We are currently witnessing a remarkable period of interaction between physics and biology. Not for the first time are there very good reasons for synergy – the beginnings of molecular biology itself emerged from a previous period in which techniques from physics demonstrated huge potential to answer biological questions. The current surge of interest is remarkable because new experimental tools (single-molecule spectroscopy, AFM, fluorescence microscopy, micro-rheology etc.) are accompanied by a powerful body of mathematical techniques arising from the Statistical Mechanics of Soft Matter.
The distinctive issues of this programme, of four sub-themes, arise at the sub-micron domain in which Brownian Motion becomes important; where biochemical processes work with (or against) the tendency to approach thermodynamic equilibrium. Throughout is the creative tension between highly-evolved and specific biological form and function on the one hand, and the overarching statistical mechanics on the other.
The programme will structured along four linked themes:
- Single molecule biophysics (including protein dynamics, mechanical force spectroscopy)
- Membrane/cortical dynamics and self-assembly (including lipid phase separation. Motility and interaction with the extracellular matrix).
- Molecular motors (including modelling of single-molecule motors in the presence of noise, cooperative behaviour, etc.)
- Molecular and cellular aspects of gene expression (including DNA binding proteins and complexes, cell division, trans-membrane signalling, networks or polymerisation and depolymerisation).
While all four will be worked on throughout the 6-month period, there will be periods of more focus on each, when the theoretically-based scientists and mathematicians of the long-term programme will be visited on a shorter-term basis by key experimentalists working in these areas and their boundaries
- 22 January - 6 March
- Single molecules and motors
- 15 - 19 March
- Protein folding week
- 29 March - 8 April
- Soft Condensed Matter Physics in Molecular and Cell Biology (A Satellite Meeting at Edinburgh)
- April 12-May 14
- Membranes and membrane interactions
- May 17 - 28
- More on motors
- May 31 - July 9
- Gene regulation