JILA biophysicists apply tools and concepts from physics to the understanding of living systems at the molecular level, particularly in molecular biophysics, single-molecule biophysics, and biological force standards. 

The field of biophysics promises answers to important questions about the structure, dynamics, function, and interactions of biological molecules such as proteins and nucleic acids. JILA scientists are developing unique ways to precisely measure the structure and function of individual proteins and nucleic acids, both of which are important molecules for living organisms. JILA scientists are also pioneering new methods to image and measure real-time biochemical activities within living cells and tissues. These research endeavors advance our understanding fundamental biological processes and support biomedical scientists in developing new drugs and diagnostics.

Researchers in Biophysics

Photograph of Ralph Jimenez Ralph Jimenez
Focus: Biophysics, Ultrafast Lasers, Chemical Physics, Microfluidics Role: Experimentalist
Photograph of David Nesbitt David Nesbitt
Focus: Chemical Physics, Biophysics, Molecular Ions Role: Experimentalist
Photograph of Thomas T. Perkins Thomas T. Perkins
Focus: Biophysics, AFM, Optical Tweezers, Single Molecule Role: Experimentalist

Recent Highlights in Biophysics

When it comes to drug development, membrane proteins play a crucial role, with about 50% of drugs targeting these molecules. Understanding the function of these membrane proteins, which connect to the membranes of cells, is important for designing the next line of powerful drugs. To do this, scientists study model proteins, such as…

Metal ions can be found in almost every environment, including wastewater, chemical waste and electronic recycling waste. Properly recovering and recycling valuable metals from various sources is crucial for sustainable resource management and contributes to environmental cleanup. Because of the scarcity of some of these metals, such as rare…

Although one might think it would be simple, the genetics of bacteria can be rather complicated. A bacterium’s genes use a set of regulatory proteins and other molecules to monitor and change genetic expressions within the organism. One such mechanism is the riboswitch, a small piece of RNA that can turn a gene “on” or “off.” In order to “flip…