An essay published in 2004 has the perceptive heading: “Mathematics Is Biology's Next Microscope, Only Better; Biology Is Mathematics’ Next Physics, Only Better” . This title neatly summarises the developmental path taken by biology over the past 30 years or so. It emphasises both the exciting role that mathematics and statistics are adopting in the identification and quantification of wholly unimagined and entirely new realms within biology as well as the repercussions biology is precipitating in the prompting of new developments in mathematics and statistics. The title also underlines the intensifying interlinking of numerous disciplines: the complexity of biological and clinical phenomena requires increasingly sophisticated, specialised and discipline-transcending expertise to complete a technical workflow comprising experimental design, generation and analysis of data, interpretation of results and subsequent transparent reporting (Fig. 1).