Sandia pursues biotechnology as new technology focus area

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Sandia National Laboratories is expanding its work in biotechnology - combining traditional inorganic sciences with biology - to push scientific discovery and development into such areas as the creation of new materials and to help in America's war on terrorism.

"The same way computers dominated the past 20 years, biology is going to dominate this new century like nothing else will. How can Sandia not go into biology?" said Bill Camp, Sandia National Laboratories Director of Computers, Computation, Information & Math Center.

Biotechnology - the coming together of traditional inorganic sciences of physics, engineering and chemistry with biology - is making new and complex types of research possible. Sensors, computing, nanoscience, robotics and materials science are all benefiting from the influx of biotech into their worlds, just as the biological sciences are advancing from the new interfaces with the physical and engineering sciences.

The focus at Sandia, a Department of Energy national laboratory, on biotech started about three years ago when Al Romig, Sandia Vice President for Science & Technology and Partnerships, and Mim John, Vice President for the California Laboratory, began advocating that Sandia expand research efforts in the new field. They felt that Sandia could have an even a greater impact on keeping the United States safe by adding biology to the science and technology base at Sandia for nuclear weapons and other purposes.

"I knew as far back as the early 1990s that biotech was going to explode," John says. "It became apparent that if Sandia didn't go into biotech, we were going to be left behind."

Romig adds that Sandia had a "clear mission driver" for pursuing biotech - countering bioterrorism and biowarfare.

"We knew that long before 9/11. And we have a lot of intrinsic strengths that make us a competitive biotech player - sensors, electronics, mathematical algorithms, and computa

Contact: Chris Burroughs
DOE/Sandia National Laboratories

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