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Biological Sciences
Science Laboratory
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) microbiologists look at cellulose-degrading organisms and soil isolates, using a walk-in environmental chamber to control the growth conditions.

About the Division

Scientists within the Biological Sciences Division perform biological systems science research and develop technologies focused on how cells, cell communities, and organisms sense and respond to their environment. Our vision is to measure, predict, design, and control multi-cellular biological systems and bio-inspired solutions for energy, environment, and health.

Our investigator-initiated and multi-institutional collaborative research, unique scientific instrumentation, and national program leadership translate the latest scientific discoveries into technologies that are beneficial to the nation.

Our research has applications to energy, environment, and human health missions of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other federal agencies.

For DOE, our work produces science and technology to

  • Understand function of complex biological systems—Identify the principles that govern stability and resilience of complex microbial communities to enable prediction of response to perturbation and design for sustained function.
  • Determine biological and environmental metabolic networks and regulatory mechanisms that govern material and energy fluxes via advanced omics measurements and multiscale, multimodal imaging approaches incorporated into predictive models.
  • Design and control microbial systems—Determine the natural design principles of microbes and microbial systems to enable their re-engineering for efficient conversion of diverse energy sources into biofuels and high-value chemicals.

For the NIH, we produce science and technology to

  • Gain a systems-level understanding of host-microbe-environment interactions—Develop the ability to assess and predict the effects of environmental exposures on humans and their microbiome, including pathogens and select agents.
  • Develop predictive models based on integration of complex datasets—Develop new computational tools and data sets to identify key molecular mechanisms that can be used as therapeutic targets in diseases of interest (cancer, diabetes, lung and infectious disease).
  • Characterize shared mechanisms and common pathways—Use the predictive models to identify the role of common functional processes driving complex diseases and modulating individual susceptibility to environmental agents (e.g., radiation, nanoparticles, pathogens).

Major Scientific Groups

The Division is organized into four major scientific groups:

Signature Strengths

  • Molecular microbial ecology
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Host-microbe interactions
  • Exposure science and systems toxicology
  • Physiological and pharmacological modeling
  • Bioinformatics
  • Multi-omics
  • Multi-scale, multi-cellular imaging
  • User facilities and advanced instrumentation development

We welcome the opportunity to help you in any of these areas, either through contract or collaborative research. We also provide opportunities for you to work in our facilities as an employee or intern, or under other educational programs.

Contact us for more information.
Dr. Janet Jansson, Ph.D.
Director, Biological Sciences Division

Biological Sciences

Seminar Series

Fundamental & Computational Sciences

Research Highlights

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Contacts