DARPA taps MIT for research on high-value molecules

May 3 (UPI) — The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been awarded a contract by DARPA for high-value molecules research.

The deal, announced Wednesday by the Department of Defense, is valued at more than $11 million under the terms of a cost-reimbursement contract, which is a modification to a previous Pentagon award.

The contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, enables MIT to exercise the second 36-month contract option for Phase 3 of DARPA’s Living Foundries: 1000 Molecules program, according to the Defense Department.

The Living Foundries program aims to “enable adaptable, scalable, and on-demand production” of critical, high-value molecules that are vastly expensive and difficult to obtain or reproduce with the ultimate goal of “programming the fundamental metabolic processes of biological systems to generate a vast number of complex molecules that are not otherwise accessible,” according to DARPA.

The contract modification surges the total cumulative value of the contract to more than $32.2 million from about $21.1 million, the Pentagon said.

Work on the contract will occur in multiple locations in the United States and is expected to be complete in April 2020.

More than $2.8 million will be obligated to MIT at time of award from fiscal 2018 research, development, test and evaluation funds.