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Département de biologie
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Physical Biology of the Cell

Course supervisor: Cendrine Moskalenko

6 ECTS credits, 50 hrs

Martin Castelnovo
Hélène Delanoe-Ayari
Cendrine Moskalenko

Course introduction
Introducing physical reality into biological concepts: The title and the philosophy of this course takes up the idea of American scientific researchers who have undertaken the task of sifting through all the “biological models” proposed in a classic textbook such as Molecular Biology of the Cell, Alberts et al., and translating them into “physical reality”—is a certain biological model consistent and realistic in light of the energies or the lengths put in play? Consequently, what is the field of validity of the biological model?

During this course, the general concepts necessary to a physical understanding of biological objects will be illustrated by numerous concrete examples.

*General concepts:

  • the idea of size: energies, lengths and characteristic forces
  • entropy, fluctuations
  • thermodynamics
  • the physics of biopolymers: DNA, RNA, proteins
  • interactions DNA-proteins

*Concrete examples:

  • Lac repressor
  • bacteriophages
  • molecular motors: kinesin, factors of remodeling
  • translocation de biopolymers
  • fluctuations in gene expression networks / stability of the cell cycle
  • ionic canals



  • Physical Biology of the Cell (2012), ed. Garland Science
  • Biological Physics: Energy, Information, Life
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