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

  • In a new paper, JILA physicist Thomas Perkins collaborated with CU Biochemistry Prof. Marcello Sousa to dissect the mechanisms of how certain bacteria become more virulent. The research brings together the Perkins lab expertise in single-molecule studies and the Sousa lab expertise in the type III secretion system, a key component of Salmonella bacteria. 

  • JILA is the host of multiple centers within its campus. Some are National Science Foundation (NSF) funded and others funded by more private centers. Each center focuses on specific topics to advance the knowledge, education, and research on some of the biggest ideas within physics. 

  • "Unraveling" cell membrane proteins could help us understand how to build better drugs and treatments for disease.