Capstone Workshop

Living with Nanomaterials: Maximizing the Benefits, Minimizing the Risks

Exploring Risk Management Methods & Ethical, Legal, and Societal Implications of Nanotechnology

(Arlington, VA-March 30/31-2010)-The Capstone meeting, the latest in a series of workshops exploring the state of nanotechnology research, will focus on risk management methods and the ethical, legal, and societal implications (ELSI) of nanotechnology. Experts from industry, academia, the general public, and the Federal Government will gather March 30 and 31, 2010 in Arlington, VA, to probe the state of science in the area of risk management methods, as well as identify gaps and emerging trends in nanotechnology-related environment, health and safety research, as they relate to risk management.

“As with any new technology, the impact nanotechnology will have on society is difficult to predict. The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) supports research in this area. We need to better understand the ramifications of the potential ethical, legal and societal impacts of nanotechnology. We also need to foster the exchange of ideas and insights of leading experts and to seek public opinion about the development of nanotechnology,” said Dr. Clayton Teague, Director of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office. Dr. Teague also noted that the National Science Foundation supports two research centers focused on these issues.

Plenary session presentations and group breakout sessions will explore the status of the latest research on risk management as it relates to the ethical, legal and societal implications of nanotechnology. Experts will cover risk management methods and detail how ethical, legal and societal implications apply to nanotechnology. Breakout sessions will explore risk management and the workplace, and public attitudes about ethical, legal, and societal implications and how they are formed, among other topics. A public comment session is scheduled for 11:45 am on Wednesday, March 31, 2010.

Stakeholders will share knowledge about research progress and chart a path forward to address research needs in this vital area, which falls under goal four in the NNI Strategic Plan: “Support Responsible Development of Nanotechnology.”

The Capstone meeting will introduce participants to risk management methods, provide highlights from the three previous workshops on potential environmental, health and safety impacts and generate a broad discussion regarding ethical, legal and societal implications of nanotechnology.

The Obama Administration is committed to supporting significant research into the potential EHS impacts of nanotechnology, an exciting field of research that has great scientific and economic potential because of its ability to create new materials with novel properties for application in such diverse fields as electronics and computing, alternative energy, and optics.

The U.S. is the global leader in nanotechnology-related EHS R&D spending. Between FY 2005 and FY 2011 the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) will have invested $480 million in research whose primary function is to understand EHS issues.

Federal research dedicated to nano-related EHS grew substantially from $34.8 million in FY 2005 to $74.9 million in FY 2009 and a requested $117 million for FY 2011. In addition, the Federal Government funds many projects that are not “primarily” EHS-related but have significant EHS components.

The workshop will be held March 30-31, 2010 at the Holiday Inn Rosslyn at Key Bridge, 1900 N Fort Meyer Drive, Arlington, Va., 22209.  The main sessions will also be available by a webcast at: