National Academies announce nanotechnology conference set for November


Expert team tapped to develop agenda and grant program, select attendees

WASHINGTON The National Academies Keck FUTURES INITIATIVE today announced that it will host a conference on nanoscience and nanotechnology from Nov. 19 to 21, 2004, in Irvine, Calif. Attendees will discuss this emerging science, which investigates how to build matter on a very small scale by manipulating individual molecules or atoms that are 100,000 times as thin as a human hair. The conference also will explore the possible benefits of nanotechnology for public health, in particular the convergence of research in cell biology and nanomachines.

The Academies also announced the members of the planning and steering committees that will develop themes and select attendees respectively, for the conference. Cherry Murray, Ph.D., Physical Sciences Research senior vice president, Bell Labs, Lucent Technologies, will serve as chair for both committees.

"It is my hope that this conference will foster collaborations across disciplines, speeding the revolution of our understanding of cell machinery, and helping us identify the potential applications of nanomachines in biology and medicine," said Murray.

Funded by a $40 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation, the National Academies Keck FUTURES INITIATIVE is a 15-year effort to catalyze interdisciplinary inquiry and to enhance communication among researchers, funding agencies, universities, and the general public with the object of stimulating interdisciplinary research at the most exciting frontiers. The FUTURES INITIATIVE builds on three pillars of vital and sustained research: interdisciplinary encounters that counterbalance specialization and isolation; the identification and exploration of new research topics; and communication that bridges languages, cultures, habits of thought, and institutions. Toward these goals, the multifaceted National Academies Keck FUTURES INITIATIVE incorporates three core activities each year: FUTURES conferences, FUTURES grants, and National Academies Communication Awards.

The National Academies Keck FUTURES INITIATIVE Conferences bring together some of the nation's best and brightest researchers from academic, industrial, and government laboratories to ask questions about -- and to discover interdisciplinary connections in - important areas of cutting-edge research. Nearly 100 outstanding researchers are invited to discuss ideas related to a single cross-disciplinary theme. Participants gain not only a wider perspective but also, in many cases, new insights and techniques that might be applied in their own work. Selection of each year's theme is based on assessments of where the intersection of science, engineering, and medical research has the greatest potential to spark new discovery.

Researchers who attend the three-day conference planned for November 2004 will participate in discussions on a wide range of issues, including whether nanotechnology can overcome the limits of conventional medicine and biotechnology machines; the ethical, scientific, and societal implications of the merger between cell biology and physical machines; the future of nanomedicine; and the manufacturing of nanosystems. In early April the National Academies will seek nominations from researchers who wish to attend the conference.

To encourage conference attendees to pursue further interdisciplinary research on nanotechnology, the Academies will award seed grants to selected. These funds are to help researchers explore nanotechnology research that might not otherwise happen. The steering committee oversees the grant program.

For more information, visit or contact Marty Perreault at 949-387-5783. The committee rosters follow.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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