Progress, and Applications
of the Human Genome Project
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Human Genome News Archive Edition
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DOE '99 Oakland Highlights
In the News
Web, Other Resources, Publications
In the News
Outstanding Research Makes DOE National Laboratories Major Asset in Biomedical EngineeringBiomedical Engineering Research at DOE National Labs, DOE Office of Biological and Environmental Research (OBER). Report DOE/SC-1999-1, 106 pp., paperback. The text below was adapted by HGMIS from the report preface by Michael Viola, director of the DOE OBER Medical Sciences Division.
Biomedical engineering--the application of physics, chemistry, and engineering principles to problems of human health--has been a critical part of work at the DOE national laboratories since 1947.
The Atomic Energy Commission's first director of biology and medicine, Shields Warren, had the vision to develop a formal research program outside the restricted scope of industrial health and safety. The national laboratories were recognized immediately as a source of medically important radioisotopes for use both as research reagents and as potential weapons against cancer. By the end of 1947, almost 2000 radioisotope deliveries had been made to laboratories and hospitals.
During the next decade, cyclotrons and reactors generated radioisotopic tracers under controlled conditions. The new field of radiopharmacy (attaching radionuclides to biologically active molecules and studying their activity) was greatly advanced by work in the national laboratories, where instrumentation originated to detect the cellular and total body distribution of these new radiotracers. The results have been spectacular --all major hospitals in the world rely heavily on technologies developed, in part, in the DOE national laboratories.
Their talented scientists and extraordinary technologies have made the national laboratories a major asset for biomedical engineering, and their specialized resources traditionally have led to multidisciplinary science projects and enabled science often not possible at universities or industry. During the past two decades, bioengineering programs have been beneficiaries of rapid advances in nuclear physics, nuclear engineering, nuclear chemistry, and molecular biology. Research on the medical applications of such technologies as synchrotron light sources, lasers, mass spectrometry, high-field magnets, microfabricated machines, biosensors, and DNA chips is ongoing in many of the laboratories.
This January 1999 inventory of biomedical engineering projects (see below for examples), supported in the national laboratories by different offices of DOE and with discretionary lab funds, will be updated yearly. The extraordinary breadth and depth of projects, investigators, and areas of expertise should stimulate networking and collaboration among DOE scientists and those in universities and industry. [Print copies: Sharon Betson (301/903-3213)]
Some Projects Described In OBER Report
[For more information on DOE's role in the development of medical imaging, see "A Healthy Citizenry," beginning on p. 20 in the downloadable PDF version of A Vital Legacy (www.ornl.gov/hgmis/publicat/publications.shtml#vital).]
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