Congratulations to  Benoit Roux on winning the 2024 Cole Award for excellence in research conducted in the field of membrane biophysics!

Congratulations to  Margaret Gardel, Arvind Murugan and the entire team on being awarded $15.5 million by the NSF to establish the Center for Living Systems.

Congratulations to  Greg Engel on being named an ACS Fellow!

Congratulations to  Anthony Kossiakoff and  Eduardo Perozo on being elected to the NAS!

Congratulations to Chuan He for winning the 2023 Wolf Prize for his pioneering work on RNA modifications!

Congratulations to Yamuna Krishnan on winning the NIH Pioneer Award!


Norbert Scherer named Optica C.E.K Mees Medal Winner. Congratulations Norbert!


The fundamental laws of physics and chemistry apply to all matter, yet living organisms can exploit these laws to create systems that can grow, adapt, process information, and ultimately self-replicate. How do these behaviors, the hallmarks of living systems, emerge from the interactions of non-living components? The Biophysical Dynamics Institute is home to a core group of researchers who work at the interface between the physical sciences and the biological sciences to answer these questions.

We are experimentalists, theoreticians, and computational scientists who have come together to address the challenge of obtaining a physical description of living systems. Our research spans scales from the study of molecules, which we seek to understand in terms of the interactions of atoms, to cells, which we seek to understand in terms of their molecular components, to biological networks, where connectivity and topology play defining roles. We are unified by the conviction that understanding dynamics, going beyond a static snapshot of equilibrium, will be key to future breakthroughs.

We support training programs and initiatives for undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows to advance interdisciplinary science at the University of Chicago with the goal of creating a culture of fluid exchange of ideas and collaboration across disciplines and among laboratories. These include close partnership with the Biophysics graduate program, and the Yen fellowship for outstanding postdocs in biophysics.


Recent Publications

The circadian clock ensures successful DNA replication in cyanobacteria

Cyanobacteria, which are reliant on photosynthesis for growth, face a fundamental challenge. Replicating the genome takes hours, so the decision to initiate replication must be made at time when conditions may be quite different from the future state of the environment when replication is due to complete. We found that cyanobacteria use their circadian clock to ensure that DNA replication finishes efficiently, both by scheduling initiation early in the day and by directing the accumulation of metabolic resources that support ongoing replication after nightfall. When these circadian protections are removed, replication fails to complete. This study connects genome replication to the ability of a circadian clock to anticipate environmental changes.

Recent Publications

Kinetic modeling reveals additional regulation at co-transcriptional level by post-transcriptional sRNA regulators

Small RNAs (sRNAs) are important gene regulators in bacteria. Many sRNAs act post-transcriptionally by affecting translation and degradation of the target mRNAs upon base-pairing interactions. In a recent publication, Jingyi Fei and colleagues present a general approach combining imaging and mathematical modeling to determine kinetic parameters at different levels of sRNA-mediated gene regulation that contribute to overall regulation efficacy. Our data reveal that certain sRNAs previously characterized as post-transcriptional regulators can regulate some targets co-transcriptionally, leading to a revised model that sRNA-mediated regulation can occur early in an mRNA’s lifetime, as soon as the sRNA binding site is transcribed. 


We study the dynamics of
, circuits, and cells