The physics of living matter for tomorrow

The 17th Awardees Meeting will feature a special event as on Sunday, 9 July we will organize a meeting that will bring physics and biology together - probably in a way it has never happened before. This meeting is not restricted to HFSP awardees and attendees are also welcome to join the HFSP Awardees Meeting from the 10 - 12 July.

The draft programme for the meeting is available here.

A short introduction to the meeting is available here.

The interface of physics and biology has proven to provide a most fruitful environment for generating new concepts and exciting ways forward. HFSPO funds research at this very frontier between the two disciplines, and many studies over the last decade have unraveled new ways of understanding, for example, morphogenesis during development, signal processing in protein and genetic networks, and the roles of fluctuations for determining the fates of cells and tissues.

During development, cells in an embryo face two major tasks. First they must express distinct combinations of genes appropriate for specific cell fates such as muscle and skin. Once such patterns of gene expression are established, cells must change their shape and position to match those cell fates. These transformations are remarkable for their speed and precision, but also for their incredible beauty. The associated cell-shape changes depend on local patterns of gene activity, but how such patterns are converted into the physical properties controlling shape and motility is a major unanswered question in biology.

Eric Wieschaus, Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, Conference 2013 ‘On Growth and Form of the Embryo: From Gene Expression to Tissue Mechanics’


Mixed teams of biologists and physicists are now commonly discussing experimental approaches and theoretical ideas, as well as ordering genome wide data on a daily basis. Standard training in biology and physics places the focus on different aspects, and concepts are rarely translated from one discipline to the other in a comprehensive manner.

The workshop will cover these issues by presenting cutting edge research at the frontier in a way that highlights the interplay between life scientists and physicists, the difficulties resulting from joining two disciplines, and the solutions found in successful collaborations. The meeting will furthermore discuss how young scientists can be prepared for similar endeavours and provide an open international forum for scientists in charge of training programs to share their experience and exchange informally.