What math and physics is needed for biophysics research? (1 Viewer)

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What math and physics is needed for biophysics research? Specifically having to do with medical applications. I am undergrad student interested in physics and medicine.


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You might find this Insights Article on Medical Physics helpful.

Generally speaking, a typical undergraduate physics degree will be enough to qualify you for most medical physics graduate programs. If you can, supplement it with electives in biology, anatomy, programming and numerical methods, signal or image processing, etc.


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It is not clear to me that medical physics is necessarily what you want since it is primarily interested in the application of physical apparatus to the treatment and diagnosis of disease. Biophysics as I usually interpret is more fundamental in nature. It is interested in studying physical processes for the understanding of how biological systems function and using this knowledge to solve practical problems.

As for your questions of math preparation I will refer you to this article "Mathematics and Biophysics"

jim mcnamara

We have some folks who are active in the field of Biophysics - cancer genetics research. They might have something to add.


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Biophysics is a quite broad field with research spanning a range of disciplines, so it depends on exactly the type of biophysics research you want to do. Some research (e.g. medical physics) is very much focused on the technology and engineering side of medical imaging equipment. Some biophysics research is more theoretical and involves mathematical modeling of biological phenomena from the atomic/molecular scale (e.g. molecular dynamic simulations of protein folding) to the ecosystem scale (e. g. mathematical models of epidemics). Some biophysics involves the application of tools from physics, such as advanced optics methods, to the study of biological and biomedical problems.

Whatever type of biophysics research you want to pursue, a strong background in quantitative data analysis and familiar with computational methods to manipulate and analyze large datasets are good skills to develop. These skills are highly sought in many fields of biological and biomedical research, especially as more tools in biology now allow us to monitor the transcription of the ~20-30 thousand genes the human genome across thousands of individual cells simultaneously.
\I worked on a research project (studying bones) in a biophysics lab one summer, and it required almost no mathematics. The physicists in my lab were also doing very little mathematics. (And I like math a lot). The biology professor specializing in biophysics in the lab nearby (studying the eye) was working with an applied mathematician solving nonlinear differential equations. The moral of the story is biophysics is broad enough to accommodate all levels of mathematics.
You mention medical physics. I do not think this is very math intensive, but to get through any physics program to qualify for this specialty, you have to be pretty good at math

Andy Resnick

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What math and physics is needed for biophysics research? Specifically having to do with medical applications. I am undergrad student interested in physics and medicine.
I agree with Ygggdrasil. Generally, a good foundation of statistical mechanics and thermodynamics is sufficient, because that covers most of the underlying physical processes at the single-molecule level. On the other hand, if you want to go 'medical', then a good understanding of the principles underlying NMR/MRI, radiation dosimetry and imaging is more appropriate. I also agree that mastery of statistics as applied to data analysis is essential.

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