BIOL 319 (Winter)

Introduction to Biophysics

P. Wiseman
Rutherford Bldg.
(514) 398-5354
3 credits (3-0-6)
BIOL 200, or BIOL 219, MATH 222, PHYS 230, PHYS 232 or PHYS 253 or permission of the instructor
Not open to students who have taken or are taking PHYS 319.
Emerging physical approaches and quantitative measurement techniques are providing new insights into longstanding biological questions. This undergraduate course will present underlying physical theory, quantitative measurement techniques, and significant findings in molecular and cellular biophysics. Principles covered include Brownian motion, low Reynolds-number environments, forces relevant to cells and molecules, chemical potentials and free energies, models of biopolymer folding and kinetics in a biological context. Those principles are applied to study proteins, DNA, RNA, lipids and membranes in a biophysical context at the cellular level. U2 and U3 students with training in physics and quantitative biology will be well-suited to the course.

Topics covered (not necessarily in order):

Introduction to physical biology and quantitative modeling.
Brownian motion and diffusion.
Stokes-Einstein relation and applications.
Gibbs free energy and Entropy.
Random walks for modeling biopolymer folding
Mechanical and chemical equilibrium in the living cell.
Chemical binding kinetics, membrane receptors
Intermolecular forces.
Electrostatics in salty solutions.
Cellular membranes and membrane potential
Cytoskeleton and dynamics.
Biophysics applications of fluorescence and super-resolution optical microscopy
Physical Biology of the Cell, 2nd ed. by Rob Phillips, Jane Kondev, Julie Theriot, Hernan Garcia Garland Science 2012
3 hours lecture

Assignments, two in-class midterms and final exam

McGill University values academic integrity. Therefore all students must understand the meaning and consequences of cheating, plagiarism and other academic offences under the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures (see for more information).

Last update: March 22, 2019