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Applications of Biophysics

  1. Oct 21, 2008 #1
    I didn't know if i should put this under physics or biology but what are some appelacations of Bio physics and what exactally is it?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 21, 2008 #2


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    Re: Biophysics

    Biophysics is a very, very broad field that different people will define differently. In general, there are two broad (non exclusive) definitions of biophysics:

    1) Using and developing tools from physics to study biological systems. Things in this category include medical imaging, structural biology, and single molecule biophysics.

    2) Approaching problems in biology in a quantitative, theoretical manner. Fields under this category include systems biology, bioinformatics, and computational neurobiology.
  4. Oct 22, 2008 #3
    Re: Biophysics

    what are systems biology, bioinformatics, and computational neurobiology?
  5. Oct 24, 2008 #4


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    Re: Biophysics

    I don't do research in any of these fields, so my descriptions may not be completely accurate.

    Systems biology: Traditional molecular biology and biochemistry takes a reductionist approach to studying biological systems. Biologists will identify genes and their corresponding proteins, then study the individual proteins. Systems biologists take a more holistic approach to studying biological systems. Taking advantage of much of the previous biochemical studies on individual protein, they apply principles from engineering and math to understand a biological process as a whole. The ultimate goal is to be able to mathematically model important biological processes (or even entire cells).

    Bioinformatics: Biologists now have the capability to generate huge amounts of data from high-throughput screening techniques. For example, the DNA sequences of a huge number of organisms has been sequenced, spawning a large pool of genomics data. Biologists have generated huge amounts of data about which genes are transcribed (active) during various times (the transcriptome). Biologists have similarly huge data sets about protein levels and modification (the proteome) and other things that end in -ome. Unfortunately, most biologists do not have the computational skills to mine these datasets for useful information. This is where the bioinformaticians come in.

    Computational neurobiology: This one I'm least familiar yet. Like, system biologists, they are interested in studying the brain at the systems level. Is it possible to understand the circuits involved in various neurological processes? Can these circuits and their responses be mathematically model?

    Wikipedia or other internet resources will probably have better descriptions of these fields.
  6. Oct 25, 2008 #5
    Re: Biophysics

    yeah, but "systems" usually means a completely different scale in neuroscience than it does in "systems biology". In neuroscience, a "neural system" means "the visual system", the "motor system" etc. In systems biology, the word refers to something... much "smaller" i.e. a bunch of molecules with some organization.
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