Journal of Nanoparticle Research

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 1345–1371 | Cite as

Recommendations for oversight of nanobiotechnology: dynamic oversight for complex and convergent technology

  • Gurumurthy RamachandranEmail author
  • Susan M. Wolf
  • Jordan Paradise
  • Jennifer Kuzma
  • Ralph Hall
  • Efrosini Kokkoli
  • Leili Fatehi
Special focus: Governance of Nanobiotechnology


Federal oversight of nanobiotechnology in the U.S. has been fragmented and incremental. The prevailing approach has been to use existing laws and other administrative mechanisms for oversight. However, this “stay-the-course” approach will be inadequate for such a complex and convergent technology and may indeed undermine its promise. The technology demands a new, more dynamic approach to oversight. The authors are proposing a new oversight framework with three essential features: (a) the oversight trajectory needs to be able to move dynamically between “soft” and “hard” approaches as information and nano-products evolve; (b) it needs to integrate inputs from all stakeholders, with strong public engagement in decision-making to assure adequate analysis and transparency; and (c) it should include an overarching coordinating entity to assure strong inter-agency coordination and communication that can meet the challenge posed by the convergent nature of nanobiotechnology. The proposed framework arises from a detailed case analysis of several key oversight regimes relevant to nanobiotechnology and is informed by inputs from experts in academia, industry, NGOs, and government.


Nanobiotechnology Dynamic oversight Public engagement Oversight framework Governance 



Preparation of this article was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) grant #0608791, “NIRT: Evaluating Oversight Models for Active Nanostructures and Nanosystems: Learning from Past Technologies in a Societal Context” (Principal Investigator: S. M. Wolf; Co-PIs: E. Kokkoli, J. Kuzma, J. Paradise, and G. Ramachandran). Thanks are also due to Research Assistants Katie Wolf for work on Fig. 1 and Dan Lynch for work on capturing project group input.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gurumurthy Ramachandran
    • 1
    Email author
  • Susan M. Wolf
    • 2
  • Jordan Paradise
    • 3
  • Jennifer Kuzma
    • 4
  • Ralph Hall
    • 5
  • Efrosini Kokkoli
    • 6
  • Leili Fatehi
    • 7
  1. 1.Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public HealthUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Consortium on Law and Values in HealthEnvironment & the Life Sciences; Law School; Medical School; Center for Bioethics, University of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  3. 3.Law SchoolSeton Hall UniversityNewarkUSA
  4. 4.Humphrey Institute of Public AffairsUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  5. 5.Law SchoolUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  6. 6.Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials ScienceUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  7. 7.Consortium on Law and Values in HealthEnvironment & the Life Sciences; Law School, University of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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