When ordinary folks hear the name of Darpa, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Pentagon’s science division, the next association is usually not a military one, but the the insituiton’s role in the nascent Internet. Indeed as Wikipedia inform us: “its original name was simply Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA)…and had a major impact on the world, including computer networking (starting with the ARPANET, which eventually grew into the Internet).”
Recent days, Darpa researchers are into the next big thing in high technology, which is not pure information technology, but rather biotechnology and bionics. Wired magazine has an article on the topic by Noah Shachtman called Be More Than You Can Be: “The agency had mostly avoided the life sciences. Darpa’s directors in 1980s and 1990s weren’t interested — and were happy to avoid the tangled ethical issues that often go along with research on human beings. Then, from June 2001, under Tony Tether‘s guidance, Darpa’s embryonic biology efforts began to multiply and expand. Research on biodefense led to research on the immune system, which led to more general research on the human body.”
The report emphasizes the amazing Cooling Glove project (see cartoon) and the hibernation project on “metabolic flexibility”.
Unfortunately I did not see a word on probable stem cell and regenerative medicine projects at Darpa, although it is known for example, that there was an awarded a $3.7 million Darpa grant to the University of Pittsburgh’s McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine on wound healing and tissue regeneration.