Ruprecht Karls Universität Heidelberg

Lecture course Theoretical Biophysics summer term 2014

This course is addressed to master students in physics and related disciplines with a background in statistical mechanics. Motivated bachelor or PhD-students are also encouraged to attend. There are two lectures each week, each for 1.5 hours, plus weekly homework and exercises. Together you can earn 6 credit points from this course. The lectures take place Tue and Thu 11.15 - 12.45 in gHS of Phil 12 and is given by Thorsten Erdmann.


  1. biomolecules (DNA, proteins, lipids and sugars) and their interactions
  2. electrostatics in the cell, genome compactification
  3. membranes, Helfrich bending energy, thermal fluctuations, Helfrich interaction
  4. polymers, Rouse model, force-extension curves
  5. protein folding, helix-coil transition, Zimm-Bragg model
  6. self-assembly, (electro)chemical potential, Langmuir adsorption, allostery
  7. reaction kinetics, Michaelis-Menten kinetics
  8. homeostasis, feedback, oscillations
  9. diffusion and convection, life at low Reynolds number, diffusion to capture
  10. living polymers, polymerization ratchet
  11. force spectroscopy, adhesion clusters under force
  12. molecular motors, ratchet models, cross-bridge models, force generation in muscle, Huxely model, cooperative transport
  13. cell shape and mechanics, cell division, physics of development and tissue
  14. excitable systems, ion channels, action potentials, cable equation, Hodgkin-Huxley model, FitzHugh-Nagumo model
  15. gene expression, kinetic proofreading, sequence analysis, gene expression and protein interaction networks
  16. evolution, population models, game theory, dynamics of infections, range expansion, reaction-diffusion systems, pattern formation




  • B Alberts et al., Molecular Biology of the Cell, 5th edition, Garland Science 2007
  • R Phillips, J. Kondev and J. Theriot, Physical Biology of the Cell, 2nd edition, Garland Science 2012
  • P Nelson, Biological Physics, Freeman 2007
  • D Boal, Mechanics of the Cell, 2nd edition, Cambridge University Press 2012
  • KA Dill and S Bromberg, Molecular Driving Forces, 2nd edition, Garland Science 2010
  • E Sackmann and R Merkel, Lehrbuch der Biophysik, Wiley-VCH 2010
  • JD Murray, Mathematical Biology I and II, 3rd edition, Springer 2002
  • J Keener and J Sneyd, Mathematical Physiology, 2nd edition, Springer 2008
  • U Alon, An Introduction to Systems Biology, Chapman & Hall 2007
  • M Novak, Evolutionary Dynamics, Harvard University Press 2006