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Professor Douglas Densmore, PhD

Boston University

  • Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering Dept.

  • Tegan Family Distinguished Faculty Fellow

  • Director, CIDAR Group

  • Primary Investigator, Biological Design Center

  • Faculty, Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry Program

  • Faculty, Bioinformatics Program

  • Faculty, Biomedical Engineering Dept.

  • Faculty, Division of Materials Science and Engineering

  • Affiliated PI, Engineering Biology Research Center (EBRC)

  • Affiliated Faculty Member, NSF CELL-MET ERC Project (EEC-1647837)

Mailing Address:

Douglas Densmore
Boston University
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
610 Commonwealth Ave. Room 403
Boston, MA 02215

Office: (617) 358-6238
Fax: (617) 353-6440

Current CV        DBLP        Google Scholar        ResearchGate

Bonus Interview RecordingDouglas Densmore
00:00 / 49:25


Douglas Densmore is the Tegan Family Distinguished Faculty Fellow, a Kern Faculty Fellow, a Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science and Engineering Faculty Fellow, and Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Boston University. His research focuses on the development of tools for the specification, design, assembly, and test of synthetic biological systems. His approaches draw upon his experience with embedded system-level design and electronic design automation (EDA). Extracting concepts and methodologies from these fields, he aims to raise the level of abstraction in synthetic biology by employing standardized biological part-based designs which leverage domain-specific languages, constraint-based genetic circuit composition, visual editing environments, microfluidics, and automated DNA assembly. This leads to a new research area he calls “Hardware, Software, Wetware Co-design”.


He is the director of the Cross-disciplinary Integration of Design Automation Research (CIDAR) group at Boston University, where his team of staff scientists, postdoctoral researchers, graduate students, and undergraduate interns develop computational and experimental tools for synthetic biology. His research facilities include both a computational workspace in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering as well as experimental laboratory space in the Boston University Biological Design Center (BDC). He was the lead PI for the NSF Expeditions “Living Computing Project” and a Senior Member of the IEEE and ACM. He is also the founder of the “Design, Automation, Manufacturing, and Processes” (DAMP) lab. He is an affiliated member of the Biomedical Engineering, Bioinformatics, and Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry (MCBB) departments at Boston University. 


He has co-founded three commercial synthetic biology-based companies (Lattice AutomationAsimov. and Biosens8) all in the Boston area. He is a co-founder and board member of the non-profit Nona Research Foundation and the non-profit Bio-Design Automation Consortium. He is on the editorial board of Oxford Academic’s “Synthetic Biology” journal and BioDesign Research and serves with ACM JETC as an Associate Editor leading the emerging focus areas of synthetic biology and biological computing.

Research Areas:

His research interests include Synthetic Biology, Microfluidics, Embedded Systems, Logic Synthesis, Digital Logic Design, System Level Design, and Computer Architecture.

Douglas Densmore spent more than four summers with the Intel Corporation during his undergraduate and graduate studies and was involved in pre-silicon design efforts regarding chipset development, post-silicon validation of the Pentium 4 microprocessor, and chipset software validation. He also worked as a researcher at Cypress Semiconductor and Xilinx Research Labs, where he was granted a patent regarding data characterization of programmable devices, such as field-programmable gate arrays.


He was formally a member of the Gigascale Systems Research Center (GSRC), the Center for Hybrid and Embedded Software Systems (CHESS), and the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC). He currently is a member of the Engineering Biology Research Center (EBRC) and the Global Biofoundries Alliance (GBA).

He has published work regarding a method of successful refinement verification of electronic systems, taxonomies of EDA design tools, and algebraic frameworks for the manipulation of functional design descriptions to expose computational parallelism.


In 2009 he co-founded the International Workshop on Bio-Design Automation (IWBDA), which was co-located at the annual Design Automation Conference (DAC).

  • American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) Fellow 2021

  • National Academies of Science Biodefense in the Age of Synthetic Biology Committee Member, 2017-2018

  • Inaugural Design Automation Conference Under-40 Innovators Awardee, 2017

  • Hariri Institute Faculty Fellow 2016

  • ACM Senior Member

  • IEEE Senior Member

  • National Academy of Engineering (NAE) U.S. Frontiers of Engineering Symposium participant, 2013

  • Boston University Ignition Award, 2013

  • Boston University College of Engineering Early Career Research Excellence Award, 2013

  • NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, 2013

  • Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science and Engineering Junior Faculty Fellow, 2012-2014

  • Boston University Dean’s Catalyst Award, 2012

  • Boston University ECE Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2012

  • Richard and Minda Reidy Family Career Professor, 2010-2013

  • International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition “Best Hardware”, 2017

  • International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition “Best Software”, 2008, 2009, 2011

  • International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition Gold Medals, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2022

  • Eagle Scout Award – Boy Scouts of America

EC311 – Introduction to Logic Design

EC327 – Introduction to Software Engineering

EC551 – Advanced Digital Logic Design with Verilog and FPGAs

EC/BE552 – Computational Synthetic Biology for Engineers – Course Website

Douglas Densmore received his Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from the University of Michigan in April 2001.


