The objective of this R13 Proposal to the NIH is to seek support for the inaugural Gordon Research Conference on Bioinspired Materials to be held June 24-29, 2012 in Davidson College, North Carolina, USA. The emerging, interdisciplinary field of Bioinspired Materials focuses on developing a fundamental understanding of the synthesis, directed self-assembly and hierarchical organization of natural occurring materials, and uses this understanding to engineer new "bioinspired" artificial materials for diverse applications. This conference, co-chaired by Ashutosh Chilkoti (Duke University) and Jeffrey Hubbell (EPFL, Switzerland) was born from the twin realizations that: (1) there is an explosion of research in the field of Bioinspired Materials;and yet (2) there is no single venue for the dissemination of research in this field. The inaugural GRC on Bioinspired Materials seeks to capture the excitement of this burgeoning field by a cutting-edge scientific program and roster of distinguished invited speakers and discussion leaders who will address the key issues in the field. The impact of this GRC is that it will promote cross-disciplinary fertilization of new ideasin this emerging field and will create a cohesive community by promoting interaction between young scientists, underrepresented minority scientists, and junior faculty with prominent senior investigators.
The GRC on Bioinspired Materials will provide a forum for the discussion of "bioinspired" materials and materials systems: these are artificial materials whose design, synthesis and processing is inspired by the sophisticated materials found in Nature. Developing a better understanding of how Nature designs materials is important because it enables scientists to design new materials with unprecedented properties with applications in biomaterials, tissue engineering, and drug delivery.