Kavli Institute for Bionano Science and Technology
Life looks different at the nanoscale, where distances are measured in billionths of a meter. The basic mechanisms and materials of biological processes stand revealed, and the lines that traditionally divide the sciences fade away. Biology becomes physics and chemistry. Medicine melds with engineering.
The Kavli Institute for Bionano Science and Technology at Harvard University (KIBST), founded in 2006, seeks to advance knowledge on this exciting frontier. It brings together a wide range of researchers, including physicists, engineers, geneticists, chemists, biologists and clinicians. It gives them access to the most advanced technology, such as atomic force microscopes and optical microscopes that can resolve details smaller than a wavelength of light.
KIBST operates with two broad-based goals in mind: the creation of new methods and instruments to study the deepest questions in biology, and the application of such knowledge to the health sciences and biotechnology. Within that framework, it has charted a number of specific objectives to guide its work in the coming years. These include:
- Developing new tools and probes, based on the latest advances in micro-fabrication, micro-fluidics and high-resolution imaging, to study the behavior of single molecules, cells, tissue and organs.
- Creating new methods to probe and measure the essential relationship between structure and function that controls all biology.
- Combining structural and functional studies to cover all scales, from that of single molecules, to those of cells, tissues and whole organs.
- Fostering interdisciplinary research between life sciences and the physical and engineering sciences.
- Training a new generation of researchers from various backgrounds.
- Serving as an incubator of new ideas and new projects that would not typically be funded by other funding sources.
- Enhancing education by promoting courses involving faculty from multiple disciplines.
The co-directors of KIBST are Joanna Aizenberg (Amy Smith Berylson Professor of Materials Science in the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study; Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology) and George Whitesides (Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor in the Harvard Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology).
The Institute’s affiliated faculty includes researchers from the Harvard departments of Physics, Applied Physics, Applied and Molecular Biology, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Applied Mathematics, Electrical Engineering, Mechanics and Biomedical Engineering. The Institute also collaborates with several institutions at Harvard involved in various aspects of nanoscale science and engineering. These include the Center for Nanoscale Systems, the Institute for Quantum Science and Engineering, the Materials Science Research and Engineering Center, the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center and the Rowland Institute.