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Media Advisory 04-32

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

October 8, 2004

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.


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

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, 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, Md. 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 [], indicating their potential contribution to the conference objectives and providing contact information. The deadline for responding is Oct. 15, 2004.

Additional details on the life and physical sciences conferences can be found at the following link: [].


Arden Bement, NSF
Elias Zerhouni, NIH, and invited conference discussants


Conference, "Research at the Interface of the Life and Physical Sciences: Bridging the Sciences"


Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2004


Natcher Conference Center
NIH Campus, 45 Center Dr.
Bethesda, MD
(Medical Center Metro stop, Red Line)



Program Contacts
Arthur B. Ellis, NSF, (703) 292-4960, email:
Bruce K. Hamilton, NSF, (703) 292-8320, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2022 budget of $8.8 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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