some respects, the way they conduct, communicate, and organize their science can be very different in other respects. Building the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary connections discussed throughout this report will require overcoming these distinctions so that scientists from a variety of disciplines can work together on problems of common interest.
The heart of biological research has been single-investigator-initiated projects of relatively short duration. Although some of the recent projects, such as the Human Genome Project, have been large ones, they are not the main source of support for biology. In contrast, much federal support for large segments of the physical sciences, such as astrophysics and high-energy physics, goes to large facilities and programs, and those projects, unlike a typical life sciences project, almost certainly have permanent staff and involve large amounts of instrumentation and construction support.
Physical scientists who participate in these large-scale research efforts also are accustomed to awarding credit to large numbers of investigators and are comfortable with scientific papers that have hundreds of authors. In contrast, publications in the life sciences tend to include no more than one, two, or three principal investigators as authors, along with a handful of graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and others who conduct the actual research. As the number of authors per manuscript increases, it becomes progressively more difficult for most of the authors to receive adequate credit for their contributions. Physics seems to have found mechanisms to circumvent this problem, but the issue of how investigators are evaluated remains one of the major cultural divides between the two disciplines.
Life and physical scientists have typically been members of largely separate scientific communities, attending different meetings and reading different journals. The committee encourages universities, professional societies, and funding agencies to seek ways to connect researchers across disciplines. The Keck Futures Initiative of the National Academies provides one model for bringing together researchers from across disciplines (see Box 6-1). Recommendation 3 in the 2008 National Research Council report Inspired by Biology (National Research Council, 2008b) may also be helpful in this regard, as it suggests summer courses that bring together life scientists and physical scientists and allow researchers to be introduced to other disciplines.
Another successful model of interdisciplinary community building has been developed by the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics and the Aspen Center for Physics. These institutions bring physicists and biologists together for extended workshops in a format that allows new collaborations to germinate. This format has been adapted from long-standing practices of the theoretical physics community but has proven very effective in the interdisciplinary setting: Most of the life scientists introduced to the highly interactive experience of these workshops choose