Conference on smart prosthetics set for November 2006

Washington The National Academies Keck FUTURES INITIATIVE announced today it will begin accepting applications from researchers for "Smart Prosthetics: Exploring Assistive Devices for the Body and Mind," a conference to be held Nov. 9-11, 2006, in Irvine, Calif. Applications must be submitted by June 7, and those selected to attend the conference will receive an invitation in early July. The FUTURES INITIATIVE will pay all travel expenses, including lodging and meals, for invited researchers.

Each year the National Academies Keck FUTURES INITIATIVE hosts a conference to bring together more than 100 of the nation's best and brightest researchers from academia, industry, and government laboratories to ask questions about -- and to discover interdisciplinary connections between -- important areas of cutting-edge research. This year's conference will focus on new possibilities in the field of prosthetics.

To help overcome differences in terminology used by researchers in various fields, "tutorials" will be given by experts before the conference. Each expert will provide an overview of his or her field in language that other researchers -- scientists, engineers, or medical researchers -- not familiar with the discipline can understand. These tutorials will be webcast in September and early October.

The centerpiece of the conference will be break-out sessions in which researchers from different fields can collaborate and develop research plans to address new questions in prosthetics. Representatives from public and private funding organizations, government, industry, and the science media will also participate in the working groups. In addition, participants will have the opportunity to present their latest research at the conference. To encourage further interdisciplinary research on prosthetics, the National Academies Keck FUTURES INITIATIVE will award seed grants on a competitive basis to researchers who attend the conference.

Funded by a $40 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation in 2003, the National Academies Keck FUTURES INITIATIVE is a 15-year effort to enhance communication among researchers, funding agencies, universities, and the general public with the objective of stimulating interdisciplinary research at the most exciting frontiers. The National Academies and the W.M. Keck Foundation believe considerable scientific progress and social benefit will be achieved by providing a counterbalance to the tendency to isolate research within academic fields. The FUTURES INITIATIVE is designed to enable researchers from different disciplines to focus on new questions and entirely new research, and to encourage better communication between scientists as well as between the scientific community and the public.

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 National Academies Keck FUTURES INITIATIVE incorporates three core activities each year: FUTURES conferences, FUTURES grants, and National Academies Communication Awards.

Researcher can apply online, or gather information on procedures and requirements, at www.keckfutures.org/prosthetics or by contacting Marty Perreault at 949-387-5783 or mperreault@nas.edu.

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