Integrating bioscience and biotechnology in support of national security and energy goals.

The Biosciences and Biotechnology Division (BBTD) focuses on applying advanced technologies in combination with experimental and computational methods to solve important national problems in public health, biosecurity and energy security. We perform fundamental and applied research in the areas of genome biology, computational biology, molecular toxicology, host-pathogen biology, structural biology, biological detection, genetics and microbial systems and medical countermeasures. BBTD works at the intersection of these areas using advances in the biosciences, physical sciences, nanotechnology, and imaging and measurement science.

Biosecurity and Bionanoscience Group

Group Leader: Kuang Jen Wu
Our group conducts bionanocience research that applies nanoscience and nanotechnology to cutting-edge problems for national biosecurity interests. We are a multidisciplinary team with expertise in physics, chemistry, materials science and biology. This unique cross cutting expertise allows us to work together on basic and applied research toward LLNL's mission in nonproliferation, counterterrorism and life sciences. Our current research focus includes developing novel detection methods for biological agents, advanced bioanalytical and molecular imaging instrumentations for nanoscale characterization, novel carbon nanotube fabrics that repels chemical and biological agents and nanolipidprotein technology as a medical countermeasure to biological threats.

Applied Genomics Group

Group Leader: Crystal Jaing
The Applied Genomics Group develops innovative bioassays to rapidly detect infectious agents and other pathogens to support public health, food safety, and drug safety. Scientists in this group apply their expertise in genomics, bioinformatics, virology and molecular biology to characterize human and animal pathogens, develop assays to detect microbial agents in the environment, identify novel biomarkers for diagnostics of infectious diseases, characterize unknown and emerging pathogens, and study the evolution and virulence mechanisms of key viral and bacterial threat agents.

Biochemical and Biophysical Systems Group

Group Leader: Felice Lightstone
The Biochemical and Biophysical Systems Group is formed by experimental and computational biologists who use a wide range of expertise to approach cutting-edge problems in systems biology. We use multidisciplinary approaches – ranging through molecular biology, a variety of "omics" methods, and modeling – to investigate microbes and microbial communities as they respond to different perturbations, including those relevant to emerging issues in bioenergy, bioremediation, and pathogenesis. In addition to developing computational tools to describe and predict biological systems, we are combining experimental efforts with modeling and simulation methods to design and develop safe and effective therapeutics. Our principal unifying objective is to gain a predictive understanding of protein-mediated activities that are critical to cells and their interactions in living systems.

Pharmacology and Toxicology Group

Group Leader: Kris Kulp
The Pharmacology and Toxicology Group conducts basic science and applied research on: the mechanisms of action of the effects of chemicals and drugs in humans, how gene expression is regulated, and bone metabolism and fracture repair. We also focus on understanding the damage caused by radiation exposure, developing new technology for biosurveillance of outbreaks of infectious diseases, and accelerating the development of medical countermeasures. Our studies help us to understand how people respond to drugs and chemicals, how they vary in their response, and how to prevent deleterious effects.

Host-Pathogen Biology Group

Group Leader: George W. Anderson, Jr.
The Host-Pathogen Group is a diverse group of scientists with expertise in microbiology, virology, immunology, and bacterial pathogenesis. Scientists in this group conduct research on host-pathogen interactions with a focus on biothreat viruses and bacteria. Projects include studies of host immune responses during infection using a combination of in vitro and in vivo approaches, vaccine and therapeutic development with an emphasis on broad-spectrum efficacy, viral evolution and cross species transmission, and pathogen characterization and survival in the environment.

Environmental Biology Group

Group Leader: Thomas Bunt
The Environmental Biology Group develops and deploys capabilities to sample, detect, and respond to biological threats in the environment. Our diverse group includes expertise in the areas of environmental sampling, molecular biology, microbiology, ecology, chemistry, quality assurance, and population genetics. We strive to improve the time-to-detect, efficiency, sensitivity, and specificity of analytical tools used for counterterrorism (ie. BioWatch), food safety, and response/recovery efforts. Our current research projects involve developing rapid viability methods for select agents, fielding a mobile biological laboratory for special event monitoring, and developing methods for detecting biothreats in complex environmental samples.


