The UT Health Science Center Hosts NanoDays March 28 to April 5

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Something very small but incredibly powerful is happening in Memphis. The Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at UTHSC is sponsoring the first local celebration of “NanoDays” from March 28 to April 5.

Something very small but incredibly powerful is happening in Memphis. The Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) is sponsoring the first local celebration of “NanoDays.” The week-long series of educational events, from March 28 to April 5, is designed to introduce the public to nanotechnology and nanoscience, while exploring the diverse and potentially revolutionary applications of nanoscale solutions.

Nanotechnology focuses on materials or devices that are 1-100 nanometers (one nanometer is one billionth of a meter). The nanoscale consists of particles that are smaller than cells but larger than atoms. On the nanoscale, it would take 8,000 nanometers to equal the diameter of one red blood cell. One human hair on the nanoscale is made up of roughly 50,000 to 100,000 nanometers. To view the nanoscale versus the macro, micro and atomic scales, go to: www.nisenet.org/sites/default/files_static/size_and_scale/FinalScreenLadder.pdf.

Supported by the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (www.NISENet.org), part of the National Science Foundation, NanoDays is an annual celebration. Last year, more than 150 NanoDays outreach events were held in communities nationwide to explain nanoscale science, technology and engineering. Each spring, the events involve nanoscience partners and other community-based educational organizations, such as museums, research institutions, universities, and libraries, to focus efforts on bringing nanotechnology to the public. (Schedule of UTHSC events attached.)

Anand Kulkarni, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and one of the NanoDays organizers said, “Nanotechnology methods are now being used in many exciting medical applications. Such use is seen in newer pregnancy tests, which rely on gold nanoparticles to reflect the color that reveals the presence of pregnancy hormones in urine. New sunscreen lotions contain transparent nanoparticles of zinc oxide. Also, some newer shoe insoles contain silver nanoparticles, which kill microorganisms that cause foot odor and athlete’s foot.

“So far, there are many intriguing ideas in nanomedicine that are still under development,” Dr. Kulkarni added. “However, plenty of nanomedical technologies are available or will become available in the next two years.”

“Experts who are deep into the study of nanotechnology talk more and more about nanoscale solutions as having the potential to address and solve some of the major problems of our time,” said Charles R. Handorf, MD, PhD, professor and chair of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at UTHSC. “Problems like global warming, water pollution, harmful emissions from fossil fuels — these problems and more may be solved by the scientific revolution that ensues through the application of nanoscale solutions.”

Dr. Handorf explained, “Nanotechnology is causing a shift in the way we think about the serious issues we have to face, like cancer. Instead of developing treatments for cancer, perhaps nanotechnology will allow us to think about ways we can block cancer from ever forming inside the body. Perhaps one day we can introduce biological compounds at the cellular level that can seek out and stop cancer.

“A major focus of NanoDays is students because we want to bring middle school and high school students back to science and into the wonder of the world we live in,” he continued. “They are at an age when there really truly is nothing they can’t do if they keep their minds open. Too many young people in Memphis don’t realize that the biggest industry and employer in this city is health care. NanoDays will help teach these kids what exists and what opportunities there are for them to pursue.”

“Currently, there is no National Science Foundation-funded nanotechnology center in a 100-mile radius of Memphis,” Dr. Kulkarni observed. With the potential for so many health care jobs of the future to be built on the nanoscale, UTHSC scientists are exploring the possibility of establishing a Nanomedicine Center in Memphis.

As the flagship statewide academic health system, the University of

Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) is focused on a four-tier mission of education, research, clinical care and public service, all in support of a single goal: to improve the health of Tennesseans. Offering a broad range of postgraduate training opportunities, the main campus is located in Memphis and includes six colleges: Allied Health Sciences, Dentistry, Graduate Health Sciences, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. UTHSC has additional College of Medicine and College of Pharmacy campuses in Knoxville, and a College of Medicine campus in Chattanooga. For more information, visit www.uthsc.edu.

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center

NanoDays Schedule

Sat., March 28, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. — Teachers’ in-service, 35 expected

Hands-on activities at the UTHSC Student-Alumni Center,

800 Madison Avenue, Memphis

Mon., March 30, 7:30 to 10:00 a.m. — Breakfast and two-hour presentation on

nanotechnology for 100 community members and special guests.

Freeman Auditorium (Hamilton Eye Institute), 930 Madison, 3rd floor

Mon., March 30, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. — Nanomedicine Symposium for 50

UTHSC faculty and other members of local higher education

Link Auditorium, 855 Monroe Avenue, Memphis

Tue., March 31, 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. — “No Fooling, Nanotechnology Is Here”

40 students expected at Cordova Public Library,

8457 Trinity Road, Cordova

Wed., April 1, 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. — “No Fooling, Nanotechnology Is Here”

60 students expected at Memphis Public Library & Information Center,

3030 Poplar Avenue, Memphis

Thu., April 2, 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. — School Administrators, 40 expected

Mini-nanomedicine symposium at UTHSC Student-Alumni Center,

800 Madison Avenue, Memphis

Fri., April 3, 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. — “No Fooling, Nanotechnology Is Here”

45 students expected, Girls Inc., 60 North Third Street, Memphis