The Interdisciplinary Research program has transitioned from Common Fund support. For more information, please visit http://commonfund.nih.gov/Interdisciplinary.
Health research traditionally has been organized much like a series of cottage industries, lumping researchers into specialty areas, where their efforts remain disconnected from the greater whole by artificial barriers constructed by technical and language differences between different disciplines and departmentally-based specialties. But, as science has advanced over the past decade, two fundamental themes are apparent: the study of human biology and behavior is a wonderfully dynamic process, and the traditional divisions within health research may in some instances impede the pace of scientific discovery.
The broad goal for the IR program therefore, was to change academic research culture, both in the extramural research community and in the extramural program at the NIH, such that interdisciplinary approaches are facilitated. The Interdisciplinary Research Program included initiatives to dissolve academic department boundaries within academic institutions and increase cooperation between institutions, train scientists to cultivate interdisciplinary efforts, and build bridges between the biological sciences and the behavioral and social sciences. Collectively, these efforts were intended to change academic research culture so that interdisciplinary approaches and team science are a normal mode of conducting research and scientists who pursue these approaches are adequately recognized and rewarded.