Biophysics is an interdisciplinary area of science that studies the organization, dynamics and function of living systems and its parts from the perspective of physics to understand the fundamental principles that govern them. To do this, several experimental, computational and theoretical tools are used coming from multiple areas such as physics, biology, mathematics and computer science. For example, in the discovery of the DNA structure, a biologist (Watson), a physicist (Crick) and a chemist (Franklin) were involved and they used tools derived from physics (crystallography). In our laboratories, we have students and researchers in physics, biology, microbiology, chemistry, medicine and engineering to collaborate on various research projects.
Biophysics encompasses several spatial and complexity scales ranging from nanotechnology tools to manipulate individual molecules to the study of multicellular organisms. The quantitative emphasis of biophysics implies the development of quantitative tools such as specialized microscopes as well as the development of models to understand biological phenomena. For instance, our group studies from antibacterial peptides to corals.
The Biophysics group was consolidated in 2005 with the establishment of the Laboratory of Biophysics at the Universidad de Los Andes. Initially, the research focused on studying the biophysical properties of cell membranes, and eventually it was expanded to cover other areas of research such as biomechanics and systems biology. It currently has three full time Professors with extensive research experience and a strong record of publications in high impact international journals.
The group has cutting-edge research tools, some commercial and some manufactured in the laboratory. The most prominent are: a Nikon TIRF microscope, fully automated with high-speed cameras and high sensitivity to detect single molecules; Lasers 405, 488 and 514; Two multi-channel fluorometers ISS with programmable temperature control and multi-sample; An Atomic force microscope manufactured in the laboratory for experiments in force spectroscopy of single molecules at high speed; An illumination microscope by planes also made in Los Andes.