Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Biophysics of Polymers, Membranes, Gels, Colloids and Cells

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
1.02.00  Natural sciences and mathematics  Physics   
3.03.00  Medical sciences  Neurobiology   

Code Science Field
B002  Biomedical sciences  Biophysics 
polimers, lipid bilayer, biological membranes, proteins, gels, colloids, DLVO interactions, cells, liquid crystals, chirality, biophysics
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (29)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  18078  Vesna Arrigler    Technical associate  2004 - 2008  30 
2.  08588  PhD Urška Batista  Medical sciences  Researcher  2004 - 2008  106 
3.  11088  PhD Bojan Božič  Medical sciences  Researcher  2004 - 2008  119 
4.  05483  PhD Milan Brumen  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2004 - 2008  441 
5.  26235  Alenka Cimprič    Technical associate  2005 - 2008 
6.  05974  PhD Mojca Čepič  Social sciences  Researcher  2004 - 2008  815 
7.  18326  PhD Jure Derganc  Medical sciences  Researcher  2005 - 2008  112 
8.  16311  PhD Jure Dobnikar  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2004 - 2008  163 
9.  18383  Dušan Dragaš    Technical associate  2004 - 2008 
10.  19553  PhD Aleš Fajmut  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2007 - 2008  224 
11.  18038  PhD Gregor Gomišček  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2004 - 2008  91 
12.  28405  PhD Marko Gosak  Natural sciences and mathematics  Junior researcher  2007 - 2008  277 
13.  21443  PhD David Haložan  Natural sciences and mathematics  Junior researcher  2004 - 2005  103 
14.  26228  Nevenka Hauschild    Technical associate  2005 - 2008 
15.  18384  Marijan Kozamernik    Technical associate  2004 - 2008 
16.  12001  PhD Janja Majhenc  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2005 - 2008  73 
17.  23455  PhD Mojca Mally  Medical sciences  Researcher  2004 - 2008  22 
18.  13159  PhD Marko Marhl  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2004 - 2008  648 
19.  23428  PhD Matjaž Perc  Natural sciences and mathematics  Junior researcher  2004 - 2006  652 
20.  12531  PhD Primož Peterlin  Medical sciences  Researcher  2004 - 2008  130 
21.  08589  PhD Rudolf Podgornik  Natural sciences and mathematics  Head  2004 - 2008  702 
22.  27573  PhD Jasna Prebil  Medical sciences  Junior researcher  2006 - 2008  13 
23.  13366  PhD Barbara Rovšek  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2004 - 2006  242 
24.  05488  PhD France Sevšek  Medical sciences  Researcher  2004 - 2006  220 
25.  02013  PhD Saša Svetina  Medical sciences  Researcher  2004 - 2008  556 
26.  13355  PhD Nataša Vaupotič  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2004 - 2008  285 
27.  13415  PhD Primož Ziherl  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2004 - 2008  334 
28.  01068  PhD Boštjan Žekš  Medical sciences  Researcher  2004 - 2008  644 
29.  24816  Tadej Žnidarčič  Natural sciences and mathematics  Technical associate  2005 - 2006 
Organisations (6)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0106  Jožef Stefan Institute  Ljubljana  5051606000  87,078 
2.  0381  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Medicine  Ljubljana  1627066  45,622 
3.  0588  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Education  Ljubljana  1627082  31,918 
4.  0589  University of Maribor, Faculty of Education  Maribor  5089638013  13,563 
5.  1554  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Mathematics and Physics  Ljubljana  1627007  33,279 
6.  2547  University of Maribor, Faculty of natural sciences and mathematics  Maribor  5089638051  17,650 
Macromolecules and macromolecular aggregates like DNA and phospholipid membranes, obtained through isolation and/or reconstitution of fundamental building blocks of the living matter, determine their basic modes of action as well as responses to changes in their molecular environment. The analysis of various macromolecular liquid crystalline phases, be they biological macromoleculs themselves or their complicated anorganic analogues, as well as their basic symmetries and fundamental biocolloidal interactions define the first step of the proposed research program. The intergration of these fundamental principles of the nature of the structures and interactions among the basic macromolecular building blocks in the understanding of the physical properties and even more importantly, the possibility of control of the type and resonse of the constituents of the cell or cells and larger cell aggregates on changes in their environment represents the second step of this research program. Its basic principle being the bottom-up physical reconstitution of various living systems, from simple, model macromolecules all the way to morte complicated macromolecular aggregates, cells, organs and tissues.
