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) was run by a team from Durham and York University (see Meet the Team). The second phase of this network took the community on towards active research programmes, new topics, and continued to grow interdisciplinary connections in a sustainable way. PoLNet2 recognised 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 was 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) supports 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.
Funding from UKRI (EPSRC, BBSRC and MRC) has now been secured to continue with the network into Phase 3; PoLNET3 (2020 - 2023). We are delighted to have also secured funds from the Rosetrees Trust to specifically develop a ‘Physics of Medicine arm’ to the Physics of Life network. Together, this funding will help us to support this ever growing community as far as possible over the next 3 years.
The project team will continue as before; Tom McLeish, University of York (PI), Martin Cann, Durham University (co-I) and Karis Baker, Durham University (network co-coordinator), but with the very welcome addition of Steve Smye, University of Leeds (co-I). Steve has been instrumental in the development of the new arm of Physics of Life ‘Physics of Medicine’. Phase 3 will kick off in May with updates to follow on opportunities and events on this website and our mailing alerts (sign up here: Contact us).
We were due to hold our kick off meetings in May this year but these will be postponed to a later date given the ongoing COVID-19 situation. Keep safe and we look forward to seeing the community again soon.
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.
Upcoming Physics of Life Events
The second phase of the Physics of Life Network has now finished and all events have now been run (see past workshops).
We are delighted to announce that we have secured funding from both UKRI (EPSRC, BBSRC, MRC) and the Rosetrees Trust to support this community into a 3rd phase over the next 3 years, further updates will follow as we start PoLNET3 in May 2020.