Message from Director Marc D. Porter
The Nano Institute of Utah has concluded its second year. Upon inception, we envisioned a federation in which scientists, engineers and clinicians from the University of Utah and across the state work to conquer interdisciplinary challenges in nanoscience and nanotechnology and to foster economic development in Utah. We are enthused by its success. We are convinced now, more than ever, that we can continue to create synergism and to advance alliances that will drive higher levels of collaborative research, education, commercialization, and community outreach. A few of the accomplishments of the last few years are highlighted below.
RESEARCH. We are pleased to report that grant submissions have steadily increased. We have formed several collaborative teams to tackle high-risk projects from multidisciplinary perspectives. Some of these collaborations have resulted in funded research, i.e., a $3M 5-year NIH award to develop a platform for parallel marker detection in pancreatic cancer and a $1.5M 5-year award to develop polymers for gene therapy of head and neck cancers.
EDUCATION. We acknowledge the Institute’s vital role in education and highlight two Institute successes: (1) the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) Program supported by NSF adds six Ph.D. candidates per year and supports them for the first two years of the educational program in the development and application of nanobiosensors as related to disease detection, homeland security, food safety, and the environment; and (2) the Graduate Training Program in Nanotechnology provides breadth and depth to five Ph.D. candidates per year in the emerging field of nanoscience and nanotechnology, particularly as it applies to disease treatment. These complementary programs include graduate students from the Colleges of Science, Engineering, Pharmacy, and the School of Medicine. Five new nanotechnology courses are being offered by faculty members and directors of the Institute. Many distinguished international and domestic speakers have been hosted by the Institute seminar program.
COMMERCIALIZATION. The Institute has partnered with the Technology Commercialization Office to generate more than forty Invention Disclosures, pursue patent protection for intellectual property, and create and/or expand commercial enterprises. Two new companies, MetalloSensors and TheraTarget, have been incorporated. The Institute supported SBIR submissions for two funded Phase I grants for Concurrent Analytical. It also supported STTR submissions for TheraTarget for two funded Phase I grants.
COMMUNITY OUTREACH. Outreach activities included lectures throughout the community, e.g., “Science at Breakfast”, “Lunch with Leo”, and Salt Lake Community College. The Leonardo Science Museum co-hosted NanoDays at the Salt Lake City Public Library (2009 & 2011), and at the Utah Natural History Museum (2010). The Institute has been heavily involved in nanoUtah 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
We are eagerly looking forward to the further growth of the Institute!
Marc D. Porter
Director, Nano Institute of Utah