papers. Investigators collaborate easily over large distances thanks to the Internet. Some of the most important problems in biology (e.g., the Human Genome Project) are now being tackled by dispersed teams of investigators working in concert. New kinds of scientific communities are emerging.
The recent report entitled The Role of the Private Sector in Training the Next Generation of Biomedical Scientists concludes “In the postgenomic era of research, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research will command center stage, requiring team approaches and the collaboration of many individuals from vastly different fields, ranging from computational mathematics to clinical science” (American Cancer Society et al., 2000). The same report also states “The changing paradigm of research calls for innovations and changes in the education of scientists along the spectrum of K-12, undergraduate and graduate education.” This is one of many calls to improve interdisciplinary education. A recent NRC report, Addressing the Nation’s Changing Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists, recommends, “The NIH should expand its emphasis on multidisciplinary training in the basic biomedical sciences” (NRC, 2000a).
Numerous studies and workshops have addressed the growing research at the intersection of biology with other disciplines, further supporting the need for more interdisciplinary education. The NRC study Strengthening the Linkages Between the Sciences and Mathematical Sciences was published in 2000 (NRC, 2000c) and the report Frontiers at the Interface of Computing and Biology is nearing completion (NRC, unpublished report, 2002). The NRC has held workshops on interdisciplinary topics, including “Workshop on the Interface of Engineering and Biology: Catalyzing the Future; Bioinformatics: Converting Data to Knowledge.” “Dynamical Modeling of Complex Biomedical Systems” was convened by the Board on Mathematical Sciences in 2001. Other recent NRC studies illustrate the wideranging applications of biology.2