Transformational Synbio for Military Environments (TRANSFORME)

Synthetic Biology has the potential to tip the balance of combat power more than any other research domain. The ongoing biotechnical revolution is projected to deliver a global bioeconomy worth $3.44 trillion by 2030. Our near peer competitors recognize the promise of biotechnology and synthetic biology and are currently working to gain advantage through the development and deployment of biotechnical capability.

Biology offers inherently responsive and dynamic capabilities that we must harness in innovative ways to deliver augmenting and standalone capability to the warfighter. The TRANSFROME ERP seeks to develop the tools to manipulate biology and the hierarchical structures it can create to yield new capabilities in protection, situational awareness, and lethality gains for the U.S. warfighter.

The TRANSFORME ERP consists of 3 integrated lines of effort (LOE) that execute 6.1 basic and 6.2 applied research. These three lines of effort will work in synergy with each other to build our capability to engineer biology for enhanced integration and efficacy on the battlefield.

The structure of TRANSFOMRE allows for iterative learning and engagement with other areas of developing technology, purposefully growing our foundational capabilities so we can rapidly deliver, assess, and integrate synthetic biology in ways that deliver disruptive capability to the warfighter.


  • Harness biology’s capacity for custom material production and modification of material properties
    • Is it possible to match the speed of biological processes with that of operational needs?
    • How do we harness low energy biological processing methods to enable scalable expeditionary production?
    • Can we achieve targeted in situ reprogramming of biology indigenous to operational theaters?
    • What strategies are possible for inhibiting, protecting, or countering adversarial use of synthetic biology
    • Can we harness biology’s precision to develop new materials with multipurpose capabilities or novel capabilities?
  • Technology forecasting of synthetic biology
    • Identify factors that will inform and shape policy, ethics, and approval for use of synthetic biology products
    • Identify new capabilities that will allow the Army to out-pace our adversaries and be at the forefront of the bio-revolution.


  • TRANSFORME will advance synthetic biology products from simple chemicals to complex materials not currently capable by other means and at the same time open the aperture to perform synthetic biology in military environments. Impact to the U.S. military will include increased readiness through availability and adaptation of platforms, production and repair to reduce logistics and sustainment burden, and advantages of speed of development timeline for advanced materials and rapid countermeasures.
  • TRANSFORME is building the competency and ecosystem to operationalize synthetic biology and along with rapid prototyping tools, accelerating the discovery to product timeline.
  • Outcomes focus on building synbio capability for advanced adaptive protection not possible by other means including adapting EO/EM signature to changing military environments, sense and respond systems, and biothreat countermeasures for materiel and systems. 
  • TRANSFORME provides broader impact through agile tools imparting both improvements and new properties; benefits such as light weight, cost, multifunction, and smart materials.  Combined with the ease of production, will significantly expand logistics and sustainment capabilities

The program is creating critical enabling synbio building blocks to take microbes from any theater, living in or on any materiel of environment, and reprogram them for military function. Creates critical methods and building blocks for precise synthetic biology control across time and length scales.


Dr. Dimitra Stratis-Cullum
Program Manager

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