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US government support sought for biomed community

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Laura S. Marshall, [email protected]

A past president of the Optical Society of America (OSA) recently called on the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to provide greater support for the health care industry by developing standards and expanding its own research efforts in the biosciences.

“Translating the tremendous advances in quantitative biology instrumentation into effective diagnostic tests will require developing standard reference materials, reproducible consensus protocols and understanding the basic measurement science underlying these new quantitative biomedical instruments,” said Thomas M. Baer, executive director of the Stanford Photonics Research Center and 2009 OSA president, testifying before the House Science and Technology Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation.

“Much of this work has yet to be done, and lack of this standards framework is impeding the translation of these new technologies into medical practice, affecting the lives of many critically ill US citizens who could benefit from accelerated introduction of these breakthrough technologies,” Baer said. “NIST can play a pivotal role in accelerating deployment of these remarkable new instruments and procedures.”

Baer called on NIST to help the biomedical community in a variety of ways, including by developing standards and consistent protocols for diagnostic medicine, as well as advancing measurement science by applying quantitative molecular analysis technology to diagnostic tests; by supporting the latest quantitative imaging instruments; and by encouraging improved understanding of the technology needed to perform the measurements necessary to provide accurate assessment of the safety and efficacy of new drugs. Taking these measures would provide a sound basis for measurement science in the area of neuroscience and neuromedicine.

The hearing was titled “How Can NIST Better Serve the Needs of the Biomedical Research Community in the 21st Century?” and was part of a series created to examine possible ways to redesign the US government’s science and technology agencies when the America COMPETES Act is reauthorized. This legislation, signed into law in 2007, is designed to enhance the country’s economic competitiveness through science and technical research and education.

The subcommittee is looking at ways to structure NIST biomedical research to reach specific goals, such as growing the agency’s technical expertise and outreach efforts via collaborations with private industry, academic institutions and nonprofits. Another goal is to develop methods for NIST to obtain effective and targeted input and feedback from sources such as academia, industry and nonprofits.

Baer also is a member of the NIST Visiting Committee for Advanced Technology and has served on the National Research Council review panels for both the Physics and Chemical Science and Technology Laboratories.

Apr 2010
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
America COMPETES ActAmericasbiomedical researchBiophotonicsbioscienceBusinessdiagnostic medicinediagnostic testinghealth careHouse Science and Technology Subcommittee on Technology and InnovationimagingLaura S. Marshallmeasurement scienceNational Institute of Standards and TechnologyNational Research CouncilneuromedicineneuroscienceNISTnonprofitOptical Society of AmericaOSApanelphotonicsPhysics and Chemical Science and Technology Laboratoriesprotocolquantitative biology instrumentationquantitative molecular analysisRapidScanstandardsStanford Photonics Research CenterThomas BaerThomas M. Baer

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