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  • Final Report Summary - FRONTIERS (NoE Research and facilities directed at instrumentation for manufacturing and analysis of single molecules and individual nanoclusters, targeted at life sciences)

FRONTIERS Résumé de rapport

Project ID: 500328
Financé au titre de: FP6-NMP
Pays: Netherlands

Final Report Summary - FRONTIERS (NoE Research and facilities directed at instrumentation for manufacturing and analysis of single molecules and individual nanoclusters, targeted at life sciences)

Nanotechnology is a field that by its very nature is multidisciplinary. The FRONTIERS project has developed a meritocracy-based process creating centres of excellence in science as well as facilities. Partners concentrate more on focused core areas, spending less effort on Research and development (R&D) and facilities outside these areas. The main elements of FRONTIERS were aimed at increasing research, infrastructure, and education efficiencies and at building more and better business cases. FRONTIERS was organised into four blocks:
- coordination of research, leading to a joint research program amongst the partners;
- implementation of a virtual European nanoscience laboratory to ensure efficient use of infrastructure as well as the availability of equipment for researchers through sharing;
- creation of an integrated European joint curriculum, a master-level educational program on life science related nanotechnology; and
- spreading of excellence, with a focus on joint management and the development of new business cases (science to industry). The science-to-industry chain must capitalise on the knowledge generated in the network by transforming it into applications and products.

The research program in FRONTIERS was created and continuously adjusted in a bottom-up fashion. Over the course of the activities of FRONTIERS, associated researchers initiated more than 50 research collaborations which had their genesis in network-sponsored exchanges, meetings and workshops. Through this process of interactions, research focus areas gradually started to evolve, and most of the research projects could be assigned to one of the following categories:

Typical examples: intracellular trafficking of drug-delivery nanoparticles, nanotechnology based targeted drug-delivery, three-dimensional (3D) nanopore scaffolds for drug-delivery, disassembly of drug delivery nanoparticles in cells.

Typical examples: Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequencing with nanopores, DNA in nanopores, DNA in solid-state nanopores, the fabrication of solid-state nanopores, the mechanism of DNA traversal in a nanopore, nanopores for probing DNA-protein interactions, nanopores for RNA (un)folding, and nanopores for measuring the charge screening of DNA and Ribonucleic acid (RNA), creation and characterisation of nanoporous structures, spanning lipid bilayers.

Typical examples: bio / nano hybrid structures, coupled plasmon affinity biosensors, cantilever sensor experiments, experiments using cantilever array sensors in biochemical environment.

Analytical techniques
Typical examples: various manipulation techniques, such as nanoneedles, probes, and tweezers (optical and magnetic), local surface plasmon enhancement, near-field optical microscopy, Atomic force microscopy (AFM) imaging with functionalised probes, non-contact AFM, virtual AFM, Scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM), single cell Mass spectroscopy (MS), leading edge top-down lithography.

Bio-interfaces and compatibility
Typical examples: tissue engineering and implants (biomolecule adsorption as well as cell and tissue growth on biofunctional nanostructured surfaces, bio-interfacial processes including adhesion, interaction, signal transport, and molecular and nanoparticle transport), membrane-based strategies and technologies, addressing and manipulation of biomolecular structures, cell adhesion (neuronson-chip), protein attachment techniques.

Nanostructured surfaces
Typical examples: self-assembly, self-organisation, and functionalisation of surfaces (monolayers, multilayers) and probes, surface structuring and molecular print-boards, nanoparticle 3D assemblies, patterning for guided neuronal growth, two-dimensional (2D) surface arrays, functionalised linear nanostructures.

FRONTIERS has developed an integrated European joint curriculum (EJC); a master level educational program on life sciences related nanotechnology. Student and teacher exchange is a key aim. The FRONTIERS educational program is based on the strong current programs at the partners in the area of life science related nanotechnology. The strength of the EJC lies in the harmonisation of these educational programs. The EJC works with the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS); a minimum of 10 ECTS is needed for a FRONTIERS student. Students can combine the FRONTIERS theoretical curriculum with research projects as their master thesis work. Guidance occurs through an implemented e-based learning structure and research supervisors from both their home institution and the visited institution. Hence, in addition to the developed educational program, the EJC was able to contribute to the integration of research collaborations within FRONTIERS by initiating cross-institute technology projects via student exchange.

A highlight during the course of the network was a series of student-organised international conferences called Inascon. The Inascon conferences (with significant inputs from students at FRONTIERS partners NCCT, iNANO, and MESA+) were designed for nanosciences students, and were partially supported by FRONTIERS. All the organisation and execution of the conference was driven by the students. The conference was a great success with international speakers, including many from the FRONTIERS network. Students had the opportunity to meet their peers and present and discuss their own work on an international level. Several workshops and discussion sessions were organised with such themes as employment, nanotoxicology, nanosciences in the media and combining an academic career with family life. The conference was very successful and the invited speakers were impressed by the high level of engagement by the participants. Several partners have committed sponsoring from alternative funding sources for the third edition of the conference in the fall of 2009, after the formal end of FRONTIERS.

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