Applied Mechanics Colloquia

Protein phase transitions

Tuomas Knowles, University of Cambridge

Apr 5, 2022

Proteins are the fundamental building blocks of life. They form high performance materials and carry out cellular functions. They are able to fulfil these roles by assembling together to form sophisticated structures and architectures, which in many cases extend to mesoscopic liquid or solid phases. This talk focuses on understanding the transitions between these phases, their fundamental material properties and the way that the modulate biological function and malfunction. I will then discuss two applications opened up by the control of protein assembly and show how this approach can lead to the generation of new types of sustainable materials assembled from natural building blocks, as well as the discovery of molecules that can ameliorate malfunctioning protein self-assembly in a range of age-associated disease states.

Speaker Bio

Tuomas Knowles is Professor of Physical Chemistry and Biophysics in the Department of Chemistry and at the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, and is co-director of the Cambridge Centre for Protein Misfolding Diseases. He has a background in Biology (University of Geneva) and Physics (ETH Zurich), and received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Cambridge. He started his independent research career in 2008 when he was elected to a Research Fellowship at St John’s College, Cambridge, and was then appointed to a University Lectureship in Physical Chemistry in 2010, joining the faculty at the Department of Chemistry in Cambridge. He then successively held a University Readership between 2013 and 2015 and a Professorship since 2015. He is the recipient of a number of international prizes, including the Sackler Prize in Biophysics and the Corday-Morgan Prize from the Royal Society of Chemistry.


Frans A. Spaepen


Jennifer Vasquez