About Division of Biological Physics

The Division of Biological Physics, established in 1973, is composed of individuals who are interested in the study of biological phenomena using physical approaches and in investigations into the physical principles and mechanisms by which living organisms survive, adapt, and grow. The richness of life science phenomena gives biological physics a very broad scope, from answering fundamental questions about life to advancing the biomedical sciences by developing new drugs and diagnostics equipment. Members of DBIO are affiliated with a broad range of departments, including Physics, Biophysics, Biochemistry, Mathematics as well as Schools of Medicine, federal research centers, and the biomedical industry.

What is Biological Physics?

Research in Biological Physics focuses on questions at the interface of the physical and life sciences. Many biophysicists have contributed profoundly to our understanding of life by studying fundamental physical principles and mechanisms by which living organisms survive, adapt, and grow. Some have done fundamental experimental work in areas such as molecular structure and dynamics, photosynthesis, or cell membranes. Others have used theoretical physics tools to study evolution, neural dynamics, electron transfer, and non-linear phenomena such as heart rhythms or organism development. Still others have found that their physics-style, quantitative instruments and experimental techniques can change biomedical sciences and medicine through such advances as computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, or advanced microscopy.

The richness and excitement of the phenomena of life gives biological physics a very broad scope. Many biological physicists teach and do research in physics departments. A graduate degree in biological physics might also lead to a career in a medical school or hospital, or to research and development in government or industry. Graduate work in biological physics almost always involves teamwork and collaboration that cuts across the traditional boundaries of academic departments and colleges, as physicists work hand-in-hand with biologists, chemists, engineers, and others to reach goals that would be impossible for any one discipline alone.