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Nanobiotechnology: Training the Next Generation of Scientists

 
  September, 27 2005 15:05
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The National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) today announced a collaboration that will establish integrative training environments for U.S. science and engineering doctoral students to focus on interdisciplinary nanoscience and technology research with applications to cancer. Through this partnership, $12.8 million in grants are being awarded to four institutions over the next five years.

Nanotechnology, the development and engineering of devices so small that they are measured on a molecular scale, has significant potential in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. The application of nanotechnology to cancer requires cross-disciplinary training in biological and physical sciences, and at present there are not enough individuals with such training. The NCI’s Cancer Nanotechnology Plan, and the NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer identified the need for such a cross-trained scientific workforce as essential to 21st century research and development.

Today’s awards are granted through NSF’s Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship Program (IGERT). The IGERT program is intended to facilitate greater diversity in student participation and preparation and contribute to the development of a diverse, globally-engaged science and engineering workforce.

All of the four selected projects, each of which will support approximately 30 students, are linked to regional cancer centers and the biomedical research community:

* Integrative Nanoscience and Microsystems, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, N.M. This program is a collaboration between the University of New Mexico's Center for High Technology Materials within the School of Engineering, the College of Arts and Sciences and the Cancer Research and Treatment Center. The collective goal is to prepare diverse graduates with a comprehensive understanding of multiple scientific disciplines, who can then utilize nanoscale phenomena to create macro-scopic functionality in three technical emphasis areas: bio interfaces, information nanotechnology and complex functional materials. The principal investigator is Diana Huffaker, Ph.D.


* NanoPharmaceutical Engineering and Science, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J. This collaboration between Rutgers University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the University of Puerto Rico, will prepare a diverse set of trainees to develop a wide array of nanoparticle-based biocompatible drug delivery systems, including DNA-based delivery systems for brain cancer, and preventive agents. The project will include training in nanoparticle product and process design. The program, which will coordinate with the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, will also provide training opportunities with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in New Jersey and Puerto Rico. The principal investigator is Fernando Muzzio, Ph.D.


* Nanomedical Science and Technology, Northeastern University, Boston, M.A. This project will establish a new interdisciplinary doctoral education program in Nanomedical Science and Technology, with a multidisciplinary faculty that will work together to develop solutions to complex problems at the interface of nanotechnology, biotechnology and medicine. The program aims to educate the next generation of scientists and technologists with the requisite skill sets to address the scientific and engineering challenges of applying nanotechnology to human health, with the necessary business, ethical and global perspectives. The project will also involve investigators from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Massachusetts General Hospital. The principal investigator is Srinivas Sridhar, Ph.D.


* Building Leadership for the Nanotechnology Workforce of Tomorrow, University of Washington, Seattle, W.A. This joint institute for nanotechnology involving University of Washington, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, will focus on new directions in bionanotechnology. Such directions include medical applications of nanoscale platforms; use of nanoscale tools to understand biological mechanisms underlying disease and to diagnose and treat disease; and combining expertise and techniques across physical science, biomedicine and engineering. The principal investigator is Marjorie Olmstead, Ph.D.

Along with other NCI training grants being awarded this month, the NCI-NSF awards address the full spectrum of training and education needs at graduate school, postdoctoral, and mid-career levels highlighted as priorities in the NCI’s Cancer Nanotechnology Plan. The award program will be jointly overseen by NSF and by NCI through the Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer.

The $144.3 million five-year NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer is a comprehensive, integrated initiative encompassing researchers, clinicians, and public and private organizations that have joined forces to develop and translate cancer-related nanotechnology research into clinical practice. The Alliance was launched in September 2004.

For more information on the NCI-NSF partnership, please visit http://nano.cancer.gov.


Message posted by: Rashmi Nemade

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