Our network is made up of two inter linked arms; Physics of Life network 3 (PoLNET3) and Physics of Medicine. PoLNET3 supports research that works broadly across the physical and biological science inteface whilst 'Physics of Medicine' works across both of these disciplines, but additionally aims to specifically engage those working within clinical and medical research.
The ‘Physics of Life’ (PoL) started out in 2012 as an EPSRC/BBSRC supported Grand Challenge research theme, first launched as 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 awarded funding for.
PoLNET2 (2017-2020) was run by a team from Durham and York University (see Meet the Team). The second phase of this network took the community towards active research programmes, new topics, and continued to grow interdisciplinary connections in a sustainable way. PoLNet2 recognised that the environment was ready for a new phase of activity. It constituted an efficient way to realise the initial recommended actions of the ‘Roadmap for the Physics of Life’. This national network organised Events and provided 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:
To support an anticipated second funding call of similar scale to be announced in 2021, for 2022 grant start dates, funding was recieved from UKRI (EPSRC, BBSRC and MRC) to continue with the network into Phase 3; PoLNET3 (2020 - 2023). To further broaden the network's reach, funds were also secured from the Rosetrees Trustto 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.