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Interdisciplinary science

Discovery science is a key area of focus for the MRC; between 60 and 70 per cent of the MRC’s research portfolio is classified as discovery research. The MRC is committed to expediting the impact of discovery research by bringing it closer to users in industry and clinical medicine. In addition to the many researcher-generated discovery science programmes, focal areas of discovery research funded by the MRC include:

Interdisciplinary science: promoting translation of innovation across research disciplines

The Discovery for Medicine topics reflect the MRC’s strategic assessment of the opportunity to develop the necessary knowledge-base in these areas. The MRC’s commitment to funding discovery research, across the breadth and depth of the entire MRC portfolio, is continued through a focus within this sub-set of topics. The following case studies and quantitative data demonstrate the impact of the MRC’s strong track record in leading scientific discovery.

What is interdisciplinary science?

Interdisciplinary research is an important mechanism for discovery and innovation. Many breakthrough discoveries happen where disciplines meet, where the latest technologies and insights can reorient or increase knowledge. For example, the intersection of physical and life sciences has often resulted in very productive collaborations. Such encounters with other fields often benefit single disciplines as well, by expanding their horizons. An interdisciplinary approach should drive scientists to ask novel questions and solve novel problems. But it can also address old problems, especially those that have not been answered through conventional approaches. Indeed, without the cooperation of researchers in several different fields, many of today's important discoveries would not have been possible.

The MRC’s commitment to interdisciplinary research has seen the stimulation of interdisciplinary collaborations to develop novel tools and technologies in the life sciences. Some examples of the impact of MRC funded research involving highly interdisciplinary approaches are given below.

Case studies

Unique microscope technology Mesolens listed as a top ten breakthrough of 2016 by Physics World

The Mesolens – a giant microscope lens which combines high resolution with a large field of view – was listed as one of the top ten breakthroughs of 2016 by Physics World. The Mesolens, engineered by Dr Brad Amos at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, can examine thousands of cells and the detail inside each cell at the same time.

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