Fall 2018


PHY 382 Physics of Cells


Instructor: Dimitrios Vavylonis

co-Instructor: Aurelia Honerkamp-Smith

This course focuses on the physical principles underlying the organization of living cells, which spans several orders of magnitude in length and time. It provides an introduction to biological physics and relevant concepts of soft-matter physics.


Textbook: Physical Biology of the Cell (Phillips, Kondev, Theriot, Garcia, Second Edition, Garland Science, New York, 2012).


1. Introduction to physical biology of the cell: numbers, length and time scales in biology.
2. Mechanical and chemical equilibrium. Two state systems and cooperativity. Biopolymers and membranes. Electrostatics in solution.
3. Dynamics in the cell. Brownian motion. Rate equations and kinetics of association and dissociation.
4. Cytoskeleton and molecular motors. Polymerization kinetics. Transport and force generation.
5. Biological electricity. Pumps and channels. The Hodgkin-Huxley model.
6. Biological networks. Cell signaling. Biological pattern formation.

Course Material available at Coursesite