David A. Markowitz is a scientist and engineer with a decade of experience leading applied research in biotechnology and artificial intelligence.
As an IARPA Program Manager, David created and led high-risk, high-payoff research programs at the intersection between biology, engineering, and computing. Through this work, he successfully delivered breakthrough technologies and capabilities for national security, and made foundational contributions to several emerging science and technology domains, including synthetic biology, connectomics, and DNA data storage. David also led the U.S. government’s development of computational and experimental tools for detecting engineered biological systems. In January 2020, he coordinated the U.S. national security community’s initial analysis of the SARS-CoV-2 genome.
David is an award-winning neuroscientist who played a central role in the design and execution of the $6B U.S. BRAIN Initiative. In 2017, he was appointed by NIH Director Francis Collins to serve on the working group that designed the second phase of the BRAIN Initiative. After leading the development of advanced neural imaging and data analysis platforms at IARPA, in 2021 David led the public release of the largest-ever map of neuronal activity and synaptic connectivity in the mammalian brain, including 200,000 cells and 500M synaptic connections across all layers and multiple regions of visual cortex. This site, MICrONS Explorer, is now one of the most actively used resources in neuroscience.
Prior to his tenure in public service, David published several highly cited first-author papers in computational neuroscience and neural engineering as an academic research scientist (Google Scholar). He is a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers.
David received his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Neuroscience from Princeton University as a DOE Computational Science Graduate Fellow. Prior to his career in science, David completed a degree in Management at MIT with a concentration in Information Technology. He has worked as a consulting software engineer for several startups in the US and UK, and his MIT undergraduate research on data aggregation was spun out into a startup, iAggregate, with $14M in funding and subsequently acquired.
Recent Media Coverage:
2022 – WIRED: “How to Detect a Man-Made Biothreat” (pdf | html)
2022 – Bloomberg: Tool Used to Rule Out Foul Play With Covid-19 May Spot Bioweapons (pdf | html)
2022- Progress, Potential & Possibilities Podcast: Interview with David Markowitz on High-Risk, High-Payoff Research for National Security Challenges (YouTube)
2022 – SxSW Futurology Podcast – Interview with David Markowitz on DNA Data Storage (mp3)
2022 – Semiconductor Engineering: “DNA Edges Forward As Data Storage Option” (pdf | html)
2022 – Popular Science: “Inside IARPA’s Quest to Store Data In DNA” (pdf | html)
2021 – Nature Biotechnology: Interview with David Markowitz, “Synthetic Virology: the experts speak” (pdf | html)
2021 – GeekWire: “Scientists Share A Wiring Diagram Tracing Connections For 200,000 Mouse Brain Cells“
2020 – Future Human: “How Do We Know If a Virus Is Bioengineered?“
2020 – OneZero: “A Smear of DNA Can Hold 10,000 Gigabytes of Data“