DARPA Dive: Biological Responders For Brain Injury

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), established in 1958, is an agency within the Department of Defense (DOD) responsible for catalyzing the development of technologies that maintain and advance the capabilities and technical superiority of the U.S. military. In short, it’s the way the U.S. military tries to prevent technical surprise.


NAICS Code: 541714 – Research and Development in Biotechnology (except Nanobiotechnology)

Place of Performance: USA

This DARPA announcement describes a research thrust, entitled “Keystone,” that will focus on the early events associated with brain injury. Its purpose is to identify the first “biological responder(s)” within milliseconds to seconds after the brain sustains a militarily relevant brain injury. The resulting studies will evaluate the first biological responder(s) (i.e., molecular or cellular responses) following traumatic brain injury (TBI) from blasts as well as unconventionally acquired brain injury (UBI) from ultrasound and electromagnetic sources.

Keystone seeks to leverage recent advances in neuroscience related to in vivo (preferable) and in vitro high spatial and temporal resolution molecular and imaging measurements. Although advanced measurement platforms can now obtain millisecond temporal resolution and subcellular spatial resolution, they have yet to be specifically leveraged for investigating the first biological responder(s) in the millisecond to second timescale after TBI and UBI. A few examples exist of in vivo brain injury models integrated with high-resolution measurement techniques, but none currently investigate the millisecond to second molecular or cellular responses immediately post-injury. The primary objective is to identify the first “biological responder(s),” which we define as biological factors involved in the response to brain injury within milliseconds to seconds after the brain sustains a militarily relevant brain injury. If proposers choose to address multiple injury models in their proposals, a secondary objective is to determine if the identified first biological responder(s) is the same or different depending on the energy source causing the brain injury. These objectives can be addressed initially in in vitro systems (cells, organoids, micro-physiological systems), but ultimately must be achieved in an in vivo model of brain injury.

The Synthetic.com team speculates this solicitation is related to the recent confirmation that CIA employees have incurred brain injuries from directed energy attacks while stationed abroad. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report on the more than 40 U.S. diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, and at least a dozen U.S. diplomats at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China, who suffered symptoms “consistent with the effects of directed, pulsed, radiofrequency energy.” Ailments have included dizziness, tinnitus, visual problems, vertigo, and cognitive difficulties. Although the microwave attacks first began in late 2016, many of the affected personnel continue to suffer from health problems.

DARPA Dive: Biological Responders For Brain Injury was last modified: December 15th, 2020 by Staff