Roswell Biotechnologies, San Diego, is part of a team led by the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) that has been awarded a US government contract worth up to $25 million to develop a sequencing technology capable of reading data stored in DNA at speeds up to 10 TB per day—more than 400 times the speed of currently available sequencing technologies.

The award comes from the molecular information storage program of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), which supports the development of new technologies of interest to agencies of the US intelligence community, including the Central Intelligence Agency, Department of State, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and National Security Agency.

“This IARPA program confirms our vision that ultra-fast, ultra-low-cost DNA sequencing will open up major new sectors of the DNA economy outside of healthcare,” says Paul Mola, president and chief executive officer at Roswell Biotechnologies. “While we are focused on delivering the $100, 1-hour genome for precision medicine, we are extremely excited to play a critical role in the future of data storage, which is foundational to today’s economy and to the future of information sharing.”

The government contract is part of a comprehensive 4-year program to demonstrate the feasibility of using DNA as a data storage medium for exabyte-scale data storage. The GTRI-led program also involves the University of Washington and Microsoft for the system architecture, data analysis, and coding algorithms, and Twist Bioscience for the DNA synthesis portion. The award to Roswell supports development of a high-speed, low-cost, and energy-efficient platform for reading data that has been stored in DNA.

“We are very happy to work with Roswell to increase the DNA data storage read throughput while making it more robust,” says Karin Strauss, principal research manager for Microsoft research. “Developing encoding algorithms for new DN- reading technologies is an exciting goal and will further our efforts to establish DNA as a suitable data storage method in the future.”

“The DNA-reading goal of IARPA is far beyond the limits of existing sequencing technologies,” says Barry Merriman, chief scientific officer at Roswell. “The program goal is the equivalent of delivering a $10 genome. Our unique molecular electronics chip technology was specifically designed to achieve these lofty goals, and we are excited that this contract allows us to accelerate demonstration of such performance.”

For more information, visit Roswell Biotechnologies.