Physics of Life
The Physics of Life theme combines new biophysical and imaging approaches to explore dynamic processes in biomolecules, organelles, cells and organisms.
Insights from Physics research bring the opportunity to create novel biosensing technologies. We are advancing the frontiers of spatial resolution with light microscopy, atomic resolution with cryo-electron microscopy, temporal resolution with millisecond hydrogen/deuterium-exchange mass spectrometry, and sensitivity with novel single-molecule and single-cell detection methods.
Challenges we address include the dynamics of cellular behaviour during signalling, growth, or differentiation. We also explore the emergence of dynamics in neural circuits in animals and humans and how these can go wrong in disease. A further challenge is to understand how cellular couplings and hydrodynamics lead to large-scale coordination of cellular projections such as cilia or flagella, and how cells and small organisms move and react to stimuli. Non-linear computational models are developed in collaboration with Maths of Life colleagues.
Finally, we investigate the inner working of biological processes. This includes the astonishing emergent concept, dubbed Quantum Biology, which revolutionises the traditional description of life processes, built over the last century, by suggesting direct reliance on quantum phenomena. Specifically, we explore this question through experimental and theoretical studies of magnetoreception and biological magnetosensitivity, to assess its putative quantum underpinning.
Contributing research groups
Optical microsensors for detecting physical, chemical and biological properties of single molecules