The scientific community represented by about forty researchers and officials from research funding organisations gathered in Brussels on 23 January 2015 to present the outcomes of the European Science Foundation's (ESF) Foresight Activity on Research in Quantum Biology (FarQBio). This exercise was initiated as a part of a larger initiative on quantum information (FARQUEST) and has resulted in a Forward Look report that provides insights into the latest evidence of quantum phenomena in biological systems.
Quantum biology has developed over the past decade as a result of convergence between quantum physics and biology. This emerging field stems from the interrogation of the basic principles that govern interactions at the molecular scale in living organisms. New experimental techniques have provided evidence that phenomena such as photosynthesis, birds' orientation in the Earth's magnetic field, smell and possibly anaesthesia may be due to quantum effects. Quantum biology embodies not so much what research currently is, but what it could become.
The report focuses on future outlooks in what is a novel, highly cross-disciplinary field which brings together biologists, physicists, chemists, computer scientists, as well as researchers from other disciplines, but which intrinsically requires them to transcend their disciplinary boundaries. "We are currently witnessing the birth of a new way of doing science where transitional disciplines converge to find an explanation of phenomena observed in nature and to bring to life new devices and technologies, as has often been the case during the past decades for nano-and biotechnology" explains Professor Martin Plenio, Chair of the FarQBio Scientific Committee.
In order for this more integrated approach to science to succeed, quantum biology will require a paradigm shift in the way education, research and interactions between science and society are carried out and delivered. The report provides a set of measures and recommendations in these directions and is addressed to policy makers, research funders, programme managers and educators at the EU and national levels.
The ESF Forward Look Report "A Foresight Activity on Research in Quantum Biology (FarQBio) is available at: http://www.
Information about the final conference : http://www.
Note to Editors
Dr Ana Helman
About The European Science Foundation
The European Science Foundation (ESF) was established in 1974 to provide a common platform for its Member Organisations - the main research funding and research performing organisations in Europe - to advance European research collaboration and explore new directions for research. ESF provides valuable services to the scientific and academic communities - such as peer review, evaluation, career tracking, conferences, implementation of new research support mechanisms and the hosting of high-level expert boards and committees - with the aim of supporting and driving the future of a globally competitive European Research Area. ESF currently has 66 member organisations in 29 countries. http://www.
ESF Forward Looks
ESF Forward Looks have enabled Europe's scientific community, in interaction with policy makers, to develop medium to long-term views and analyses of future research developments with the aim of defining research agendas at national and European level. Forward Looks were driven by ESF's Member Organisations and, by extension, the European research community. Quality assurance mechanisms, based on peer review where appropriate, were applied at every stage of the development and delivery of a Forward Look to ensure its quality and impact. ESF has supported 24 Forward Looks since 2002. In the context of the current re-organisation of ESF and hand-over of science policy activities to Science Europe, there are no plans to launch ESF Forward Look calls in the future.