Biophysics of Cellular Membranes

Description: Students will learn several basic concepts of biophysics including thermal conformational fluctuation and thermal diffusion, and how cells might take advantage of these physical processes to enable their functions. As a biological paradigm, the cellular membrane system (and their functions), with a special attention paid to signal transduction in the plasma membrane, will be extensively covered. This is because the membranes are critically important for a variety of cellular processes, in the fields of cancer biology, immunology, neuroscience etc., and also because the membrane system provides us with an interesting and useful biological paradigm to learn how the life processes are made possible by thermal-physical processes. As a way of directly “seeing” the thermal, stochastic processes exhibited by receptors and downstream signaling molecules undergoing signaling in live cells, the methods of single-molecule imaging-tracking and manipulation will be discussed quite extensively. Through this course, students will better understand the interdisciplinary field of biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematical science.

Prerequisites or Prior Knowledge

Biology, chemistry, or physics at undergraduate levels