ICON Blog

The International Council on Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology and Public Health: A free webinar

Here is a long overdue link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Public Health Grand Rounds event “Preventing Adverse Health Effects from Nanotechnology” in which I participated in April. The link takes you to the CDC website where the whole 70-minute webinar can be viewed and downloaded. First a little about the PHGR from the CDC website.
The Public Health Grand Rounds is a monthly series created to further strengthen CDC’s common scientific culture and foster discussion and debate on major public health issues. Each session of the Public Health Grand Rounds will focus on key issues and challenges related to a specific health topic, including cutting-edge scientific evidence and potential impact of different interventions. The sessions will also highlight how CDC is already addressing these challenges and discuss the recommendations for future research and practice.
My invitation to participate came from the nanotechnology folks at NIOSH. Other panelists included Paul Schulte (NIOSH), Mark Hoover (NIOSH), Sally Tinkle (NIH/NIEHS), Vince Castranova (NIOSH) and Bill Hunt (GA Tech). I was asked to speak about global efforts in nanotechnology occupational safety.

I give dozens of talks every year but this was an atypical event for many reasons. First, this was a highly scripted event. My formal remarks and slides (which begin at about 41 minutes in) were scrutinized in advance at least three times and I was strongly encouraged to strip out all extraneous words, transitions and extemporaneous comments. This is not my usual style but was apparently needed to accommodate the diverse crowd and the very tight timeline. If you make it to the end, you'll get to the unscripted Q&A (right after my remarks) which was extensive and enlightening.

Second, not one but two institute directors were present. The PHGR are organized by and for CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden so naturally he was present. Coincidentally, NIH Director Francis S. Collins happened to be in Atlanta to meet with Dr. Frieden on other matters and was also in attendance. Both were very engaged and came up to the podium afterward to continue the conversation. It's not everyday that I get to address two institute directors about my favorite subject.

Finally, it's not uncommon when speaking at a facility to be offered a tour of some sort. However, it's not everyday that the facility tour includes the CDC global emergency response center (think NASA control room for ebola) AND the labs where the anthrax samples from the 2001 terrorist attacks were analyzed. Said tour was led by the head scientist in charge of the anthrax testing. Geek heaven!

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