Significance for science
Life sciences are a most rapidly evolving field of science. Our research program has importantly contributed to this development due to its broad-based approach to research, connecting different levels of organization of living matter (from molecular level to complex macromolecular systems and living cells) and different scientific disciplines (physics, biology, medicine). During the period 2004-2008, members of the program P1-0055 have published a total of 158 original scientific papers and 6 reviews in high-impact scientific journals as well as 6 standalone chapters in scientific monographs. The total number of pure citations of our publications within this period exceeds 400. Members of the program gave 46 invited talks at international conferences and 67 talks at foreign universities or research institutes. Members of the program serve as reviewers for many high-impact scientific journals – Physical Review E, Biophysical Journal, Physical Review Letters, European Physical Journal E and many others. During the period 2004-2008 we have reviewed more than 200 manuscripts. With this anonymous yet important public work we contribute to the development of the global scientific culture. We also serve on editorial boards of several international scientific journals (Phys Rev E; J Biol Phys; Eur J Phys; BioSystems; PMC Biophysics). At the molecular level we contributed to a better understanding of the interactions between macromolecules, we set up conceptually new approaches and devised new theoretical paradigms to explain the observations. On the basis of extensive studies of the theory of van der Waals interactions, statistical mechanics of ordered and disordered Coulomb fluids, and relaxation phenomena in DNA solutions we obtained scaling laws for the characteristic length scales of relaxation. We developed a theory of osmotic balance and packing of DNA in bacteriophages, and a theory of self-assembly of RNA viruses on the basis of non-specific electrostatic interactions. In the field of soft matter we investigated theoretically and experimentally new structures in liquid-crystals made of complex molecules and studied colloid suspensions. In a joint project with the experimental group of C. Bechinger from University of Stuttgart, we have directly measured the three-body contribution to the electrostatic interaction in a system comprised of three colloids in an electrolyte suspension. Based on our research of phospholipid vesicles we deepened the knowledge on the behavior of cells and cell aggregates. We quantified the transmembrane transport mechanisms through membrane pores and due to osmotic processes. We showed the role of the distribution of inclusions in the membrane in the phospholipid vesicle morphology. We investigated the shapes of simple multivesicle aggregates and theoretically analyzed the structure of red blood cell rouleaux. Based on this analysis we proposed a possible mechanism of the shape and stability of Golgi cisternae. We investigated the criteria for spontaneous self-replication of vesicles and we discussed the possible role of this process in the origin of cellular life. We analyzed the role of blastula wall in the blastula shape transformation, which takes place during the process of gastrulation. We analyzed the effects of several substrates on adhesion of cells in a cell culture. At the cellular level we focused on the role of Ca2+ in intracellular dynamics and we studied the intercellular communication which is essential for understanding of properties of tissues. The results of deterministic models of airway smooth muscle cells are applicable in clinical studies of asthmatic diseases. The latest findings from dynamic systems analysis and game theory helped us analyze the influence of noise on cellular oscillators and stochastic resonance effects. Thus we expanded the knowledge on intercellular communication, which is of great significance for biology and medicine.
Significance for the country
Program P1-0055 is the main national research program of biophysical nature: Our main mission is to provide a cohesive framework for researchers who study physical aspects of biological and biologically relevant systems. A strong team with a balanced structure of members' background and experience of both theoretical and experimental specialization is an optimal catalyst for the exchange of knowledge and thus a guarantee of further advancement of biophysics in Slovenia. Also important is the nationwide character of our team which combines the expertise of researchers based at University of Ljubljana, Jožef Stefan Institute, University of Maribor, and University of Nova Gorica, thus contributing to the polycentric development of science and higher education. Our program provides the scientific basis for the study of biophysics in Slovenia. All three full professors of biophysics in Slovenia are members of the team (Prof. S. Svetina, Prof. B. Žekš and Prof. R. Podgornik). We have actively participated in the Bologna reform of higher education in Slovenia. We designed curricula for a range of physics and biophysics courses and were engaged in preparation of 7 new Bachelor and Master programs. Members of the program teach in 33 study programs at Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Education, and Biotechnical Faculty at UL and Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Faculty of Education, Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Health Sciences at UM. Between 2004 and 2008, members of the research program have supervised or co-supervised 8 PhD theses, 3 MS theses, and 93 BSc theses. We have authored or co-authored 9 textbooks and contributed to the 3rd edition of Slovenian Medical Dictionary. We constructively participate in Slovenian scientific and higher-education community. Prof. B. Žekš was president of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts from 2002 to 2008. Prof. N. Vaupotič served as head of the Department of Physics at the Faculty of Education UM, head of the Department of Physics at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (FNSM) UM, and dean of the FNSM UM. Prof. Vaupotič was one of the initiators of the new FNSM UM, which is one of the mile-stones of the development of Physics at UM and in the north-east Slovenia. Prof. M. Marhl has been Vice-Rector of University of Maribor since 2007. Although the research program is devoted to fundamental rather than applied research, our work did lead to results of applied nature. A collaboration between prof. R. Podgornik and Gorenje d.d. resulted in a novel patented method for noise reduction in drying machines. Dr. J. Derganc and his collaborators developed a novel device for automated analysis of cells with a broad clinical potential. The researchers were granted a US patent for the device. Also productive was the collaboration of Prof. S. Svetina and dr. J. Majhenc with the Clinical Department of Rheumatology at the University Medical Center Ljubljana, which resulted in a better understanding of the physiological role of antiphospholipid antibodies in the immunology of rheumatism. A further recognition of applied results of the program is the Krka Prize awarded by Krka d.d. to dr. M. Mally for her PhD thesis, acknowledging its potential relevance for pharmaceutical and medical studies. An important aspect of our work is popularization of science. By writing popular science articles, giving public lectures etc. we tried to make the advancements in biophysics and soft matter physics more understandable to the public. We serve in editorial boards of Proteus (www.proteus.si) and Kvarkadabra (society for interpreting science, www.kvarkadabra.net) and are authors or co-authors of more than 50 professional and pop-science articles in Slovenian language. In 2007 and 2008 we co-organized the Researchers' Night in Maribor.
Most important scientific results Final report, complete report on dLib.si
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Final report, complete report on dLib.si
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