Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization -- Department for Nonlinear Dynamics and Network Dynamics Group
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BCCN AG-Seminar

Tuesday, 06.01.2009 17 c.t.

From single biomolecules to biosystems - understanding by making

by Prof. Dr. Petra Schwille
from Biophysics Group, BIOTEC, TU Dresden

Contact person: Lishma Anand

Location

Seminarraum Haus 2, 4. Stock (Bunsenstr.)

Abstract

In the “omics” era of the life sciences, with our general knowledge about biological systems becoming increasingly vast, complex, and impossible to fully overlook, it is an important task for quantitative research such as biophysics to identify appropriate protocols that allow the researcher to strip down the complexity of a system to the maximal level that can still be reliably modelled, but retaining the essential features of its counterpart in biological reality. Richard Feynman once phrased the famous quote “What I cannot create, I do not understand”. In strict sense, following this quote, we would only fully understand a biological system if we were able to make it from scratch. Of course, it appears to be a rather hopeless enterprise to make a “modern” cell, leave alone a whole organism, in all its complexity. On the other side, the success of several functional /in vitro/ assays for biological subsystems, functioning in artificial environments of dramatically reduced complexity, suggests that it is indeed possible to reconstitute essential features and modules of the cell from small and physically controllable sets of molecules, and by doing this learn more about the fundamental physical and chemical laws which nature builds the phenomenon of life on. In my talk, I will discuss some recent results of our work on membrane-based systems, using single molecule optics and biological reconstitution assays.

Remarks

Bernstein Lecture

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