We continue to celebrate the Biophysics Week! In 2016, the Biophysics Society started an annual Biophysics Week to celebrate and raise the awareness of the field (visit their website for more information: British Biophysical Society page).
Here at the Randall Centre, we have many biophysicists conducting an array of amazing research. To shed some light on the biophysics research done within our centre, we’ve asked group leaders to share what they do and what got them into this exciting field! Below, review what Professor Mathias Gautel has to say about biophysics!
Mathias is a Professor of Molecular Cardiology and awarded the British Heart Foundation Chair of Molecular Cardiology at King’s. He has recently been appointed Head of the Basic and Medical Biosciences School within the Faculty of Life Science’s and Medicine.
What got you interested in biophysics? A microscope given to me by my granddad when I was 11, trying to work out how it works, and marvelling at the motility of amoeba and flagellates and the occasional water-bear in pond water.
Explain your area of research in two sentences. Understanding the molecular structure and mechanobiology of the sarcomere. Using this fundamental knowledge to understand human diseases, but also using information from human genetic diseases to understand fundamental biology.
Who is your favourite biophysicist? Heston Blumenthal 😉 and Hugh Huxley* MBE FRS
*Hugh Huxley was a British biophysicist who used electron microscopy (together with Jean Hanson at King’s) in one of the two seminal 1954 Nature papers on the sliding filament theory of muscle contraction (The second paper is by Andrew Huxley and Rolf Niedergerke; not a relation!). He continued to make important contributions to muscle until his death in 2013, using a broad array of biophysical methods, especially X-ray diffraction, combined with molecular biology. In 1969, he formulated the “swinging cross-bridge hypothesis” of muscle contraction, which still forms the conceptual molecular model of muscle contraction.
What is your favourite biophysical technique? Super-resolution microscopy, as it connects atomic resolution in structural biology to molecular resolution in the cell.
Can you give us an example of biophysics applied in our daily lives? Making Mayonnaise: turning an oil-in-water emulsion into a water-in-oil emulsion – getting the pH right at the start is key.
More simply: boiling your breakfast egg and irreversibly denaturing the ovalbumin. Enjoy your aggregates!