AskDefine | Define biophysicist

Dictionary Definition

biophysicist n : a physicist who applies the methods of physics to biology

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A biologist or physicist whose speciality is biophysics

Extensive Definition

Biophysics (also biological physics) is an interdisciplinary science that employs and develops theories and methods of the physical sciences for the investigation of biological systems. Studies included under the umbrella of biophysics span all levels of biological organization, from the molecular scale to whole organisms and ecosystems. Biophysical research shares significant overlap with biochemistry, nanotechnology, bioengineering and systems biology.
Molecular biophysics typically addresses biological questions that are similar to those in biochemistry and molecular biology, but the questions are approached quantitatively. Scientists in this field conduct research concerned with understanding the interactions between the various systems of a cell, including the interactions between DNA, RNA and protein biosynthesis, as well as how these interactions are regulated. A great variety of techniques are used to answer these questions.
Fluorescent imaging techniques, as well as electron microscopy, x-ray crystallography and atomic force microscopy (AFM) are often used to visualize structures of biological significance. Direct manipulation of molecules using optical tweezers or AFM can also be used to monitor biological events where forces and distances are at the nanoscale. Molecular biophysicists often consider complex biological events as systems of interacting units which can be understood through statistical mechanics, thermodynamics and chemical kinetics. By drawing knowledge and experimental techniques from a wide variety of disciplines, biophysicists are often able to directly observe, model or even manipulate the structures and interactions of individual molecules or complexes of molecules.
In addition to traditional (i.e. molecular) biophysical topics like structural biology or enzyme kinetics, modern biophysics encompasses an extraordinarily broad range of research. It is becoming increasingly common for biophysicists to apply the models and experimental techniques derived from physics, as well as mathematics and statistics, to larger systems such as tissues, organs, populations and ecosystems.

Focus as a subfield

Biophysics often does not have university-level departments of its own, but have presence as groups across departments within the fields of biology, biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, medicine, pharmacology, physiology, physics, and neuroscience. What follows is a list of examples of how each department applies its efforts toward the study of biophysics. This list is hardly all inclusive. Nor does each subject of study belong exclusively to any particular department. Each academic institution makes its own rules and there is much overlap between departments.
Many biophysical techniques are unique to this field. Research efforts in biophysics are often initiated by scientists who were traditional physicists, chemists, and biologists by training.

Topics in biophysics and related fields

Famous biophysicists

Other notable biophysicists


  • Perutz M.F. Proteins and Nucleic Acids, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1962
  • PMID 4389425
  • Dogonadze R.R. and Urushadze Z.D. Semi-Classical Method of Calculation of Rates of Chemical Reactions Proceeding in Polar Liquids.- J.Electroanal.Chem., 32, 1971, pp. 235-245
  • Volkenshtein M.V., Dogonadze R.R., Madumarov A.K., Urushadze Z.D. and Kharkats Yu.I. Theory of Enzyme Catalysis.- Molekuliarnaya Biologia (Moscow), 6, 1972, pp. 431-439 (In Russian, English summary)
  • Sneppen K. and Zocchi G., Physics in Molecular Biology, Cambridge University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-521-84419-3
  • Glaser R., Biophysics, Springer, 2001, ISBN 3-540-67088-2

See also

biophysicist in Afrikaans: Biofisika
biophysicist in Arabic: فيزياء حيوية
biophysicist in Asturian: Biofísica
biophysicist in Bosnian: Biofizika
biophysicist in Bulgarian: Биофизика
biophysicist in Catalan: Biofísica
biophysicist in Czech: Biofyzika
biophysicist in German: Biophysik
biophysicist in Estonian: Biofüüsika
biophysicist in Modern Greek (1453-): Βιοφυσική
biophysicist in Spanish: Biofísica
biophysicist in Esperanto: Biofiziko
biophysicist in Persian: زیست‌فیزیک
biophysicist in French: Biophysique
biophysicist in Galician: Biofísica
biophysicist in Korean: 생물리학
biophysicist in Indonesian: Biofisika
biophysicist in Italian: Biofisica
biophysicist in Hebrew: ביופיזיקה
biophysicist in Lithuanian: Biofizika
biophysicist in Hungarian: Biofizika
biophysicist in Dutch: Biofysica
biophysicist in Japanese: 生物物理学
biophysicist in Occitan (post 1500): Biofisica
biophysicist in Polish: Biofizyka
biophysicist in Portuguese: Biofísica
biophysicist in Romanian: Biofizică
biophysicist in Russian: Биофизика
biophysicist in Simple English: Biophysics
biophysicist in Slovak: Biofyzika
biophysicist in Slovenian: Biofizika
biophysicist in Serbian: Биофизика
biophysicist in Finnish: Biofysiikka
biophysicist in Swedish: Biofysik
biophysicist in Vietnamese: Lý sinh học
biophysicist in Turkish: Biyofizik
biophysicist in Ukrainian: Біофізика
biophysicist in Chinese: 生物物理学
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