Exploring the physical foundations of emergent phenomena

The Center for Biological Physics, a division of the UCLA Department of Physics and Astronomy, approaches questions about living systems in a new light, based on the study of physics. Recent rapid advances in biology and other life sciences have not only furthered our understanding of living systems but have opened up broad new avenues for physics research. 

Our goal is not necessarily intended to answer questions posed by our colleagues in the life sciences differently, but rather to ask different questions. This center is founded to foster an environment where those new questions may be framed. We are privileged to live in an age where fundamental workings of life are first being understood in a quantitative manner. New insights into the complexity of living systems are coming fast, one upon the next, from our colleagues in chemistry, biology and a wide variety of related fields.

Because of the remarkable flood of new information coming from the mapping of genomes, a better understanding of the biochemical inventory of living cells, and new quantitative techniques allowing us to probe, for the first time, single molecules, there is a need for a new role of physics, functioning productively at the boundaries of the traditional disciplines.