Theoretical Group

Theoretical biophysics research in the department has a distinctive history that traces back to the heyday of Watson and Crick's discovery of the double helix in 1953. George Gamow, then a professor of theoretical physics at GW and already well known for his Big Bang theory, joined the race to crack the genetic code hidden in the double helix. Being a true believer that scientists from different fields should share their ideas and results, Gamow founded the "RNA Tie Club" in 1954 that ushered an exciting era culminating in the final deciphering of the code by Nirenberg in 1961. Time has changed with the rapid arrival of a new era of genome and proteome, but Gamow's imprint at GW endures. His spirit of interdisciplinary interactions and collaborations remains the cornerstone of our current research activities in the theoretical biophysics program.

The theoretical biophysics group currently consists of faculty members Ganhui Lan, Weiqun Peng, Guanyu Wang, and Chen Zeng. Aiming to unravel the underlying principles of complex biological processes, our current research efforts range from modeling the physical interactions at atomic level to study structural and functional properties of protein-protein and protein-DNA complex to simulating biomolecular networks at the systems level to gain a global perspective on their emergent spatial and temporal dynamics. This multi-scale-integrated approach also aids our attempt in quantifying the impact of evolution at all scales from a single key enzyme or regulator to an entire enzymatic or regulatory pathways. Our theoretical effort are highly interdisciplinary, as evidenced by our extensive collaborations with other departments on campus (Chemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics, Medical School), and institutions in the Greater Washington DC area (George Mason, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, NIH) Our work has been supported by funding from NSF, NIH and foundations, and have been published in high impact journals including Proceedings of National Academy of Science, Nature Physics, Cell and Science.To find out more, please visit our faculty member’s individual web pages.