One of the challenges that European Molecular Biology will be facing in the next ten years is a move towards integrative systems biology. Based on EMBL's current strengths and its recognised excellence in structural, molecular, cellular and developmental biology, instrumentation, computational biology and functional genomics, the Laboratory is well prepared to meet this challenge. It has always had a strong commitment to interdisciplinary collaborative research and it has reached critical mass in most of the aforementioned areas.

EMBL staff collaborates to a very high degree, in a network of spontaneous interactions that usually spring up between two or more research groups from different disciplines. Complementing these excellent interactions, new interdisciplinary research instruments are required to meet the challenge of integrating more than two groups across disciplines. EMBL Centres have been established as a new type of 'horizontal', cross-departmental structure to promote innovative research projects across disciplines.