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Biochemist to lead Canada’s nanotechnology institute

Edmonton, AB – June 1, 2004 – Dr Nils Petersen has been named the new director general of Canada’s flagship nanotechnology research institute, the National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT) in Edmonton, AB, effective November.

“Nils Petersen is uniquely qualified for his role at the Institute,” says NRC acting president Dr Michael Raymont. “He has extensive experience in two areas that are integral to NINT’s success multi-disciplinary research, and administration of a diverse research and development program.”

In addition to being vice-president (research) at the University of Western Ontario (UWO), Dr Petersen is currently board chair of SHARCNET (Shared Hierarchical Academic Research Computing Network a network of high-performance Beowulf computer clusters in southwestern Ontario), a member of the College of Reviewers for the Canada Research Chairs Program, and a former member of the board of trustees for the Canadian Institute of Synchrotron Radiation. He was educated at UWO and at the California Institute of Technology. After positions at Cornell University and Washington University Medical School, he returned to UWO’s department of chemistry as a faculty member in 1981.

Dr Petersen’s current research focuses on intermolecular interactions in biological membranes, particularly the study of the dynamics and distribution of molecules within the membrane as a means of understanding cell-cell communication, signal transduction, adhesion and locomotion of cells. It spans a range of disciplines from Theoretical Mathematics to Biology. He will continue to participate fully in academic pursuits at the University of Alberta through a joint-appointment as a professor in the department of chemistry.

Established in 2001, the National Institute for Nanotechnology is an integrated, multidisciplinary research institution involving researchers in physics, chemistry, engineering, biology, informatics, pharmacy and medicine that conducts advanced research and fosters innovation in support of a new generation of nanotechnology-based firms. NINT is operated as a partnership between the National Research Council and the University of Alberta, and is jointly funded by the Government of Canada, the Government of Alberta and the university.