SPRING 2007 (Last offered in 2003)

Basic Biophysics for Motion In Cells

PHYS 798N         CHPH 718N

Instructor: Michael E. Fisher
Room 2100A, IPST Bldg. 085
Tel: (301)405-4819 (e-mail c/o
Time & Place Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30 am to 11:00 am,   Physics 4208
Useful Links: Course Outline, Book Outline, Book Contents, Appendix
Credit: 3 hours
Aims & Content: The aim of the course is to give graduate students in the physical, chemical, and biochemical science an introduction to some aspects of modern molecular biophysics, which draws on concepts and ideas from physics, chemistry, engineering and, of course, biology. To this end the recent book by Jonathon Howard (see below) will be used used as the required course text although not all the topics treated in the book will be covered. (The Contents of Howard's book may be viewed on the home page for the course.) Some appreciation for modern research on "molecular motors" or motor proteins, which is being pursued at the single-molecule level, is an overall goal.
Prerequisites: The course will be taught at an introductory graduate level, developing needed concepts and presupposing only some acquaintance with undergraduate mechanics, thermodynamics, statistical mechanics and calculus. No prior knowledge of biology will be presupposed. Well motivated undergraduates may be admitted with the instructor's approval.
Texts: (a) Mechanics of Motor Proteins and the Cytoskeleton by Jonathon Howard
(Sinauer Associates, Inc., Sunderland, Mass., 2001). [required]
(b) Cell Movements: From molecules to motility by Dennis Bray, 2nd Edn.,
(Garland Publishing, 2001).
Notice the significant Advanced undergraduate text: -
(c) Biological Physics: Energy, Information, Life by Philip Nelson (University of Pennsylvania)
         (W.H. Freeman & Co., New York, 2004).
Also ON RESERVE (along with the other books below) for background in cell biology the recommended (but not required) text is:
(d) Essential Cell Biology by Bruce Alberts and coauthors
(Garland Publishing, Inc., New York, 1997); but see also:
(e) Molecular Cell Biology by H. Lodish and coauthors, 3rd Edn.
   (W.H. Freeman & Co., New York, 1995),
(f) Molecular Biology of the Cell by B. Alberts and coauthors, 3rd Edn.
(Garland Publishing, Inc., New York, 1994),
(g) The Cell: A Molecular Approach by G.M. Cooper, 2nd Edn.
(Sinauer Associates, Inc., Sunderland, Mass., 2000).