Statistical Physics and Biology

In summary, there are various research topics in the application of statistical physics to solve biological problems. These include understanding cell morphology and multi-cellular structures, DNA packaging, and cellular differentiation. With the increasing amount of data in biology, there is a need for better theoretical models, such as those inspired by statistical physics.
  • #1
cKatke
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I'm undergrad physics student and I have read some statistical physics like equilibrium statistical physics, Langevin model and Fokker-Planck equation. I have developed interest in application of statistical physics in biology like protein folding. So what are the other research topics that lie in domain of application of statistical physics to solve biological problems ?
 
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There has been some work in applying statistical mechanics to understand cell morphology and multi-cellular structures, for example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cellular_Potts_model

Statistical physics, especially when applied to the study of polymers, is not only useful for proteins, but for understanding DNA as well. There is a huge amount of interest currently in determining the three dimensional structure of how DNA gets packaged into the nucleus, and various groups are trying to develop models for how this might occur. See for example:
http://www.aidenlab.org/papers/Science.Genome.Folding.pdf
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4722799/
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v529/n7586/full/nature16496.html

Others have argued that approaches inspired by statistical physics may be helpful for understanding cellular differentiation. Biology is certainly entering an era where we can generate data faster than we can analyze it, and better theoretical models are required for understanding complex processes like stem cell differentiation:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0092867413008957
 
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1. What is statistical physics and its role in biology?

Statistical physics is a branch of physics that uses statistical methods to study the behavior of large systems of particles. In biology, statistical physics can be used to analyze complex biological systems, such as populations of cells, and predict their behavior based on statistical principles.

2. How is statistical physics used in biological research?

Statistical physics is used in biological research to model and analyze complex biological systems, such as protein folding, cellular dynamics, and population dynamics. It also provides a framework for understanding the underlying principles and mechanisms of biological processes.

3. What are some key concepts in statistical physics that are relevant to biology?

Some key concepts in statistical physics that are relevant to biology include entropy, equilibrium, phase transitions, and fluctuations. These concepts help to describe and predict the behavior of biological systems at the molecular and cellular level.

4. How does statistical physics contribute to our understanding of biological evolution?

Statistical physics plays a crucial role in understanding biological evolution by providing mathematical models for natural selection and population genetics. It also helps to explain the emergence of complex biological structures, such as the development of multicellular organisms.

5. Can statistical physics help us understand and treat diseases?

Yes, statistical physics can be used to study the dynamics and interactions of biological systems, including disease processes. By analyzing the statistical properties of diseases, we can gain insights into their underlying mechanisms and develop more effective treatments and strategies for disease prevention.

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