The Laboratory’s interest in biosciences dates from its very early days, when the Atomic Energy Commission established Health Research Units in wartime laboratories to investigate the effects of radiation on living organisms. Throughout the decades since, LANL has developed computer codes to understand DNA and proteins, a genetic-sequence database, and other instruments, such as the flow cytometer, to analyze and sort cells. Eventually, LANL started the research into, and was an active player in, the Human Genome Project.
Today LANL is utilizing these capabilities to contribute to the development of biofuels and other bioproducts. The work includes developing a comprehensive, genomics-based, understanding of organisms to create enhanced algae strains with better lipid production, development of better conversion processes, as well as more efficient harvesting techniques. LANL’s expertise in genomics, developed over decades for our core mission, is seen as instrumental for the DOE bioenergy program, especially for algal biofuels.