Crossing disciplines and fostering convergence has been an integral part of scientific discovery throughout history. Some of the most revolutionary breakthroughs have been achieved by visionaries who ventured beyond the boundaries of traditional disciplines, seeking to unify knowledge from diverse fields. The value of interdisciplinary convergence is particularly evident in the field of medical sciences, where complex health challenges demand comprehensive solutions. Integrating knowledge and methodologies from various disciplines enables researchers to approach medical problems from multiple angles, leading to innovative treatments and improved patient care. In recent times, a growing number of scientists have embraced the power of convergence science, paving the way for unprecedented advancements in healthcare.


What defines a convergent scientist? Who are the role models of interdisciplinary research?  The following list showcases some of the most renowned contributors to convergence science, whose interdisciplinary work has shaped the landscape of medical research and opened new frontiers in the quest for better health outcomes.



Examples from the past...




Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

Leonardo da Vinci is widely regarded as one of the most influential polymaths in history. He excelled in multiple disciplines, including art, anatomy, engineering, and science. His contributions to medical science came through his meticulous anatomical studies. Leonardo dissected human bodies to gain a deep understanding of human anatomy, which greatly influenced medical knowledge during his time. His detailed anatomical drawings provided invaluable insights into the human body's structure and function, even though many of his findings were not widely disseminated until centuries later.



Florence Nightingale (1820-1910)

Often known as the "Lady with the Lamp", Florence Nightingale is considered the founder of modern nursing. She combined her expertise in nursing with her skills in mathematics and statistics to revolutionize healthcare practices. Nightingale used statistical methods to analyse and interpret healthcare data, demonstrating the significance of proper sanitation and hygiene in reducing mortality rates in hospitals. Her work in healthcare statistics laid the foundation for modern epidemiology and evidence-based healthcare practices.





Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894)

Hermann von Helmholtz was a German physician and physicist who made significant interdisciplinary contributions. His research in physics and physiology led to advancements in understanding the physiology of vision and hearing. Helmholtz developed the ophthalmoscope, a critical tool for examining the eye's interior, and conducted studies on sound perception, introducing the concept of the "resonance" theory of hearing. His work in physics also involved the conservation of energy, making him a prominent figure in both the physical and medical sciences.



Marie Curie (1867-1934)

Marie Curie, a pioneering physicist and chemist, made ground-breaking interdisciplinary contributions in the field of radioactivity. Her research had far-reaching impacts on both physics and chemistry, advancing our understanding of atomic structure and nuclear processes. Curie's discovery of the elements polonium and radium not only expanded the periodic table but also paved the way for significant developments in nuclear physics and medical applications, particularly in radiation therapy for cancer treatment. Her remarkable achievements earned her two Nobel Prizes, making her the first woman to receive such honours, and her legacy continues to inspire and influence the world of science to this day.





Linus Pauling (1901-1994)

Linus Pauling, the American chemist and peace activist, made significant interdisciplinary contributions to molecular biology and quantum chemistry. He was the only person to be awarded two unshared Nobel Prizes, one for Chemistry and another for Peace. Pauling's work in applying quantum mechanics to the study of proteins revolutionised our understanding of biological molecules and their interactions within living organisms. His pioneering research laid the foundation for modern biochemistry and molecular biology, shaping the way we approach medical research and drug development. Beyond his scientific achievements, Pauling's advocacy for global cooperation and nuclear disarmament earned him recognition as a Nobel laureate for Peace, highlighting the profound impact of his interdisciplinary thinking on both scientific and humanitarian fronts. His legacy continues to inspire future generations of scientists and underscores the transformative potential of convergence science in addressing complex challenges for the betterment of humanity.



Alan Turing (1912-1954)

Alan Turing, a British mathematician, and computer scientist, left a profound interdisciplinary impact on medical sciences through his pioneering contributions in computing. Throughout World War II, Turing played a vital role in breaking the German Enigma code, a feat that significantly contributed to the Allied victory. Beyond his cryptographic achievements, Turing's work on early computers and artificial intelligence laid the groundwork for numerous advancements in the medical field. His visionary ideas became instrumental in the development of modern medical imaging and analysis techniques, enabling accurate diagnosis and treatment planning. Additionally, Turing's theoretical work on morphogenesis, the process of organism development, has had a lasting influence on the field of biology. His insights into pattern formation and self-organization in biological systems have enriched our understanding of embryonic development and complex cellular interactions. Alan Turing's remarkable interdisciplinary approach has bridged the gap between mathematics, computing, and medical sciences, demonstrating the profound impact that cross-disciplinary research can have on advancing human knowledge and improving healthcare outcomes. His legacy continues to inspire scientists across disciplines to push the boundaries of knowledge and make transformative contributions to the world.



