Theoretical and Computational Biophysics

The Deserno group at Carnegie Mellon


…to the web pages of the group of Theoretical and Computational Biological Physics, established at the Department of Physics at Carnegie Mellon in Fall 2007!

from left to right: Nick, Mert, Markus, Martina, Muhammed, Nishchay, Amirali

In our research we use theoretical and computational tools to understand the behavior of a variety of biological systems. We are particularly interested in biological membranes and proteins. Our main tools are coarse grained molecular simulations, continuum theory and statistical physics.

Feel free to browse our pages and have a look at the scientific things we’re doing here!

Here’s some recent fun we’ve been working on:

Systematic errors galore

A common way to get elastic parameters from lipid membranes is to analyze the power spectra of some fields, like shape or director. But how do you define those? Turns out, details matter for the answer!

Stiffened bilayers
Beyond a certain stress asymmetry lipid membranes become stiffer. This could be related to the formation of finite gel domains in the compressed leaflet.
DNA origami on membranes

You can build 3D nanostructures with molecular precision using DNA, and you can attach anchors to those that would bind them to lipid membranes. Here we review how this is done, and what applications this makes possible.

Asymmetric Cooke membranes

Our widely used 3-bead solvent free lipid Cooke model is a very efficient way to simulate fluid elastic membranes. But it has one down side: lipids flip-flop too rapidly, which prevents us from simulating asymmetric membranes. Here’s how we fix this.