Casimir Course - Biology for Physicists



14:00 - 16:00 hrs




Instructors: Martina Huber (Leiden), Gijsje Koenderink (Delft), Richard Janissen (Delft)

Description: Biology is a large field within the natural sciences concerned with the study of living organisms and life on our planet in general. Biology spans many scales, from the molecular workings of the cell, to the cellular workings of the organism, and the ecology of populations. The goal of this course is to introduce scientists with a background in physics and little or no biological background to the fundamental concepts of biology, ranging from the molecular building blocks of life to the complexity of living cells (see syllabus below). You will learn textbook biological concepts, you will encounter examples of modern biological research through invited lectures, and you will read and analyze recent papers presenting new text-book-challenging discoveries. The course will provide a background of not only how biology works, but also how biological experiments are performed, and the sorts of complications biology experiments often encounter. 

Teaser: The Inner Life of the Cell -

Target audienceThe course is intended for PhD students in the Casimir Research School who are interested in learning both the fundamental concepts in biology and current discoveries that challenge the textbook knowledge.

Envisioned program:

  • 30thApril-Course introduction and course content overview
  • 28thMay -Origins and building blocks of life
  • 1stJune -Central Dogma and gene expression
  • 4thJune -Cell structures and organelles
  • 8thJune -Genome organization and maintenance
  • 11thJune -Genome replication and cell division
  • 15thJune -Membranes and their role inneurobiology
  • 18thJune -Metabolism and energy production
  • 22ndJune -Cell development, signaling, and apoptosis
  • 25thJune -Viruses
  • 29thJune -Synthetic life and closing discussion session

Note: Few dates and the order of lectures could under exceptional circumstances change depending on the availability of lecturers.

Format: The course consists of 

  • Self-directed learning from textbook and online material
  • Content-related study assignments
  • 10 sessions, each consisting of a 1 h lecture followed by 1 h student (group) paper presentations & discussions about new and textbook-challenging discoveries

Study material: Following textbook and included online material is mandatory for course participation

  • Essential Cell Biology (Bruce Alberts et al., 5th edition, 2018; with Smartwork5 & Animations) e.g. 

Examination: Pass/Fail grades will be given based on

  • the student’s paper presentation (25%) and preparation for paper discussions (25%) 
  • passing assignments covering the background reading assignments (50%)

Attendance at all sessions is required to pass, though absence due to exceptional circumstances is allowed.

Slack channel: (you will get the invite before the course starts)

Registration deadline: 1st April 2021