Mission of the NBEC:
Center for Molecular Structure-Function: A Nanometer & Femtosecond Scale Bioscience & Engineering Center.
NanoBioScience Institute was founded in 2000, when a cross-campus interdisciplinary group came together. In 2006 it was recognized among the top four Nano Institutes in the US. In the past years, the Center has been intimately involved in collaborative studies and course development (PSL 7215), a Graduate/Under Graduate Course is being offered begining Winter (2005-2006), published two books (AFM in Cell Biology & Methods in Cell Biology) on the subject (Editors: Jena, B.P., Hoerber, J.K.H.), organized two International NanoBioScience & Technology Meetings, several national and international partnerships have been established, and numerous collaborative research papers published in the area. Meanwhile, these developments have attracted students from national and international institutions.
Long Range Goal: To understand the structure, function, and regulation of biological systems at the nanometer level and in real time, nano- and femto-technological devices like the Atomic Force Microscopy, Photonic Force Microscopy, Optical Tweezers and ultra fast laser spectroscopy, have to be utilized. Both nano and femto technologies are powerful, new and emerging fields, allowing investigation and understanding of the smallest molecular structures and their fastest dynamics in the realm of space and time. This combination will allow for the understanding of biomolecular reactions impossible otherwise. Understanding how cells and biomolecules function will ultimately provide the basis for the development of nanoscale devices mimicking biological processes, help in the development of smart drugs and drug delivery systems from information gained on the surface topology of biomolecules and their interactions, and direct and facilitate the development of technology for further use in such investigations of biological systems at the nano and femto scales. This new emerging field of science will help in both understanding of fundamental biological functions and also in the development and application in medicine and engineering. This proposed Center, due to the nature of this interdisciplinary science, will engage engineers, biologists, chemists and physicists, working closely together. The Center will draw on the talents from both within and off campus. The Center will have three primary, and integrated objectives, engaging in 1) Research activities, 2) Collaboration and partnerships, and in 3) Education and knowledge transfer. Primary objectives will be administered and coordinated by the Director (B.P. Jena). Specific educational and research activities will be coordinated by the Associate Directors.
The NBEC will be administered and directed by the NBEC director, who will be advised by the NBEC External Advisory Board reporting through the Vice President for Research. The External Advisory Board (comprising 5 members including one Nobel Laureate) whose members will be selected from outside of NBEC, will provide annual reviews on the Center’s performance and help in providing new directions. Each of the Associate Directors will be responsible either for research, education, technology transfer, or collaboration and partnership, will overlook all activities of their respective program PIs. An Activities Coordinator will overlook and report to the Director on all programs and associated administrative activities. The Activities Coordinator will be responsible for the organization and coordination of international symposiums and seminars. The NBEC Directors will actively participate in the National Network of NanoScience Center Directors.
Due to the highly interdisciplinary nature of the field, there will be emphasis on training a new breed of researchers who will have a broad background in engineering, physics, biology, chemistry, and mathematics so that they will be able to learn and apply these new technologies in their research program. In view of this, besides graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, undergraduate students will also be selected and encouraged to participate in research and education activities of the NBEC. To be able to build such strengths in both graduate and undergraduate students in interdisciplinary areas, close guidance and careful advices from program PIs will be provided. The generation of new knowledge and the advancement of our understanding of the fundamentals of nature form the very foundation of education and are wholly dependent upon the exchange of these discoveries with others. The Center’s objective is to put in place a variety of mechanisms whereby students and researchers from within the Center as well as from throughout the national and international scientific community can come together to learn about and discuss observations that are relevant to the Center’s mission. An important aspect of the Center’s focus will be to educate children in the K-12 program, their teachers, and the general public on this emerging area of science and technology and its impact on society, through various educational and outreach activities. NBEC will conduct yearly symposiums and weekly seminar series, publish a newsletter, and host a website to help in such knowledge transfer. In keeping with this objective and vision, the NBEC has organized two International Symposiums on NanoBioScience & Technology, one held in May 24-25, 2002at WSU campus; and the other in 13-14 July, 2005, in Aichi, Japan, at the 2005 World EXPO. In addition, the participating NBEC faculty will continue to be active in publication of research papers and books in the area of nano and femto sciences. In view of this, 2 books, one entitled ‘AFM in Cell Biology’- Academic Press (2001), and a second book entitled ‘Force Microscopy Application in Biology and Medicine’- Wiley Press (2006), have been published.
In keeping with the tradition of Wayne State University in having interdisciplinary research programs and Centers with high women and minority representation, the Center is making every concerted effort to continue to foster the active participation of American students and faculty, including women and underrepresented minorities in its research and educational programs. This will have broader impact on the overall training and education of women and minorities in nano and femto sciences.