University donates nanotechnology to fight diseases

By Diana Blickensderfer

The University is among ten research universities around the world that have joined together to use nanotechnology to find cures for infectious diseases.

“It’s hugely important,” said Irfan Ahmad, associate director for the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology. “We’ve seen that (infectious diseases) have a potential to come to this country through global connection.”

The establishment of the new Center for Intra-Cellular Mechanics will contribute to the research effort at the University. The new center will bring together different colleges from across campus to “develop a profound understanding of how disease occurs and how the parasite impacts the cell,” Ahmad said.

The research at the new center will be a “starting point to continue to explore these issues and contribute to (the Global Enterprise for Micro-Mechanics and Molecular Medicine) at the same time,” Ahmad said.

“A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step,” Ahmad said. “We have to start somewhere.”

The enterprise collaboration is working to fight many infectious diseases. Major diseases including malaria, tuberculosis, west Nile, hepatitis, and cancer will be looked at.

“Basically, the effort is trying to address problems of infectious diseases, … address some of the issues world wide,” Ahmad said.

The University has been discussing the idea of bringing together various institutions for research for over two years, so joining the enterprise team was a logical decision, Ahmad said.

Ahmad stressed the importance of joining a team of universities for a project such as this.

“No one person, department or campus has all the expertise,” Ahmad said.

Each university has its own strength, with bio-nanotechnology being the strength of the University, he said. With more than 150 people engaged in nanotechnology research and education here at the University, “we have a lot to offer,” Ahmad said.

“By creating the new center and being a part of GEM4, (the University) is showing leadership and interest (in fighting diseases),” Ahmad said.