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Wednesday, 01 July 2020

Prof. Paul Weiss on nanotechnology approaches to biology and medicine

A new event of the Manuel Cardona Lectures series was organized by the ICN2 and held on June 16. Prof. Paul Weiss, Distinguished Professor at UCLA and Editor-In-Chief of ACS Nano, was invited by ICREA Prof. Arben Merkoçi, leader of the ICN2 Nanobioelectronics and Biosensors group, to give a talk on nanotechnology approaches to biology and medicine. Prof. Weiss also shared the most important results accomplished during his career and some of the lessons learnt along the way.

On June 16, the ICN2 hosted a highly participated seminar by Prof. Paul Weiss, Distinguished Professor at UCLA and Editor-In-Chief of ACS Nano, who discussed about the great impact that nanoscience and nanotechnology can have on biology and medicine. Organized in the form of a webinar -- due to the movement restrictions and social distance requirements imposed by the recent COVID-19 pandemic --, this event was part of the Manuel Cardona Lectures series, whose goal is to offer to the ICN2 community and beyond seminars by some of the world’s top researchers in nano-related fields. Prof. Weiss was invited by ICREA Prof. Arben Merkoçi, leader of the ICN2 Nanobioelectronics and Biosensors group.

While retracing the most relevant stages of his career, Prof. Weiss showed how by working in close collaboration with researchers from different fields – chemistry, physics, biology, engineering, medicine, immunology, toxicology, and so on – he and his colleagues could envision new applications of surface science and nanotechnology to a wide variety of problems. In particular, Prof. Weiss focused on the opportunities offered by nanoscience and nanotechnology to make biological measurements and to influence biological outcomes, which can result in important advances in medicine. In fact, the introduction of new microscopy techniques in the 90’s allowed measuring structures at the nanoscale with increasing precision. This opened up the way also to the manipulation of such structures with atomic precision, which translated in a rapid development of nanotechnology in many directions.

Nanoscience itself has a multidisciplinary nature and, as Prof. Weiss highlighted, the crossing and reciprocal contamination of different visions and types of expertise held by researchers working in this field lead them to develop new communication skills and acquire new approaches towards problems. These aspects are key for nanoscience to express its potential and contribute efficiently to other research and technology fields.

Prof Paul S. Weiss, currently Distinguished Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Bioengineering, and Materials Science & Engineering at UCLA, has worked in many prestigious centres, such as the Bell Laboratories, the IBM Almaden Research Center and the Pennsylvania State University. He also served as the director of the California NanoSystems Institute and held the Fred Kavli Chair in NanoSystems Sciences at UCLA from 2009-14. His interdisciplinary research focuses on the ultimate limits of miniaturization, exploring the atomic-scale properties of surfaces, interfaces, supramolecular, and biomolecular assemblies; the development of new techniques to expand the applicability and chemical specificity of scanning probe microscopies; nanofabrication down to ever smaller scales and greater chemical specificity; and applications in neuroscience, gene editing, cancer immunotherapy, and the microbiome.

The full recording of Prof. Weiss seminar is available on the ICN2 Youtube channel.