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Posted: April 28, 2008

Brown opens institute for molecular and nanoscale innovation

(Nanowerk News) Many of society's most pressing problems the search for clean energy, the availability of safe drinking water, rooting out the biomarkers of diseases depend on the study of matter at the molecular and nanoscale level. Such complex research is no longer confined to a single department but instead embraces many disciplines, involving scientists with varied backgrounds and expertise.
That growing awareness is the impetus behind the new Institute for Molecular and Nanoscale Innovation (IMNI) at Brown University. The center holds its official opening, the IMNI Nanoscience Forum, on campus from May 5 to 7, 2008 with a slate of prestigious speakers, presentations and other events. The sessions are open to the media and invited guests.
The forum will feature:
  • Nearly two-dozen presentations on the latest research in molecular and nanotechnology. Speakers come from Brown and nine universities nationwide, including Harvard University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Minnesota, New York University, North Carolina State University, Oregon State University and Yale University.
  • keynote speech by Mihail Roco, director of the National Nanotechnology Initiative at the National Science Foundation
  • A roundtable discussion on nanotechnology policy and safety issues with Norris Alderson, associate commissioner for science at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Vivian Ota Wang, program director of the ethical, legal, and social implications program of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health and currently on assignment at the National Science Foundation; Sally Tinkle, senior science advisor at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; Aatish Salvi, vice president of the NanoBusiness Alliance; Christine Dodd, government relations executive at IBM; and Brown faculty.
  • The program schedule, speakers and other information can be found at: http://www.brown.edu/imni
    About the Institute
    The Institute for Molecular and Nanoscale Innovation (IMNI) is a major new research center at Brown University that focuses on techniques and products involving nanometer-scale structures tiny structures with dimensions generally ranging from 1 to 100 nanometers. Scientists and scholars affiliated with IMNI will investigate the applications of molecular devices, nanoparticles and nanosystems, which now appear in a wide range of products and services, from sunscreen to improved drug delivery to solar cells.
    Such a center couldn't come at a better time, said Robert Hurt, the IMNI's director and a professor in the Division of Engineering.
    "There are more than 400 nanoproducts on the market today and hundreds of nanotechnology-based start-up companies," Hurt said. "Future breakthroughs in energy, medical, and environmental technologies will likely come from incorporating nanotechnology components."
    A total of 55 Brown faculty will be directly affiliated with the Institute, which will draw from nine departments: Applied Mathematics; Chemistry; Computer Science; Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Engineering; Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biotechnology; Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Physics; and Sociology.
    Research has been divided into three areas the Center for Advanced Materials Research; the Center for Nanoscience and Soft Matter; and the NanoHealth Working Group (See accompanying fact sheet for details of the groups and biographies of the directors). The Institute will manage multi-investigator block grants and will report to the Office of the Vice President for Research at Brown. It will partner with the Center for Nanophase Materials Science at Oak Ridge National Laboratories, the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole (Mass.), General Motors and the NanoBusiness Alliance.
    Hurt said its flexibility to bring in scientists with specific knowledge is a major strength.
    "You are cutting across many disciplines scientific, political, social, and even ethical," he said. "IMNI provides a way to put together flexible teams and go after the defining issues of our time."
    Added Clyde Briant, vice president for research in the Office of the Vice President for Research: "I think some unique things about IMNI compared to other nanotechnology centers are the campus-wide scope, the existence of independent centers within the institute that use shared resources, and, most of all, the integration of physical, life, and social scientists to work collectively on all aspects of nanotechnology development, including its health and societal impacts."
    Source: Brown University