There is a growing concern among some in the biomedical research community that integrative physiology is on the decline at a time when advances in molecular and genetic research warrant studies of how molecular/genetic changes influence the intact organism. Increasingly, young scientists are opting for training in molecular biology, with a reduced emphasis on physiology. Thus, there needs to be an improved integration of molecular approaches into physiological processes that addresses major health concerns and an enhancement of training opportunities for scientists to be knowledgeable in both molecular/genetic and physiological approaches.
On April 19, 1996, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) hosted a Special Emphasis Panel on Integrative Research in Bethesda, Md, to explore promising areas of research and training that might benefit from greater emphasis on the integration of molecular biological processes with physiological function. In addition to NHLBI scientists, this meeting was attended by representatives from academic research centers, professional societies, and industry. Integrative research was defined as investigations into the role of molecular biological processes in the physiological function or regulation of a cell, tissue, organ, or intact organism.
The following points represent a consensus of opinion expressed at the meeting. They do not represent official policy statements of the NHLBI or any of the professional organizations or companies represented at the meeting. They are presented here as a summary of the discussions and recommendations of the Special Emphasis Panel on Integrative Research:
• Scientific review groups need to have a greater awareness of and sensitivity toward integrative research and to view the uniqueness of integrative applications.
• A paradigm shift is needed in our thinking about research, which would involve better collaboration among investigators and more interaction between academia, professional organizations, and industry.
• Integrative research can be promoted by the development of coupled NIH grants involving two or more coprincipal investigators, one with expertise in molecular biology and one with expertise in physiology. Endorsement and potential cosponsorship by professional societies and industry should be considered.
• The development and submission of institutional training grant applications that focus on integrative research training should be encouraged.
• A training course in integrative research that provides cross-training to physiologists and molecular biologists should be developed with the cooperative support of governmental agencies, professional societies, and industry.
- Copyright © 1997 by American Heart Association