Saturday, July 02, 2005

The Interface of Physics, Chemistry, and Biology

Probably the greatest discoveries of the 21st century will occur at the interfaces between traditional disciplines.  Those who are considering a research-oriented career would do well to consider what kind of problems they want to work on, then obtain an education that readies them to attack those problems.  This differs from the old-fashioned approach.  Traditionally, one would decide which discipline applied most directly to the problems of interest, then studied that discipline.  

There is a nice illustration of this in the June 23, 2005 NEJM: How Ebola Virus Infects Cells. (Subscription required for full text.) In this post, I use this example to illustrate the need for interdisciplinary education.  I extend that by showing how climate change is likely to increase the risk of epidemic diseases.  This will require knowledge of ecology, climatology, and other disciplines for us to have any hope of controlling such epidemics.  Continue reading here.