Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

The physics of three dimensional chromosome and protein organisation within the cell

Project description

Untangling macromolecule organisation in cells

Understanding how cells function and interact at a physical level requires insight into their mechanical properties, structural organisation, and responses to external forces and stimuli. These are investigated by the multidisciplinary field of cell physics by combining principles from physics, biology and engineering. Funded by the European Research Council, the THREEDCELLPHYSICS project is interested in DNA-protein networks within cells. Researchers will study the spatial organisation of DNA, chromosomes and proteins in the crowded environment of both healthy and diseased cells. They will also use computational simulations and experimental data to faithfully simulate these interactions in cells


Understanding the fundamental mechanisms behind the functioning of cells and their interior has long been a biology-only enterprise. This view has radically changed in the last decade or so, culminating in the invention of a whole new field, named 'cell physics', which uses the tools of physics to gain a more quantitative and deeper understanding of the inner working of a cell. The aim of my research fits broadly in this new field, although the scale of the computational studies which I plan are thus far unprecedented. I will focus my programme on the spatial organisation of DNA and chromosomes, proteins, and DNA-protein networks within the intracellular environment. I will therefore aim to answer questions such as: How is DNA organised in living cells, such as bacteria and eukaryotic nuclei? What is the role of proteins in DNA and chromosome folding in vivo? How does genome organisation differ in healthy and sick nuclei? How do proteins and RNA move around and self-organise into supramolecular structures in the crowded intracellular environment? I propose to work on the simulation and theoretical side of these problems, while maintaining very close collaborations with key experimental players in these fields who will provide me with a large number of experimental data (obtained by more sophisticated version of the original well-known 'chromosome conformation capture' technique) to maximise the impact and output of the modelling work.


Net EU contribution
€ 1 499 236,00
Old college, south bridge
EH8 9YL Edinburgh
United Kingdom

See on map

Scotland Eastern Scotland Edinburgh
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (1)