 3 of the Functional Genomic and Computational Assessment of Threats (Fun GCAT) program. The research team will continue development of the Sequence to Functional Analysis of Threats (S2FAST) software for screening short DNA sequences to reveal species of origin, functional annotations, and threat assessments, with a focus on preparing the software for use by the end user community. In the third and final research phase, funding is valued at $1.9 million.
The challenge throughout Phases 1 & 2 has been to overcome the sensitivity and precision limitations of contemporary synthetic DNA screening practices to rapidly extrapolate functional information and isolate a prospective threat within a segment of DNA. In Phase 3, the multi-disciplinary research team, composed of molecular biologists, bioinformatics specialists, statisticians, and software engineers will fine-tune the core sequence analysis tools for sensitive taxonomic identification and functional characterization of short input sequences developed under Phases 1 & 2.
Signature Science was a prime performer for Phases 1 and 2 of the Fun GCAT program. ”We are grateful for IARPA’s sustained commitment to this research and for the organizational energy that fueled the research team as it advanced genomic theory to the cusp of operational application,” said Dr. Krista Ternus, the Signature Science Principal Investigator. “The advancements we and our partners have made in the characterization of short sequences are incredibly exciting, and we are proud to share the software developed with other distinguished members of our field.”
Work under the contract is expected to be performed at Signature Science facilities in Austin, TX, as well as partner facilities in Houston, TX and College Park, MD.

Researchers from Signature Science, Rice University, University of Maryland, and Fraunhofer USA Center for Experimental Software Engineering will transition the computational tools developed to predict the function and threat potential of short DNA sequences to the end user community.

About Signature Science, LLC: A subsidiary of the Southwest Research Institute, Signature Science, LLC is a scientific and technical consulting firm providing multi-disciplinary applied research, technology design and development, and scientific, technical and operational services to government and industry.

This effort is supported by the U.S. Army Research Office. The content of this release does not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of the Government, and no official endorsement should be inferred.