Living Matter Program

In this program, we will pursue the quantitative, systems-level investigation of functional cellular modules. Following tremendous progress in the biophysical study of single molecules, an important challenge for the future lies in the combined experimental/theoretical study of multi-component systems that dictate the functional behavior of living cells. At AMOLF we will focus on active cytoskeletal materials and biochemical regulation networks and the interplay between them. In vitro techniques have now arrived at a level where multiple cellular modules (both mechanical components and regulation networks) can be reconstituted simultaneously in relevant cellular geometries. In addition, the properties of regulation networks can be unraveled in model systems using genetic engineering, advanced microscopic techniques, and computer modeling. A physics-based, bottom-up approach to cellular modules contributes to the quickly developing field of systems biology, with expected breakthroughs in the areas of health, food, and the design of new materials. This program heavily relies on the close interaction between theoretical and experimental groups at AMOLF and is carried out in strong collaboration with biology groups worldwide.