News 1998 Army Science and Technology Master Plan

12. Biological Sciences

Basic research in the biological sciences contributes directly to a knowledge of food production in deployed areas, production of potable water, protection of military personnel from infectious agents in a deployed region, production of sensors for CB agents, reduction of signatures to increase stealth, and the production of materials useful in communications, sensing, and self–assembly. Biomaterials have the ability to self–assemble (phospholipids), transduce light and pressure to electrical signals, and encode large amounts of information in very small areas or volumes (the entire genetic information for a human resides in each cell nucleus that has a diameter of 5 micrometers or less).

Table E–34 summarizes international research capabilities in the technical areas of biological sciences. These include biochemistry, biophysics, and molecular biology, microbiology, physiology, and pharmacology, biodegradative processes, food science, and bioscience. Biochemistry, biophysics, and molecular biology examine the structural and functional properties of biopolymers (such as DNA and RNA) involved in information storage, the catalytic properties of proteins that function as enzymes, and the recognition properties of proteins that function as antibodies and receptors. Microbiology, physiology, and pharmacology areas concern the role of intact cells, cell membranes, and ion fluxes

Table E–34.  International Research Capabilities—Biological Sciences


United Kingdom




Asia/Pacific Rim


Other Countries

Biochemistry, Biophysics, & Molecular Biology 1s.gif (931 bytes) Combinatorial chemistry; Genome project; receptor characterization; NMR 1s.gif (931 bytes) Genome project; receptor characterization 1s.gif (931 bytes) Combinatorial chemistry; Genome project; receptor characterization 1s.gif (931 bytes) Genome project; receptor characterization; NMR   Russia

3s.gif (977 bytes) Transducer molecules; receptor characterization


1s.gif (931 bytes) Transducer molecules; NMR


1s.gif (931 bytes) Receptor characterization

Australia, Israel

1s.gif (931 bytes) Combinatorial chemistry


4s.gif (949 bytes) Surface characterization

Korea, Brazil

4s.gif (949 bytes)

Microbiology, Physiology, & Pharmacology 1s.gif (931 bytes) Microbial products for nutrition; stress resistance 1s.gif (931 bytes) Nutrient additives 1s.gif (931 bytes) Sensing mechanisms; nutrient additives 1s.gif (931 bytes) Visual sensing; metabolic products   Russia

3s.gif (977 bytes) All areas


4s.gif (949 bytes) Nutrient additives; biological response modifiers

Biodegradative Process 1s.gif (931 bytes) Bioremediation 1s.gif (931 bytes) Bioremediation 1s.gif (931 bytes) Bioremediation; water purification 1s.gif (931 bytes) Bioremediation   Russia

2s.gif (968 bytes) All areas


1s.gif (931 bytes) Bioremediation; water purification

Food Sciences 1s.gif (931 bytes) Nutritional additives from microbiological products; protein stabilizers 1s.gif (931 bytes) Nutritional additives from microbiological products; protein stabilizers 1s.gif (931 bytes) Protein stabilizers; encapsulation; shelf life; IR irradiation 1s.gif (931 bytes) Protein stabilizers   Russia

2s.gif (968 bytes) All areas

Netherlands, Switzerland

1s.gif (931 bytes) Protein stabilizers; encapsulation; sugar modification

Biosciences 1s.gif (931 bytes) PHB plasticizer; energy transduction; biomaterials for tensile strength 1s.gif (931 bytes) Energy transduction; biomaterials for tensile strength 1s.gif (931 bytes) Energy transduction; biomaterials for tensile strength 1s.gif (931 bytes) Biomaterials for tensile strength   Russia

2s.gif (968 bytes) All areas

Israel, Australia, Netherlands

1s.gif (931 bytes) Energy transduction; Biomaterials for tensile strength

Note: See Annex E, Section A.6 for explanation of key numerals.

across membranes in the operation of the intact organism. The biodegradative processes area addresses remediation of soil and water to produce a potable end product, and reduce signatures. Food science investigates mechanisms to increase shelf life of food and the nutritional quality of food. The bioscience area is concerned with the use of biopolymers as structural materials—ceramics, silks, signal transducers, etc.

a. Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology

The Human Genome project utilizes biochemistry (combinatorial chemistry), biophysics, and molecular biology to explore questions of intrinsic disease susceptibility in humans and crops. These technologies also reveal the nature of molecules that allow viruses to infect cells and allow cells to communicate with each other (i.e., receptors). Since the effect of toxins on cells is a result of their action on specific cell receptors, these technologies reveal how we can neutralize toxins. The Russians had developed expertise in the use of biological toxins to deliver molecules to specific cells. The Russian capability has decreased in many of these areas during the past 5 years, but still remains strong in targeted delivery (associated with MOD laboratories). The U.K., Canada, Japan, EC, Taiwan, Russia, Sweden, China, Korea, Brazil, and Israel have capabilities in these areas. A number of nations have strong programs in the characterization of biomolecules, for example surface characterization work in China, and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) studies in Japan, the Netherlands, and the U.K.

