Discussion Subject: Interface between nanoscience and cellular processes. Richard N. Sifers, Ph.D Discussion leader for Table 8. Problems.
Richard N. Sifers, Ph.D
Discussion leader for Table 8
To a large extent, the genomics era left us with a descriptive level of scientific analysis in which “broad phenotypic changes” served as a common experimental observation.
This lack of mechanistic detail has led to many gaps in our current knowledge of how many cellular processes operate, especially on small timescales.
Many crucial steps are either unappreciated, or entirely unknown. Each could serve as a site for the intervention of disease processes.
A major goal of nanoscience (in the context of the subject matter) is to engineer an interface between nano-materials and appropriate cellular processes. Essential goals are to:
Visualize cellular processes at every step and on every timescale.
Incorporate quantitative analyses into experimental designs to better-define previously unappreciated mechanistic details.
Employ the discipline to perform simultaneous analyses (multiplex detection) of operative biological systems.
Use the acquired knowledge, and associated tools, to “modulate” (re-reprogram) existing cellular programs.
Use the technology for disease detection and diagnosis with the long-term goal of altering pathology.
Many scientists are “rugged individualists” that can fail to appreciate the scientific interests of others. Without proper training, the strengths of many programs in Houston will remain untapped.
The term “nanoscience” is a misnomer to many scientists. The terminology can conjure-up the notion of “small science”. Many fail to understand that the discipline takes advantage of materials with unique biophysical properties to address unanswered questions in biology.
The current criteria by which faculty members are promoted and/or receive tenure at universities actually hinders the formation of meaningful collaborative efforts.
Science, as it is now practiced, will soon become obsolete. Therefore, the following action items are warranted:
A concerted effort must be made to establish a forum of interdisciplinary meetings, the goal of which is to include and inform scientists of ongoing research programs.
A method must be established to identify collaborations that successfully blend cell biology and nanoscience, and these should be made known to all scientists.
Interested faculty members must establish justifiable criteria that will foster collaboration among cell biologists and nanoscientists. The recommendations should then be presented (and “sold”) to the proper administrative officials.