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Biomolecules, Cells, and Biomimetic Systems

Biomolecules, Cells, and Biomimetic Systems (UE S1-10)

This course provides a basic knowledge of biology for students with a physics, chemistry or engineering background. Students with a background in biology are exempt from taking this class.

Outline of the course

Part A: Introduction to Biology
  • The cell – structure and function
    • Main types of cellular organization
    • Examples of biotechnological applications
    • Introduction to cellular function

  • The cell and its environment
    • The constituents of the extracellular matrix
    • Examples of applications – biomaterials
    • Molecular basis of cell adhesion

  • The cytoskeleton and cellular mobility
    • The cytoskeleton
    • Microtubules and microfilaments
    • Muscular contratction and non-muscular motility

  • The cellular membrane – constituents and function
    • Models of the fluid membrane
    • Lipids, proteins, and carbohydrates of the membrane
    • Interaction of the membrane with the extracellular environment
    • Phenomena of membrane transport

  • Molecular genetics
    • Structure and properties of nucleic acids
    • Biosynthesis of DNA and its applications (sequencing, PCR, DNA microarrays)
    • Transcription and translation

  • From amino acids to enzymes – properties of proteins
    • The structure of proteins
    • Enzymes: catalysis, kinetics, inhibition

  • The energy of cells
    • Mitochondria and the respiratory chain
    • Chloroplasts and photosynthesis
    • Cellular energetics and microsystems

  • The immune system and vaccinations
    • Endogenous and exogenous substances
    • The immune system
    • Cellular and molecular bases on immunity
    • Vaccinations (with examples of delivery systems)

Part B: Biomimetic Systems
  • In-vitro measurement of molecular interactions
    • Force-distance measurements by AFM (physico-chemical interactions, ligand-receptor interactions, rigidity of macromolecules)
    • Other techniques to measure molecular interactions
    • Functionalization of surfaces

  • Biomimetic membranes at the air-water interface and on supports
    • Amphiphilic molecules and lipid monolayers
    • Thermodynamics of interfaces
    • Supported lipid membranes
    • Investigation techniques (Thermometry, ellipsometry, fluorescence microscopy, AFM, quartz micro balances)

  • Artificial cells
    • Giant lipid vesicles – fabrication, physical and mechanical properties and characterization
    • Toward artificial cells?


  • Written exam
  • Graded reports on lab practicals

course volume

  • lecture: 14h
  • tutorial: 8h
  • practicals: 12h
  • ECTS: 3