The purpose of this paper is to discuss a possible mechanism by which the genes of a zygote may determine the anatomical structure of the resulting organism. [ … ] The full understanding of the paper requires a good knowledge of mathe­matics, some biology, and some elementary chemistry. Since readers cannot be expected to be experts in all of these subjects, a number of elementary facts are explained, which can be found intext-books, but whose omission would make the paper difficult reading. Alan turing, The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis (1952)




Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958)

Rosalind Franklin was an English chemist whose pioneering work in X-ray diffraction was a critical piece in the puzzle of understanding the structure of DNA. Her interdisciplinary approach to studying molecules using X-ray crystallography was instrumental in producing high-resolution images of DNA fibres, revealing key insights into its helical structure. Franklin's interdisciplinary expertise in chemistry and X-ray crystallography has had a lasting impact on the fields of molecular biology and genetics. Today, she is acknowledged for her essential role in advancing our understanding of the fundamental building blocks of life.



John Nash (1928-2015)

John Nash, an American mathematician and Nobel laureate, left a profound interdisciplinary legacy through his ground-breaking work in game theory. Renowned for his contributions to the field of mathematics, Nash's insights revolutionized the study of economics and social sciences. Beyond these traditional disciplines, his pioneering ideas also find valuable applications in medical economics and epidemiology. By developing game theory, Nash offered a unique perspective on decision-making processes, shedding light on how individuals and groups make choices and interact within complex systems. These principles have since been adapted to various healthcare settings, providing valuable tools for understanding and predicting patient and provider behaviour, resource allocation, and strategic planning in the medical field. Nash's interdisciplinary approach showcases the power of mathematical thinking in addressing real-world challenges, transcending traditional boundaries and enriching our understanding of various domains. His contributions continue to inspire and guide researchers in their quest for innovative solutions to societal problems.




Current examples...


Subra Suresh

Subra Suresh is an Indian-American engineer and scientist whose interdisciplinary work has significantly impacted the fields of materials science and biomedicine. Suresh's research has spanned various disciplines, including engineering, materials science, and biology, allowing him to contribute valuable insights to medical sciences. His work on understanding the mechanical properties of biological materials, such as cells and tissues, has advanced the field of mechanobiology, shedding light on how mechanical forces influence cellular behaviour and disease progression. Suresh's contributions have also extended to the study of blood disorders and infectious diseases, where he has applied his materials science expertise to develop novel diagnostic tools and therapies. His interdisciplinary approach has played a crucial role in advancing our understanding of biological systems and has paved the way for innovative biomedical applications.





Eric Lander

Eric Lander is an accomplished American mathematician and geneticist who has left an indelible mark on the field of genomics research. His multidisciplinary expertise in mathematics and biology has been instrumental in deciphering the human genome and unravelling the complexities of genetic inheritance. Lander played a pivotal role in the Human Genome Project, a monumental international effort to sequence and map all the genes in the human genome. His ground-breaking contributions to the project have greatly advanced our understanding of genetics, paving the way for new avenues in personalized medicine, disease prevention, and targeted therapies. Lander's ability to bridge the gap between mathematics and genetics has empowered the scientific community to tackle complex biological questions and drive progress in the field of genomics.



Jennifer Doudna & Emmanuelle Charpentier

Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna are distinguished scientists whose exceptional contributions to the field of gene editing and molecular biology have left a lasting impact. Both renowned microbiologists and biochemists, they co-discovered the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology. This revolutionary discovery has transformed the field of genetic engineering and opened up new possibilities for gene therapies and targeted treatments for genetic diseases. Embracing an interdisciplinary approach that blends microbiology, biochemistry, and genetics, Charpentier and Doudna's work has been instrumental in unravelling the mechanisms and potential of CRISPR-Cas9 as a powerful gene-editing tool. Their innovative research has not only paved the way for transformative applications in precision medicine, agriculture, and therapeutic interventions for genetic disorders but also inspired countless scientists to embrace interdisciplinary science in their pursuit of knowledge. Recognized with numerous prestigious awards and honors, both scientists continue to be celebrated as trailblazers in the field of gene editing and interdisciplinary research.







