Specialisation Physical Biology

During the specialisation of Physical Biology within the master Molecular Life Sciences you will focus on the underlying understanding of molecular interactions. Using knowledge gained from physics, chemistry and bioinformatics the understanding of molecular complexes will come to the light. By applying (bio)physical techniques as (micro)spectroscopy and magnetic resonance, you will gain the know-how to apply your newly gained knowledge in carrying out experimental research on biophysics and physical biology. Moreover, you will be able to develop analytical tools for biophysical research on subjects as food and pharmaceutics.

Research example

In the image at the top of this page an example of a current research project of Biophysics is visualized. The colormap in this image indicates the flow velocity of a fluid as measured by a variant of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, the same technique that produces MRI images in a hospital. The fluid is being “stirred” by a rotating rod. Measuring these flow fields reveals the mechanical properties of the fluid and can help understanding the origin of complex flow behavior, such as why foams are mostly air but still rigid or why mayonnaise does not flow out of a jar held upside down. This is an example of many ways you can apply physical biology to understand molecular complexes.

Physical Biology


For this specialization, you need to choose at least two deepening courses, however you can always choose more if you want to. All details can be found in the study handbook, but some characteristic courses of this specialization are shortly explained below:

Biophysical Imaging

In this research method course offered by the chair group of Biophysics (BIP), the focus is on the use of advanced imaging techniques to solve biological problems. The principles of techniques such as confocal laser scanning microscopy, fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM), NMR imaging (MRI), and atomic force microscopy (AFM) will be presented. In addition, principles of image processing, and analysis, manipulation and interpretation of two- and three dimensional datasets will be discussed to enhance the understanding of the performed experiments.

Bioinformation Technology

The availability of large amounts of high throughput omics data gives us new insights and a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms of life. This course questions whether we can transform this data into useful information and what we can learn from this information about a biological process. This course will introduce the basic concepts and tools essential for this transformation process. Background information on frequently used computational tools for DNA, RNA, and protein sequence analysis is mixed with practical, hands-on elements to demonstrate important basic bioinformatics concepts.

Advanced Soft Matter

Soft matter is the study of materials that are neither solid, nor liquid. They are somewhere in between. This course shows how the balance between thermal fluctuations and the interactions between molecules can lead to complex structures and mechanical properties at a larger scale. Topics include: thermal motion and diffusion, linear and non-linear mechanics, adhesion and friction, liquid interfaces, wetting, gels and virus assembly. Special attention is paid to developments in the laboratory of Physical Chemistry and Soft matter (PCC), and to the relevance for practical areas such as food science and nanotechnology.

Thesis Research Groups

The MSc thesis forms the core of your specialization, reflected in the value of 36 ECTS. Your thesis will be part of the research of one of the chair groups of Wageningen University. The research groups that offer thesis projects within this specialization are listed below, and you can get more details on their respective websites.

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