About the course

Mechanical forces play a fundamental role in a multitude of cellular phenomena. Typically, such forces arise from two molecular-scale processes, (i) the action of molecular motor proteins and (ii) polymerization dynamics; both of which involve an interplay between Brownian effects and non-equilibrium molecular processes. These mechanisms not only operate at the scale of a single molecule, but they also exhibit collective dynamics, generating active stresses and flows that can change cell shapes, drive cell locomotion, or result in tissue remodeling.

In recent years, tremendous progress has been made in understanding the main principles behind such “active dynamical processes” due to the development of fundamentally new theoretical ideas, novel experimental techniques to perform high precision mechanical measurements on live cells, and the development of simplified in-vitro systems. Key to these advancements is a strong interdisciplinary culture between physicists and biologists, and by combining the tools and expertise of the respective fields.

This programme has two aims. First, to introduce the above mentioned physical concepts to students new to the field and post-doctoral fellows wishing to venture into this area of research via a series of pedagogical lectures starting form very basic concepts. Second, to provide PhD students and post-doctoral fellows with a hands-on experience in advanced experimental and computational techniques. Students will develop these techniques from scratch under the guidance of experts. Working in an interdisciplinary environment can be particularly challenging for youngsters venturing into this area of research. To try and overcome this challenge, physics and biology students will work together on the hands-on modules.

For full details about the lecture course, please visit the EMBO webpages.