2008 Nanobio Symposium Preview: Andrew D. Maynard

Wilson Center Expert Says Public Dialog Key to Nanotech’s Future

Andrew D Maynard. Credit: Wilson Center.
Andrew D Maynard. Credit: Wilson Center.

New consumer products using nanotechnology are showing up all the time—from medical devices to computer hard drives and from cleaner energy to clearer water. In fact, the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., maintains a web inventory of more than 575 consumer products identified by manufacturers as containing nanotechnology.

“Nanotechnology has the potential to change society,“ says Andrew D. Maynard, chief science advisor for the Wilson Center project. “The amount of change nanotechnology will ultimately affect, however, deals in part with how readily the technology is accepted by the public.“

Maynard will present his views during the Johns Hopkins University 2008 NanoBio Symposium hosted by the Institute for NanoBioTechnology (INBT) to be held May 1-2, 2008 at the University’s East Baltimore campus.

“Nanotechnology Applied to Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis“ will be the theme of the Thursday afternoon workshop at the newly expanded two-day event. Friday’s events include a morning symposium and an afternoon poster session.

Thanks to the internet and other means of mass communication, the general public has access to more information about this emerging science than it ever has had about any previous technological breakthrough or scientific advancement, Maynard says, but not all of what’s out there is good information. “There is so much available, that it is impossible for anyone to assimilate it and make a sound decision,“ he says.

To sort through some of these messages, PEN hosted a web-based public dialog on nanotechnology on October 23 and 24, 2007. Expert panelists and members of the general public discussed the risks and benefits of nanotechnology, product labeling, and regulation and oversight. Transcripts of the discussions may be viewed here.

Maynard believes that soliciting public input proactively will have a positive impact on the future of nanotechnology research. “Consumers have a very powerful voice about which technologies move forward,“ he says. “Establishing a dialog about nanotechnology with the public at this early stage in its development means that we can do something different. We can include all the stakeholders, and we can change the social contract.“

Other confirmed speakers for the 2008 Johns Hopkins University Nano-Bio Symposium include:

Donald E. Ingber, M.D., Ph.D.
Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology
Department of Pathology, Harvard Medical School
Vascular Biology Program, Children’s Hospital


Jeffery A. Schloss, Ph.D.
Co-chair, Trans-NIH NANO Task Force
Program Director, Technology Development Coordination
National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health

Jennifer L. West, Ph.D.
Isabel C. Cameron Professor of Bioengineering
Rice University

Participant registration and guidelines for poster submission will be available soon.

Sponsorships opportunities are available now. For information about sponsorship opportunities, contact Mary Spiro, INBT’s media relations coordinator, at mspiro@jhu.edu, or call 410-516-4802.

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