Professor Sonia Contera explores the frontier of Nanotechnology and Biology in new book ‘Nano Comes to Life’


A new book authored by Green Templeton Fellow Professor Sonia Contera, Co-Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Nanotechnology and Associate Professor of Biological Physics, explores the revolutionary field of research combining nanotechnology and biology. Nano Comes to Life: How Nanotechnology is Transforming Medicine and the Future of Biology, published by Princeton University Press, opens a window onto the world of the nanoscale where physics, cellular and molecular biology all meet to form the building blocks of life: proteins and DNA. The book explores how the evolving tools being developed at this scale will transform human health and longevity.

As a Professor of biological physics and a leading nanotech pioneer, Professor Contera writes with experience and insight on the evolving frontier of nanotechnology and its ability to manipulate life’s building blocks. Contera reveals how nanotechnology enables a new kind of multidisciplinary science as biology, material sciences, physics, mathematics, and engineering meet to further understand biology and to revolutionize medicine. This frontier will have a profound impact on human health and longevity, as nanoscale tools are being developed that can interact with and manipulate biology for a vast range of applications, such as targeting individual cancer cells, delivering drugs more effectively, fighting resistant bacteria, and engineering tissues and organs for research and transplantation.

Nano Comes to Life reveals how the incorporation of biology into the realm of physics facilitates a profound cultural shift that places the study of life within the study of the rules that govern the cosmos. The convergence of the sciences in biology in the quest for medical and technological breakthroughs, pushes us to consider our existence as both emerging from and entangled with the whole world from which our own biology evolved. As we face unprecedented planetary challenges, Contera proposes that this might be the most important role of the physics of life that emerges from scientific labs: to contribute to the creation of cultures that midwife our coming of age as technological species and to the collective construction of a path to the preservation of human life on Earth.

Img 4594Professor Contera was founder, director and co-director of the Oxford Martin Institute of Nanoscience for Medicine at the Oxford Martin School from 2007 to 2015, and has recently become a the Chair of the Physics of Life external advisory board of the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). As an expert in atomic force microscopy of biological systems, Contera has a special interest in the role of mechanics in biology; bridging scales and modulating transmission of information, including through mechanoelectrical coupling in subcellular structures, cells and tissues. Contera was a Member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Nanotechnology 2014-2016 and in 2017 she was elected Chair of Scanning Probe Microscopy section of the Royal Microscopical Society. She is also the mother of two little children.

Read more about Professor Contera’s research, learn more about her book in a Q&A on the publisher’s website, and order the book.

Created: 8 November 2019

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