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The Center for Biological Physics brings faculty, postdocs, and students from multiple departments, schools, centers and initiatives together. Core faculty members hold appointments in the Department of Physics, the School of Molecular Sciences, and the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering. Research interests span the whole time and length scale of biology, from the electronic structure to whole cells and organisms and their evolution.
Many proteins in the living cell can be understood as molecular machines that use a source of energy to produce mechanical or chemical work. The primary interest of Dr. Beckstein's lab is in those proteins located in the cell membrane that move nutrients, signalling molecules, or waste products into and out of the cell. Dr. Becksteins lab studies their molecular mechanisms of action by detailed molecular dynamics simulations, which provide a “movie” of full atomic detail of a working protein.
Dr. Vaiana's experimental studies are aimed at obtaining a quantitative physical understanding of biologically relevant processes occurring in protein or polypeptide solutions on two spatiotemporal scales. Self-assembly processes occurring on large length scales/long time scales as protein aggregation and demixing phase transitions, and processes occurring on small length scales/short time scales as protein conformational changes, misfolding and the configurational rearrangement of disordered chain
Dr. Ros's nanobiophysics laboratory is focused on the development and improvement of nanobiophysical techniques (in particular the combination of cutting-edge force and optical technologies) and their application to fundamental biological processes related to mechanical forces such as cell adhesion, cell mechanics and cell interactions, as well as biomolecular interactions and conformations.
Simple physical mechanisms are behind the flow of energy in all forms of life. Energy comes to living systems through electrons occupying high-energy states, either from food (respiratory chains) or from light (photosynthesis). Life's ability to transfer electrons over large distances with nearly zero loss of free energy is puzzling and has not been accomplished in synthetic systems. Dr. Matyushov's lab studies how this
Genome sequencing efforts are providing us with complete genetic blueprints for hundreds of organisms—one of the most exciting developments of the 21st century. This has also revealed increasing amounts of data on human genetic variation, many of which have the potential to disrupt protein function and modulate individual phenotypes, thus associated with disease. Overall, these advancements bring a new challenge of how to assimilate this big data. Novel computational approaches are needed to enhance our ability to answer this challenge. Therefore, in Ozkan Lab, we develop multi-scale computational methods that will provide protein structure and dynamics fast and accurately. With these methods, we examine the role of protein structural dynamics in evolution and disease pathways with two main goals: (i) to provide mechanistic insights about the critical mutations involved in human disease, and (ii) to reveal functionally important sites in proteins which can be used in the design and modification of function in many diverse enzymes. We also model protein-protein interaction and with our experimental collaborators to design new binding agents and alter the binding affinities.