Jan Brugués: “Advances in traditional cell and developmental biology, genomics, and proteomics have increasingly shifted the focus of biological research from identifying novel proteins to figuring out how these components work together. Biophysics plays a pivotal role in bridging the gap between this quantitative molecular work and large scale features such as tissue morphogenesis. In close collaboration with biologists, we combine theory, microscopy and biophysical approaches to understand how the behaviors of cells and tissues emerge from the collective behaviors of their components.”

Biophysics

All biological systems are formed of matter obeying physical principles and laws. Concepts from physics are important to understand how biological processes occur at different levels in the organism, ranging from molecular and cellular scales to the level of entire tissues. For instance, how do molecular motors allow for cellular transport, contribute to cell division, or generate the beating of a flagellum? How do forces shape the organism during development when tissues grow and are remodeled? To answer such questions, we need to develop a new physics of active processes, for systems that are far from thermodynamic equilibrium due to a constant influx of energy provided by cell metabolism. As we work toward this goal, we strive to integrate both theory and experiments.

Using tools from statistical physics, dynamical systems theory, and continuum mechanics, theorists investigate the physical principles underlying biological processes. Biophysical research covers topics as

  • Physics of the cytoskeleton, cells and tissues
  • Collective dynamics of cells
  • Self-organization of biological structures
  • Biophotonics

Fluorescence spinning disk microscopy, light-sheet microscopy, single molecule experiments, micro-manipulation, or laser ablation are examples of technologies developed and used by experimental physicists in our inquiry.

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2018 PhD Positions

Application Opens: Sep 2017

Application Closes: Jan 2018

Interview Week: 5 - 9 March 2018