Interdisciplinarity and Interprofessionalism: Implications for Biotechnology Education

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Great advances have often occurred at the intersections of disciplines or in
association with literal or metaphorical migrations of practitioners between
disciplines. One only needs to look back as far as the explosive development
in modern biology that took place when physicists and physical chemists,
turned their attention and methods to biology. The convergence of three
revolutions in science (in molecular biology, bioinformatics and instrumentation) has changed the way biological research is done. Biotechnology is practised at the intersection of these revolutions. It is interdisciplinary and draws on core knowledge and skills in the areas of chemistry, physics, engineering and biology. In biotechnology, interdisciplinarity emerges between the natural sciences which develop knowledge involving biological systems. This is followed by an interprofessional integration of knowledge and skills from the social sciences and from business, to set research priorities, to develop ethical and regulatory frameworks, and to develop the scientific knowledge into products of value. We review and discuss definitions of interdisciplinarity and interprofessionalism, then propose a novel model for the evolution of disciplines (and interdisciplinarity). We consider the challenges posed by interdisciplinarity and interprofessionalism, for the structure of biotechnology programs and their modes of delivery.


Keywords: Interdisciplinarity, Interprofessionalism, Biotechnology, Education
Stream: Technology and Applied Sciences
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: , , , , Interdisciplinarity and Interprofessionalism


Prof. Ross T. Barnard

Biotechnology Program Director, School of Molecular and Microbial Sciences, The University of Queensland
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Ross Barnard is Professor and Director of the Biotechnology Program at the University of Queensland. He received his PhD from the University of Queensland in 1990. He held a National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia C.J. Martin fellowship at the University of California and an NHMRC R.D. Wright fellowship at the University of Queensland. He has had a stint in industry and is involved in basic and applied research in academic and several industry collaborative projects in the fields of antibodyengineering, infectious disease diagnosis and cancer treatment. He has filed several patents in diagnostics and published more than 88 in molecular endocrinology, molecular biology, applications of mathematics in biology and in knowledge and innovation management. He has made submissions to the Australian Law Reform Commission on "patenting and human health", and on "protection of genetic information". He has recently co-authored a report for the Carrick Institute (an initiative of the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations) on "Extending Teaching and Learning Initiatives in the Cross-disciplinary Field of Biotechnology".

Dr. Damian Hine

Senior Lecturer, Business School and Faculty of Biological and Chemical Sciences, The University of Queensland
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia


Dr. Philip Mackinnon

Biotechnology Coordinator, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University
Clayton, Victoria, Australia


Ref: I08P0785