National Academy of Science calls for collaboration between biology and computational science

September 21, 2009


The National Academy of Science has announced a call for collaboration between biology and computational science. According to the press release, the National Research Council calls on the United States to launch a new multiagency, multiyear, and multidisciplinary initiative to capitalize on the extraordinary advances recently made in biology and to accelerate new breakthroughs that could solve some of society's most pressing problems -- particularly in the areas of food, environment, energy, and health.

Of particular interest to the SIAM community, the report committee used the term "new biology" to describe an approach to research where physicists, chemists, computer scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and other scientists are integrated into the field of biology to create the type of research community that can tackle society's big problems. "'The new biologist' is not a scientist who knows a little bit about all disciplines, but a scientist with deep knowledge in one discipline and a 'working fluency' in several," the report says. To be sure, biologists are already working successfully in many instances with other scientists and engineers. But for collaborations to take advantage of advances in imaging, high-throughput technologies, computational science and technology, and others, a major new initiative is needed, the committee concluded.

The report was requested by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and U.S. Department of Energy, which asked the committee that wrote the report to look at how best to build upon recent scientific developments such as the Human Genome Project.

The national new biology initiative should have a timeline of at least 10 years and funding in addition to current research budgets, and it should be an interagency effort to reflect the interdisciplinary approach to research, the committee emphasized. The report also underscores the importance of making information technologies a priority in the initiative given that information is the "fundamental currency" of the new biology.

Read the complete press release from the National Academy of Sciences release at http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=12764

Copies of the report, A New Biology for the 21st Century: Ensuring the United States Leads the Coming Biology Revolution, are available at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12764


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