The Pentagon plans to fund two advanced research projects at UC San Diego.

The Defense Department on April 14 announced a list of 23 new research projects falling under its multidisciplinary university research initiative, or MURI. The recipients include a who’s who of academic institutions in the United States and United Kingdom. Collectively the projects are worth $163 million.

The MURI program is highly competitive. Research teams are typically made up of people from more than one scientific or engineering discipline.

The awards are expected to last five years, subject to available funding.

The Air Force Office of Scientific Research will sponsor an analysis of bio-inspired low energy information processing in the lab of UC San Diego professor Padmini Rangamani. Also participating in the research will be the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

Separately, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research is sponsoring a project titled “Unraveling the Biology, Chemistry and Nanoscience of Natural and Synthetic Melanins.” The principal investigator is Nathan Gianneschi. UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography will participate in the study, as will the University of Akron in Ohio, the University of Delaware and the University of Ghent in Belgium.

Financial details of the projects were not immediately available.

A Pentagon statement said that over the past 30 years, the MURI program has resulted in significant capabilities for military forces and opened up entirely new lines of research. “Notable examples include foundations in artificial intelligence, compressive sensing and automated scene recognition, ultracold atoms and advanced sensing and navigation, advances in optoelectronics and mid-infrared imaging technology, and direct brain-computer communication.”

The new research might have both military and commercial applications, the statement said.