The ‘Physics of Life’ (PoL) is an EPSRC/BBSRC supported Grand Challenge research theme, first launched in 2012 by a NetworkPlus grant. The first phase of the grant (PoLNET1) ran from 2012-2016 from the University of Sheffield (see PoLNET 1 Team), with the overall aim: ‘to develop a unified framework for understanding biology that integrates the molecular and the system levels of thinking into a coherent, unified whole’.
During this first phase a coherent interdisciplinary Biological Physics community was created. This community was fostered through a series of core activities (including plenary events, a series of facilitated 2-day residential workshops and early career researcher summer schools; see Past Events within PoLNET1), as well as a small number of collaborative research programmes which provided the basis for the launch of a number of major research initiatives.
It was decided that the critical mass established from PoLNET1 should continue and the community should be taken forward by applying for a second phase (PoLNET2) which EPSRC and BBSRC have awarded funding for.
PoLNET2 (January 2017-January 2020) is run by a team from Durham and York University (see Meet the Team). The second phase of this network is taking the community on towards active research programmes, new topics, and continues to grow interdisciplinary connections in a sustainable way. PoLNet2 recognises that the environment is now different and ready for a new phase of activity. It constitutes an efficient way to realise the initial recommended actions of the ‘Roadmap for the Physics of Life’. This national network organises Events and provides Funding opportunities to all researchers working across Biology and Physics at any UK based research institution.
In response to the momentum created from the Physics of Life networks a major new funding call 'Building Colloborations at the Physics of Life Interface', supported by EPSRC, BBSRC and MRC has now been announced. This funding call aims to bridge research between the Life and Physical Sciences. The first funding call of £15 m (opened in December 2018) is supporting 7 high-quality, interdisciplinary research projects each 3 years in duration. The funded projects were announced in April 2019, see here:
It is anticipated a second funding call of similar scale will be announced in 2021, for 2022 grant start dates.
The goal of our Network is to bring physicists and biologists to work together to tackle the challenge of integrating understanding from single molecules to systems in biology.