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A New Biology for the 21st Century A NEW BIOLOGY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY Committee on a New Biology for the 21st Century: Ensuring the United States Leads the Coming Biology Revolution Board on Life Sciences Division on Earth and Life Studies NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu
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A New Biology for the 21st Century THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health through Contract No. N01-OD-4-2139, Task Order 209; the National Science Foundation through Grant No. DBI-0843904; and by the Department of Energy. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the sponsoring agencies, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government. International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-14488-9 (Book) International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-14488-4 (Book) International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-14486-5 (PDF) International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-14486-8 (PDF) Library of Congress Control Number: 2009939411 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu. Copyright 2009 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America
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A New Biology for the 21st Century THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org
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A New Biology for the 21st Century COMMITTEE ON A NEW BIOLOGY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY: ENSURING THE UNITED STATES LEADS THE COMING BIOLOGY REVOLUTION THOMAS CONNELLY (Cochair), DuPont Company, Wilmington, Delaware PHILLIP SHARP (Cochair), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge DENNIS AUSIELLO, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston MARIANNE BRONNER-FRASER, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena INGRID BURKE, University of Wyoming, Laramie JOHN BURRIS, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina JONATHAN EISEN, University of California, Davis ANTHONY JANETOS, Joint Global Change Research Institute, College Park, Maryland RICHARD KARP, International Computer Science Institute and University of California, Berkeley PETER KIM, Merck Research Laboratories, North Wales, Pennsylvania DOUGLAS LAUFFENBURGER, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge MARY LIDSTROM, University of Washington, Seattle WENDELL LIM, University of California, San Francisco MARGARET MCFALL-NGAI, University of Wisconsin, Madison ELLIOT MEYEROWITZ, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena KEITH YAMAMOTO, University of California, San Francisco Staff ANN REID, Study Director, Board on Life Sciences AMANDA CLINE, Senior Program Assistant, Board on Life Sciences FRANCES SHARPLES, Director, Board on Life Sciences SANJAY MAGAVI, Christine Mirzayan Fellow, Board on Life Sciences KATHERINE SAYLOR, Christine Mirzayan Fellow, Board on Life Sciences
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A New Biology for the 21st Century BOARD ON LIFE SCIENCES KEITH R. YAMAMOTO (Chair), University of California, San Francisco ANN M. ARVIN, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California VICKI L. CHANDLER, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Palo Alto, California MARK D. FITZSIMMONS, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Chicago, Illinois LOUIS J. GROSS, University of Tennessee, Knoxville JO HANDELSMAN, University of Wisconsin, Madison CATO T. LAURENCIN, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut JONATHAN D. MORENO, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia CAMILLE PARMESAN, University of Texas, Austin MURIEL E. POSTON, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York ALISON G. POWER, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York BRUCE W. STILLMAN, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York CYNTHIA WOLBERGER, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland Staff FRANCES E. SHARPLES, Director JO L. HUSBANDS, Scholar/Senior Project Director ADAM P. FAGEN, Senior Program Officer ANN H. REID, Senior Program Officer MARILEE K. SHELTON-DAVENPORT, Senior Program Officer INDIA HOOK-BARNARD, Program Officer ANNA FARRAR, Financial Associate AMANDA P. CLINE, Senior Program Assistant REBECCA L. WALTER, Senior Program Assistant CARL-GUSTAV ANDERSON, Program Assistant
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A New Biology for the 21st Century Preface Biological research is in the midst of a revolutionary change due to the integration of powerful technologies along with new concepts and methods derived from inclusion of physical sciences, mathematics, computational sciences, and engineering. As never before, advances in biological sciences hold tremendous promise for surmounting many of the major challenges confronting the United States and the world. Historically, major advances in science have provided solutions to economic and social challenges. At the same time, those challenges have inspired science to focus its attention on critical needs. Scientific efforts based on meeting societal needs have laid the foundation for countless new products, industries, even entire economic sectors that were unimagined when the work began. The lessons of history led the Committee on a New Biology for the 21st Century to recommend that a New Biology Initiative be put in place and charged with finding solutions to major societal needs: sustainable food production, protection of the environment, renewable energy, and improvement in human health. These challenges represent both the mechanism for accelerating the emergence of a New Biology and its first fruits. Responding to its Statement of Task, the committee found the answer to the question “How can a fundamental understanding of living systems reduce uncertainty about the future of life on earth, improve human health and welfare, and lead to the wise stewardship of our planet?” in calling for a national initiative to apply the potential of the New Biology to addressing these societal challenges. As the report explains, the essence of the New Biology is integration––re-integration of the many subdisciplines of biology, and the integration into biology of physicists, chemists, computer scientists, engineers, and mathematicians to create a research community with the capacity to tackle a broad range of scientific and societal problems. The committee chose biological approaches
