UCLA mimics ‘original nanotechnologists’

June 17, 2002 — By mimicking the remarkable self-organizing capabilities of the biological system, researchers hope to create the next generation of technologies for exploring space.

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is the site of the new NASA-sponsored Institute for Cell Mimetic Space Exploration, which will receive up to $40 million over 10 years, the university said in a news release. It is one of five university research, engineering and technology institutes that will be established this year. These new institutes represent NASA’s grand vision for enabling the promise of 21st-century technologies.

Carlo Montemagno, Roy and Carol Domani Professor and deputy director of the institute, said looking to nature for inspiration makes good sense.

“Biological systems are an ideal place to look at the integrated organization of system functions and information at multiple levels,” he said. “Biological systems are the original nanotechnologists.”

Starting at the single-cell level, biological systems consist of increasingly complex levels of organization. How behavior at one level influences the next, and what information is passed on from level to level, are issues that researchers at the Institute for Cell Mimetic Space Exploration want to examine – and mimic.


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