CIF: Small: WetComm: Foundations of Wet Communication Theory 
Agency: National Science Foundation 
Sponsor Award Number: CCF-1816969 
PI: Massimiliano Pierobon1
Start/End Dates: 10/01/2018 - 09/30/2021

1Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

The goal of this project is to develop transformative concepts and tools to characterize, model, and design systems based on living communicating devices, i.e., biological cells, to control the propagation of information in biological environments. This information is at the basis of how cells communicate in nature, and it is fundamental to their basic activities, such as growth and reproduction, and their coordination with other cells and the environment in which they live. More broadly, the way this information propagates impacts human health, our environment, food and energy resources, and others, and its engineered control would enable a plethora of game-changing applications. While the discipline of synthetic biology provides tools to experimentally demonstrate the capabilities of engineered biological cells, there currently lacks a unified and coherent theoretical framework to specifically develop and optimize their communications. Current communication theory tools fall short in capturing some important peculiarities of biological communication systems that live, grow, and reproduce. This project seeks to address these limitations by re-thinking communication theory in light of these peculiarities and their impact on how information is quantified, processed, and exchanged by engineered biological cells.

MBiTe Lab students on the project: Zahmeeth Sakkaff, Molly Lee, Colton Harper

Products from MBiTe Lab:

  • Mucchi L., Martinelli, A., Jayousi, S., Caputo, S., and Pierobon, M.  "Secrecy Capacity and Secure Distance for Diffusion-based Molecular Communication Systems," IEEE Access, in press, August 2019.
  • Akyildiz, I. F., Pierobon, M. , and Balasubramaniam, S. "An Information Theoretic Framework to Analyze Molecular Communication Systems Based on Statistical Mechanics," Proceedings of the IEEE, vol. 107, no. 7, pp. 1230-1255, July 2019. [PDF]
  • Akyildiz, I. F., Pierobon, M. , and Balasubramaniam, S. "Moving Forward with Molecular Communication: From Theory to Human Health Applications," Proceedings of the IEEE, vol. 107, no. 5, pp. 858-865, May 2019. [PDF]
  • Marzo, J. L., Jornet J. M., and Pierobon, M., "Nanonetworks in Biomedical Applications," Current Drug Targets, vol. 8, no. 9, 2019.
  • Marcone, A., Pierobon, M., and Magarini, M. "Parity-Check Coding Based on Genetic Circuits for Engineered Molecular Communication Between Biological Cells," IEEE Transactions on Communications, vol. 66, no. 12, pp. 6221-6236, December 2018. [PDF]
  • Sakkaff, Z., Immaneni, A.,   Pierobon, M. “Applying Molecular Communication Theory to Estimate Information Loss in Cell Signal Transduction: An Approach Based on Cancer Transcriptomics,” In Proceedings of the ACM 5th International Conference on Nanoscale Computing and Communication (NanoCom 2018), September 2018. [PDF]
  • “Senior Design Project - “WetCoDe : A Software Framework for Wet Communication System Design Automation. ”[Link]