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Nanoscale Defenses for Biological and Chemical Threats

Nanoscale CBRN DefenseAdvancing the front lines of research for the detection and decontamination of chemical and biological threats is the mission of an international scientific workshop organized by Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and the Georgian National Academy of Sciences, and sponsored by the Science for Peace and Security Programme of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Part of NATO’s Advanced Research Workshop series, Nanotechnology to Aid Chemical and Biological Defense (.pdf) was held September 22-26, 2014 in Antalya, Turkey.

The workshop focused on nanoscale science and technology as applied to pathogens like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Francisella tularensis (tularemia), and Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium that causes anthrax. A primary goal of the workshop is discuss discovery and advancement of new materials that can detect and defend against many biological and chemical agents at the atomic and molecular levels.

“Our hope is that by sharing the latest science and discussing the key challenges in the field we can accelerate technology development to help protect people around the world from these terrible threats,” said Terri Camesano, professor of chemical engineering and dean of graduate studies at WPI, who is the lead organizer and co-chair of the workshop.

More than 20 leading researchers from Europe and the United States, along with graduate students from their labs and collaborating institutions, participated in four days of presentations and rigorous discussions on a wide range of aspects relevant to biological and chemical threats.

In addition to co-chairing the event, Camesano presented a talk about the potential to use naturally occurring antimicrobial peptides to detect biological threats. The workshop was co-chaired by Giorgi Kvesitadze, president of the Georgian Academy of Sciences in Tiblisi, who presented current research on how certain microorganisms and plants metabolize toxins.

Among the other scientists participating in the workshop were: Robert Botto, of the United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency; Levent Kenar of Gulhane Military Medical Academy in Ankara, Turkey; Raj Mutharasan of Drexel University; Mladen Franko of the University of Nova Gorica in Slovenia; Perena Gouma of Stony Brook University; Mario Böhme of Darmstadt University of Technology in Germany; and Giorgio Sberveglieri of the University of Brescia in Italy.

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