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National Institute of Biomedical
Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)

Friday, October 8, 2004

Dr. Richard Swaja

NIH-NSF to Convene Interagency Conference on Life and Physical Sciences

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) are convening the “Research at the Interface of the Life and Physical Sciences: Bridging the Sciences,” on November 9, 2004, at the Natcher Conference Center on the main campus of the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland.

The objectives of the conference are to identify opportunities, grand challenges, and issues at the interface of the life and physical sciences that could result in major advances and to develop approaches for bridging these traditionally separate fields.

“Strengthening and encouraging research at the interface of the life and physical sciences is crucial in leveraging our national resources. This interdisciplinary approach to research will undoubtedly provide unprecedented collaborative opportunities, as well as remarkable advances in the future that are underpinned by breakthroughs in both areas,” said Elias Zerhouni, M.D., NIH director.

"The progress of medicine in the past 100 years is one of the great success stories in human history. It simply would not have occurred without continuous fundamental research in physical sciences and engineering,” said Arden Bement, NSF acting director. “To sustain the pace of progress, we must enhance the hugely productive synergy between the physical and life sciences."

Planning for this conference is the result of language in the FY 2004 House Appropriations Report that recognized the importance of research at the interface of the life and physical sciences. NIH and NSF were asked to convene a conference of Federal agencies whose missions involve the conduct or support of research in the life and physical sciences to discuss ways to strengthen research at the interface. One recommendation resulting from the initial meeting held May 10, 2004, was to convene scientific researchers in order to obtain community input on effectively bridging the life and physical sciences.

Structured as a one-day, interactive meeting, the conference will be co-chaired by Dr. Jose Onuchic, professor of physics and co-director of the Center for Theoretical Biological Physics, University of California, San Diego; Dr. Ken Dill, professor of biophysics and associate dean of research, School of Pharmacy, University of California, San Francisco; and Dr. Claire Fraser, president and director of The Institute for Genomic Research, Rockville, Maryland. A core of invited extramural scientists will serve as primary discussants to address the conference objectives. Representatives from appropriate Federal agencies will also attend and participate as agency resources.

Attendance at the conference is open to the public, although seating is limited. No registration fee is required. Individuals interested in attending should send an e-mail to [nibibinterface@mail.nih.gov], indicating their potential contribution to the conference objectives and providing contact information. The deadline for responding is October 15, 2004.

Additional details on the life and physical sciences conferences can be found at the following link: [http://www.nibib.nih.gov/].

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