1 Disorders of haemoglobin: from phenotype to genotype
Using a brief outline of the development of the human haemoglobin field, the characteristics and importance of interdisciplinary research groups for developing both theory and experimental basis for its validation have been described. The subject evolved from the chance coming together of disparate disciplines to the concept of a more organised and integrated approach, at least within the university system. So far, the multidiscipliary group approach has covered only a limited number of disciplines. For the full exploitation of the potential of the remarkable developments in the biological sciences of the last 10 years it may, in the longer term, be necessary to expand the scope of these groups, incorporating the fields of epidemiology, public health, and social sciences. It should be emphasised that these collaborations and integrations cannot be forced on science; they tend to happen naturally when a field is at a particular state of development. Hence it is the role of universities, and other bodies in which medical research is carried out, to ensure that the appropriate facilities are available to house and support integrated groups of this type, or to plant the geography of research facilities such that close interaction, including social contact, is widely encouraged. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.