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$10 Million center for theoretical biological physics created at UCSD by NSF

A consortium of research institutions in La Jolla, Calif., has been awarded $10.5-million over the next five years from the National Science Foundation to establish the world's leading center in the emerging field of theoretical biological physics.

The new Center for Theoretical Biological Physics, or CTBP, will combine the intellectual resources of the University of California, San Diego's Division of Physical Sciences, the San Diego Supercomputer Center at UCSD, The Scripps Research Institute and The Salk Institute for Biological Studies. It will bring together theoreticians and experimentalists from around the world to advance research and educate scientists in a discipline that uses the theoretical tools of physics to understand the fundamental principles governing complex biological systems. This interdisciplinary approach-to be carried out jointly by physicists, chemists, mathematicians and biologists-will not only provide biologists with a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms governing complex biological systems, such as networks of neurons or biochemical pathways in the assembly of proteins, but allow physicists to develop new principles and models for complex systems based on biological phenomena.

"What we do in biological physics is to try to understand the fundamental, underlying laws governing biological systems, just as physicists have gained an understanding of the fundamental laws of physical matter," says Jos N. Onuchic, a professor of physics at UCSD and co-director of the center. "If you understand these underlying principles, you can make predictions. And if you can make predictions and verify them, you gain insight into complex biological processes that now appear unpredictable."

In addition to generating biological insights, the center will also be a catalyst for the newly emerging field of complex system physics. According to Herbert Levine, a professor of physics at UCSD and the other co-director of the CTBP, "Unde
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Contact: Kim McDonald
kimmcdonald@ucsd.edu
858 534-7572
University of California - San Diego
25-Sep-2002


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