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Foresight Fellows, Blockchain, Salons, Prize Nominations Open, Vision Weekend

Foresight Update 30.02—June 28, 2017
ISSN 1078-9731

Happening Now
  · Foresight Fellows
  · Blockchain Symposium
  · Foresight Salons
  · 2017 Foresight Institute Prize Nominations Are Now Open

Looking Ahead
  · Vision Weekend
  · Friends of Foresight: DOE Workshop on AI Applied to Materials Discovery and Design

Following Up
  · AI for Scientific Progress Workshop
  · Foresight at BIL
  · Foresight Junior Student Prize awarded

Nanodot Update
  · USA-Austrian and Swiss Nanocars finish first in first Nanocar race
  · 2017 Foresight Fellows Announced in Molecular Machines, Space, Longevity, Artificial Intelligence
  · First International NanoCar Race showcases molecular vehicles

Happening Now

Foresight Fellows

Congratulations to our 2017 inaugural class of Foresight Fellows! The Foresight Fellowship is an exclusive one year supportive program committed to giving change-makers the support and mentorship to accelerate their bold ideas into the future. The complete list of our Foresight Fellows can be found here.

Please meet our two Featured Fellows Christopher Wilmer and Eva-Maria Strauch

Christopher E. WilmerChristopher E. Wilmer
Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering, University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Wilmer’s research focuses on the use of large-scale molecular simulations to help find promising materials for energy and environmental applications. He is the principal investigator of the Hypothetical Materials Lab at Pitt, and leads his team in solving energy and environmental challenges with complex, hypothetical nanostructures called “molecular machines.” He earned his bachelor’s degree in applied science from the University of Toronto’s Engineering Science–Nanoengineering program, and his PhD in Chemical Engineering at Northwestern under the mentorship of Prof. Randall Q. Snurr.

While at Northwestern, Dr. Wilmer took an interest in developing new technologies through entrepreneurship and co-founded NuMat Technologies, which designs porous materials that could be used to make better natural gas fuel tanks for vehicles. In 2012, the company won the Department of Energy’s National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition, while Dr. Wilmer was named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30 in Energy.” He has authored more than 20 publications and holds more than 500 article citations. For more information visit Dr. Wilmer’s website at

Eva-Maria StrauchEva-Maria Strauch
Acting instructor/translational investigator at the University of Washington's Institute for Protein Design

Dr. Strauch received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin’s Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry. She is inspired by the meticulous atomic details by which proteins are arranged and their involvement in almost all processes in life. She believes that if we understand how a virus's proteins encode information about how to enter and hijack specific cells, we will identify its Achilles heel and be able to stop viral infections. We might also learn new ways to fight cancer cells.

Eva Maria’s most recent work was just published in Nature Biotechnology ("Computational design of trimeric influenza-neutralizing proteins targeting the hemagglutinin receptor binding site") with a special report in Science (“Designer protein halts flu”) and Scientific American (“Designing Antiviral Proteins Via Computer Could Help Halt the Next Pandemic”).

Even though Influenza mutates quickly, there are areas in the its major surface protein hemagglutinin that cannot change; otherwise the virus would lose its ability to replicate. One of those areas is a small region that binds to sialic acid molecules on the surface of the host cells in the human body. To block this initial interaction between virus and the host, we computationally designed first a small protein that binds to that site. In a second step, we designed a self-assembling protein that coordinates three of these small inhibitors to match the symmetry of the influenza hemagglutinin. As many other viral surface proteins, such as HIV and Ebola, influenza’s hemagglutinin is a trimer. By blocking all three binding sites at once, we achieved very tight binding, which is why we called our most successful design flu-glue. Flu-glue neutralizes the virus in mice and provides new means for diagnostics as we can pull down hemagglutinin and even whole virus particles onto paper strips that resemble a pregnancy stick.

1. Strauch EM, Bernard S, La D, Bohn A, Nieusma T, Lee P, Garcia NK, Holstein C, Anderson CE, Hooper KA, Trenant M, Sheffler W, Bloom JD, Yager P, Lee KK, Ward A, Fuller D, Wilson IA, Baker D, “Computational design of trimeric influenza-neutralizing proteins targeting the hemagglutinin receptor binding site”, Nat. Biotechnol. 2017 Jun 12. doi: 10.1038/nbt.3907. [Epub ahead of print]

2. Holstein CA*, Anderson CE*, Strauch EM, Bennett S, Chevalier A, Nelson J, Fu E, Baker D, Yager P; Development of a Paper-Based Assay for Whole Influenza Virus Detection using a Computationally Designed Hemagglutinin Head Region Binder, Anal. Chem. 2017 May 25. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.7b00769. [Epub ahead of print] *contributed equally

Blockchain Symposium

The Next Frontier: Blockchain meets Object-Capabilities

To attend this free event, please apply here:
July 3rd, Monday 6:00 - 9:00 pm
Venue in Alamo Square SF, will be released upon RSVP.

Mark S. Miller, Google
Zooko Wilcox, Zcash
Brian Warner, Tahoe-LAFS
Jorge Lopez, Economic Space Agency

Michael Casey, MIT Digital Currency Initiative

Join us as we explore how blockchain technologies can leverage the secure computation model of object-capabilities to expand its reach, capacity, and interoperability towards open web platforms and open web infrastructure. This is a conversation around how — without forsaking security and data sovereignty — we can usher in an unexplored era of human collaboration.

