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E4: Current Topics in Biophysics – 25661

(3 hrs/week + exercises, 6 CP; Fall 2024, Lecture and exercises)

Richard Neher, Erik van Nimwegen, Mihaela Zavolan, Knut Drescher

New measurement technologies have transformed biology into a data rich science. Quantitative analysis and mathematical models are needed to make sense of these data and reach a better, more predictive understanding of biological systems. Such understanding often depends on identifying how biology is constrained by the laws of physics and how it exploits self-organization principles. In this course, we will review how ideas and concepts from physics have helped understanding biological systems by discussing landmark papers in the field. Topics that will be covered include quantitative laws in genome evolution, trade-offs between unicellular and multicellular organization, regulatory circuits for gene regulation and their specific behaviors, the role of gene expression noise, bacterial growth laws, regulatory principles in metazoan development, and the application of maximum entropy and information theory principles to biological problems from protein structure to development. Pre-requisites are a good mathematical background (calculus, linear algebra, dynamical systems, probability theory) as well as a basic background in biology.

This course is also part of the MSc program Computational Biology and Bioinformatics with ETH-Z and Uni Zürich. Students from this program should register early and get in touch with the study coordinator to ensure that they have access to the relevant online resources from the start.
The course starts in the second week of the semester.