Biocomplexity and Biophysics
Biocomplexity is a cutting-edge area of research between physics and biology. By using the principles and methods of physics one can explore the living nature and biological phenomena.
"More is different" by P. W. Anderson emphasizes emergent phenomena on a wide range of scales in nature. In BioComplexity, we continuously explore the diversity of complex phenomena in biological, physical and social systems, including pattern formation, complex and chaotic dynamics, fluid dynamics, game theory, networks and econophysics.
We build on our strength of using physics approaches to suggest and perform experiments and models of living systems. The systems range from proteins and gene regulation to larger-scale collective spatiotemporal structure formation. The research is often a collaboration between physicists, biologists, medical doctors, and nanoscientists.
Biocomplexity section consists of researchers with a variety of interests. Fascinated by diverse phenomena in biological and complex systems, we are tackling the research topics theoretically, computationally, and experimentally.
We have a biocomplexity seminar series, with open seminars every 1-2 weeks, normally on Wednesdays. In addition, researchers flexibly organizes seminars and discussions.
We welcome students interested in working in this fascinating, cutting edge research area. We attract a large number of master students to write a thesis in bio- and/or complex system research projects.
The Niels Bohr
If you are interested in studying Biophysics or Biocomplexity, consider looking at these pages:
- M.Sc. in Physics study track in Biophysics, courses etc.
- M.Sc. in Physics study track in Physics of Complex Systems, courses etc.
Biological Network and Complex systems (Center for Models of Life (CMOL)): We use methods from physics to develop understanding of living systems. We model regulation of living systems aiming to understand the strategies of gene regulation and dynamics of self organization, with a focus on simple conceptual and quantitative models. Our research tackles diversity of biological systems from epigenetics to emergence of complex communities.
Experimental Biophyscis: We investigate the physical properties of living cells bya number of advanced optical technicians and methods from eg. nanoscience. Living cells are extremely dynamic, and for a physicist, the complex cell can be characterized as a living material. We examine the cells by combining optical microscopy with optical manipulation.
Membranes:Using physical principles and methods, the group 'Biophysics - Membranes' explores biological phenomena and works to clarify how proteins and chemical substances pass through both biological and artificial membranes. The physical theory of an electrical circuit can, for example, describe how signal transports around the brain.
Climate research currently faces a dilemma: in a quest to make simulations more realistic, models are becoming increasingly sophisticated by incorporating more and more processes. Yet, despite increased apparent realism of the model output, basic understanding of the underlying physics becomes more challenging — the analysis of the model output itself sometimes resembles that of observational data.
Uni-Bio lab: from models to unifying concepts in Biology:
We use mathematical models and quantitative experiments to investigate how individual cells and cellular populations rapidly adapt to changes in the environment. A few examples include Asymmetric Damage Segregation (bacteria), Early differentiation of the embryo, receptor adaptation; excitable dynamics in inflammation (islets).
StemPhys: The Center for Stem Cell Decision Making, StemPhys, is an interdisciplinary
Visit home page here: https://stemphys.nbi.ku.dk/
By utilising the optic
The research into cell-biophysics is done on living cells. The small particles like micelles (tiny balls of fatty acids) in the cell and its ‘skeleton’ called
Bio Networks and Complex systems:
It looks like chaos and coincidences, but by developing dynamic computer models researchers can solve the structure of the connecting links; they have found out that all the many different kinds of networks have common properties of the fundamental structure – from worldwide communication networks all the way down to the network of signal matter of the cells.
Models of turbulence of fluids are also created by the researchers. When a fluid passes through a narrow passage turbulence occur creating whirls, and when liquid is warmed up bobbles are created. It looks chaotic, coincidental and disorganised but it proves to be an organised confusion and using mathematical models the researchers can figure out the order of the chaos. This kind of insight into the dynamics of fluid and turbulence is extremely important for weather forecasting for instance. The chaos theories can even provide information about the share prices in the financial markets.
Cells need a multitude of nourishment for its life processes, and in the
The hidden memory of cells can be revived with the result that a property that was not there before all of a sudden is present. The researchers have examined the mechanisms behind the dormant cell memory and discovered that the answer lies in the surroundings of the DNA string. The DNA string twists around some protein complexes that are immensely important because they via interaction are involved in determining whether the piece of the DNA string that they are touching becomes active or passive.
Shock-changes of the surroundings, such as acute lack of life necessities, can stress a live system, and how does ‘the system’ react to the changes and the new situation? The researchers have investigated this by studying the reactions of bacteria to acute lack of
By using the principles and methods of physics the group ‘Membrane Biophysics’ researches biological phenomena and works towards solving how protein and chemical material passes through both biological and artificial membranes. The physical theory of an electrical circuit can describe how for example signals are transported around in the brain.
