Nanotechnology Project


Using Nanotechnology to Improve Health in Developing Countries

February 27 2007 • 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

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Woodrow Wilson Center • 5th Floor Conference Room

What if doctors in Kenya could equip cells of the retina with photoswitches that can be flipped on, essentially making blind nerve cells see and restoring light sensitivity in people with degenerative blindness? What if public health workers in Bangladesh could place contaminated water into transparent bottles, which when placed in direct sunlight could disinfect the water and help prevent water-borne diseases? Already recognized and financed by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative, nanotechnology holds great potential for improving health in the developing world. Researchers in both industrialized and developing countries hail nanomedicine—an offshoot of nanotechnology—as enabling some of the next big breakthroughs in medicine and as conceivably changing virtually every facet of health care, and disease control and prevention. However, this relatively new technology may hold hidden risks for populations.

What is nanotechnology? How is nanotechnology expected to transform medicine and health care in the future? How can nanomedicine help the truly needy in developing countries? What are the risks involved in its implementation? And what are the challenges of ensuring that nanotechnology meets the specific health needs of the world’s poorest? A discussion period will follow the presentations.