Mar. 22, 2017

Read & Win: Modern Biophysical Chemistry - Detection and Analysis of Biomolecules

The application of physical methods and principles to biological molecules has enabled the development of powerful bioanalytical techniques, in particular in the fields of microscopy and imaging. Mastery of these technologies usually requires a solid understanding of the underlying biological and physical principles, which is what this textbook is all about. Current standard methods used in research and development are explained here, including super-resolution microscopy and imaging techniques. By presenting a mix of basic theory and real life application examples, the gap between theory and experiment is successfully bridged.

The book has been developed from a graduate course taught by the author for several years. Readers with a basic understanding of biochemistry and/or biophysics will quickly gain an overview of cutting edge technology for the biophysical analysis of proteins, nucleic acids and other biomolecules and their interactions.

Win the book!
To have a chance of winning the book read Issue 1, 2017 of Imaging & Microscopy (page 14 ). As a subscriber you could read the issue already online or order you own copy (as a free trial copy). Take part in our competition and send your answer to with the subject line Read & Win. All correct answers will be entered in a prize draw and the lucky winner will receive a copy of "Modern Biophysical Chemistry - Detection and Analysis of Biomolecules".
Closing date: June 21, 2017.

Peter J. Walla
Peter Walla is a Professor for Biophysical Chemistry at the University of Braunschweig. Having obtained his academic degrees from the Universities of Heidelberg and Göttingen, Professor Walla did postdoctoral research at the University of California at Berkeley, and headed a department in a Biotech company (now part of Bayer HealthCare) as well as a research group at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen (Germany), before taking up his current position.

He has very broad research expertise in biophysical chemistry covering techniques such as single molecule spectroscopy as well as two-photon ultrafast spectroscopy  and microscopy and their application in fields like neuroscience or photosynthetic light harvesting and
energy conversion.

Interview with Peter Walla:

I&M: What is your main focus in research, what is your main scientific interest?

Walla: Currently, one of our major research interests is the investigation of natural and development of artificial light-harvesting. I think one of the most important challenges for the next decades is research that helps resolving a sustainable energy supply. Here, we can learn a lot from the very efficient photophysical processes nature has optimized over millions of years. Biophysical methods such as microscopy, spectroscopy and timeresolved measurements will be essential in this field of research. Another focus is the application of such methods to better understand processes in neurobiology on both, the microscopic as well as the molecular level. Here, we have long-standing collaborations with neurobiologists that investigate neuronal signal-transmission or learning and memory.

I&M: What was the reason to write the book?

Walla: When I had my first appointment as assistant professor in 2003 I was asked to give a lecture on biophysical chemistry. I soon realized that - while excellent text books existed – most books lacked the very latest methods such as single-molecule spectroscopy, NMR protein structure determination or ultrafast and non-linear spectroscopy. However, many of these methods were already of very widespread use in many laboratories world-wide. For example, ultrafast and non-linear spectroscopy was generally used in many two-photon microscopes. As I wanted to give the students a broad overview and not just a very specialized insight into some selected methods I worked out detailed lecture notes. I soon felt that these notes could be useful not only to my students but probably also to other students at other universities.

I&M: What is the target audience for the book?

Walla: Many modern methods currently used in different labs around the world are based on the combination of the same basic principles described in the book. The book shall help to be prepared in the application and development of such methods by describing a mix of basic theory and real-life examples of these principles. As such, graduate students from biology, chemistry and physics and related fields will similarly profit as researchers in industry that aim to apply methods presented in the book to industrial problems in biology, pharmacy or medicine.

I&M:What knowledge is prerequisite for the book?

Walla: A background in biology and/or biochemistry is a prerequisite and fundamental knowledge in physical chemistry is advantageous.

I&M: What is the structure of the book?

Walla: In the first part, methods are presented that are already very widespread in many laboratories world-wide and that represent the modern standard in biophysical chemistry research. In the second part, more specialized or more recently developed methods are described that are to be applied when the more general methods of the first part cannot be used or that are still in some stage of maturation.

I&M: Is automation in the field of imaging a curse or a blessing?

Walla: I believe, on the long run, automation in the field in imaging - for example in high-content screening and in robotic sample handling environments – will be pivotal to solve the statistical problem of variability in many biological processes. However, it is clear that data analysis is a very difficult aspect of such automation and requires probably to include also an increasing amount of computer science into future text books on biophysical chemistry. I believe, it will be a blessing once certain problems are routinely solved but the way to such solutions might be rather a curse.

I&M: What method will become, in your opinion, more important in the next years?
Walla: As mentioned above, I believe the digital revolution will also impact biophysical science in future. In order to solve the statistical problem of variability in many biological processes and to handle the vast amount of data that is provided by many modern methods computational science will be of significantly increasing importance.

More information:
Peter Jomo Walla
Modern Biophysical Chemistry: Detection and Analysis of Biomolecules
2nd / updated and expanded edition / 2014 / softcover
ISBN: 978-3-527-33773-6
Also available as E-book


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