Event Details

How fundamental physics leads the way to a better understanding of life’s complexity

  • 2022-02-09
  • Prof. Timo Betz, The third Institute of Physics, Georg August University, Gottingen

Many biological systems rely on fundamental physical principles for their proper function. Here, mechanical processes such as force generation and adaptation of stiffness and viscosity have been very successfully used to explain complex biomedical questions with physical concepts. Such advances have been largely driven by new methods that allow to quantify biological processes and to construct theoretical models with high predictive power. I will present our recent approaches that allow to study active force generation and mobility in different biological systems over several length scales. Starting with active motion of membranes and intracellular particles in oocytes followed by cytosolic fluidification during cell division we will construct a surprisingly general description of active motion inside the cytoplasm. The tools we use are largely based on continuum mechanics and statistical mechanics, and give deep insights into the physical principles that are exploited by cells and living objects to perform their intriguing function.

After a 4-year Postdoc phase at the Institut Curie in Paris, that was funded by an EMBO and a Marie Curie fellowship, he obtained a permanent CNRS researcher position in 2011. In 2015 he moved to Munster, Germany where he became a full professor for cell mechanics. In the year 2020 he moved to the third Institute of Physics in Gottingen. He is known for his contributions to cell mechanics, with a focus on active biological systems where he uses fundamental physics concepts derived from statistical mechanics to explore how living systems exploit physics to perform their impressive functionality.