Molecular biophysics brings together elements of biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics to describe and understand biological processes. It is a fusion of two scientific cultures: the systems and processes of biochemistry and molecular biology are joined with the principles and quantitative laws of physical chemistry. The goal is to develop a quantitative and predictive understanding of biology at a detailed molecular level.
The Program in Molecular Biophysics, established in 1990, seeks to train students who understand biological processes and who can take advantage of the sophisticated physical techniques necessary to probe those processes at a detailed molecular level. An important feature of the Program in Molecular Biophysics is its emphasis on multidisciplinary, interactive approaches to the study of biological systems. Communication and collaboration among investigators with diverse interests is fundamental to defining the interesting questions and developing the systems which make biophysics a unique synthesis of disciplines. At Washington University, the Program brings together scientists who share the biophysicist’s goal of understanding biological processes, yet who work on systems which range from single molecules to whole cells. The program was renamed to “Computational and Molecular Biophysics” in 2009 to better indicate the importance of both computational and experimental methods in investigating problems in molecular biophysics.