DNA Data Storage

My Role

Currently, my work as a Ph.D. student focuses on bettering our understanding of the capabilities of DNA data storage. I design and perform experiments in the wet lab and do all sorts of analyses on the resulting data.

As a research scientist for MISL in the two years before becoming a graduate student, I helped start the lab, design wet lab protocols, and design and perform experiments to help us learn more about how to use DNA for storing data.

Overview

The DNA data storage project in the Molecular Information Systems Lab (MISL) is a close collaboration between Microsoft Research and the University of Washington.

Currently, the best long-term data storage method is magnetic tape (think of an old cassette tape on steroids). The information on these tapes must be rewritten onto another tape every decade or so to prevent degradation. Not to mention, there are massive warehouses around the world whose purpose is to store this tape.

So why are we so excited about DNA data storage?

Photo Credit: Tara Brown Photography / UW

The pink smear at the bottom of that test tube can hold ten terabytes of data. Multiple super-sized warehouses of tape-based data could now fit comfortably in a few sugar cubes. Not to mention, DNA is much more stable than tape and has been shown to last hundreds, if not hundreds of thousands of years!

For more details, read our manuscript, currently under review,  Scaling up DNA Data Storage and Random Access Retrieval on the bioRxiv for more details.

 

Selected Press