Illustrations and equations can be used to make sense of biology.

Introduction

Figure 1

The Theoretical Physics in Biology Group studies how physical principles play a role in biology, in order to attain a quantitative description of biological processes at the cellular and tissue scale.

We use methods from soft matter physics and non-linear dynamics and develop new theoretical and computational tools. Since biological systems function out-of-equilibrium, we also aim to better understand the physical properties of active matter.

We are especially interested in mechanics and shape generation at the level of cells and tissues. At the cell level, the cytoskeleton is driving cellular deformations and the motion of cell organelles, allowing for instance for cell division and migration. To understand these cellular processes, we need to ask how cytoskeletal filaments and motors work together and interact with other cellular components.

At the tissue level, properly orchestrated morphogenetic movements in epithelia and tissues allow animals to develop and establish their shape. Morphogenetic events rely on force generation in the cell, which has to be regulated biologically. We then ask, from a physical point of view, how genetic regulation and forces act together to shape the embryo.

We work in close collaboration with experimentalists to address these questions.

Selected publications