Skip to content


UW Researcher Spotlight: Dong Si

Written by Debra Bouchegnies / February 17, 2022

Curious about a UW researcher?

Welcome to our blog series, “UW Researcher Spotlight.” These posts highlight University of Washington researchers who, as principal investigators—or “PIs”—lead their teams on a path from idea to impact with the support of CoMotion. The resulting innovations have been licensed to industry, spun off as startups, or licensed direct to the user from within the UW. 

Stay tuned for profiles about UW researchers from computer science & engineering, life sciences, emerging tech, social sciences, and more. 

Meet Dong Si

Photo of Dong Si

UW Bothell logo

Dong Si, Ph.D. 

Assistant Professor, Computing & Software Systems Division of STEM, UW Bothell 


Jonas Pfab
Lead Engineer 

Yinrui (Bobby) Deng
Lead System Engineer 

Michael Chavez
Senior Backend Developer

Hanze Meng
System Engineer 


Computing & Software Systems Division of STEM, UW Bothell 


When did you file your first Record of Innovation (ROI) with CoMotion?
February 2020

What technologies have you licensed or spun off?
We created DeepTracer™, a technology that uses deep learning to model protein structures from 3D cryo-electron density maps.  

What problem does your innovation solve?
Traditional protein structure modeling and determination methods are manual or semi-automated. It usually takes a human expert months to determine a large complex structure. The technology we developed can generate a more accurate model than existing tools in minutes or seconds rather than months. 

What impact are you having?
Our work impacts molecular biomedicine, drug discovery, and pharmaceutics.

What funding have you received?
We received research grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF), University of Washington (UW) Bothell, and UW. We also received a CoMotion Innovation Gap Fund award in Spring 2021. 

What’s the latest?
We continue to improve the technology and the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) of the product/service. 

Do you have any commercialization advice?
Get in touch with CoMotion as early as possible to understand the intellectual property (IP), grant proposal process, pitch, and commercialization practices. Participate in the offered events, seminars, and pitches to learn from others. CoMotion’s services, from IP protection strategies to connecting us with potential funders for our work, have been instrumental in helping us move forward. 

What CoMotion services and resources did you use and how did they help?
We participated in the Fundamentals for Startup series on Fridays, workshops, pitch practices, and more. These programs helped us understand industry needs, how our research addresses these problems, and the commercialization journey. 

What do you like most about working with CoMotion?
Working with an Innovation Manager from the beginning has been an outstanding practice.  Laura Dorsey has been very helpful. 

Tell us an anecdote about your journey on the path to commercialization.
Knowing that our work helped with COVID-19 research and public education was a proud moment. 

Can you share a bit more about yourself?
My hobbies include music, traveling, running, and spending time outdoors. I also enjoy working with students and inspiring them to pursue advanced STEM education and research careers. 

Read more about Dong Si and DeepTracer™ in our blog post featuring Spring 2021 Innovation Gap Fund winners. 

Do you have a great idea? Connect with UW CoMotion 

File your Record of Innovation or request a consultation with an Innovation Manager. 

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated about programs, resources, and events. 

About UW CoMotion: CoMotion partners with the UW community on their innovation journey, providing tools, connections, and acumen to transform ideas into economic and societal impact.