California NanoSystems Institute

Where transformative research and sophisticated laboratories encourage university collaborations with industry and the rapid commercialization of discoveries.

The mission of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA is to leverage public and private investment for nanoscience research at the interfaces between disciplines, translate discoveries into knowledge-driven commercial enterprises, and educate the next generation of scientists and engineers.

At CNSI, engineers and oncologists create drug delivery systems to treat cancer. Chemists, physicists, and neurologists develop nanoelectronic sensors for mapping the brain. Environmental engineers and biologists use nanobiotechnology to clean pollutants from water. The CNSI is where collaboration drives discovery, creativity triggers innovation and ideas that will define our future become a reality.

As one of four Governor Gray Davis Institutes for Science and Innovation (GGDISI), the CNSI builds on a visionary investment in future education, research and technological resources given by the State of California. The Institutes leverage an unprecedented public-private partnership to affect research areas critical to sustaining California’s economic growth and its competitiveness in the global marketplace. These Institutes open the doors to new understanding, new applications and new products through essential research in biomedicine, bioengineering, nanosystems, telecommunications and information technology.

The Institutes:

  • Were overwhelmingly supported by California business leaders and industries.
  • Bring together the best and brightest UC scientists in an unmatched research enterprise.
  • Serve as a catalyst for the California economy when needed most.
  • Represent an unprecedented partnership between the State, UC, and California industry.

The four GGDISIs are centered around 9 UC campuses, please browse the information below for specifics on each institute and campus.

CNSI – California NanoSystems Institute

Lead campus: UCLA | Cooperating campus: UC Santa Barbara

The California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) is a hub of interdisciplinary research, translation, and education where scientists from diverse fields find common purpose in addressing grand challenges of the 21st century. With locations at the University of California’s Los Angeles and Santa Barbara campuses, the CNSI leverages public and private investment to drive collaborative nanoscience research across disciplines, translates discoveries into knowledge-driven commercial enterprises, and educates the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Through an integrated framework of core platforms, the CNSI at UCLA provides leading-edge R&D infrastructure and professional services to provide a competitive edge for UC-affiliated researchers and startups in the discovery, development, and application of transformative technologies.

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CITRIS – Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society


Lead campus: UC Berkeley | Cooperating campuses: UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, UC Merced

The Berkeley-based Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society will be the first to create and harness information technology to tackle society’s most critical needs: energy, transportation, seismic safety, education, healthcare, farming, and the environment. The technology developed by CITRIS may create opportunities to: save as much as $8 billion in California’s energy costs and 5 million metric tons of carbon each year; optimize traffic to conserve 37.5 million gallons of fuel annually; create an emergency lifeline network to save lives and minimize structural damage; serve more of California’s students through distance learning and the delivery of undergraduate curriculum to UC Merced; monitor health-care with state of the art devices; prevent environmental damage and develop more efficient farming.

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Calit2 – California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology

Lead campus: UC San Diego | Cooperating campus: UC Irvine

The California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology will team UC San Diego and UC Irvine faculty, students and research professionals with leading California companies to develop the scientific and technological components required to create a new Internet. It will focus on gathering critical data and making it easily available for interpretation.

The organization of the institute is farsighted: it will not be a loose collection of faculty research projects, but a well-considered strategic plan to conduct an interdisciplinary, integrated study of the impact of the new Internet telecommunications infrastructure on California.

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QB3 – California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences

Lead campus: UC San Francisco | Cooperating campuses: UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz

The California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, a cooperative effort among three campuses of the University of California and private industry, harnesses the quantitative sciences to integrate our understanding of biological systems at all levels of complexity – from atoms and protein molecules to cells, tissues, organs and the entire organism. This long-sought integration allows scientists to attack problems that have been simply unapproachable before, setting the stage for fundamental new discoveries, new products and new technologies for the benefit of human health.

The institute builds on strengths in the engineering and physical sciences at UC Berkeley, the mathematical sciences at UC Santa Cruz and the medical sciences at UC San Francisco, as well as on strong biology programs at the three campuses.