Emeritus Research Director, Institut Curie, Département de Physicochimie du vivant
Visiting 20 May – 22 June, 2017
About Jacques Prost
Prof Prost is emeritus CNRS research director at the Curie Institute in Paris, and distinguished visiting professor at NUS.
After developing a research activity on Soft Condensed Matter and Statistical Physics with a strong emphasis on Liquid Crystals, he has been interested in the physics-biology interface. In particular, he has been active in the description of molecular motors, hearing, cell and tissue dynamics for which he introduced the concept of “active gels” and that of homeostatic pressure for tissues.
He was successively at the origin of the “Bordeaux Liquid Crystal Group”, of the “Laboratory of Theoretical Physical Chemistry” at ESPCI (Paris) and of the “Physical Chemistry Laboratory” at the Curie Institute (Paris).
He is a member of the French and European Academy of Sciences and has been awarded the 2007 Del Duca European Grand Prix and 2016 Beverly and Raymond Sackler prize in Biophysics.
Prof Prost’s Research
The Physical Approach of Biological Problems
A rapid inspection of orders of magnitude involved in cell components show that they are very similar to those relevant to “Soft Matter Physics”. There are however two important differences: biological systems are clearly out of equilibrium and molecular specificity can be strongly relevant. These simple remarks convince us that on the one hand Soft Matter Physics can provide a quantitative description of cellular systems, and that on the other hand biological systems raise an interesting number of new and challenging physical questions.
For these reasons we concentrate our efforts towards understanding physical features of cell morphology and dynamics. This project is meaningful only with strong interactions with biologists.
Cells contain a very large number of components, but if we focus on mechanical properties, only a few classes of component are relevant: the cytoskeletal networks, molecular motors, phospholipid membranes and the large class of adhesion molecules such as integrins or cadherins. Therefore we study each of these components, keeping in mind the importance of the non-equilibrium behavior. In some cases, this requires the introduction of new physical concepts such as “active” membranes, “active” gels or “isothermal ratchet”, which is a model to describe molecular motors by the Brownian motion of a particle switching between two different states.
Read more about Docteur Jacques Prost’s group and research