For more info, visit the Facebook event page.

Foresight Salons

Foresight has started a series of small salons dedicated to tackling topics of high-interest. Please check our Facebook page for updates on new salons. The last two salons sold out within a day - please find the videos below:

Foresight Salon #2: Brunch with David Brin

Foresight Salon #1: Building Better Futures on the Blockchain

2017 Foresight Institute Prize Nominations Are Now Open

Nominations for the 2017 Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes: Experimental and Theory are due on August 1, 2017. Winners will be announced by October 2017.

Two prizes in the amount of $5,000 each will be awarded to the researchers whose recent work has most advanced the achievement of Feynman's goal for nanotechnology: molecular manufacturing, defined as the construction of atomically-precise products through the use of molecular machine systems. Synonyms include "atomically precise manufacturing" (APM) and "productive nanosystems". Separate prizes will be awarded for theoretical work and for experimental work. More ...

Feynman Prize Submission/Nomination Instructions

Nominations for the 2017 Distinguished Student Award are due on August 1, 2017. Winner will be announced by October 2017.

The Foresight Distinguished Student Award was established in 1997, and is given to a college student or graduate student whose work is notable in the field of nanotechnology. The award includes a $1,000 prize, and an expenses-paid trip to the autumn 2017 Foresight Workshop. The prizewinner must accept in person at the award ceremony. The prizewinner will receive complimentary full registration including reception, coach airfare and up to 2 nights hotel (arranged by Foresight Institute, Sat. night stay may be required), and the physical award. More ...

Student Award Submission/Nomination Instructions

The 2017 Feynman Prize winners and the 2017 Distinguished Student Award winner will be announced at an Awards banquet at an invitational Foresight workshop titled "Atomic Precision for Healthspan & Longevity" to be held in September or October of 2017.

Looking Ahead

Vision Weekend

The Foresight Institute Vision Weekend will be held in San Francisco on December 2-3, 2017. The event will take place at Gray Area in San Francisco and will be open for registration to Senior Associates and speakers. Please see the flyer below for more info and sign up here to be notified when registration opens.

Visioin Weekend Dec. 2-3 Topics

Sign up to learn more:

Friends of Foresight: DOE Workshop on AI Applied to Materials Discovery and Design

The Advanced Manufacturing Office of the Department of Energy invites you to a Workshop on Artificial Intelligence Applied to Materials Discovery and Design from August 9-10, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Please find more info here.

Following Up

AI for Scientific Progress Workshop

The white paper for our 2016 AI for Scientific Progress Workshop is online here. It contains background reading on AI and Atomic Precision and summaries and videos featuring the project proposals that were hatched at the workshop. The winner of last year’s workshop gave rise to our follow-up workshop, AI for Atomic Precision, this May with the intention to turn the project into a research proposal. One of our most successful workshops so far — the corresponding white paper coming soon!

Foresight at BIL

Christine Peterson, Steve Burgess, and Allison Duettmann from Foresight Institute spoke at BIL Conference in SF. The talks will be available soon online.
Christine spoke on Cyber Risk: My favorite risk & how to fix it
Steve spoke on Nanotech Abundance: What, How, and Why?
Allison spoke on Why Existential Risks matter—and some decentralized approaches for reducing risks

Foresight Junior Student Prize awarded

Congratulations! The Foresight Junior Student Prize was awarded to Andrew Nazareth for his Project on Cell Phone Radiation: Watts Worse — Voice or Data Transmissions? A Comparison of Electromagnetic Field Strength. Andrew Nazareth attends the 9th Grade of the Kirby School in Santa Cruz.

Nanodot Update

USA-Austrian and Swiss Nanocars finish first in first Nanocar race

Our previous post announced a race around a 100 nm course of six NanoCars, each a unique concept created from only several dozen atoms and powered by electrical pulses. The race was run a few weeks later and two winners declared, due to two different tracks being used. ...

2017 Foresight Fellows Announced in Molecular Machines, Space, Longevity, Artificial Intelligence

The Foresight Fellowship is an exclusive one year supportive program committed to giving change-makers the support and mentorship to accelerate their bold ideas into the future.

We invite people who care about improving the state of the world and have the courage to follow their own path. We encourage those who are working on technologies that have massive potential for the future — Especially if this technology is relatively undervalued in the media, and not blindly followed by the hype.

Our mission is to catalyze collaboration among leading young scientists, engineers, and innovators who are working on emerging new technologies that have the power to transform society. Since 1993 Foresight Institute has been rewarding those who are making strides in the field of Nanotechnology

First International NanoCar Race showcases molecular vehicles

Twenty years ago Dr. Christian Joachim of CEMES=CNRS (France) shared the 1997 Foresight Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology for Experimental Work with two researchers then at IBM Research Zurich for work using scanning probe microscopes to manipulate molecules. Eight years later he won 2005 Foresight Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology for Theory for developing theoretical tools and establishing the principles for design of a wide variety of single molecule functional nanomachines. For the past few years he has been organizing the first ever international nanocar race which will provide an arena to test half a dozen very different designs for vehicles comprising only several dozen atoms each to race along a 100-nm course powered by electrical pulses from an STM tip. The races will be held April 28-29 in Toulouse, France. From a CNRS March 13 news release “The world’s first international race for molecule-cars, the Nanocar Race is on”

Discuss these news stories on Foresight’s Facebook group.

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