A bill (S.2945) that would expand on the current National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) was passed unanimously by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on September 19, only two days after its introduction by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).
A September 17 hearing by Wyden's Science, Technology, and Space Subcommittee generated plaudits for the existing national program and support for Wyden's bill, but also voiced concerns about relations between industry and universities and the effect on transferring government-funded research to the marketplace. The current multi-agency NNI program was established by President Clinton in FY 2000.
S.2945 would enhance the coordination, funding, and management of federal nanotechnology R&D. It would authorize establishment of a presidential advisory panel, a national coordinating office, and a biennial National Research Council (NRC) survey of international progress in the field, and would support long-term research, interdisciplinary research centers and infrastructure, transfer of technology to industry and greater consideration of the societal, ethical, education and workforce issues related to nanotechnology.
The bill is cosponsored by Senators George Allen (R-VA), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Joseph Lieberman (D- CT), Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). No companion bill for S.2945 has yet been introduced in the House.
—Audrey T. Leath, AIP
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Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette