Scientists and ethicists gathered at Arizona State University’s College of Law to celebrate the launch of the Center for Nanotechnology in Society (CNS), one of only two federally funded centers in the country studying the ethical implications of nanotechnology research.
Nanotechnology is the manipulation of molecule-sized materials to create new products and processes. It encompasses contributions from fields such as physics, chemistry and biochemistry, molecular biology, and engineering. Last fall, the National Science Foundation awarded ASU $6.2 million to establish CNS. The center is a collaboration of the Biodesign Institute and the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes, a group within the ASU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
George Poste, director of the Biodesign Institute, spoke at the launch. In his speech he described the benefits of nanotechnology, which promises to revolutionize healthcare. Specifically, he mentioned how nanotechnology would advance personalized medicine.
Poste also pointed out some drawbacks to the technology, such as the potential for insurance discrimination if an individual is found to have a genetic predisposition towards a disease.
Tackling ethical, legal, and economic implications of nanotechnology will be the focus of the new center, which is the largest in a network of $14.3 million in newly funded NSF activities on nanotechnology and society.
David Guston, director of CNS, told the East Valley Tribune that the center has three missions: researching the implications of nanotechnology, preparing students to grapple with those implications, and reaching out to scientists and the public to create discussion.
The ASU center will be a “center of excellence” for the National Nanotechnology Initiative, a federal research-and-development program established to coordinate the multi-agency efforts in nanoscale science, engineering, and technology.
For more information:
“Center considers societal implications of nanotechnology,” ASU Insight, 10/12/2005