NSF and EPA establish 2 centers for environmental implications of nanotechnology

Centers will focus on environmental effects of nanotechnology and its applications


The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have made awards to establish two Centers for the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (CEIN). The centers, led by UCLA and Duke University, will study how nanomaterials interact with the environment and with living systems, and will translate this knowledge into risk assessment and mitigation strategies useful in the development of nanotechnology.

"The new centers will provide national and international leadership in the emerging field of environmental nanoscience," said Arden L. Bement, Jr., NSF director. "This is an important addition to the National Nanotechnology Initiative, and builds on earlier discoveries on the environmental implications of nanotechnology made since 2001, when NSF's Center for Biological and Environmental Technologies was established. The new centers are aimed at strengthening our nation's commitment to research on the environmental, health and safety implications of nanomaterials."

The centers will work as a network, connected to other research organizations, industry and government agencies and will emphasize interdisciplinary research and education. Their challenge is to better integrate materials science and engineering with molecular, cellular, organismal and ecological biology and environmental science.

The UCLA CEIN, to be housed at the California NanoSystems Institute on the UCLA campus, will explore the impact of nanomaterials on the environment and on interactions with biological systems at all scales from cellular to ecosystem.

At the Duke University CEIN, researchers plan to define the relationship between a vast array of nanomaterials - from natural to man-made to incidental, byproduct nanoparticles - and their potential environmental exposure, biological effects and ecological consequences. Nanomaterials that are already in commercial use as well as several present in nature will be among the first materials studied.

Traditional toxicity testing relies mainly on a complex set of whole-animal-based toxicity testing strategies. "This approach cannot handle the rapid pace at which nanotechnology-based enterprises are generating new materials and ideas," said Nel, who is also the Director of the UC led-Campus Nanotoxicology Research and Training Program at UCLA. "The CEIN's development of a comprehensive computational risk ranking will allow powerful risk predictions to be made by and for the academic community, industry, the public, and regulating agencies."

At Duke University, "a distinctive element will be the synthesis of information about nanoparticles into a rigorous risk assessment framework, the results of which will be transferred to policy-makers and society at large," said Duke CEIN director Mark Wiesner, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering. Wiesner specializes in nanoparticle movement and transformation in the environment.

The National Science Foundation (NSF)

Recommend news PDF version / Print

Share on

Facts, background information, dossiers
  • nanotechnology
  • UCLA
  • nanomaterials
  • Duke University
  • toxicity testing
  • nanoparticles
  • National Science Foundation
  • nanotoxicology
  • materials science
  • Environmental Prote…
  • environmental engineering
  • education
  • California NanoSystems
  • biology
More about National Science Foundation
  • News

    A new wrinkle in thin film science

    A remarkably simple experiment devised by scientists yields important information about the mechanical properties of thin films - nanoscopically thin layers of material that are deposited onto a metal, ceramic or semiconductor base. The research results, funded by the National Science Found ... more

    The longest carbon nanotubes you've ever seen

    Using techniques that could revolutionize manufacturing for certain materials, researchers have grown carbon nanotubes that are the longest in the world. While still slightly less than 2 centimeters long, each nanotube is 900,000 times longer than its diameter. The fibers - which have the ... more

    Cornell and BTI receive $1.8 million from National Science Foundation to continue tomato sequence project

    An international project led by Cornell and the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research (BTI) at Cornell has received $1.8 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to continue sequencing the tomato genome and to create a database of genomic sequences and information on the tom ... more

More about Duke University
  • News

    Widespread uranium contamination found in India's groundwater

    A new Duke University-led study has found widespread uranium contamination in groundwater from aquifers in 16 Indian states. The main source of the uranium contamination is natural, but human factors such as groundwater-table decline and nitrate pollution may be exacerbating the problem. Se ... more

    AI detects patterns of gut microbes for cholera risk

    Researchers from Duke University, Massachusetts General Hospital and the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research in Dhaka, Bangladesh have used machine learning algorithms to spot patterns within communities of bacteria living in the human gut that no human would ever be able to ... more

    CRISPR/Cas9 Silences Gene Associated with High Cholesterol

    Biomedical engineers at Duke University have used a CRISPR/Cas9 genetic engineering technique to turn off a gene that regulates cholesterol levels in adult mice, leading to reduced blood cholesterol levels and gene repression lasting for six months after a single treatment. This marks the f ... more

More about Environmental Protection Agency
More about UCLA
  • News

    'Scaffolding' method allows biochemists to see proteins in remarkable detail

    UCLA biochemists have achieved a first in biology: viewing at near-atomic detail the smallest protein ever seen by the technique whose development won its creators the 2017 Nobel Prize in chemistry. That technique, called cryo-electron microscopy, enables scientists to see large biomolecule ... more

    Stingray soft robot could lead to bio-inspired robotics

    UCLA bioengineering professor Ali Khademhosseini has led the development of a tissue-based soft robot that mimics the biomechanics of a stingray. The new technology could lead to advances in bio-inspired robotics, regenerative medicine and medical diagnostics. The simple body design of stin ... more

    How to amplify or stifle signals for immune responses

    T cells, the managers of our immune systems, spend their days shaking hands with another type of cell that presents small pieces of protein from pathogens or cancerous cells to the T cell. But each T cell is programmed to recognize just a few protein pieces, known as antigens, meaning years ... more

Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE