MODERATOR: Carl Zimmer
PARTICIPANTS: Zahi Fayad, Peter Hoffmann, Metin Sitti, Bjørn Torger Stokke
PROGRAM DATE: Friday, May 31, 2013

What will nanomedicine look like in 2023? Will tiny rockets steered by magnets and powered by zinc target and destroy cancer cells? Will nano-pills with cameras controlled by doctors make exploratory surgery obsolete? Pending patents, human trials, and technological innovations are converging to create a perfect storm of discovery, to be explored in this program.

The World Science Festival’s annual salon series offers in-depth conversations with leading scientists, extending the discussion of the Festival’s premiere public programs to graduate students, postdocs, faculty and well-informed members of the general public.

This program is part of “The Big, the Small, and the Complex,” a series exploring the latest developments in Astrophysics, Nanoscience, and Neuroscience—fields recognized by The Kavli Prize. Sponsored by The Kavli Foundation, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, and the Royal Norwegian Consulate General.

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Science Writer

Award-winning science writer Carl Zimmer explores the frontiers of biology in his writing. His work appears regularly in The New York Times and many magazines, and he is the author of twelve books, including A Planet of Viruses.

Zimmer is a contributing editor and columnist for Discover, and his blog, The Loom, appears on the magazine’s web site. He has won the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Science Journalism Award twice, in 2004 and 2009.



Zahi Fayad serves as professor of radiology and medicine (cardiology) at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He is the director of the Translational and Molecular Imaging Institute; vice chair for research, department of radiology; director and founder of the Eva and Morris Feld Imaging Science Laboratories; and director of Cardiovascular Imaging Research at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Mount Sinai Medical Center. Fayad’s interdisciplinary and discipline bridging research—from engineering to biology and from pre-clinical to clinical investigations—has been dedicated to the detection and prevention of cardiovascular disease with many seminal contributions in the field of biomedical imaging and nanomedicine. Fayad’s is one of the world’s leader in the innovative development and use of multimodality cardiovascular imaging including, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), and positron emission tomography (PET), as well as molecular imaging and nanomedicine to study, prevent and treat cardiovascular disease. His focus over the past 15 years at Mount Sinai has been on the noninvasive assessment and understanding of atherosclerosis.


Peter Hoffmann is a professor of physics at Wayne State University and an Associate Dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He did his undergraduate studies in physics and mathematics at Technische Universität Clausthal, Germany. He has a MS in physics from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from Johns Hopkins University. Before coming to Wayne State, he was a research fellow at Oxford University in the UK. His research interests are the area of nanomechanics, biophysics and atomic force microscopy. He is one of the founders of the Wayne State Biomedical Physics program.


Metin Sitti’s academic discipline is robotics, with emphasis on micro- and nano-scale robotics. His research program combines applied micro/nano-robotic systems with micro/nanoscale mechanics modeling and analysis. In his NanoRobotics laboratory, the functional goal is to develop new methods to design, manufacture, and control innovative and high impact micro/nano-robotic systems in three thrust areas: miniature mobile robots, bio-inspired micro/nano-fiber adhesives, and tip based micro/nano-manipulation systems. His team had significant impacts in these three areas.

Sitti received the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from University of Tokyo, Japan, in 1999. He was a research scientist at University of California at Berkeley from 1999 to 2002. He is currently a professor in department of mechanical engineering and robotics institute at Carnegie Mellon University. He is the director of NanoRobotics Lab and Center for Bio-Robotics. His research interests include magnetically- and cell-actuated mobile micro-robots, bio-inspired micro/nano-materials, bio-inspired miniature robot locomotion, medical miniature robots, and micro/nano-manipulation. He is the editor-in-chief of Journal of Micro-Bio Robotics.


Bjørn Torger Stokke holds an engineering degree in physics, and a Ph.D. in biophysics from the Norwegian Institute of Technology (NTH). Stokke is currently a professor in physics, specialization in biophysics and medical technology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway. He has been a visiting scholar at Harvard University, University of California, La Sapienza University of Rome, and Osaka Prefecture University. He has been instrumental in establishing nanotechnology research and education at NTNU over the past decade. Stokke lead research activity related to nanomedicine with an emphasis on fundamental understanding of nanoscale interactions between biological macromolecules and possible exploitation of this strategy in diagnostics (biosensors) and therapeutics (vectors for gene delivery, mucolytics, and others).