Research into membranes has turned upside down all previous, firmly held scientific understanding of how nerves function and how anaesthetics work. By the help of the physical laws of thermal
Uni-Bio lab: from models to unifying concepts in Biology (English only)
Models: a tool to find
Unifying: across systems and organisms
Concepts: simple rules behind complex patterns
We use mathematical models and quantitative experiments to investigate how individual cells and cellular populations rapidly adapt to changes in the environment. A few examples include Asymmetric Damage Segregation (bacteria), Early differentiation of the embryo, receptor adaptation; excitable dynamics in inflammation (islets)
Collective behavior in cell communities (CMOL)
Self organization of Diversity: Evolution, species, diseases, development (CMOL)
Regulatory dynamics and feedbacks (CMOL)
CELLEN SOM ET LEVENDE MATERIALE
Den biologiske celle er et komplekst og spændende system hvor både fysiske og biologiske mekanismer sammen styrer cellens funktioner. Cellen udgør derfor et perfekt system hvor samspillet mellem fysik og biologi kan udforskes. På NBI undersøger vi de fysiske egenskaber af cellen ved hjælp af optiske og mekaniske metoder. Disse fysiske metoder tillader os at manipulere fx. cellens form, for derefter at visualisere cellens molekylære respons. Celler er yderst interaktive i forhold til deres miljø og kan karakteriseres som et aktivt materiale der reagerer på både kemiske og fysiske stimuli.
BIOFYSIKKEN AF CELLE OVERFLADEN
Vi påvirker celler på nanoskopiskt niveau, både mekanisk og termiskt, for at undersøge cellers evne til at håndtere stress-stimuli fra omgivelserne. Ved at anvende en optisk pincet har vi lært at cellens overflade har nogle fingerlignende strukturer, kaldet filopodia, som spiller en afgørende rolle i cellers bevægelse samt deres evne til at kommunikere med hinanden og omgivelserne. Ved at punktere cellens overflade med ultrafokuseret opvarmning er vi i gang med at undersøge cellers utrolige evne til at lappe overfladen med diverse proteiner.
Generelt er cellens respons ofte forankret i dens skelet som besidder særdeles interessante fysiske egenskaber da det både kan være elastiskt og viskøst på samme tid, også kaldet viskoelastiskt. Graden af viskoelasticitet kan kvantificeres ved hjælp af optiske metoder med stor nøjagtighed. Cellens overflade og cellens indre kan desuden eksistere i ordnede og uordnede faser. Disse fysiske faser kan have stor betydning i biokemiske processer og for organisering af proteiner og for cellens form. Sammenfattende kan siges at vi i dag ved at biofysiske mekanismer ligger til grund for rigtig mange af cellens funktioner og biofysikkens metoder har vist sig særdeles brugbare i biologisk forskning hvilket afspejles i vores tætte samarbejde med forskellige biovidenskaber.
Funding: Villum Foundation (2012-2015) and Sapere Aude DFF (2015-2019) and Novonordisk synergy grant (2019-2022).
Models of embryos and organs (Uni-Bio-Lab)
Finances: Stemphys, DNRF, Period: 2015-2020
Staff and Students: Silas Boye Nissen, Alexander Nielsen, Julius Bier Kirkegaard. Contact Person: Ala Trusina
1) Theoretical tool bridging cell polarities with development of robust morphologies, SB Nissen, S Rønhild, A Trusina, K Sneppen, Elife 7, e38407, 2017
2) Stochastic priming and spatial cues orchestrate heterogeneous clonal contribution to mouse pancreas organogenesis HL Larsen, L Martín-Coll, AV Nielsen, CVE Wright, A Trusina, YH Kim, Anne Grapin-Botton, Nature communications 8 (1), 605
3) Four simple rules that are sufficient to generate the mammalian blastocyst. / Nissen, Silas Boye; Perera Pérez, Marta; Martin Gonzalez, Javier; Morgani, Sophie Maria Christina; Jensen, Mogens Høgh; Sneppen, Kim; Brickman, Joshua Mark; Trusina, Ala. I: PLOS Biology, Vol. 15, Nr. 7, e2000737, 12.07.2017, s. 1-30
Bente Markussen, Sektionssekretær
Niels Bohr Institute, Biokomplexity and Biophysics
2100 København Ø.
Office: Building K.
Phone: +45 353-35845
Mobil: +45 23839875