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A New Biology for the 21st Century to solving problems in the areas of food, environment, energy and health as the most inspiring goals to drive the development of the New Biology. But these are not the only problems that we both hope and expect a thriving New Biology to be able to address; fundamental questions in all areas of biology, from understanding the brain to carbon cycling in the ocean, will all be more tractable as the New Biology grows into a flourishing reality. Given the fundamental unity of biology, it is our hope and our expectation that the New Biology will contribute to advances across the life sciences. Throughout the report, “New Biology” is capitalized to emphasize that it is intended to be an additional and complementary effort to traditional life sciences research, not a replacement. Peer-reviewed, independent investigator-initiated research is the foundation on which the New Biology rests and on which it will continue to rely. Many exciting and important areas of biological research are not considered in this report. America’s research capability in life sciences leads the world. This committee strongly endorses current research endeavors, both in the public and private sector. Within biology, the excellent work underway must be continued. But for this study, the intent was not to comprehensively review all life sciences research. Instead the committee focused on those opportunities that cannot be addressed by any one subdiscipline or agency––opportunities that require integration across biology and with other sciences and engineering, and that are difficult to capitalize on within traditional institutional and funding structures. It is not merely the sciences that need to be integrated. The New Biology will draw on the research and development capabilities of universities, government, and industry. Individual federal agencies will continue to lead important, independent efforts. For the New Biology to flourish, however, interagency co-leadership of projects will be needed to a far greater extent than is the case today. This approach is not simply a matter of funding. The combined capabilities and expertise of numerous organizations are required to address society’s greatest challenges. This study represents the collective efforts of the committee during meetings, workshops, a December 2008 Biology Summit, and many teleconferences. We would like to thank the Summit and workshop participants for their valuable input. We also thank the committee members who volunteered countless hours and the Board of Life Sciences staff for their efforts and dedication to the study. America’s investment in basic research in the life sciences has paid rich dividends. A commitment to the New Biology will extend this proud record. In the words of President Obama when he addressed the 2009 annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences:
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A New Biology for the 21st Century As you know, scientific discovery takes far more that the occasional flash of brilliance—as important as that can be. Usually, it takes time and hard work and patience; it takes training; it requires the support of a nation. But it holds promise like no other area of human endeavor. The well-being, security, and prosperity of our nation are the prize. We fully endorse the recommendations here presented. THOMAS CONNELLY PHILLIP SHARP Co-chairs Committee on a New Biology for the 21st Century: Ensuring the United States Leads the Coming Biology Revolution
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A New Biology for the 21st Century Acknowledgments This report has been reviewed in draft form by persons chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of the independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards of objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following for their review of the report: Frances H. Arnold, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena Ann M. Arvin, Stanford University, California David Baltimore, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena Floyd E. Bloom, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California Jeff Dangl, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Susan Desmond-Hellmann, University of California, San Francisco Mark Ellisman, University of California, San Diego Paul Falkowski, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey Adam Godzik, Burnham Institute for Medical Research, La Jolla, California David Goldston, Princeton University, New Jersey James Hanken, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts Robert Langer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge Rick Miranda, Colorado State University, Fort Collins Norman Pace, University of Colorado, Boulder Camille Parmesan, University of Texas, Austin Peter H. Raven, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis
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A New Biology for the 21st Century Gene Robinson, University of Illinois, Urbana Bruce W. Stillman, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York Although the reviewers listed above have provided constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of the report was overseen by Marvalee H. Wake (University of California, Berkeley) and John Dowling (Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts). Appointed by the National Research Council, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of the report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. The committee benefited from discussions with several speakers, whom we would like to thank for their help. At its first meeting, on November 4, 2008, the committee met with: Ralph Cicerone, President, National Academy of Sciences, Charles M. Vest, President, National Academy of Engineering, James Jensen, Director of Congressional and Government Affairs, National Academies, William Bonvillian, Director, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Washington, Patrick White, Director of Federal Relations, Association of American Universities, Howard Minigh, President and CEO, CropLife International, John Pierce, Vice President, DuPont Applied BioSciences–Technology, and Anthony Janetos, Director, Joint Global Change Research Institute, College Park, Maryland. We also thank Robert Lue, Harvard University, Timothy J. Donohue, University of Wisconsin-Madison, William K. Lauenroth, University of Wyoming, for helpful discussions, Joshua V. Troll, University of Wisconsin, Madison and Charina Choi, University of California, San Francisco for contributing figures, and Steve Olson and Paula Tarnapol Whitacre for writing and editing assistance.
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A New Biology for the 21st Century Contents Summary 1 Introduction 9 1 The New Biology’s Great Potential 11 2 How the New Biology Can Address Societal Challenges 17 3 Why Now? 39 4 Putting the New Biology to Work 65 5 Recommendations 87 References 91 Appendixes A Statement of Task 95 B Workshop Agenda 97
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