Planets travel around the Sun in specific ways fully determined by the laws of nature. Likewise, the behavior of living systems, such as what causes a cell to become cancerous, is controlled by physical principles. Many of these principles are not yet discovered. The OSU biophysics and physical biology research program is directed to investigate, reveal, and apply such principles for the betterments of agriculture, medical care, national security, bioengineering, and the environment.
- Signaling in Living Cells. Proper sensing, communication, and regulation among complex components in living cells (cell signaling) are indispensable for good health. Damage in cell signaling systems causes devastating human diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart failure. The OSU Biophysics Program is employing advanced technologies to investigate the mechanisms of cell signaling, yielding critical knowledge for novel avenues of treatment for many serious human diseases.
- Solar Energy and Biofuels. The Sun is the ultimate source of energy for essentially all life on the Earth. Complex photosynthetic machineries have been evolved in bacteria and plants to efficiently harvest solar light for biological energy. Understanding the working principles of light harvesting bio-machineries will help enhancements in plant agriculture and biofuel production.
- Optical Biosensors. Novel protein-based optical bio-sensors are being developed for rapid, accurate detection of fatal bacteria and viruses against bio-terrorism, and for rapid and cost-effective detection of bio-markers for medical diagnosis of diseases. This program is expected to enhance national security, expedite disease treatment, and stimulate the economy of Oklahoma.
- Protein Structure and Dynamics. Proteins are nano-machines performing a wide range of cell functions. Multiple investigators at OSU are jointly developing cutting-edge technologies to capture the motion images of proteins in action, from advanced infrared technologies to nuclear magnetic resonance and crystallographic techniques to single molecule force spectroscopy. These powerful tools promise unprecedented structural information on proteins that provide seminal insights into fundamental understanding of human diseases, and solid foundations for development of novel therapeutics to better human health and life.