Joint Genome Institute

Contact: Crystal Jaing
The Joint Genome Institute (JGI) is a high-throughput genome sequencing and analysis facility dedicated to the genomics of nonmedical microbes, microbial communities, plants, fungi and other targets relevant to DOE mission areas in clean energy generation, climate change, and environmental sciences. Scientists from the Applied Genomics group support key missions of JGI by performing DNA sequencing experiments and sequencing data analysis utilizing unique molecular biology skills and state-of-the-art instrumentation.

Animal Care Facility

The PHS Assured and Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animals, International (AAALAC) accredited Animal Facility houses several thousand small animals, which are cared for by three full time Laboratory Animal Technologists. Animal models have been used in comparative genomics studies, for studies that focus on understanding gene regulation, and for vaccine and countermeasure development.

Select Agent Center

The Select Agent Center has Biosafety Level-2, Biosafety Level -3 and Animal Biosafety Level -3 facilities and is registered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the animal care facilities are PHS Assured and accredited by the AAALAC.

National Resource for Biomedical Accelerator Mass Spectrometry

Contact: Ken Turteltaub
The National Resource for Biomedical Accelerator Mass Spectrometry has been established to make Accelerator Mass Spectrometry available to researchers who have a need for accurately measuring very low levels of radioisotopes in their research. The Resource is working to enhance AMS for analysis of radioisotopes in biomedical tracer studies through development of new methods and instrumentation.

Institute for Translational Biomedicine

Contact: Amy Gryshuk
The Institute for Translational Biomedicine (ITB), sponsored by Lawrence Livermore and Sandia National Laboratories, brings together public and private entities to accelerate and improve the success rate for the development of new pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and biosecurity technologies. ITB will leverage the expertise and resources of the national laboratories and partner with academia and private entities ranging from pharmaceutical, medical device, biosecurity, and design engineering firms to the investment and venture community. In the future, partners will share expertise, laboratory and office space, and core resources to spur opportunities for collaboration and the formation of new companies. ITB resources will bridge the "valley of death" for new technologies and substantially reduce risk. Specifically, we aim to shave years off the time required to deploy new drugs and medical devices. In the future, look to the Institute for Translational Biomedicine to: (1) Enable the acceleration of commercializable technologies to the pharmaceutical, medical device, and biosecurity marketplaces; (2) Be the premier innovation destination for public–private sector partnerships in translational biomedicine; and (3) Lead the growth of the next generation of entrepreneurial bioscientists and bioengineers.

Kenneth Turtletaub, Division Leader For more information, contact:

Kenneth W. Turtletaub [bio]
Division Leader


Employee Highlight: Felice Lightstone [bio]

A Science magazine ad first brought Livermore Laboratory to Felice Lightstone’s attention. Having recently completed her Ph.D. in chemistry at University of California, Santa Barbara, she was looking for a position that would match her interest and expertise in computational biology. She came to Livermore as a postdoctoral fellow in 1998 and is now a deputy science capability leader in PLS where she conducts research to develop therapeutics to fight cancer. Among her current projects, Felice is co-investigator for a project funded by the National Cancer Institute to determine the carcinogenic significance of heterocyclic amines, and is co-director for another project focused on developing radioisotopic carrier molecules and strategies to deliver systemic radiotherapy for lymphomas and adenocarcinomas, such as prostate cancer. She is also a co-principal investigator on a project to develop a major research and academic program in computational biology at University of California, Merced. For Felice, the pluses of working at Livermore include the ability to shape the direction of her research, access to the world’s fastest supercomputers, and the “family-friendly” atmosphere.