The Molecular Information Systems Lab (MISL) at the University of Washington explores the intersection of information technology and molecular biology using in-silico and wet lab experiments. A partnership between UW Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, and Microsoft Research, MISL brings together faculty, students and research scientists with expertise in computer architecture, programming languages, synthetic biology, and biochemistry.

Our interdiscplinary research group explores many different areas of computing and biomolecules, including DNA data storage, synthetic biology, molecular sensing, and cyber-biosecurity. For example, one current focus is on using synthetic DNA for data storage. Using DNA to archive data is an attractive possibility because it is extremely dense, with a raw limit of 1 exabyte per cubic milimeter, and long-lasting, with observed half-life of over 500 years. We are developing a complete system architecture for DNA-backed archival storage, with support for random access and encoding schemes that offer reliability for density trade-offs.

Why are we excited about DNA storage? The faint pink smear in the photo can hold over 10 terabytes of data. And it can last for a long time.

The integration of silicon and biomolecular systems is a promising direction of research that is motivated by potentially transformative outcomes. For example, molecular storage and computing components can be incredibly small, engineered with atomic precision, operate autonomously, and are capable of directly interfacing with natural biological systems for "near-data" processing tasks. However, for such systems to have broader real-world use, they must become faster, scalable, and more accessible to non-experts. Towards these goals, we apply molecular engineering, machine learning and nascent nanopore technology to overcome current limitations in molecular information processing systems.


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Nanopore Sensing

We are exploring new and non-traditional ways to use nanopore technology for bespoke molecular sensing, synthetic biology and proteomics.

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DNA Circuits

We are exploring new approaches to build complex DNA circuits by using automatic microfluidic hardware and array-based DNA synthesis technology.

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DNA Storage Architecture and Methods

We are developing methods for reliable and efficient encoding, random access, and decoding of digital data stored in DNA. We are also developing a fully automated whole system architecture.

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Microfluidic Automation

We are working on hardware and software to make microfluidics cheaper, more reliable, and easier to use.

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DNA Security

We are exploring the intersection of DNA manipulation and security and privacy.

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Luis Ceze
Jeff Nivala
Research Assistant Professor
Karin Strauss
Researcher, MSR
Affiliate Professor
Georg Seelig
Associate Professor

Senior Scientists

Chris Takahashi
Chris Takahashi
Jeff McBride J
Jeff McBride

Lab Manager

Graduate Students

Nick Cardozo
Nick Cardozo
Ashley Stephenson A
Ashley Stephenson
Johannes Linder J
Johannes Linder

Microsoft Research

Yuan-Jyue Chen
Yuan-Jyue Chen
Bichlien Nguyen
Bichlien Nguyen
Hsing-Yeh Parker H
Hsing-Yeh Parker
Rob Carlson R
Rob Carlson
Doug Carmean D
Doug Carmean


Undergraduate Students

Past Undergraduate Students


Randolph Lopez
Siena Dumas Ang
Sharon Newman
Aaron Liu