NanoBio 2007 Day One Speaker: Lisa Hopper

Lisa Hopper is CEO and Founder of World Care, a non-profit organization. She has a BS in Radiology Administration and Physics from George Washington University. In 1997, she put all of her retirement savings into World Care and devoted herself full time to developing the organization.

In reference to her work in foreign countries Hopper said “It is not about the medicine that we are bringing people; it is about the education that we bring to these communities.” The World Care dream manifests itself in these words, as she has taken resources that she can procure from Tucson, Arizona (i.e. school supplies that university students donated to the cause, money, and manpower) and brings them to third world countries. “We have both problems here and abroad, it often is about distribution.” Distribution is essentially what she does. She takes the “waste” of our country and deposits them in places of need. Instead of giving just school supplies, she has created infrastructures for schools, libraries, and hospitals in these places of need using a five year plan. “There is a check and balance associated with what we are doing,” she said. “Are we helping people, or are we hurting them?” Hopper makes sure that the help that is provided to people in need is available and lasting, thus creating stability in these environments. She is part of the nuclear weapon disarmament program in North Korea, and thus she gives supplies to NK every time they disarm a potentially devastating weapon. She has been to Honduras, Indonesia during the tsunami, and other areas of need after major disasters.

The following question was posed: How did you get from World Care to nanotechnology?

Hopper said that the idea of nanotech appeals to her background in physics, but more importantly it is an idea that what we do has an effect on everyone. The prospect of cheap energy, molecular manufacturing, and space travel excites her very much. “Transportation of goods from one location to another takes a lot of resources and energy.” She said “How do we get high-level knowledge, development, and understanding to everyone? Nanotechnology has tremendous opportunity for the world, and especially the humanitarian world. With over one billion people in the world living in poverty, free energy, clean water, and housing are very important issues.” Hopper argued that the ramifications of the things we are doing today may be good at first, but alter environments and economies irreparable. She gave as an example of desalination of water; it is good to drink, but starts to kill the wild life around the area where salt is actually taken out of the water.

The potential destruction that nanotech poses is what Hopper is essentially worried about. There are many good things that will absolutely come out of these brand new technologies, but we need governance.