Dept. of Chemistry
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA, USA
This 1 1/2 day workshop will explore the living cell and its ability to maintain incredibly elaborate spatiotemporal structures, realized in the form of membrane systems, filamentous networks, and phase-separated microdomains. All these are subject to thermal fluctuations and relaxation events, reshaped by nonequilibrium processes and active driving forces, and constantly exposed to environmental agents that either need to be taken up or kept outside. Compartmentalization into numerous distinct organelles allowed one of the domains of life, eukarya, to massively increase control over its biochemical information processing across space and time, ultimately enabling the leap to multicellular life.
This field stands at the brink of many revolutionary and paradigm-shifting discoveries. Over the past decade several key breakthroughs have fundamentally changed the way in which progress can be made. Phenomenal advances in imaging techniques have allowed experimentalists to zoom in on how a cell’s remodeling machines are physically realized, while a concurrent massive increase in computational power and algorithm development have enabled simulators to emulate such events in great detail. Moreover, powerful genetic tools have opened new avenues for exquisitely controlling, manipulating, and redesigning living biochemistry, enabling us to interrogate the operations of life at the molecular level.
This workshop will explore the status and the opportunities for biophysical research in this field. Where are we? And where should we go from here?