Carolyn Bertozzi

Carolyn Bertozzi is a distinguished American chemist renowned for her interdisciplinary contributions to chemical biology. With expertise in chemistry and bioengineering, she has made significant advancements in the field of bioorthogonal chemistry, which enables the labelling and visualization of biomolecules in living systems. Bertozzi's research has paved the way for innovative applications in cancer diagnostics and drug delivery, allowing for more precise and targeted therapies. Her interdisciplinary approach has played a pivotal role in bridging the gap between chemistry and biology, revolutionizing medical research and opening new avenues for understanding and treating diseases.




Sangeeta Bhatia

Sangeeta Bhatia is a prominent figure in convergence science, seamlessly integrating engineering, medicine, and biology. Her work spans various innovative areas, from nanotechnology-based cancer biomarker detection for early diagnosis to tissue engineering for regenerative medicine. By fusing gene therapy with nanotechnology, she has contributed to the development of targeted treatments. Sangeeta Bhatia's multidisciplinary approach exemplifies the potential of convergence science to advance healthcare.






Mehmet Toner

Mehmet Toner is renowned for his impactful work at the crossroads of engineering and medical research. His remarkable achievements encompass the creation of microfluidic devices and diagnostic technologies that have revolutionised cancer detection and monitoring. Through his pioneering efforts, Mehmet Toner has showcased the profound impact of convergence science by introducing novel approaches to isolating rare cancer cells from blood samples, enabling earlier and more accurate diagnosis. His work exemplifies the transformative potential of interdisciplinary collaboration in advancing the field of point-of-care devices.




Marino Zerial

Marino Zerial has played a pivotal role in advancing our comprehension of the molecular intricacies underlying endocytosis. His groundbreaking research on Rab GTPases as pivotal orchestrators of organelle biogenesis and membrane fusion has established fundamental principles now considered foundational in the field. Marino Zerial's contributions extend to diverse translational initiatives, spanning investigations into endocytosis's involvement in bacterial infection, the development of cutting-edge image-based high content screenings, macromolecule therapeutic delivery, and exploration of human liver diseases. His multidisciplinary approach underscores the transformative potential of his work, which reverberates far beyond conventional boundaries.





Molly Stevens

Molly Stevens

Molly Stevens has made significant strides in the crossroads of materials science, bioengineering, and regenerative medicine. Her innovative research has propelled advancements in the development of biomaterials for tissue engineering and regenerative therapies, with applications ranging from bone repair to organ transplantation. Molly Stevens' pioneering work has not only enriched our understanding of these fields but also forged transformative pathways towards personalised medicine and regenerative solutions.



Our founding co-directors:



Paul Workman

Paul Workman is a leader in the field of cancer research, known for his contributions to chemical biology and drug discovery. As an eminent biochemist and pharmacologist, he has devoted his career to advancing our understanding of cancer biology and developing innovative cancer therapies. His research encompasses a wide range of disciplines, combining molecular biology, pharmacology, and drug discovery to identify novel targets and therapies for cancer treatment. As the Chief Executive of the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London, Paul Workman has fostered a collaborative and interdisciplinary research environment, bringing together experts from diverse fields to tackle the complexity of cancer. Under his guidance, the ICR has made significant strides in cancer research and drug development, leading to the discovery of numerous targeted therapies that have improved the lives of cancer patients worldwide.



Lord Ara Darzi

Lord Ara Darzi is an eminent surgeon and researcher known for his significant contributions to interdisciplinary research. Throughout his career, he has been at the forefront of integrating medicine, technology, and policy to advance healthcare. As a pioneering figure in the field of surgery, Lord Darzi has introduced innovative techniques and technologies that have revolutionized surgical practice, leading to improved patient outcomes. Beyond the operating theatre, he has also played a vital role in shaping healthcare policies, advocating for evidence-based approaches and patient-centred care. His expertise in both medicine and public policy has garnered international recognition, positioning him as a global thought leader in healthcare reform. As a mentor and educator, Lord Darzi continues to inspire the next generation of researchers and medical professionals to embrace interdisciplinary collaboration to address complex challenges in healthcare. His visionary approach to convergence science has left a lasting impact on the medical community and beyond, shaping the future of medicine with transformative interdisciplinary research.






The leaders of tomorrow?



The CRUK Convergence Science Centre PhD students