Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Biosciences & Biotechnology

Protecting the nation by countering current and future biological and environmental threats

LLNL’s Biosciences & Biotechnology Division lies at the intersection of biological, physical, and engineering sciences. We apply an understanding of fundamental biology to predict and counter emerging biological and chemical threats and to solve problems in health and environmental security.

LLNL’s cutting-edge technologies, in combination with experimental and computational methods, help us solve important national problems in biosecurity, human health, and environmental biology. We perform fundamental and applied research in areas such as genomics, molecular toxicology, nanotechnology, host–pathogen biology, structural biology, genetics, microbial systems, and medical countermeasures. We employ world-class facilities and up-to-the-minute advances in the biosciences, physical sciences, nanotechnology, and imaging and measurement science to solve problems that matter.

Our multidisciplinary staff focus on integrating experimental and computational tools to understand complex cellular systems, testing and expanding our understanding of cellular mechanisms, and using our knowledge to provide solutions for countering current and emerging threats.

Explore this page to learn about the people, research, and resources that support our mission.


Kris profile picture

Kris Kulp

Division Leader


read Kris’s bio

Tuijauna Mitchell-Hall

Tuijauna Mitchell-Hall

Deputy Division Leader, Operations


Yongqin Jiao

Yongqin Jiao

Deputy Division Leader, Science & Technology

read Yongqin’s bio

Linda Canaan

Linda Canaan

Division Administrator


Meet our team

Research Groups

An animation showing the spread of atmosphere through a city

Biochemical and Biophysical Systems

Group leader: Felice Lightstone

Scientists in the Biochemical and Biophysical Systems group use cutting-edge, multi-scale, in silico simulations to tackle problems in biology. We use a wide range of computational biology methods that employ LLNL’s high-performance computing resources to simulate systems from sub-atomic scale to population level. These methods include atomistic and coarse-grained molecular dynamics, quantum simulations, constraint-based genome-scale simulations, reaction-transport dynamic simulations, and agent-based, whole-organ, and pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics models.

We develop new computational methods to describe and predict biological systems. In addition, we combine experimental efforts with physics-based simulations and statistical and machine-learning models to accelerate the design and development of safe and effective therapeutics. Overall, we seek predictive understanding of protein-mediated processes related to critical missions of LLNL, including bioenergy, medical countermeasures, and new materials.

Learn more on our Biochemical and Biophysical Systems Group website.

A scientist adding a sample to a machine


Group leader: Kuang Jen Wu

The Bionanomaterials group conducts bionanoscience research that applies nanoscience and nanotechnology to 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 LLNLʼs 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 repel chemical and biological agents and nanolipidprotein technology as a medical countermeasure to biological threats.

Learn more on our Bionanomaterials Group website.

Four earth climate models

Biosecurity and Bioforensics

Group leader: Brian Souza

The Biosecurity and Bioforensics group’s mission is to deliver intelligence-informed, science-based solutions to problems affecting human health and national security. We combine cutting-edge sequencing technologies and bioinformatic approaches to develop data-driven models of infection and medical countermeasures. Our current thrust areas are in bioremediation, metagenomic sequencing, bioinformatic analysis of naturally-occurring communities, and advanced genetic engineering technologies such as CRISPR/Cas and how they affect cells and organisms. We work with various federal sponsors to deliver high-quality, science-based solutions to constantly-evolving needs.

Learn more on our Biosecurity and Bioforensics Group website.

Cloud models

Environmental Biology

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 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 (such as BioWatch), food safety, and response and recovery efforts.

Our research involves 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.

Learn more on our Environmental Biology Group website.

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Group leader: Crystal Jaing

The Genomics group develops innovative bioassays to rapidly detect infectious agents and other pathogens to support public health, food safety, and drug safety. We apply expertise in genomics, bioinformatics, virology, and molecular biology to characterize 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.

Learn more on our Genomics Group website.

A computer simulation of energy

Human Health Sciences

Group leader: Gaby Loots

The Human Health Sciences 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 understand how people respond to drugs and chemicals, how they vary in their response, and how to prevent deleterious effects.

For an example of our vaccine development work, see the Cooperative Research Center for NanoScaffold-based Chlamydia trachomatis Vaccines webpage.

Learn more about our group on our Human Health Sciences Group website.

A computer simulation of the earth cut in half, showing the core

Microbiology/ Immunology

Group leader: Nicholas Be

The Microbiology/Immunology group is a diverse group of scientists with expertise in microbiology, virology, immunology, and bacterial pathogenesis. We conduct research on host–pathogen interactions with a focus on biothreat viruses and bacteria. Among our projects are 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.

Learn more about our group on our Microbiology/Immunology Group website.

A scientist works with an instrument

Systems and Synthetic Biology

Group leader: Dan Park

The Systems and Synthetic Biology group designs microbes and microbial communities for clean energy and improved safeguards for the environment and human health. We use systems biology approaches to gain a predictive understanding of complex biological systems and uncover foundational design rules that govern system behavior.

Synthetic biology enables rational genome-scale redesign of organisms/communities and construction of biological systems with desired traits for specific applications. We use multidisciplinary approaches that cover molecular biology, biochemistry, and “omics” to investigate microbes and microbial communities as they respond to perturbations, especially those relevant to emerging issues in bioenergy, bioremediation, and pathogenesis.

Learn more on our Systems and Synthetic Biology Group website.

Researchers working on vaccines

Translational Immunology

Group leader: Matthew Coleman

For an example of our vaccine development work, see the Cooperative Research Center for NanoScaffold-based Chlamydia trachomatis Vaccines webpage.

Career Opportunities

You’ll find a highly collaborative environment at BBTD.

We’re always looking for talented scientists, especially in growth areas like computational biology, synthetic biology, neurobiology, and cellular biology. We’re known for research in genomics, bioanalytics, microbiology, infectious diseases, nanotechnology, and radiation biology.

At BBTD, you’ll work with experts across our diverse portfolio and have access to state-of-the-art facilities and innovative technologies. If you’re interested in joining our team, browse our open positions.

In the News

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Capabilities & Facilities

Our researchers utilize world-class scientific capabilities and modern high-performance computing facilities to support Laboratory programs. Listed below are LLNL’s state-of-the-art capabilities commonly used by our scientists.