Independent review of the importance of engineering and the physical sciences to the health and life sciences

Supplementary content information

Metallic spheres floating against a grey background

EPSRC invited an independent review group chaired by Professor Patrick Maxwell, Regius Professor of Physic and Head of the School of Clinical Medicine at the University of Cambridge, to explore the relationship between engineering and the physical sciences and the health and life sciences.

The report concludes that engineering and physical sciences research, including mathematics, statistics and computer science, has played a major role in advancing health and life sciences, for example in biomaterials, microscopy, DNA sequencing and magnetic resonance imaging.

Academic and industry figures including Lord Darzi (Imperial College London), Professor Sir John Bell (University of Oxford) and Professor Patrick Vallance (GlaxoSmithKline) discuss the increasing importance for the future - from big data and genomics, to new drug discovery techniques, to medical devices for surgery.

The review group make several recommendations to ensure that institutions effectively support the increasing integration between disciplines. These include:

  • Proposals to encourage interdisciplinary working.
  • The role for challenge-driven research.
  • The need for doctoral training in interdisciplinary research.
  • Incorporating engineering and physical sciences into the UK strategy for life sciences.
  • Regular reviews of activity at the interface between disciplines.

EPSRC will be discussing the report and its recommendations with key partners such as BBSRC, MRC, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and other stakeholders over the coming months.

Review group membership

Professor Patrick Maxwell (Chair), Regius Professor of Physic, University of Cambridge
Professor Sir Mike Brady, Department of Oncological Imaging, Department of Oncology, University of Oxford
Professor Peter Donnelly, Director, Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford
Professor Carole Goble, School of Computer Science, University of Manchester
Professor Jim Naismith, Director of Biomedical Sciences Research Complex, School of Chemistry, University of St Andrews
Dr David Rees, Senior Vice-President of Medicinal Chemistry, Astex Pharmaceuticals
Ian Shott, Shott Consulting, President of AMRI Europe
Professor Peter Wells, School of Engineering, University of Cardiff