Introduction to Biophysics I (PH475/575, Spring, 2017)

Course Description: Through this course students will learn how the laws of physics play important roles in biological processes in living cells through examples.

Learning Objectives: Physical processes involved in the following biological processes
  • Diffusion of macromolecules
  • Motor proteins and Brownian motors
  • Entropic force
  • Electrostatics in biological cell
  • Chemical oscillations (neurons, β cell, ...)
  • Wave phenomena (potential waves, chemical waves)
  • Allostery coupling
  • Protein Folding
  • Self-Assembly (polymerization, micell, ...)
  • Synchronization (neural network, insulin secretion, ...)
  • Pattern formation

Textbook: No textbook is required for this course. Lecture notes are prvideded in advance.

Day and Time: Tue. & Thu. 2:00PM-3:15PM
Room: PH 394
Instructor: Dr. Ryoichi Kawai
phone: (205) 934-3931
skype*: userid = ryoichikawai
* You must send your skype user ID to the instructor by email in advance or your call will be blocked.
Office Hour: T/Th 3:30pm-4:30pm
Course Website:

Course Schedule
Project Info
LaTeX Info
Physical Biology of the Cell
R. Phillips et al. (Garland Science, 2012)
ISBN: 978-0815344506

Messages from the Instructor
  • [12/23] The course web site is now open.

Some examples use MATLAB. It is not required to have MATLAB in your computer. However, it is convenient if you install it. UAB has a site license and students are elligible to install MATLAB on their computer. Installation instruction is given at

Some examples use Mathematica. The use of Mathetmatica is not required but it is convenient to have it in your computer. It is free for UAB students. The following web page will explain how to get your own copy of Mathematica:

Several homework problems will be given every week. Homework must be turned in electronically by email.  Allowed formats are PDF (.pdf), MATLAB script file (.m), Mathematica notebook (.nb). Hand written pages should be scanned in PDF. Do not send picture taken by camera or cellphone.

There is no paper exam. Students must complete a term paper. Abstract, drafts, and final paper (due on April 25) must be presented before the due dates. See project schedule here. Late submission will result in the substantial loss of points.

Attendance is required. To pass the course you must attend at least 75% of lectures. Excessive absence will result in administrative withdraw.

Homework carries 50 pts and the term paper 50 pts.
Grade Total Score
A 90 or above
B 80 or above
C 70 or above
F Otherwise