Biological physics, sensing and signalling
The research in the Biological Physics Group focuses on the quantitative understanding of sensing and signalling in biological cells based on physical principles. While chemical sensing by cell-surface receptors and their intracellular pathways are often well characterized, it is rather unexplored what the physical limitations of sensing are and how constraints from the physical environment affect the design of sensory systems and pathways. In addition to chemicals, cells also sense mechanical stimuli, including shear from fluid flow, forces from cell-cell and cell-substrate adhesion, as well as physical properties of bulky objects. These stimuli are important for embryonic development, tissue formation and repair, and our immune response. In general, very little is known about how these types of stimuli are sensed and encoded in the biochemical signalling pathways. To conduct our research, we use computational tools from statistical physics, in combination with explicit biological data from experimental collaborators.