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Biomolecular thermodynamics: Mapping the free energy landscapes of life

  • B Chakrabarti
  • Sarah Harris
  • Dagmar Klostermeier
  • Davide Marenduzzo
  • Adrian Mulholland
  • F Vollmer

Keywords: Biological Physics, Statistical Thermodynamics, Soft Matter

Biomolecular free energy landscapes are central to biological function. They control key biophysical phenomena such as the infectivity of viruses, kinetics of enzyme catalysis, protein folding, specific molecular recognition events, allosteric interactions, biomolecular aggregation and liquid-liquid phase separation. The consequences of complex biomolecular environments, such as counterion condensation around highly charged polymers and the role of molecular crowding are also significant determinants of the free energy landscape.  Moreover, the importance of non-equilibrium processes and the “active” nature of biological systems that arises due to the collective activity of biomolecular motors is becoming increasingly appreciated and recognised. Particular open question in the field include: How can we use thermodynamic insights to improve drug design, for example to treat emerging viral and bacterial infections? How does the thermodynamic cycle used by processive molecular motors enable their function? How can we understand the thermodynamic drivers behind liquid-liquid phase separation and the formation of membraneless organelles? How does chromatin folding occur, and what controls the non-equilibrium dynamics of the nuclear material during the cell cycle?

This minicolloquium will focus on the burgeoning field of the use of experimental biophysical tools, theory and computer simulations (at the quantum chemical, atomistic and coarse-grained levels) to identify, quantify and analyse the key thermodynamic quantities that enable biomolecules to perform their extraordinary functions.

Key dates

Early registration deadline:

5 June 2022

Registration deadline:

21 July 2022


The programme is complemented by a large physics and physics instrumentation exhibition proposed by the conference’s partners. If you wish to exhibit at this conference, you can find more information here.

Jointly organised by the EPS and IOP