The Institute for
NanoBioTechnology, an ambitious research effort drawing
on diverse researchers from four Johns Hopkins divisions,
will host its first Nano-Bio Spring Symposium on Friday,
The event, which is open to the entire university
community, will feature presentations by eight prominent
speakers from outside institutions, plus a large poster
session calling attention to current nanobiotechnology
research taking place at Hopkins.
The talks will be presented from 9 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
in 1 Remsen on the Homewood campus. After a lunch break,
the event will reconvene from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Mattin
Center SDS Room with a poster session featuring research
from 50 to 75 groups.
The symposium occurs as the multidisciplinary
institute wraps up its first year of operation, a year
marked by growing faculty participation and the awarding of
the institute's first seed grants to faculty researchers
and its first summer internships to undergraduates.
"We've had a very successful first year, leading up to
what promises to be the first in an annual series of
symposiums during which we can share important information
about what's happening in the field of nanobiotechnology,"
said Peter Searson, a professor of materials science and
engineering, who serves as director of the
The speakers at Friday's event will include Michael P.
Sheetz, a professor of biological sciences at Columbia
University; David J. Mooney, a professor of bioengineering
at Harvard University; Gunter Oberdorster, a professor of
environmental medicine at the University of Rochester; and
Dennis Discher, a professor of chemical and biomolecular
engineering at the University of Pennsylvania.
(A complete lineup of the speakers, the times of their
presentations and their topics can be viewed online at
The institute was launched last May to focus efforts
at Johns Hopkins toward achieving major advances in
medicine by developing new diagnostic tools and treatments
based on interdisciplinary research conducted at the atomic
or molecular level. The center started with just over 75
faculty members from the Whiting School of Engineering, the
School of Medicine, the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences
and the Bloomberg School of Public Health. It currently has
140 affiliated faculty from these divisions.
The field of nanobiotechnology is barely a decade old,
but the institute's organizers asserted that Johns Hopkins
was an ideal site for a major research center in this field
because it can bring together world-class expertise in the
many disciplines needed to study and test biological
components smaller than a human cell and to fabricate
materials and devices that can operate at this scale.
The scale of this research is astonishingly small. A
nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. By comparison, a
single strand of human hair is roughly 50,000 to 80,000
nanometers wide. Some of the projects envisioned by
institute researchers involve manipulation of a single
molecule or a fragment of protein.
Institute members have been focusing on four key
research areas: diagnostics, therapeutics, cellular and
molecular dynamics, and health and environment. Over the
past year, the institute has awarded 12 seed grants to
Johns Hopkins research teams in three of these four
research areas; the diagnostic research seed grants are
expected to be awarded in the fall.
Seed grants allow multidisciplinary teams to do
preliminary research as they apply for expanded funding
from outside sources. The initial grants involve
researchers from all four of the participating divisions.
This summer, 10 Johns Hopkins undergraduates will be
supported by the institute's first 10-week internships,
allowing them to work on nanobiotechnology research
projects under the supervision of participating faculty