Franco Receives Two Federal Grants

Elisa Franco, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, has received two federal grants for projects related to her research on feedback in biomolecular systems.

Elisa Franco ucr

Elisa Franco

The first grant is for the project, “Programmable Dynamic Self-assembly of DNA Nanostructures,” funded by the Department of Energy. It will develop fundamental knowledge about programming and controlling material growth and reconfiguration using feedback reaction networks. The $693,000 grant is in collaboration with researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

The second grant is for the project, “Achieving Closed-loop RNA-based PID Control with a Cell-free Testbed,” funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). This project develops a new approach to building PID (Proportional, Integral, Derivative) controllers using RNA molecules.

This research promises to transform current methods to engineer cellular responses to environmental factors and disease, and could have an impact on biomedicine, healthcare, and the food industry. This $2.1 million grant is led by a team at the University of Minnesota and also includes researchers at the University of Vermont, North Carolina State University, and Northwestern University. UCR will receive $375,000 over 18 months.

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