b. Microbiology, Physiology, and Pharmacology

Microbiology, physiology, and pharmacology are essential sciences in the production of fermented and processed foods (bread, yogurt, beer, and wine), of pharmaceuticals and human hormones (the latter using genetic engineering), and in evaluating human performance (neural function and vital signs). The U.K., Japan, Germany, France, and Russia have a long tradition of expertise in these areas. Hungary has an established capability in production of fermenters. China has a developing capability in nutrient additives and biological response modifiers.

c. Biodegradative Process

Remediation of soils and water using biological organisms to metabolize contaminants has been an area of extensive research in the past decade. The U.K., France, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Japan, Russia, and Israel have expertise in this area, with the U.K. and Israel particularly active in water purification.

d. Food Sciences

The preparation of nutritious, palatable foods with long shelf life and biodegradable containers is the focus of the fourth set of technologies. This includes research in nutrient additives, protein stabilizers, and sugar modification, as well as the synthesis of biopolymers for use as elastomers in food containers. Encapsulation and irradiation technologies have been used to increase shelf life and encapsulation also increases palatability. Most EC nations and Japan have advanced food technology programs. Strong capability in the use of biopolymers as packaging is primarily resides in the EC.

e. Biosciences

The use of biomaterials as structural elements or as models to construct nonbiological materials that function as biomimetics has grown along with the demand for miniaturization. Polyhydroxybutyrate and silks are two examples of biomaterials with good tensile properties. The U.K., France, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, and Australia are developing advanced biomaterials for energy transduction applications. New materials emerging from nanotube technology, ceramics based on marine shell structures, and isolated bacterial rhodopsin (bR) have applications in signature reduction and information storage. Russia, in collaboration with the former Former East Germany (FDR), utilized bR to construct a read/write device called biochrome. The reduction in financial resources in the FSU has caused a decline in this capability. A biochrome material is currently available from Germany. The U.K., Japan, France, the Netherlands, and Israel also have strong capabilities in this area.

The following highlight a few selected examples of specific facilities engaged in biological sciences research:

United Kingdom—Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). BBSRC supports basic and applied research into the exploitation of biological systems and technologies for use in agriculture, bioprocessing, chemical, food, health care, pharmaceutical, and other biotechnology industries. It supports a number of international collaborative efforts, including the International Scientific Exchange Scheme for personal level collaboration, as well as broader memoranda of understanding with most western European nations and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. BBSRC also runs a number of world–class research institutes. Among these is the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, which recently announced the cloning of a sheep, as well as the Oxford University Centre for Molecular Sciences, a leader in research in protein molecules.

Belgium—Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB). VIB is a consortium of nine university research centers aimed at stimulating research and promoting implementation of its results. The initial program has been funded for 5 years at approximately 5 billion Belgian francs. A number of projects are also linked to industry (e.g., companies such as Plant Genetic Systems, Innogenetics, and Antwerp Bionic Systems). Areas of research interest include molecular biology, gene therapy, immunology, and neurogenetics.

Japan—Tsukuba Research Center. Located near Tokyo, Japan, the center is noted for expertise in NMR spectroscopy and molecular surface structure studies. One institute within the center, the National Institute of Bioscience and Human Technology, conducts leading and innovative research in the fields of bioscience and human technology. The institute now concentrates not only on basic researches on biological chemistry, physics, biophysics, biotechnology, human engineering, and surface chemistry, but also on development of advanced new technologies relating to energy, environmental, and medical applications.

Israel—Weizmann Institute. Located in Rehovet, Israel, the institute has expertise in sensor biopolymer components, thin films, and self–assembly of biomaterials. A major area of activity concerns the crystallography of macromolecules and macromolecular assemblies, including proteins, DNA, ribosomal particles, and their complexes. Dynamical aspects of protein structures and interactions in solutions are studied by NMR in peptides, small proteins, and antibody/antigen complexes. The molecular biological approach to structural biology is represented by research antibody/antigen interaction and chaperone activity. The adaptation of organisms to extreme environment and the mechanism of muscular contraction are being investigated by biophysical techniques.

Australia—Ship Structures and Materials Division (SSMD), Defence Science and Technology Organization. SSMD conducts research into the defensive and disarmament aspects of CW agents, including detection of chemical agents, protective clothing, respiratory protection, decontamination of personnel and equipment, and prophylaxis and therapy of poisoning. SSMD develops methods to detect trace levels of relevant chemical residues and conducts research on rapid screening methods required for the monitoring of chemical industry. SSMD’s program in food science focuses on the determination of the energy and nutritional requirements of active military personnel, together with assessments of the nutritional values of feeding systems, and the effects of long–term storage on flavor, texture, and nutrients of food.

China—University of Science and Technology (USTC). USTC, located in Hefei, Anhui Province, is a leading center for biological research in Asia. The facility has world–class capabilities in synchrotron and laser chemistry programs for thin film studies of biological materials. Academician Zhu heads the laser program. There is also a very good research program in the analysis of protein structure by NMR.

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