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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Board on Physics and Astronomy
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

Opportunities at the Intersection of the Physical and Life Sciences


There is a clear need for a careful assessment of the scientific opportunities at the intersection of the physical and life sciences, as well as a need for strategic policies at the federal level to help bridge the traditional separations between these areas of research. What are the most compelling opportunities and what types of research can best enable new breakthroughs? What are some of the challenges associated with existing federal funding programs and how can mechanisms be enhanced to facilitate this type of research?

The National Academies is responding to these needs with proposed activities that approach the issue from both research and policy perspectives. The Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy is considering an activity that would examine federal research policies and the role of interagency cooperation in facilitating interdisciplinary research. Complementing this approach is a multidisciplinary planning workshop (including chemistry, physics, mathematics, and biology) in December 2004 that will examine the intellectual landscape at this interface, identifying areas where there are opportunities to carry out forefront research. Chaired by Ken Keller of the University of Minnesota, this group of experts will map out the potential role for an Academies study on possible programs of research at this intersection.

Committee Members and NRC Staff

Kenneth H. Keller, University of Minnesota, Chair
Howard C. Berg, Harvard University
Steven M. Block, Stanford University
Andrea W. Chow, Caliper Technologies Corporation
William Eaton, NIDDK/NIH
James M. Gentile, Research Corporation
Judith Herzfeld, Brandeis University
John J. Hopfield, Princeton University
Roger D. Kornberg, Stanford University School of Medicine
Martha A. Krebs, Science Strategies
Jose N. Onuchic, University of California at San Diego
Gregory A. Petsko, Brandeis University
Donald Prosnitz, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Burt Richter, Stanford University
Julie A. Theriot, Stanford University School of Medicine
David A. Tirrell, California Institute of Technology
Peter G. Wolynes, University of California at San Diego
NRC Staff

Donald C. Shapero, Director,
Board on Physics and Astronomy
Fran Sharples, Director, Board on Life Sciences
Timothy I. Meyer, Program Officer      

Related Links

September 18-19, 2004 American Chemical Society – NSF Workshop on Molecular Basis of Life Processes


We are pleased to acknowledge support for the National Research Council’s Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences and the Division on Earth and Life Studies for this activity.