Topics in Biophysics II – Spring 2015

Course Description:

Why are liquids and water essential to life? What are the driving forces that lead ions to cross membranes, signaling proteins to bind to receptors, DNA, proteins and other biopolymers to carry out biological functions? How can physics explain cooperativity or spontaneous order formation in biological systems? Which experiments can discriminate between different physical models and how can we use these to probe and quantify microscopic interactions that determine macroscopic behavior?

These are the kind of questions we will explore in this course. The objective is to learn to formulate such questions using the quantitative language of physics, to understand some basic physics models that recur in the description of biological phenomena, and to compare quantitative predictions to experiments. Examples will span phenomena occurring in biomolecular solutions on many spatiotemporal scales (from single molecules to large supramolecular assemblies).

Particular attention will be given to experimental techniques (single molecule vs ensemble), the physics behind them, and their direct link to theoretical models (e.g. fast pump-probe laser spectroscopy, scattering techniques, correlation spectroscopy, T-jump, AFM, ... and more traditional biochemical techniques).

Course Material:

Course notes and related published articles

Textbook:

No textbook will be exclusively assigned to this class. A list of useful textbooks is:

  • Biological Physics: Energy, Information, Life by Philip Nelson, W.H. Freeman and Company
  • Physical Biology of the Cell by Rob Philips, Garland Science
  • Physical Biochemistry by K. Edward Van Holde, Prentice-Hall Inc
  • Biophysical Chemistry by Cantor and Schimmel, W.H. Freeman and Company
  • Molecular Biophysics by Michel Daune, Oxford University Press
  • Polymer Physics, by Rubinstein and Colby, Oxford University Press

Instructor: Sara M. Vaiana
sara.vaiana@asu.edu
Time: MW 1:30-2:45pm
Room: PSH-357