Press Release

X-Net launches to remove obstacles to cross-disciplinary research careers

X-Net image

The Medical Research Council has invested £200,000 in a new national network which will help scientists overcome barriers to working in interdisciplinary science

X-Net has been formed to bring together researchers spanning all career stages in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to facilitate the sharing of expertise and knowledge among its members.

By connecting MRC Unit researchers with each other it will harness their experiences of crossing disciplines – in particular from STEM to biomedical and from biomedical to computational.

Through regular talks, presentations and peer-mentoring activities the network will develop to include further centres of excellence and to grow its membership while engaging industry, patients and public.

The network will define a roadmap for navigating interdisciplinary research careers, identifying key contributions and funding limitations, using this to engage with funders to develop opportunities for future fellowships and grants.

The network will also work to promote cross-disciplinary research as a career path to those within the STEM community who are considering making a move into the biomedical sciences. Through a series of outreach workshops, X-Net hopes to inform and inspire these groups by showcasing existing cross-disciplinary research and careers. X-Net aims to remove the barriers to interdisciplinary research. An anonymous survey, to be completed by researchers with an interest in interdisciplinarity in the area of Biomedicine, has been developed to get an insight of which those barriers might be. It would be much appreciated the completion and redistribution of the questionnaire among the scientific community to reach a high number of responses. Link to survey,

All if its endeavours will be committed to openness and teamwork, embracing individual uniqueness and fostering a culture of inclusive excellence that supports broad and specific diversity initiatives.

Spearheaded by Professor Chris Ponting at the MRC Human Genetics Unit, X-Net is managed and supported by the MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit - University of Dundee, MRC Human Genetics Unit - University of Edinburgh, MRC Human Immunology Unit – University of Oxford and MRC Molecular Haematology Unit – University of Oxford. 

By building upon the successes of the XDF and OBDS programmes from the Universities of Edinburgh and Oxford respectively, the network aims to establish training standards, curricula, required competencies and best practices for transitioning between scientific disciplines.

“As someone who crossed disciplines myself, I’m all too aware of the obstacles our scientific community face, especially early career researchers. We have an incredible opportunity to give voice to scientists from many different backgrounds. I’m very proud we’re launching X-Net to support and develop interdisciplinary research and careers in the UK.”

Professor Chris Ponting, X-Net Director

“The MRC PPU is passionate about diversity, inclusivity and openness and is excited about X-Net’s aims. It is in all our interests to understand and tackle the barriers that limit the obvious opportunities from interdisciplinary approaches to solving biomedical problems.

Dr Paul Davies, MRC PPU, Dundee


To find out more about X-Net and to learn how to get involved, visit