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New Bionanoscience dept launched at TU Delft

By staff reporter , 06-Feb-2008

Delft Technology University (TU Delft) in the Netherlands, has decided to create a new bionanoscience department in a clear indication of what it feels is one of the key up and coming scientific fields.

Over the next decade, TU Delft will invest €10m derived from its assets in the new department, which will form part of the university's Kavli Institute of Nanoscience. The Kavli Foundation will also donate $5m (€3.4m). The university has said that it believes this research field has a bright future and clearly it wants in on the act now to enhance its own profile. Bionanoscience is the discipline where biology and nanoscience meet, where scientists examine the molecular building blocks of living cells and nanotech that can precisely depict, study and control those molecules in order to gain new insight in the workings of cells. The new department will explore the full spectrum from nanoscience to cell biology to synthetic biology to create gene regulation systems, artificial biomolecules and nanoparticles that can be deployed within the cell. "Cell biology is becoming increasingly an engineering discipline: the traditional approach of the biologist is rapidly changing into that of the engineer," TU Delft said in a statement. The new department will work closely with the Nanoscience and Biotechnology departments and will ultimately be the same size as the existing departments in the Faculty of Applied Sciences. To this end, the "next few years" will see an intensive recruitment drive to attract around 15 top scientists to the department, according to the university. Initial steps have already been taken towards creating structural European cooperation: the prestigious European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg has told the university it is happy to work together with researchers in the new department "EMBL is a major potential partner, in particular in view of the EMBL's expertise in the field of molecular cell biology," it said. Further discussions on cooperation will be held with representatives from EMBL during a Kavli-EMBL workshop in Delft on 12 and 13 February. TU Delft is following in the footsteps of the University of Bristol in the UK, the University of Leeds, which both have their own bionanoscience departments. Scientists at the University of Manchester, also in the UK, are studying bionanoscience in its Interdisciplinary Biocentre. The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the US also has several bionanoscientists on its books. The bi-annual Journal of Bionanoscience celebrated its inaugural issue in June 2007.

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