Sherlock Biosciences Awarded Contract from U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency to Support the Development of Ultra-Fast, Ultra-Sensitive Diagnostics

September 26, 2019

Cambridge, Mass., September 26, 2019—Sherlock Biosciences, an Engineering Biology company dedicated to making diagnostic testing better, faster and more affordable, today announced it has been awarded funding from the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to develop a rapid response platform for ultra-fast, ultra-sensitive and field-deployable diagnostics. Sherlock, the sole awardee, will leverage the power of its CRISPR- and Synthetic Biology-based platforms to create diagnostic tools that enable members of the military to rapidly identify biothreats and infectious disease agents.

“We are delighted to be recognized by DTRA for the advanced state of our technology and development efforts. This support will further our mission to harness the power of CRISPR and synthetic biology to develop diagnostic tools that enable effective decision making in any environment at any time,” said Rahul K. Dhanda, Sherlock’s co-founder, president and CEO. “This funding will enable our team to continue to make important progress advancing our platform, while also addressing an urgent need to rapidly identify pathogenic agents and other biothreats.”

The multiyear grant will accelerate the company’s development of infectious disease diagnostic tests for decentralized settings, such as the battlefield. Further, the support will help the company refine its deep learning and bioinformatics tools for rapid definition and deployment of molecular diagnostic tests.

“When we published the call for a new class of rapid diagnostics, we were optimistic that we would identify both a technology and an organization that could deliver a significant leap forward in testing for biothreat and battlefield settings through initiatives driven by the Defense Innovation Unit,” said Charles Hong, a science and technology manager for the Detection and Diagnostics Division at DTRA. “We are pleased to support Sherlock in its efforts to create novel CRISPR- and synthetic biology-based diagnostic tests that will be sensitive, fast and easily deployable in any setting.”

The Defense Innovation Unit identifies commercial industry solutions to support the U.S. military, and through this process, the organization facilitated finding a new class of rapid diagnostic solutions on behalf of DTRA.

“This funding provides important validation for the versatility of Sherlock’s platform, and our ability to develop simple, impactful diagnostic tools that can be applied in field-based settings,” said William Blake, Ph.D., Sherlock’s chief technology officer. “We are grateful to DTRA for this award and look forward to working with the agency in support of their mission to enable rapid responses to potential threats and crises.”  

About Sherlock Biosciences

Sherlock Biosciences is dedicated to making molecular diagnostics better, faster and more affordable through Engineering Biology platforms. The company is developing applications of SHERLOCK™, a CRISPR-based method to detect and quantify specific genetic sequences, and INSPECTRTM, a Synthetic Biology-based molecular diagnostics platform that is instrument free. SHERLOCK and INSPECTR can be used in virtually any setting without complex instrumentation, opening up a wide range of potential applications in areas including precision oncology, infection identification, food safety, at-home tests, and disease detection in the field. For more information visit 

About DTRA

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), an agency within the United States Department of Defense (DoD), is the official Combat Support Agency for countering weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high explosives). The Defense Threat Reduction Agency enables DoD, the U.S. government, and international partners to counter and deter weapons of mass destruction and improvised threat networks. Under the auspice of the Chemical and Biological Defense Program, DTRA has the responsibility to manage and integrate the DoD chemical and biological defense science and technology programs. DTRA’s continued effort to enhance the combat support mission also advances public health services by developing innovative technologies that protect against biological threats. For more information, visit

About Defense Innovation Unit

DIU strengthens our national security by increasing the adoption of commercial technology throughout the military and growing the national security innovation base.  Learn more about DIU at 

Media Contact:

Katie Engleman