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.

Our Commitment

Our mission at the Molecular Information Systems Lab is to bring together researchers from diverse scientific backgrounds and life histories to explore a future where electronics and biology engineered together lead to new systems that make life on earth better. We believe that diverse perspectives and experiences are critical to our success as an organization, because a more diverse and inclusive team is more creative and effective. We strive to create a welcoming and engaging professional environment free of discrimination.

We, the Principal Investigators at MISL, commit to supporting people, especially those from under-represented groups, in developing their ideas and achieving their goals. We seek to connect people, especially those from under-represented groups, to opportunities that enable them to achieve their goals and fulfill their potential. We are dedicated to attracting and retaining a diverse group of individuals from all backgrounds and experiences, and to promoting an atmosphere of respect and open-mindedness. One way we stand by this commitment is through partnerships with local organizations that promote STEM education and real-world involvement at the early stages (e.g. K-12) to enhance equitable opportunity in the future.

Finally, our lab is committed to ongoing efforts to evaluate and address any barriers to DEI in our space, and to continuously improve in these pursuits. We look forward to any questions, thoughts, opportunities, or suggestions you may have for us, please feel free to reach out at any time.

-The MISL Leadership: Luis Ceze, Karin Strauss, Chris Takahashi, Jeff Nivala, Georg Seelig, and Chris Thachuk


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DNA Tags

Due to its nanoscale size and predictable Watson-Crick base pairing, DNA-based molecular tagging offers an attractive alternative to physical object labeling that is useful when conventional tags, such as QR codes and RFID tags, are unsuitable.

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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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Faculty & PIs

Luis Ceze
Jeff Nivala
Research Assistant Professor
Karin Strauss
Researcher, MSR
Affiliate Professor
Georg Seelig
Associate Professor
Chris Takahashi
Chris Takahashi
RSE/Principal Investigator

Senior Scientists

Lab Manager

Graduate Students

Rory Majule
Rory Majule
Samantha Borje
Samantha Borje
Carina Imburgia
Carina Imburgia
Chandler Petersen
Chandler Petersen
Ashley Stephenson A
Ashley Stephenson
Daphne Kontogiorgos-Heintz
Daphne Kontogiorgos-Heintz

Microsoft Research

Yuan-Jyue Chen
Yuan-Jyue Chen
Bichlien Nguyen
Bichlien Nguyen


Hsing-Yeh Parker
Rob Carlson
Doug Carmean

Undergraduate Students

Past Undergraduate Students

Assaf Vayner
Kyoko Kurihara
Cailin Winston NVIDIA
Siena Dumas Ang Princeton PhD program
Krittika D’Silva University of Cambridge
Sharon Newman Stanford PhD program
Sarang Joshi
Pranav Vaid Stanford University
Karen Zhang Berkeley/UCSF PhD Program
Michal Piszczek
Aaron Liu Baylor PhD program
Elizabeth Gino
Delaney Wilde Penn PhD program
Claris Winston UW CSE PhD Program
Rachel McAmis UW CSE PhD program


Aerilynn Nguyen
Katie Doroschak Adaptive Biotechnologies
Nick Cardozo Insitro
James Bornholt Assistant Prof. UT Austin
David Ward Georgia Tech MS Program
Cyrus Rashtchian Google Research
Randolph Lopez co-Founder/CTO A-Alpha Bio
Johannes Linder
Jeff McBride