Biophysics: the bridging science

Biophysics combines the quantitative training of math, computation and physics with the knowledge of biology, physiology and biochemistry. This combination allows to tackle old unsolved questions as well as problems of the future at the molecular, cellular, and systems levels. Biophysicists are present in many diverse fields such molecular biology, neuroscience, medical applications, pharmacology, astrobiology, bioengineering, nanotechnologies, biomaterials, agronomy and others.

“Biophysics has been critical to understanding the mechanics of how the molecules of life are made, how different parts of a cell move and function, and how complex systems in our bodies—the brain, circulation, immune system, and others— work. Biophysics is a vibrant scientific field where scientists from many fields including math, chemistry, physics, engineering, pharmacology, and materials sciences, use their skills to explore and develop new tools for understanding how biology—all life—works.”

- The Biophysical Society

Biophysics introduced, for the first time, the idea that biological processes depend on the interactions between and within the constituent molecules. This was a great innovation because taking this idea into account, the behaviors of biological systems could be predicted from physical principles.

Biophysics has experienced incredible growth in the last 15 years with the development of novel, sophisticated experimental methods that reveal molecular level details with unprecedented clarity. The state of the art in x-ray crystallography, solution and solid-state NMR, atomic force microscopy, single-molecule methods, EPR, and fluorescence microscopy continues to evolve in ways that better elucidate biological structure and function. In parallel, biophysicists are developing powerful new computational tools based on firmly established physical principles that are sufficiently accurate to greatly enhance insights from experiment.

The innovation and high-tech developed by biophysicists has found widespread use among all biological scientists. In fact, biophysics has been widely applied to elucidate pathological mechanisms, to improve the diagnosis tools but also for the development of more effective drugs with increased specificity and lower side effects. Biophysics also has a social impact as it can be used to develop biofuels, improve agriculture processes, understand biological cycles of heat, light, water, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and organisms throughout our planet.