What are the implications of a newly integrated biology for infrastructural needs? How should infrastructural priorities be identified and planned for?
What are the implications for the life sciences research culture of a newly integrated approach to biology? How can physicists, chemists, mathematicians and engineers be encouraged to help build a wider biological enterprise with the scope and expertise to address a broad range of scientific and societal problems?
Are changes needed in biology education—to ensure that biology majors are equipped to work across traditional subdisciplinary boundaries, to provide biology curricula that equip physical scientists and engineers to take advantage of advances in biological science, and to provide nonscientists with a level of biological understanding that gives them an informed voice regarding relevant policy proposals? Are alternative degree programs needed or can biology departments be organized to attract and train students able to work comfortably across disciplinary boundaries?
The subgroup of the committee will organize a Biology Summit to garner input from a broad spectrum of stakeholders—government and private agencies that fund biological research, the biotech and pharmaceutical industries, universities and medical schools—to consider barriers to progress and to highlight exciting new areas of research that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries. The Summit’s proceedings will be published as a separate, type-3 workshop report. In a subsequent consensus report, the committee will recommend actions that federal policy makers can take to ensure that the United States takes the lead in the emergence of a biological science that will support a higher level of confidence in our understanding of living systems, thus reducing uncertainty about the future, contributing to innovative solutions for practical problems, and allowing the development of robust and sustainable new technologies. The committee will not make specific budgetary or government organizational recommendations.