Sandia has a dynamic biological research mission that addresses important national security challenges.  Sandia’s research in two strategic areas—bioenergy and biodefense—aims to provide biological solutions to critical challenges in energy and homeland security.

In order to achieve our broad biological mission we are developing deep understanding of biological systems, along with the ability to predict and control their behaviors.  This is critical to ensuring energy security, protecting our environment, and strengthening our nation’s defense against biological threats. We are developing and exploiting key capabilities— from gene-editing to microfluidics — to achieve our mission.

Bioenergy and Biomass Conversion

Researcher observing fluorescence in tube

Sandia researchers are working to achieve environmental goals and reduce U.S. dependence on fossil fuel oil by developing next generation conversion technologies for creating renewable "drop-in" transportation biofuels that can displace gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel without loss of performance or engine efficiency. Sandia is focused on two primary feedstock types— non-food plant lignocellulosic sources and microalgae —that show great promise for displacing fossil fuels, once significant R&D challenges are overcome.

Hands holding biomass

In addition to biofuels, we are increasingly using biomass for the production of specialty chemicals and materials. These bio-derived commodities can often be produced under milder conditions than traditional industrial processes — leading to less pollution and lower energy demand — and are an important aspect of the techno-economic analyses that will make bio-derived fuels and energy a reality in the future.

Biodefense & Emerging Infectious Diseases

The Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases program works to protect the nation from biothreats such as biological weapons as well as naturally occurring infectious disease caused by viral and bacterial agents. Scientists are developing a deep understanding of molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis, host-pathogen interactions, and human immunology.

Researcher pipetting

The greater fundamental understanding informs the development of countermeasures and protective measures. Sandia’s solutions can help defend our nation against infectious disease outbreaks and biological terrorism events that threaten human health, the economy, and global security and stability.

Basic and applied research at Sandia is addressing the threats posed by biological agents. We integrate our renowned engineering, nanotechnology, and computational capabilities to detect and characterize biothreats, as well as diagnose and cure disease.

Bioscience Capabilities

Tackling biological questions often requires a diverse set of capabilities to be brought together…not just traditional biological tools and assays. One of Sandia’s key strengths is its ability to form and optimize multidisciplinary teams to carry out its mission. In integrating strengths in synthetic biology and gene-editing, infectious disease biology, computational biology and bioinformatics, microfluidics and microsystems and pre-treatment science and engineering, Sandia has created a differentiating environment for addressing challenging national security problems.


This integration of diverse skills is a key enabler behind many of our high-impact solutions to the nation’s most pressing security challenges. In keeping with this tradition, Sandia bioscientists work closely with experts in other science and engineering fields to enhance the solution space for biological problems. Drawing on their combined knowledge and ideas, teams work to translate their understanding into developing next-generation biofuels, medical diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines. Explore some of the diverse capabilities behind our powerful solutions.

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