Understanding the physics behind intra-cellular organization and proto-cells

New Research Group Leader at CSBD

Christoph Weber, a German theoretical physicist, just joined the Research Faculty of the CSBD and the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems (MPI-PKS). Christoph’s group focusses on the physics of intra-cellular organization. In particular, the scientists aim to understand the mechanisms underlying the assembly, positioning and aging of organelles - subunits within a cell that have specific functions. With his team, Christoph also wants to unravel the physical principles underlying the early formation of proto-cells, those self-organized collections of proteins and lipids proposed to be inextricably linked to the origin of life. To this end, his group will use concepts from the field of phase transitions, hydrodynamics and elasticity theory, but also develops new approaches to describe these systems. Weber is also looking forward to intensively collaborating with experimental groups e.g. from the neighboring Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG).

Christoph has always been fascinated by fundamental questions that arise when physics meets biology: “I’d like to know how much are the physical principles underlying intra-cellular organization different to the ones relevant for the demixing of a vinaigrette, the hardening of a drying gelatin block or the sedimentation of droplets in a glass of ouzo.”, he says.

After obtaining his PhD in theoretical physics at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Weber took up his postdoctoral studies with Frank Jülicher at the Dresden MPI-PKS. Before returning to Germany to join the CSBD Faculty, he did his second postdoc at Harvard University in the United States.

A warm welcome to Christoph! We are very happy to have him complementing the biological physics section of our interdisciplinary team.