Physical Biology of the Cell




Course Description:

The intensive week-long course aims to inculcate an appreciation for a world teeming with biological wonders, by using a hands-on, curiosity-driven approach that defies the conventional boundaries of disciplines, and invokes ideas and tools from mathematics, physics, computer science and engineering to better understand biological systems.

The course structure allows students to embark upon a deep exploration of quantitative case studies, which are specifically designed to illuminate the key principles of biology. The course will demonstrate the various ways in which one can use simple ‘order of magnitude’ estimates to provide insights into problems like the fidelity of protein translation, understanding how far a bird can fly without stopping, and how amphibians arrive on oceanic islands.

Further, the course will demonstrate how one can use statistical mechanics-based approaches to explore problems in regulatory biology. Examples of biological problems that can be studied using such approaches include the physics of post-translational modifications, transcriptional decisions in cells and the precision of embryonic development. 

In addition to these topics, the course also involves a series of hands-on projects using Python to amplify the case studies discussed in class.


Instructors & TA:

Prof. Rob Phillips (Instructor), Fred and Nancy Morris Professor of Biophysics and Biology, California Institute of Technology

Manuel Razo-Mejia (TA), California Institute of Technology


Organisational Details:

Date: 14th to 18th January 2019

Time: 9 am to 9 pm (light tea/coffee and beverages will be provided; lunch / dinner can be availed through our canteens)

Venue: National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore



We invite participation from graduate students and post-doctoral fellows interested in employing mathematical approaches to the study of biological problems.

Participants residing in Bengaluru are strongly encouraged to apply. Outstation participants are welcome to apply too, provided they can arrange their own accommodation. 

Submit your application along with a 150-word statement of purpose describing your research and why you are interested in attending this course, before the noon of 1st December 2018, here:



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