Molecular Biophysics


Molecular Biophysics addresses the molecular mechanisms of biology using biophysical and biochemical tools. Participating faculty are highly interdisciplinary and come from seven different departments at the NYU School of Medicine and from the Graduate School of Arts and Science. Students benefit from a strong history of collaboration between participating laboratories, which provides an opportunity to combine approaches from different disciplines to explore novel biological problems.

Faculty are interested in a wide variety of biological systems, including membrane transport, cell signaling, replication of nucleic acids, protein folding and design, genetic and epigenetic control of gene expression. Their projects typically target key macromolecules and attempt to understand their mechanisms of action at the most fundamental level.

Experimental approaches include X-ray crystallography and NMR to elucidate atomic structure, mass spectrometry to identify members of a macromolecular complex, electron microscopy to define the architecture of these complexes, super-resolution optical microscopy and single molecule techniques to elucidate function of individual macromolecules and their assemblies. Computational methods are used to design drugs or to explore surfaces for protein-protein interactions and MRI to follow the progression of genetic defects in a developing embryo. The general tools of biochemistry and biophysics are used by all to link the molecular mechanisms directly with cellular function.


David Stokes
David Stokes, PhD
Program Director 
Professor of Cell Biology
Alexander Serganov, PhD
Graduate Advisor
Assistant Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology

Sample Courses

  • Topics in Molecular Biology
  • Molecular Mechanisms in Biology
  • Techniques in Structural Biology/Molecular Biophysics
  • Seminar in Structural Biology
  • Seminar in Structural Biology
  • Grant Writing
  • Scientific Integrity and the Responsible Conduct of Research
  • Tutorial in Structural Biology

Recommended Elective Courses

  • Principles of Pharmacology and Drug Development
  • Introduction to Biostatistics & Bioinformatics
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy of Macromolecular Assemblies (NYSBC)
  • Optical Microscopy: Principles and Advanced Methods
  • Bioorganic Chemistry (Chemistry Dept)
  • Diffraction Analysis of Macromolecules (Columbia University)

Qualifying Exam 

When: End year 2 (by September 1) 

  • Written: NIH 15 double spaced pages maximum. Emphasis should be on plans and not preliminary results
    Proposal read within 2-3 weeks of receipt and decides if ok to defend
  • Oral: 20-30 min presentation followed by questions
    If not suitable for PhD, committee suggests Master’s degree pursuit for candidate