Appendix: Biomolecular Materials Research in Other Countries
Research on biomolecular materials is becoming increasingly evident in the international arena. The 1990 workshop on biomolecular materials sponsored by the National Science Foundation documented several international programs,1 but there are as yet no standard inventories that correlate and quantify the levels of research funding in this relatively young field. The following examples of programs in Japan and Western Europe are typical of the level of activity in the field.
There are several organized Japanese programs that involve substantial efforts in biomolecular materials.
The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) is a semigovernmental agency supervised by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). It sponsors international joint research programs. International teams of between three and six scientists in areas of materials research are supported at a level of approximately $200,000 per year for up to three years. At present there are about six such teams active in subjects related to biomolecular materials.
The Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN) is a corporation sponsored primarily by the Science and Technology Agency. It carries out in-house research in the physical and biological sciences. It is also jointly responsible for SPring 8, a new 8-GeV synchrotron x-ray source scheduled to begin operation in 1998. RIKEN operates the Frontier Research Program at a level of approximately $20 million per year. In this research effort, young scientists are drawn together (about one-third of them from outside Japan) for initial five-year periods. At the moment, one of the three research areas in this program is Frontier Materials, and roughly two-thirds of this effort involves biomolecular activities.
The Research Development Corporation of Japan (JRDC) is another governmental corporation. It sponsors the Exploratory Research for Advanced Technology (ERATO) program, whose goal is the “creation of advanced technologies and advancing future interdisciplinary scientific activities.” There are currently 17 ERATO projects, each of which involves 15 to 20 scientists and is funded for five years at a level of approximately $20 million. The projects bring together personnel from academia, industry, and government laboratories (including foreign scientists) at temporary sites throughout Japan. Roughly one-third of the current projects are related to biomolecular materials.
The LINK Molecular Electronics Program is concerned with the “systematic exploitation of molecular—including macromolecular—materials in electronics and related areas such as optoelectronics.” LINK provides matching government support (up to $20 million for five years) for collaborative industry, government, and university research projects. These include programs in biomolecular electronics.
There are several programs in Germany that have substantial biomolecular materials components. They include large university-based groups in Mainz and Munich and a Max Planck Institute in Mainz. A new Max Planck Institute, located in Potsdam, focuses on interfaces in biomolecular materials.
In France, the efforts in biomolecular materials are focused on individual professors and programs at various CNRS (Centre National de Recherche Scientifique) laboratories. Notable among these are the activities in the College de France and the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, the Charles Sadron Institute for Macromolecules in Strasbourg, and the Paul Pascal Research Center in Bordeaux. The Physics and Chemistry Department at the Curie Institute in Paris has been reorganized and has as its charter the development of research in biomolecular materials.