In order to survive, organisms must solve a wide range of physics problems. Understanding the phenomena of life means understanding the emergence and integration of essential biological functions. To search systematically for unifying physical principles, scientists must work together in a highly interactive environment that supports theorists working in concert with experimentalists on multiple relevant systems, rather than pursuing separate projects in disparate fields of biology. To this end, the Center is organized around four general questions, each of which is illustrated by different biological examples and explored through close collaboration between theory and experiment. These include:

  • Examination of animal behavior from the development of organisms to the locomotion of worms and flies
  • Emergence of collective phenomena in groups of molecules, genes, neurons, and organisms
  • Role of physical limits on information transfer and processing in the genetic code, neural circuits, cellular sensors, and genetic and biochemical networks
  • Mechanisms via which biological systems arrive at a particular operating point from protein number to adaptive immunity.

Research Figure