Convergence is an approach to problem solving that cuts across disciplinary boundaries. It integrates knowledge, tools, and ways of thinking from life and health sciences, physical, mathematical, and computational sciences, engineering disciplines, and beyond to form a comprehensive synthetic framework for tackling scientific and societal challenges that exist at the interfaces of multiple fields. By merging these diverse areas of expertise in a network of partnerships, convergence stimulates innovation from basic science discovery to translational application. It provides fertile ground for new collaborations that engage stakeholders and partners not only from academia, but also from national laboratories, industry, clinical settings, and funding bodies. The concept of convergence is thus meant to capture two closely related but distinct properties: the convergence of expertise necessary to address a set of research problems, and the formation of the web of partnerships involved in supporting such scientific investigations and enabling the resulting advances to be translated into new forms of innovation and new products.
Knowledge created by the process of convergence can contribute to understanding complex biological systems such as the nervous system and applying that understanding to design new medical treatments;
- Improving patient outcomes through integrated knowledge management and precision medicine;
- Revolutionizing manufacturing through advances such as on-site, three-dimensional printing;
- Creating new fuels and improved energy storage systems; and
- Meeting the world’s need for secure food supplies in a changing climate.