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Samuel Safran  Research Group


Sketch of liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) of associating polymeric molecules as a model for LLPS of intrinsically disordered proteins (IDP).


Our group’s research in biological physics lies in the theoretical analysis and prediction of the mesoscale (10s nm to microns) structure and dynamics of cells and their interactions with their physical environment. These findings combine knowledge of macromolecular structure, statistical mechanics of soft matter and non-equilibrium dynamics with cellular activity and function. Focusing on generic theory that permits scaling predictions, the research has elucidated interesting biological puzzles whose solutions may require advances in the underlying soft matter physics. In collaborations with Weizmann biologists, as well as international partnerships, we formulate conceptual and predictive theories that provide intuitive insight into the physical origins of phase separation in cells, chromatin organization, and cellular mechanics. Soft matter topics of interest include the self-assembly of membranes and block copolymers as well as the electrostatic interactions of charged surfaces or macromolecules and mobile ions.  Additionally, we are interested in soft matter and biological physics education, including educational research, for students ranging from tenth grade through graduate school.

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