There is broad support across the scientific community for pursuing interdisciplinary research, but opportunities to do so are constrained by institutional barriers and available resources.
Approaches that integrate a wide range of scientific disciplines, and draw on the strengths and resources of universities, federal agencies, and the private sector will accelerate progress toward making this potential a reality.
The best way for the United States to capitalize on this scientific and technological opportunity is to add to its current research portfolio a New Biology effort that will accelerate understanding of complex biological systems, driving rapid progress in meeting societal challenges and advancing fundamental knowledge.
The committee recommends a national initiative to accelerate the emergence and growth of the New Biology to achieve solutions to societal challenges in food, energy, environment, and health.
For its success, the New Biology will require the creative drive and deep knowledge base of individual scientists from across biology and many other disciplines including physical, computational, and earth sciences, mathematics, and engineering.
The New Biology offers the potential to address questions at a scale and with a focus that cannot be undertaken by any single scientific community, agency, or sector.
Providing a framework for different communities to work together will lead to synergies and new approaches that no single community could have achieved alone.
A broad array of programs to identify, support, and facilitate biology research exists in the federal government but value is being lost by not integrating these efforts.
Interagency insight and oversight is critical to support the emergence and growth of the New Biology Initiative. Interagency leadership will be needed to oversee and coordinate the implementation of the initiative, evaluate its progress, establish necessary working subgroups, maintain communication, guard against redundancy, and identify gaps and opportunities for leveraging results across projects.
The committee recommends that the national New Biology Initiative be an interagency effort, that it have a timeline of at least 10 years, and that its funding be in addition to current research budgets.