Biophysics I

course ID





14 Weeks

Semester DD


Course details

How is a living being defined: the complexity paradigm. Origin of the solar system, earth evolution and life appearance. From the proto-cell (Oparin) to the cell: prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms. The cell: inter-cellular communication and recognition mechanisms. Biological macromolecules: proteins and nucleic acids, sugars and lipids. The biological message and DNA double helix: duplication; transcription; translation. DNA sequencing and DNA mapping. How to measure the genome information content. NP-complete problems (the Hamilton problem) and DNA-computing. The Zipf law and scale invariance. The relative entropy as a measure of the similarity between strings (DNA and proteins). Mathematical methods for sequence studies: Markov processes; Bayes theorem in the continuum; selection pressure and the relative abundance and rarity of oligo-nucluetide sequences; the Eigen evolution model. The proteins. The amino acids and the polipetide chain. Physico-chemical properties of amino acids. Protein function and protein folding: secondary and tertiary structure. Protein-protein interaction. Quaternary structure and cooperativity: the MCW model. Data Bases: nucleic acids and proteins.


Teching is based on frontal lectures and exercises, aiming at developing a basic knowledge of biophysics concept, makind use of both dedicated mathematical methods and physics analysis.

Teaching rests on frontal lectures and exercises based on general knowledge acquired both
collectively as well as autonomously. Students will be asked to develop the learning skills
needed to continue their studies with a high degree of independence.

Students will be provided with adequate conceptual tools that would allow them to communicate information and suggest problems as well as solutions beyond their strict University context to scholars belonging to both their own strict disciplinary area and in nearby research areas like Chemistry, Biology and Medicine.

Students must be able to acquire the ability of correctly collecting and interpreting experimental data so as to be able to judge their scientific value. Special attention will be paid to the problem of handling the gigantic biological data Banks today available.

The main goal of exercises and tutorials is to check that students are able to exchange information, ideas, problems and solutions to experts as well as non-experts.
The work done during tutorials should allow the students to properly present in public their own research as well as the results of a bibliographic analysis. To this end it is necessary that the students acquire an adequate knowledge of English sufficient to understand today’s scientific literature, exploiting the English courses offered by the Faculty.

Tests will be periodically performed to check the student ability to critically evaluate general textbooks and specialized scientific papers.