News

  • Accolades
  • Biological Physics
  • Biophysics

The National Academy of Sciences has elected to membership Taekjip Ha, the Edward William and Jane Marr Gutgsell Professor of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

 

Head of Department and Professor Dale Van Harlingen said, “Taekjip is a deserving and welcome addition to the academy membership. His innovative work has stretched the boundaries of biological physics, and he is a true visionary in his field. Through his many fruitful collaborations, Taekjip has substantially contributed to the agenda of several strategic campus research initiatives. And he has done much to position Illinois as a world leader in biological physics."

  • Accolades
  • Biological Physics
  • Biophysics

Three University of Illinois professors have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the longest-standing honorary societies in the nation. Physics professor Taekjip Ha will join psychology professors J. Kathryn Bock and Gary S. Dell and other new members in an induction ceremony in October in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Ha is the Edward William and Jane Marr Gutgsell Endowed Professor, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, a professor in the Beckman Institute and the Cellular Decision Making in Cancer theme leader in the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at Illinois. He also is co-director of the National Science Foundation-funded Center for the Physics of Living Cells at the U. of I.
 

  • Research
  • Biological Physics
  • Biophysics

By combining two highly innovative experimental techniques, scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have for the first time simultaneously observed the structure and the correlated function of specific proteins critical in the repair of DNA, providing definitive answers to some highly debated questions, and opening up new avenues of inquiry and exciting new possibilities for biological engineering.

Illinois biological physicists Taekjip Ha and Yann Chemla have combined two cutting-edge laboratory techniques that together directly get at the structure-function relationship in proteins. Ha is well recognized for his innovative single molecule fluorescence microscopy and spectroscopy techniques. Professor Yann Chemla is a top expert in optical trapping techniques. Their combined method—simultaneous fluorescence microscopy and optical trapping—yields far more definitive answers to questions relating structure to function than either technique could independently.

 

  • Research
  • Biological Physics
  • Biophysics

“We discovered this interesting physics of DNA that its sequence determines the flexibility and thus the stability of the DNA package inside the cell,” said Gutgsell Professor of Physics Taekjip Ha, who is a member of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology. “This is actually very elementary DNA physics. Many people thought we should have known this many decades ago, but there are still surprises in the physics of DNA.”

  • Research
  • Biological Physics
  • Biophysics

Knowing how cells exert force and sense mechanical feedback in their microenvironment is crucial to understanding how they activate a wide range of cellular functions, such as cell reproduction, differentiation and adhesion -- basic physiological processes that underlie embryo development, tumor metastasis, wound healing and many other aspects of human health and disease.

Now a more fine-grained picture of adhesion mechanics is emerging, thanks to a new tool developed in Illinois in recent years called a "tension gauge tether," which allows scientists to measure cell mechanics at the single-molecule level. This week at the Biophysical Society 59th annual meeting, being held Feb. 7-11, 2015 in Baltimore, Md., University of Illinois biophysicists are reporting a new picture of cell adhesion mechanics they liken to a famous Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.