Department of Physics

East Hall, 2 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 02881


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PHY 540: Modern Biological Physics

Course Information

Please note that exact details of the course can vary

Professor: Dr Oleg Andreev
Semester : Fall

Credits: 3

 Prerequisites :MTH244 or permission of chairperson

Catalog Description:

Quantitative representation of biological molecules (DNA, RNA, proteins, membrane) structure and organization, forces stabilized biomolecules, cooperative transitions, protein folding, membrane physics, energy transduction in biological systems, molecular motors, ratchet models.

Course Goals & Outcomes :

Upon completion, successful students will be able to:

  • Explain the biological functions of cells, tissues, and organisms in terms of the structure and behavior of biological molecules
  • Review problems of modern biological physics
  • Obtain physical understanding of biomolecules structure, organization and function

Course Description

The course will be based on the i) lectures material, and ii) textbook by Alexei V. Finkelstein and Oleg Ptitsyn “Protein Physics: A Course of Lectures (Soft Condensed Matter, Complex Fluids and Biomaterials Series)” Academic Press, 2002 and Philip Nelson “Biological Physics”. Energy, Information, Life” W.H. Freeman and Company, New York 2004.

This course consists of lectures ,homework and exams


Topics covered in this course include:

  • Introduction: Brief review of living system organization: whole organism, tissue, cells, molecules
  • Organization of biological molecules: DNA, RNA, proteins, membrane
  • Forces, which stabilize biological molecules
  • Elements of thermodynamics and statistical physics
  • Proteins secondary structure
  • Protein folding: kinetics and thermodynamics aspects
  • Protein structure
  • DNA and RNA structure and function
  • Cooperative transitions: DNA (in comparison with protein folding)
  • Membranes structure and function. Self-assembly. Membrane proteins
  • Cellular structure and organization. Role of each cellular compartment. Mechanisms of cell entry and exit.
  • Viruses. Energy transduction in biological systems. ATP
  • Brownian motion and random walk. Molecular motors. Ratchet models


Contact Information: Dr Oleg Andreev



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