Tuesday, 3/3/20| 12:00 noon |  GCIS W301

Kai Zhang, PhD  | Department of Biochemistry,  University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Bidirectional optical control of neurotrophin signaling during cell differentiation and embryonic development

Tuesday, 3/10/20| 12:00 noon |  GCIS W301

Hoi Sung Chung, PhD,   | Laboratory of Chemical Physics, NIDDK, National Institutes of Health

Single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy of heterogeneous binding and aggregation of disordered proteins

Tuesday, 3/31/20| 12:00 noon |  GCIS W301

Jeanne Stachowiak  |Department of Biomedical Engineering, Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology, University of Texas at Austin

Stochastic Mechanisms in Membrane Traffic






Gregory  Voth wins 2019 Joel Henry Hildebrand Award in the Theoretical & Experimental Chemistry of Liquids


Institute member Margaret Gardel  has been named the Horace B Horton Professor of Physics.  She has also been elected to be Chair of the Division of Biological Physics of the American Physical Society.  Congratulations, Margaret!


The fundamental laws of physics and chemistry apply to all matter, yet living organisms can exploit these laws to create systems that can grow, adapt, process information, and ultimately self-replicate. How do these behaviors, the hallmarks of living systems, emerge from the interactions of non-living components? The Biophysical Dynamics Institute is home to a core group of researchers who work at the interface between the physical sciences and the biological sciences to answer these questions.

We are experimentalists, theoreticians, and computational scientists who have come together to address the challenge of obtaining a physical description of living systems. Our research spans scales from the study of molecules, which we seek to understand in terms of the interactions of atoms, to cells, which we seek to understand in terms of their molecular components, to biological networks, where connectivity and topology play defining roles. We are unified by the conviction that understanding dynamics, going beyond a static snapshot of equilibrium, will be key to future breakthroughs.

We support training programs and initiatives for undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows to advance interdisciplinary science at the University of Chicago with the goal of creating a culture of fluid exchange of ideas and collaboration across disciplines and among laboratories. These include close partnership with the Biophysics graduate program, and the Yen fellowship for outstanding postdocs in biophysics.


Recent Publications

Biochemical Noise in Circadian Clocks

Circadian rhythms are ~24-hour cycles of biological activity found throughout nature. A defining characteristic of these rhythms is that they are self-sustaining, that is, they continue to oscillate without receiving environmental input. Under these conditions, circadian clocks must be highly precise in order to correctly anticipate future environmental changes such as dawn and dusk. However, biological rhythms are based on reactin networks in single cells which are vulnerable to the inherent stochasticity of biochemistry.

In a recent study from the Rust Lab, Chew et al. used the simplest known circadian clock derived from cyanobacteria to analyze noise in circadian rhythms. This circadian clock is based on an oscillator formed from three proteins, KaiA, KaiB, and KaiC.

Recent Publications

m6A mRNA methylation regulates AKT activity to promote the proliferation and tumorigenicity of endometrial cancer

Cells use a process called m6A methylation to mark messenger RNAs within the cells to regulate gene expression. Chuan He and his colleagues found that human endometrial tumors are deficient in m6A mRNA methylation.  These deficiencies in m6A methylation lead to activation of the AKT signaling pathway in endometrial cancer cells, promoting their growth and tumor-forming potential.  Our research points to new molecular mechanisms underlying endometrial cancer and the regulation of the AKT pathways that could inform future efforts to develop new ways to diagnose and treat cancer.


We study the dynamics of
, circuits, and cells