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Physics of the living cell


Monday, 18 November 2019 to Friday, 15 May 2020
Total hours: 48
Hours of lectures: 48

Examination procedure

  • oral exam


Recommended for PhD students in Nanosciences, indicated for PhD students in Neurosciences, Methods and Models for Molecular Sciences, Physics.


Overview of the cell as a complex physical system (6h)

-The cell structures

-Fluorescence microscopy: scooping the biological world


The cell’s life (32h)

-Equilibrium thermodynamics of the cell

-Protein folding, protein binding, allostery

-Excited-state modulation of fluorescence to image molecular interactions

           i.      Forster Resonance Energy Transfer

           ii.      Fluorescence depolarization

-Non-Equilibrium thermodynamics of the cell: the local formulation and steady states

-Biological membranes: life in two dimensions

-Molecular crowding, confinement

-Biological dynamics and diffusion

           iii.      Diffusion on membranes

           iv.      Nucleocytoplasmic diffusion

-Relaxation and fluctuation methods to probe biomolecular dynamics

           v.      Fluorescence Recovery After Photobleaching

           vi.      Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy

-Exchanges with outside world

           vii.      Ion exchanges and biological electricity

           viii.      Free-energy transduction

-Far from equilibrium systems and dissipative structures

-Dynamics of molecular motors

-Metabolic regulation and non-linear enzymes

-Single Particle tracking


Multicellular organisms (10h)

-The origin of biological altruism

-Epigenetics and tumorigenesis

-The tissue regulation of glucose homeostasis

-Fingerprints of cell and tissues

           ix.      Fluorescence lifetime imaging of endogenous co-factors

           x.      Fluorescence biosensors




Educational goals: Knowledge on the basic principles regulating cell structure and activity, with a particular
focus on the nanoscale


Bibliographical references

Phillips et al. Physical Biology of the Cell