Biophysics is an interdisciplinary science that applies approaches and methods traditionally used in physics to study biological phenomena. Biophysics covers all scales of biological organization, from molecular to organismic and populations. Biophysical research shares significant overlap with biochemistry, molecular biology, physical chemistry, physiology, nanotechnology, bioengineering, computational biology, biomechanics and systems biology.
The term biophysics was originally introduced by Karl Pearson in 1892. Ambiguously, the term biophysics is also regularly used in academia to indicate the study of the physical quantities (e.g. electric current, temperature, stress, entropy) in biological systems, which is, by definition, performed by physiology. Nevertheless, other biological sciences also perform research on the biophysical properties of living organisms including molecular biology, cell biology, biophysics and biochemistry.
Molecular biophysics typically addresses biological questions similar to those in biochemistry and molecular biology, seeking to find the physical underpinnings of biomolecular phenomena. Scientists in this field conduct research concerned with understanding the interactions between the various systems of a cell, including the interactions between DNA, RNA and protein biosynthesis, as well as how these interactions are regulated. A great variety of techniques are used to answer these questions.
Fluorescent imaging techniques, as well as electron microscopy, x-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy (AFM) and small-angle scattering (SAS) both with X-rays and neutrons (SAXS/SANS) are often used to visualize structures of biological significance. Protein dynamics can be observed by neutron spin echo spectroscopy. Conformational change in structure can be measured using techniques such as dual polarisation interferometry, circular dichroism, SAXS and SANS. Direct manipulation of molecules using optical tweezers or AFM, can also be used to monitor biological events where forces and distances are at the nanoscale. Molecular biophysicists often consider complex biological events as systems of interacting entities which can be understood e.g. through statistical mechanics, thermodynamics and chemical kinetics. By drawing knowledge and experimental techniques from a wide variety of disciplines, biophysicists are often able to directly observe, model or even manipulate the structures and interactions of individual molecules or complexes of molecules.
In addition to traditional (i.e. molecular and cellular) biophysical topics like structural biology or enzyme kinetics, modern biophysics encompasses an extraordinarily broad range of research, from bioelectronics to quantum biology involving both experimental and theoretical tools. It is becoming increasingly common for biophysicists to apply the models and experimental techniques derived from physics, as well as mathematics and statistics, to larger systems such as tissues, organs, populations and ecosystems. Biophysical models are used extensively in the study of electrical conduction in single neurons, as well as neural circuit analysis in both tissue and whole brain.
Medical physics, a branch of biophysics, is any application of physics to medicine or healthcare, ranging from radiology to microscopy and nanomedicine. For example, physicist Richard Feynman theorized about the future of nanomedicine. He wrote about the idea of a medical use for biological machines (see nanomachines). Feynman and Albert Hibbs suggested that certain repair machines might one day be reduced in size to the point that it would be possible to (as Feynman put it) "swallow the doctor". The idea was discussed in Feynman's 1959 essay There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom.
Some of the earlier studies in biophysics were conducted in the 1840s by a group known as the Berlin school of physiologists. Among its members were pioneers such as Hermann von Helmholtz, Ernst Heinrich Weber, Carl F. W. Ludwig, and Johannes Peter Müller. Biophysics might even be seen as dating back to the studies of Luigi Galvani.
The popularity of the field rose when the book What Is Life? by Erwin Schrödinger was published. Since 1957, biophysicists have organized themselves into the Biophysical Society which now has about 9,000 members over the world.
Focus as a subfieldEdit
While some colleges and universities have dedicated departments of biophysics, usually at the graduate level, many do not have university-level biophysics departments, instead having groups in related departments such as biochemistry, cell biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics, medicine, molecular biology, neuroscience, pharmacology, physics, and physiology. Depending on the strengths of a department at a university differing emphasis will be given to fields of biophysics. What follows is a list of examples of how each department applies its efforts toward the study of biophysics. This list is hardly all inclusive. Nor does each subject of study belong exclusively to any particular department. Each academic institution makes its own rules and there is much overlap between departments.
- Biology and molecular biology – Almost all forms of biophysics efforts are included in some biology department somewhere. Typical examples include: gene regulation, single protein dynamics, bioenergetics, patch clamping, biomechanics, virophysics.
