Oxford University and telecommunications company NTT Europe have announced a joint research initiative in the field of bionanoscience. The agreement was signed on Wednesday 6 October by the Vice-Chancellor Dr John Hood and Mr Kenji Sakata, Managing Director of NTT Europe.
The joint programme will investigate the properties of specific classes of proteins which have important electrical and optical characteristics. Research will be conducted both at Oxford and at NTT Europe Basic Research Laboratory, which is the branch division of NTT Europe, with collaboration from NTT Basic Research Laboratories (NTT BRL) at Atsugi near Tokyo. The joint project will cost approximately $2 million over three years.
Nanotechnology is one of the most active fields of research at the present time, and both institutions have world-leading research programmes. Bionanoscience is concerned with the properties of naturally occurring nanosystems. The principal investigators in the project will be Professor John Ryan of the Department of Physics and Director of the Bionanotechnology IRC, Professor Anthony Watts of the Department of Biochemistry and Director of the Biomembrane Structure Unit and Dr Keiichi Torimitsu, Project Manager at NTT Europe Basic Research Laboratory, Executive Director of the Materials Research Laboratory and Group Leader of the Bio-Science Research Group at NTT BRL.
Professor Ryan said: “This is an exciting development that will combine the expertise of both institutions. Not only will we be able to study the fundamental mechanisms of biological systems such as membrane proteins, but we will be looking for opportunities to exploit their novel function and properties.” It is anticipated that bionanoscience will give rise to important medical applications. Dr Torimitsu said: “We are especially interested in this field because of the possibility of future applications in the area of human - electronic interfaces. This joint collaboration is a great opportunity to explore some of the fundamental processes that underlie such applications.”
NTT Europe is the European arm of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation, a leading telecommunications company in Japan. NTT has twelve laboratories and annually spends $3 billion on research and development in order to provide innovative and integrated services for NTT operation companies.