Birol Lab

Single Molecule Biophysics probing Quantitative Neuroscience


At the interface of physics and biology our goal is to build three-dimensional propagation models that underpin the progressive and invasive nature of neurodegenerative pathologies.

The pathological hallmark of neurodegenerative disorders in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is the focal accumulation of a specific protein that has a propensity to aggregate and deposit in the brain. While pathological protein aggregation is ubiquitously associated with neurodegenerative diseases, the underlying mechanisms are largely unclear.

These pathological inclusions majorly consist of the accumulation of proteins belonging to the class of intrinsically disordered proteins. We are fascinated with this challenging class of proteins as they are dynamic, heterogeneous systems and the physics that governs their (dys)function in health and disease is largely unknown.

Our group seeks to understand the dynamic assembly, physical properties and (dys)function of intracellular states of matter in neurons. In particular we are interested in the dynamic properties of spacial organization and how this regulates the much required dynamic processes in the brain, ranging from activation of neurogenesis and synaptogenesis, modulating synaptic transmission and neuronal communication to neurodegeneration. We undertake a multidisciplinary approach by combining the use and development of single molecule optical techniques, soft matter material science, computational modeling and induced pluripotent stem/organoid technology to probe quantitative neuroscience.