- Structural biology – Ångstrom-resolution structures of proteins, nucleic acids, lipids, carbohydrates, and complexes thereof.
- Biochemistry and chemistry – biomolecular structure, siRNA, nucleic acid structure, structure-activity relationships.
- Computer science – Neural networks, biomolecular and drug databases.
- Computational chemistry – molecular dynamics simulation, molecular docking, quantum chemistry
- Bioinformatics – sequence alignment, structural alignment, protein structure prediction
- Mathematics – graph/network theory, population modeling, dynamical systems, phylogenetics.
- Medicine – biophysical research that emphasizes medicine.
- Neuroscience – studying neural networks experimentally (brain slicing) as well as theoretically (computer models), membrane permittivity, gene therapy, understanding tumors.
- Pharmacology and physiology – channelomics, biomolecular interactions, cellular membranes, polyketides.
- Physics – negentropy, stochastic processes, and the development of new physical techniques and instrumentation as well as their application.
- Quantum biology – The field of quantum biology applies quantum mechanics to biological objects and problems. Decohered isomers to yield time-dependent base substitutions. These studies imply applications in quantum computing.
- Agronomy and agriculture
Many biophysical techniques are unique to this field. Research efforts in biophysics are often initiated by scientists who were biologists, chemists or physicists by training.
- Biophysical Society
- Index of biophysics articles
- List of publications in biology – Biophysics
- List of publications in physics – Biophysics
- List of biophysicists
- Outline of biophysics
- Biophysical chemistry
- European Biophysical Societies' Association
- Medical biophysics
- Membrane biophysics
- Molecular biophysics
- "Biophysics | science". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2018-07-26.
- Zhou HX (March 2011). "Q&A: What is biophysics?". BMC Biology. 9: 13. doi:10.1186/1741-7007-9-13. PMC . PMID 21371342.
- "the definition of biophysics". www.dictionary.com. Retrieved 2018-07-26.
- Pearson, Karl (1892). The Grammar of Science. p. 470.
- Roland Glaser. Biophysics: An Introduction. Springer; 23 April 2012. ISBN 978-3-642-25212-9.
- Cooper CE, Walsberg GE, Withers PC (August 2003). "Biophysical properties of the pelt of a diurnal marsupial, the numbat (Myrmecobius fasciatus), and its role in thermoregulation". The Journal of Experimental Biology. 206 (Pt 16): 2771–7. doi:10.1242/jeb.00484. PMID 12847122.
- Kawana M, Sarkar SS, Sutton S, Ruppel KM, Spudich JA (February 2017). "Biophysical properties of human β-cardiac myosin with converter mutations that cause hypertrophic cardiomyopathy". Science Advances. 3 (2): e1601959. Bibcode:2017SciA....3E1959K. doi:10.1126/sciadv.1601959. PMC . PMID 28246639.
- Trón L, Aszalós A, Balázs M, Mulhern SA, Szöllösi J, Damjanovich S (November 1988). "On the biophysics of transmembrane signalling". Molecular Immunology. 25 (11): 1075–80. PMID 3065628.
- Liu Y, Berrido AM, Hua ZC, Tse-Dinh YC, Leng F (November 2017). "Biochemical and biophysical properties of positively supercoiled DNA". Biophysical Chemistry. 230: 68–73. doi:10.1016/j.bpc.2017.08.008. PMC . PMID 28887044.
- Baris TZ, Crawford DL, Oleksiak MF (January 2016). "Acclimation and acute temperature effects on population differences in oxidative phosphorylation". American Journal of Physiology. Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. 310 (2): R185–96. doi:10.1152/ajpregu.00421.2015. PMC . PMID 26582639.
- Zhou Y, Yang H, Cui J, Lingle CJ (November 2017). "Threading the biophysics of mammalian Slo1 channels onto structures of an invertebrate Slo1 channel". The Journal of General Physiology. 149 (11): 985–1007. doi:10.1085/jgp.201711845. PMC . PMID 29025867.
- Kolesov G, Wunderlich Z, Laikova ON, Gelfand MS, Mirny LA (August 2007). "How gene order is influenced by the biophysics of transcription regulation". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 104 (35): 13948–53. Bibcode:2007PNAS..10413948K. doi:10.1073/pnas.0700672104. PMC . PMID 17709750.
