The European Science Foundation (ESF)'s 'Forward Look in Nanomedicine' conference (chaired by Professor Ruth Duncan of Cardiff University) identified a need for truly interdisciplinary Pan-European training in order to facilitate the rapid and safe development of novel nanotechnology-based tools having potential to improve the diagnosis and treatment of disease.
From 10 -15 June, 2007 the first-ever advanced training event dedicated to the application of nanotechnology in medicine takes place in South Wales. More than 160 delegates from 30 different countries (including Australia, Singapore, South Africa and U.S.) are converging on the Vale Hotel Golf and Spa Resort to join the first European Science Foundation Summer School on Nanomedicine, designed to promote advanced training in the field and to foster discussion and the exchange of ideas on this important new subject.
Cardiff University is home to leading experts in the field of nanomedicine and has been at the forefront of developments that have many potential benefits to society and the healthcare industry. For example, Professor Duncan's research led to the first clinical evaluation in the 1990s of polymer-based "nanomedicines" designed to treat cancer.
Improvements in the understanding of individuals' predisposition to diseases, diagnostics for patient individualisation of therapy and the evaluation of responses to treatment are some of the positive implications of this newly emerging interdisciplinary field. Further advantages include therapies better targeted to disease minimising side effects and new types of treatment to promote tissue repair.
Professor Ruth Duncan of the Welsh School of Pharmacy is the Course Director for the conference. "To make sure that the potential benefits of this area of science can be realised many players must be involved from the basic sciences of chemistry, biology, engineering, physics, medicine and pharmacy, and also companies able to develop the technologies," she said.
"Delegates from all of these disciplines - including medical doctors and those representing the societal perspective of nanomedicine - will be attending the Summer School and holding lectures and discussions throughout the week providing a forum for international networking as well as learning."
The Summer School will also address the challenges and controversies in the area of nanomedicine, including the need for regulatory review to ensure safe clinical use of emerging new, nano-sized technologies, and not least the social and ethical overview needed to ensure that the proposed new technologies are both safe and effective.
Concluding the event on Friday 15th, the Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University Dr David Grant will round off a morning of debate and lectures featuring some distinguished speakers including:- Dr Carole Moquin-Pattey, Head of European Science Foundation's MRC Unit, and Dr Mauro Ferrari, President of the Nano-Alliance for Health, Houston Texas, and Professor Tony Ryan - past presenter of the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures on Channel 4.
Professor Jackie Ying, Executive Director of the Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore, and a member of a think tank appointed to advise the US Congress on challenges and opportunities for engineering in the 21st century will also stop off in Cardiff on her way to Washington to give a keynote address.
The event has been organised in conjunction with scientists from Portugal, Spain and Swansea and is the first of its kind. It has received substantial support from the European Science Foundation, British Council, Medical Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Welsh Assembly Government.
The next event will take place in 2009 hosted by the University of Lisbon.
The European Science Foundation is based in Strasbourg, France, see www.esf.org The ESF is an association of 75 member organisations from 30 European countries. Since its inception in 1974, it has co-ordinated a wide range of pan-European scientific initiatives.