Physics of Living Systems I - (S2)

Physics of Living Systems I

Contact: Pierre-François Lenne


The objective of this course is to introduce the physical principles underlying the organization and dynamics of living systems. Biological organisms display a complex organization, with substructures organized over all length scales, from the molecule, to the cell, to the tissues, to the whole organisms. Their dynamics is rich: their cells can multiply and differentiate into different types supporting distinct functions. They can respond to variations of external conditions, remodel and reshape parts of their body during development or accidental damage, and reproduce themselves endlessly. Despite their unique capabilities, living systems do no evade the principles of physics. This course will show how living systems can be described, studied and understood thanks to the concepts and technologies from different domains of physics. After an introduction on the building blocks of living systems, the course will cover the following topics:

Energy and Information

  • Synthesis of biomolecules, energy production and storage
  • Entropic forces
  • Chemical forces and self-assembly
  • Polarity

Molecular motors in the cell

  • Mechanochemical machines
  • Active polymers
  • Cell motion

Mechanics of cells and tissues

  • Cell shape
  • Cell division
  • Tissues as viscoelastic active materials

Shapes of the living systems

  • Emergence of shapes
  • Body plan (reaction-diffusion, pattern formation)

20 hours Lectures / 16 hours TD / 4 hours conferences

Lecturers: Pierre-François Lenne, Pierre Recouvreux, Félix Rico (?)

Evaluation: written