Sunday, September 18, 2005

Review of EuroNanoForum 2005

Sorry but I am still completing NANOHYPE (bits and pieces) and need to have my second book project to a foundation and my agent is a few weeks. Also, I am leaving on the 19th to go to the Greenpeace/Guardian announcements on the preliminary results of UK NanoJury.

On September 5-9, 2005, the Institute of Nanotechnology held the EuroNanoForum 2005: Nanotechnology and the Health of the EU Citizen in 2020 at the Edinburgh International Conference Center (EICC).

The EICC is an incredible facility only rivaled by the Swiss RE compound outside of Zurich. The Institute of Nanotechnology (ION) was an incredible host and brought together some outstanding speakers and programs of all sorts.

Unfortunately I missed the Monday workshops but got interviewed by Nanologue during the conference as part of their expert panels. Monday ended with a public debate on nanotechnology and healthcare which friends and colleagues reviewed well.

On Tuesday the sessions began and some ran parallel to each other. Most of the day was dedicated to technical presentations except for a session on commercializing nanomedicine. Before many of the reforms discussed can have any recognizable impact on European society, the venture capital climate will need to be improved in the EU. The evening was dedicated to an outstanding poster session that topped any I've seen in years. Some of the research on health and toxicology going on around the world was outstanding.

Wednesday involved a morning period of sessions on technical nanomedicine like convergence and its effects on medicine and health care and another on congenital and degenerative diseases. Both those were strong according to reports from friends and colleagues. The next set involved the session I was in and I led the group of four. I discussed two "gap" analyses done by me and others at South Carolina on toxicology and a second on communication of toxicology to the public. Joyce Tait discussed stakeholder engagement and we were followed by Volker Turk who covered the Nanologue project and Jennifer Palumbo who covered NanoDialogue, a fascinating science center initiative. There were four other sessions against ours. The evening included a reception at the Lord Provost's Offices at the Edinburgh City Chambers. While went on to hear the Cairngill Ceilidh Band and danced, I made my way to a pub with friends and we watches Scotland beat Norway and Northern Ireland beat England in soccer/football.

On Thursday I went to a session on Nanoparticle Risk Assessment. Ken Donaldson gave a primer on risk assessment, Paul Borm discussed cardiovascular effects of translocation, and Rob Aitken discussed exposure. The second group included Tilman Butz and Gunter Oberdorster discussing percutaneous uptake and CNS effects from inhalation respectively. The session was strong and during the post-session discussion Renzo Tomellini mentioned an initiative to pool toxicological information between the US, the EU, and others. Vicki Stone who was chairing the session mentioned the ICON database ( I serve on the advisory committee for ICON. In the afternoon, there was an interesting session involving Emilio Mordini on hopes, dreams and fairy tales and nano (incredibly entertaining), Donald Bruce from the Church of Scotland (much less entertaining) and Rogerio Gaspar (even less so). Then, Simone Scholze who was chairing the session starting talking and went on for 20 minutes. This session was troubling. I expected more the Dr. Bruce while he droned on in generalities. I expected much more from Dr. Gaspar who insulted the US NIH initiative as old stuff that had been accomplished in European labs years ago and repeated the mantra that nothing is new about nano as he banged away on the nationalist drum.

Unfortunately, I had to leave on Friday, but I made great contacts, enjoyed myself, and learned a lot about what was transpiring in human and health and nanomedicine in Europe.

I am not impressed by much but this conference was worth the travel. I also want to thank ION for inviting me. I was honored to be one of five Americans selected to participate. I hope to make next year's but that will depend on how our program is funded next year more than anything else.

I am sure I will address this later but it seems that Washington is more interested in having social scientists and humanists move nanotechnology out of the lab and into commerce than they are at research that might conclude nanotechonlogy needs to be re-examined and the public deserves a legitimate role in policy making.

Applauds to ION.

Finally, if you want to know more about the EU's nanomedicine initiatives, I recommend reading European Technology Platform on NanoMedicine: Nanotechnology for Health, Vision Paper and Basis for a Strategic Research Agenda for NanoMedicine, September 2005. It comes from the EU Publications Office. The URL is:


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