- Sansom MS (1991). "The biophysics of peptide models of ion channels". Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology. 55 (3): 139–235. doi:10.1016/0079-6107(91)90004-C. PMID 1715999.
- Streuli CH (October 2016). "Integrins as architects of cell behavior". Molecular Biology of the Cell. 27 (19): 2885–8. doi:10.1091/mbc.E15-06-0369. PMC . PMID 27687254.
- Flenner E, Marga F, Neagu A, Kosztin I, Forgacs G (2008). "Relating biophysical properties across scales". Current Topics in Developmental Biology. 81: 461–83. arXiv: . doi:10.1016/S0070-2153(07)81016-7. ISBN 9780123742537. PMID 18023738.
- Jusuf S, Loll PJ, Axelsen PH (April 2002). "The Role of Configurational Entropy in Biochemical Cooperativity". Journal of the American Chemical Society. 124 (14): 3490–3491. doi:10.1021/ja017259h.
- Feynman RP (December 1959). "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom". Archived from the original on 2010-02-11. Retrieved 2017-01-01.
- Franceschetti DR (15 May 2012). Applied Science. Salem Press Inc. p. 234. ISBN 978-1-58765-781-8.
- Rosen J, Gothard LQ (2009). Encyclopedia of Physical Science. Infobase Publishing. p. 4 9. ISBN 978-0-8160-7011-4.
- Longo G, Montévil M (2012-01-01). "The Inert vs. the Living State of Matter: Extended Criticality, Time Geometry, Anti-Entropy - An Overview". Frontiers in Physiology. 3: 39. doi:10.3389/fphys.2012.00039. PMC . PMID 22375127.
- Perutz MF (1962). Proteins and Nucleic Acids: Structure and Function. Amsterdam: Elsevier. ASIN B000TS8P4G.
- Perutz MF (May 1969). "The Croonian Lecture, 1968. The haemoglobin molecule". Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences. 173 (1031): 113–40. Bibcode:1969RSPSB.173..113P. doi:10.1098/rspb.1969.0043. PMID 4389425.
- Dogonadze RR, Urushadze ZD (1971). "Semi-Classical Method of Calculation of Rates of Chemical Reactions Proceeding in Polar Liquids". J Electroanal Chem. 32 (2): 235–245. doi:10.1016/S0022-0728(71)80189-4.
- Volkenshtein MV, Dogonadze R, Madumarov AK, Urushadze ZD, Kharkats YI (1972). "Theory of Enzyme Catalysis". Molekuliarnaya Biologia. Moscow. 6: 431–439.
In Russian, English summary. Available translations in Italian, Spanish, English, French
- Rodney M. J. Cotterill (2002). Biophysics : An Introduction. Wiley. ISBN 978-0-471-48538-4.
- Sneppen K, Zocchi G (2005-10-17). Physics in Molecular Biology (1 ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-84419-2.
- Glaser R (2004-11-23). Biophysics: An Introduction (Corrected ed.). Springer. ISBN 978-3-540-67088-9.
- Hobbie RK, Roth BJ (2006). Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology (4th ed.). Springer. ISBN 978-0-387-30942-2.
- Cooper WG (August 2009). "Evidence for transcriptase quantum processing implies entanglement and decoherence of superposition proton states". Bio Systems. 97 (2): 73–89. doi:10.1016/j.biosystems.2009.04.010. PMID 19427355.
- Cooper WG (December 2009). "Necessity of quantum coherence to account for the spectrum of time-dependent mutations exhibited by bacteriophage T4". Biochemical Genetics. 47 (11–12): 892–910. doi:10.1007/s10528-009-9293-8. PMID 19882244.
- Goldfarb D (2010). Biophysics Demystified. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-07-163365-9.
|At Wikiversity, you can learn more and teach others about Biophysics at the Department of Biophysics|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Biophysics.|
- Biophysical Society
- Journal of Physiology: 2012 virtual issue Biophysics and Beyond
- Link archive of learning resources for students: biophysika.de (60% English, 40% German)
- Journal of Medicine, Physiology and Biophysics,(IISTE), USA. Chief Editor of the journal is Ignat Ignatov. Chief editor of all IISTE journals is Alexander Decker.