The multifaceted challenges of infection require truly creative approaches and collaboration. To find the solutions we need, the traditional boundaries between scientific disciplines must be dissolved, teams must break out of their silos, and people possessing a diverse array of skills, perspectives and experiences must be inspired and enabled to work together. Importantly, these people must be trained and empowered to work at the interface of their fields – which is where discoveries and breakthroughs so often occur.
This integrative approach, often referred to as interdisciplinary or convergence science, has been seen in recent years as an advancing revolution – one that Imperial has been leading through our interdisciplinary research and education programmes, our clinical footprint, close collaboration between clinical and basic sciences, and our mission to research, educate and innovate for the benefit of society.
Our priorities: three interdisciplinary research pillars
To promote a culture of interdisciplinary science, the Institute of Infection is centred around three key priority areas - the three pillars listed below. Clustering teams around these pillars, rather than disciplines, encourages Institute scientists with diverse expertise to work together on shared goals at the interface between traditional areas of work. And by developing cross-cutting themes, from vaccines and drugs to nanotech and modelling, researchers will be able to move freely between priority areas or work across multiple strands.
Each pillar is closely networked through the connections we foster between people and teams and served by resident champions. By embracing this flexible and adaptable structure, the Institute will focus on ambitious, long-term strategic goals while retaining the agility to respond to new challenges and opportunities as they arise.
Clinical & health sciences
Working at the interface between clinician scientists in hospitals, health care workers in the field and basic sciences in the lab, this pillar will cross programs of research from bench to bedside (translation) and bedside to bench (clinical samples). We will also benefit from a new NHS translational research facility for infection planned for the St Mary's Hospital Campus.
Computer science & big data
We are living in the midst of an explosion of data at all levels – the cell, the organism and the population. This pillar will attempt to bring scientists together with expertise in data generation and data analysis to bring order to the complexity of infection by numbers.