Experiments in controlling a robot arm with
brain signals from owl monkeys, by Duke neurobiologist Miguel
Nicolelis and his colleagues, prompted the creation of the
new Center for Neuroengineering and Neurocomputation. Scientists
hope to realize the potential of such technology to enable
people who are paralyzed to control prosthetic limbs through
Historically, Duke has been strong in the life sciences; our unified
biology department is outstanding and our medical school ranks among
the very best in the world. However, to attain excellence more broadly,
we must concentrate and expand faculty in areas of strategic scientific
and engineering priority, as well as deepen the resources available
to our physical scientists and engineers. Duke continues to reap
the benefits of having invested in its professional schools in the
mid-70s and 80s and focused in subsequent years on the
humanities and social sciences. The time is ripe for the university
to concentrate on the sciences.
The current scientific intellectual frontiers increasingly require
an interdisciplinary approach, a fact that is strongly reflected
in todays funding trends. We are stymied, however, in our
efforts to recruit top faculty by the condition of our facilities,
especially in biology and chemistry, which signal that we are not
prepared to support world-class research. We have significant computing
and other instrumentation requirements for both research and instruction.
Space is a particularly acute problem as we try to bring together
more faculty, postdoctoral scholars, graduate students, and undergraduates
to work in teams and in collaborations across the university.
The most exciting opportunities for Duke lie in the areas of genomics,
neuroscience, neuroengineering, global change, materials, and photonics,
the burgeoning technology that melds light with electronics. We
are planning flexible programs in these areas that will have an
impact on every science and engineering department on campus, as
well as many in the School of Medicine. There is a deliberate biological
and biomedical biasin all of these initiatives as we attempt to
leverage our strength in the life sciences.
In our opinion, one of the most important advances over the next
few decades will be in the areas of bio-optics and optical communication
and computation. Duke plans to be a leader in this photonics revolution
by bringing together and building on current strengths in engineering,
arts and sciences, and the medical center, as well as facilities
such as the Duke Free Electron
Laser Laboratory. We will also recruit additional researchers
in focus areas.
The new Fitzpatrick
Center for Advanced Photonics and Communications Systems aims
to help turn North Carolina into a photon forest, where
research and development in photonics can create the kind of technological
advance and economic growth associated with Californias Silicon
Valley. Professor David Brady, an internationally-recognized expert
in optical imaging and sensors, was recruited to Duke to direct
the new photonics center.
Technology costs: Duke nursing students train
with a Human Patient Simulator, purchased in the spring for
about $170,000. The full-sized mannequin, whose major organ
systems have been programmed to respond to both physical and
drug interventions, requires a Human Simulation and Patient
Safety Center that cost an additional million dollars.
The following major science and engineering projects are essential
to our strategic plan: The Center
for Interdisciplinary Engineering and Applied Sciences, The
for Human Disease Models, and The Center
for Human Genetics. In addition to these projects, we are coordinating
new facilities for the Institute
for Genome Science and Policy, a new science research facility
in arts and sciences, as well as various levels of renovations to
the biological sciences building, Gross Chemistry Building in arts
and sciences, and Hudson Hall in the Pratt School of Engineering.