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.


Mitchell-Hall, Tuijauna
Tuijauna Mitchell-Hall
Jiao, Yongqin
Canaan, Linda Suzanne
Linda Canaan

Research Groups

Two person conversing in front of screen

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.

Two scientists working in the lab


Group leader: Brent Segelke

The Bionanomaterials group conducts research at the nexus of biotechnology and nanoscience to support national biosecurity interests. We are a multidisciplinary team with expertise in physics, chemistry, materials science, and biology. Our unique, cross-cutting capabilities allow us to work together on basic and applied research furthering LLNLʼs mission to ensure global security. Bionanomaterials group members advance programs and technologies to enhance the nation’s defense, safeguard human health, and ensure economic resilience.

Our current research is focused on developing:

  • Advanced bioanalytical and molecular imaging instrumentation for understanding structural and functional relationships of biomolecules and the subcellular molecular mechanisms of host-pathogen interactions.
  • Novel detection methods for biological and chemical agents.
  • Next-generation nanoporous materials that repel or neutralize chemical and biological agents and enable high performance molecular separations.

Learn more on our Bionanomaterials Group website.

Scientist holding test tube

Biosecurity and Bioforensics

Group leader: Wes Overton

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.

Two scientist working with test tubes and laptop

Environmental Biology

Group leader: Thomas Bunt

The Environmental Biology group develops and deploys high-impact operational capabilities to sample, characterize, and recover from biological events. Our diverse group includes expertise in environmental sampling, molecular biology, microbiology, ecology, clinical testing, antibody production, chemistry, and quality assurance. We strive to improve the time-to-results, efficiency, sensitivity, and specificity of operations used to mitigate biological threats.

Our research involves developing rapid viability methods for biological agents, fielding a clinical testing laboratory for COVID-19 response, deploying mobile biological laboratories for special event monitoring, and developing methods for detecting biothreats in complex environmental samples.  Several members of our group are also applying their technical expertise to help with LLNL’s Life Extension Program (LEP) in the Strategic Deterrence Directorate.

Learn more on our Environmental Biology Group website.

Two scientists in white lab coats discussing


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.

Three lab scientists discussing notes

Human Health Sciences

Group leader: Heather Enright

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.

Lab worker wearing protective equipment conducting tests

Microbiology/ Immunology

Group leader: Nicholas Be

The Microbiology/Immunology group is a diverse group of scientists with expertise in microbiology, virology, immunology, infectious disease pathogenesis, and microbiome science. We conduct research on host–pathogen interactions and microbial communities with a focus on biothreats and military medicine applications. 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, viral evolution and cross species transmission, and integration of assay design with simulations and machine learning. 

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

Three scientists in blue lab coats inspecting specimen


Systems and Synthetic Biology

Group leader: Dan Park

The Systems and Synthetic Biology group designs proteins, microbes, and microbial communities for clean energy, manufacturing, agriculture, bioremediation, and human health. We use systems biology approaches to gain a predictive understanding of complex microbes/microbial communities and uncover foundational design rules that govern system level behavior. We employ synthetic biology approaches to redesign proteins and microbial pathways that sequester critical metals, resist mutational inactivation, and generate products of strategic importance. Using engineering and materials science principles, we translate fundamental science discoveries into platform technologies that benefit national security.

Learn more on our Systems and Synthetic Biology Group website.

Two scientists conducting experiment using lab equipment

Translational Immunology

Group leader: Matthew Coleman

The Translational Immunology group is a diverse group of scientists with expertise in immunobiology, cellular biology, biotechnology, and nanotechnology. We are conducting research on vaccine development and understanding inflammatory processes and diseases. Our group has developed novel nanotechnology tools for the synthesis and characterization of immunomodulatory proteins, nucleic acids, and small molecules with applications toward national biosecurity interests. Among our projects are studies of targeted immune responses using a combination of in-vitro and in-vivo approaches that focus on protein and nucleic acid vaccines, as well as small molecule immune modifiers.

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

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.