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DARPA Friend or Foe (FoF) -- Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V)


The development of new platforms for characterization of complex microbial samples are hampered by lack of reproducibility and comparability across different laboratories. ​In an effort to improve measurements of complex microbial mixtures, NIST has joined the DARPA FoF program as the IV&V team to provide mock communities for FoF performers to benchmark their technologies. 


Vision: Validate new measurement platforms for identifying commensal (friend) and pathogenic (foe) microorganisms 

Goal: Provide well-characterized, microbial community reference materials of increasing complexity 

Approach: Start with well-characterized pure cultures and scale up to complex consortia in simulated matricies



  1. Three distinct microbial consortia of increasing complexity (20 strains, 30 strains, and >50 strains) and 3 simulated matricies (e.g. soil) 
  2. Methods for systematic characterization of complex communities (e.g., next generation sequencing, growth, interactions) 
DARPA IV&V Workflow

Major Accomplishments

  1. More than 150 commensal and pathogenic bacterial strains
  2. Method development for engineering mixed species microbial consortia 
  3. Lyophilized communities that included pathogens and non-pathogens 
Created February 11, 2020, Updated February 14, 2020