Commentary | Published:

Nurturing interdisciplinary research

Nature Structural & Molecular Biology volume 11, pages 11661169 (2004) | Download Citation


The research in biology has been transformed by the products of interdisciplinary research. Here we explore why it is challenging for universities to bring biologists together with engineers, physicists and computer scientists for productive collaboration, and we evaluate alternative solutions. In particular, we describe how the new Janelia Farm Research Campus of Howard Hughes Medical Institute aims to provide a home for creative scientists from different disciplines to attack major biomedical research problems.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1.

    Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Janelia Farm Research Campus report on program development (Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chevy Chase, Maryland, USA, 2003).

  2. 2.

    No time for the bench. HHMI Bulletin 16, 28 (2003).

  3. 3.

    Rocky Mountain high. Nature 423, 915–916 (2003).

  4. 4.

    Committee on Undergraduate Biology Education to Prepare Research Scientists for the 21st Century. BIO2010: transforming undergraduate education for future research biologists (National Research Council, National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 2003).

  5. 5.

    & Introductory science and mathematics education for 21st-century biologists. Science 303, 788–790 (2004).

  6. 6.

    Interdisciplinary research and the undergraduate biology student. Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol. 11: 1170–1172 (2004).

Download references

Author information


  1. Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 4000 Jones Bridge Road, Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815, USA.

    • Thomas R Cech
    •  & Gerald M Rubin


  1. Search for Thomas R Cech in:

  2. Search for Gerald M Rubin in:

About this article

Publication history



Further reading

Newsletter Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing