The institute aims to support existing collaborations and facilitate new interactions between research groups across UCL. As an example of this, a team from the Charras and Lowe labs work together to combine deep learning with live imaging to determine how cancer cells interact and influence normal cells. Other teams are asking what are the essential differences that separate the animate from the inanimate, life from death; the passage of time in biological systems; and the dynamic crosstalk between a biological system and its environment.
This type of interdisciplinary research is important because, while recent advancements in biology have led to rapid identification of the component parts of many living systems, this alone will not reveal how any living system actually works. After all, organisms are complex, dynamic physical-chemical systems. Understanding life requires new approaches and fresh thinking. The knowledge gained can then serve as the basis for technological innovation and interventions in the future.