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The Boundaries of Life (BoL) Initiative seeks to uncover highly divergent forms of life on earth and in doing so to

advance microbiology and fundamental unanswered questions in biology, including: 1) What are the

fundamental parameters and bounds of life? 2) Has life originated more than once? 3) How likely is life to

exist elsewhere in the universe?


The BoL team brings together a group of physicists and biologists from Stanford University, California Institute

of Technology and Global Viral with expertise in specimen collection, development of assays for studying

microscopic life, and the fundamental study of the chemistry and physics of microbial-scale life. The project’s

primary objectives are to chart the currently unmapped diversity of nucleic acid-based life and to develop and deploy assays for the detection of shadow life1 in a range of specimens from earth. 



Partner lab sites: 


Global Viral Fellows Program

The Global Viral Fellows program seeks to train, develop, and provide unprecedented networking capacity to the most promising early-career scientists. The program seeks to push the boundaries of traditional microbiology and unite divergent areas within the microbiological sciences from infectious disease modeling, field virology and data sciences to outbreak response, molecular microbiology and cutting-edge imagery. With the support of the Richard Lounsbery Foundation and the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), the program is currently in the late stages of development with an anticipated launch in 2016. Please return for additional details.

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