Statistical physics of biological systems
This line of research lies at the interface between statistical physics and biology. The challenge for anyone who positions themselves in this area of research is twofold. The first task is to develop models that are able to capture the intrinsically multi-scale character of biological processes, necessarily starting in a bottom-up fashion from capturing the important molecular aspects, in order to integrate them in a self-consistent way into more simplified models of cellular or even higher scale processes. The second challenge, perhaps the most fascinating one, is to probe the complexity of the experimental phenomenology of a given class of biological processes in order to determine the most general aspects while separating them from system-specific declinations. Interaction with fellow biologists and biotechnologists is of paramount importance in both cases.
More particularly, we are interested in the non-equilibrium aspects that characterise the dynamics of general biological processes such as:
Cell motility: migration and invasion processes in the context of tumour metastasis phenomena. Modelling of cellular signalling pathways associated with non-equilibrium locomotion processes such as chemotaxis (locomotion driven by liquid phase gradients) and durotaxis (locomotion driven by solid/viscoelastic phase gradients, such as stiffness gradients).
Diffusion and reaction processes in complex environments. The cell interior and inter-cellular phases in multicellular organisms are dense and structured environments, characterised by a myriad of non-equilibrium processes, which impose complex spatio-temporal correlations to thermal noise. The challenge is to study networks of chemical reactions occurring in environments where diffusive processes are profoundly modified by the interactions of biomolecules with the environment and where the detailed balance condition is broken by active processes involving driving and dissipation in reaction cycles.