The inherent complexity of life on earth is several orders of magnitude greater than the complexity found in any inert natural system. We live in an era where the genome of living organisms is easily accessible and the amount of gene sequence information increases at a rapid pace, yet our knowledge of the fundamental biophysical and biochemical principles that govern the regulation and function of genetic products (proteins) and their metabolites remains very limited. In this context of increasing complexity, elucidating in a quantitative and mechanistic way the function, structure, organization and dynamics of the molecular, supramolecular and cellular systems that sustain life is a monumental challenge.
At the Instituto Biofisika (IBF, www.biofisika.org), a joint research center of the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU. www.ehu.eus) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC, www.csic.es), we are eager to reduce this knowledge gap. To this end, we employ advanced biophysical and biochemical approaches to carry out quantitative and mechanistic studies of molecular, supramolecular and cellular systems. We further augment the impact of these approaches by combining them with the large amount of genomic, proteomic, lipidomic and metabolomic data generated by the new high-performance technologies. As examples, using these synergistic approaches scientists at the IBF elucidate: (1) the structure and dynamics of cell membranes, (2) the mechanics of biological tissues, (3) the processes of memory formation and disease in nerve tissues, (4) the invasion mechanism of HIV, (5) the role of kinases in cancer and (6) the mechanism of protein folding.
The IBF is also committed to translating biophysics and biochemistry based newly acquired fundamental knowledge about human biology and pathology to the design of small molecule probes, lipids, peptides and protein fragments, and antibodies that have potential as possible new medicines for disease prevention and treatment.
To undertake this type of research at the interface between Physics, Chemistry and Biology, the IBF promotes a highly collaborative culture with excellent shared facilities for advanced biophysical and biochemical approaches in a new dedicated 9.000 m2 research building in the main Leioa campus of the University of the Basque Country. Accredited as a Basque Excellence Research Centre (BERC), the IBF has the research funds necessary for developing a cohesive and sound scientific policy.