He received his Masters of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley in May 2004. His master’s thesis, “Platform-Based Reconfigurable Architecture Exploration vis Boolean Expression,” demonstrated how boolean satisfiability could be used to produce configurations for programmable hardware.


He went on to receive his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from UC Berkeley as well in May 2007. His PhD thesis, “A Design Flow for the Development, Characterization, and Refinement of System-Level Architecture Services,” investigated how electronic system level design methodologies can be abstract and modular while remaining accurate and efficient.


After his graduation, he became a UC Chancellor’s postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley under Professor Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli, where he studied the development of System-Level Design methodologies for electronic systems, particularly architecture modeling and refinement verification. He also served as the leader of the UC Berkeley Software team in the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition, which earned a gold medal and the “Best Software Tool” award in 2008 for the development of the Clotho toolset.


In 2010, he carried out his postdoctoral research in the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC) and the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), where he developed software tools for the design of synthetic biological devices.

Amt. ($)
Modular biofilm reactors to convert waste-based feedstocks to Vitamin A
BioMADE, Schmidt Futures
Distributed Manufacturing of Antigen for Serological Testing Countermeasures
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Collaborative Research: Model-guided Design of Bacterial Interspecies Interactions and Trans-organismic Communication in Living Intercellular Circuits
National Science Foundation
STEM Pathways Enhanced Biotechnology High School Outreach Program
National Defense Education Program (NDEP)
SemiSynBio-II: Hybrid Bio-Electronic Microfluidic Memory Arrays for Large Scale Testing and Remote Deployment
National Science Foundation
Automated Software, Scheduling, and Services for Large Scale, Distributed RNA Manufacturing
Wellcome Leap R3 Program
NSF Convergence Accelerator: Workshop for the Development of Infrastructure for Distributed Bio-Manufacturing and Bio-Readiness
National Science Foundation
Genetic Circuit Design for Extreme Environments Enabled by Models Extracted from Petabyte+ Perturbation Analyses
DARPA SDS2 Program
Collaborative Research: Evolvable Living Computing - Understanding and Quantifying Synthetic Biological Systems� Applicability, Performance, and Limits
National Science Foundation Expeditions in Computing
The MIT-Broad Foundry TA2
DARPA 1000 Molecules Program
CPS Frontier: Collaborative Research: BioCPS for Engineering Living Cells
National Science Foundation
Computational Synthetic Biological Microfluidics
Hariri Institute for Computing
iCorps: Lattice Automation High Throughput DNA Cloning Solutions
National Science Foundation iCorps Program
Commercializing High Throughput, Combinatorial, Constraint-based DNA Cloning Using Clotho
BU Ignition Award
Design Automation Infrastructure for DNA Assembly in Synthetic Biology
National Science Foundation
Microfluidic Biocomputing: Large-Scale Biofluidic Circuits for Programmable Logic Devices
BU Dean's Catalyst Award
International Workshop on Bio-Design Automation (IWBDA)
National Science Foundation
Flow Cytometry Machinery to Enable Characterization Driven Synthetic Biology Software Design Flow
Office of Naval Research
Establishment of an MIT Foundry for Massively Multi-Part System Engineering
DARPA Living Foundries Program
Collaborative Research: ABI Development: A Modular, Community Based Design Platform for Synthetic Biology (Clotho)
National Science Foundation
Augmenting and Extending the Eugene Domain Specific Language for Synthetic Biology
Agilent Applications and Core Technology University Research (ACT-UR) Funding
Augmenting and Extending the Eugene Domain Specific Language for Synthetic Biology
Agilent Applications and Core Technology University Research (ACT-UR) Funding
Utilizing Synthetic Biology to Create Programmable Micro-Bio-Robots
Office of Naval Research MURI
Multi-input, Multimodal, Mammalian Information Processing Circuits
DARPA Controlling Cellular Machinery Program
A Tool-Chain to Accelerate Synthetic Biological Engineering (TASBE)





Professional Experience





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