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Cambridge Centre for Physical Biology


Upcoming Events


CPB Seminars


22 February 2023 - Registration

Stephan Uphoff

Department of Biochemistry

University of Oxford


Phenotypic heterogeneity in bacterial stress response

Genetically-identical bacterial cells commonly display different phenotypes, especially in response to environmental stress. What causes phenotypic heterogeneity and how does it affect adaptation of bacterial populations during stress? We address these questions using a combination of single-molecule imaging, single-cell analysis via microfluidics, machine-learning, and quantitative modelling. We currently focus on three major stress responses in E. coli bacteria; the adaptive response to alkylation stress, the SOS response to DNA damage, and the oxidative stress response. We observe substantial phenotypic heterogeneity for each type of response, but uncover that the underlying mechanisms are fundamentally different and have unexpected consequences for the behaviour of the cell population under stress.

Date 22 February 11:30 am

Venue -  Department of Engineering - James Dyson Building seminar room



23 January 2023 - Registration

Kazuhiro Maeshima

Chromatin behavior during cell cycle revealed by single-nucleosome imaging/tacking

Dynamic chromatin behavior plays a critical role in various genome functions (1). However, it remains unclear how chromatin behavior changes during cell cycle. In interphase, the nucleus enlarges, and genomic DNA doubles. It was previously reported that chromatin movements varied during interphase when measured using a minute or longer time-scale. However, using single-nucleosome imaging/tracking (2), we unveil that local chromatin motion on a second time-scale remained steady throughout G1, S and G2 phases in live human cells (3). This motion mode appeared to change beyond this time-scale. A defined genomic region also behaved similarly during interphase. Combined with Brownian dynamics modeling, our results suggest that this steady-state chromatin motion was mainly driven by thermal fluctuations. Steady-state motion temporarily increased following a DNA damage response. Our findings support the viscoelastic properties of chromatin. We propose that the observed steady-state chromatin motion allows cells to conduct housekeeping functions, such as transcription and DNA replication, under similar environments during interphase (3).

Furthermore, during mitosis, copied genome chromatin must be faithfully transmitted into two daughter cells as condensed chromosomes, whose morphology looks totally different from interphase ones. Our single-nucleosome imaging/tracking demonstrated that mitotic chromatin is much more constrained than interphase chromatin. Condensins and local nucleosome-nucleosome are major constraining factors during mitosis.


1, Maeshima, K., Iida, S., Tamura, S. (2021) Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology. a040675. 2, Ide, S., Tamura, S., Maeshima, K. (2022) BioEssays. 44, 2200043. 3, Iida, S. et al. (2022) Science Advances. 8, eabn5626

Date: 23 January 2023 at 3 pm

Venue: Wolfson Lecture Theatre in the Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry



10 November 

Kevin Foster

Competition and warfare in bacteria and the human microbiome

Microbial communities contain many evolving and interacting bacteria, which makes them difficult to understand and predictUsing a combination of theory and experiment, we study what it takes for bacteria to succeed in diverse communities. One way is to actively kill and inhibit competitors and we study the strategies that bacteria use in toxin-mediated warfare, including reciprocation and the scorched-earth strategy of making broad-spectrum antibiotics. We are now using our understanding of bacterial competition to try to manipulate gut communities for better health. Our goal is to both stabilise microbiome communities and remove problem species without the use of antibiotics.

Date: 10 November at 2 pm

Venue: Department of Physics Small Lecture Theatre





14 July (in person)

Marcus Taylor

(Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Berlin)

Higher-order oligomeric assembly in the innate immune system: Myddosome assembly and the induction of inflammation

The Myddosome is a specialized innate immune signaling complex that activates NF-kB signaling. Critical to NF-kB activation is the formation of lysine-63 and methionine-1 linked polyubiquitin chains. How does the Myddosome control the formation of these two distinct polyubiquitin chains to activate NF-kB signaling? In this talk, I will describe how we have discovered that Myddosomes are plasma membrane-tethered organelles that concentrate and activate the protein machinery that assembles K63/M1 polyubiquitin chains. We discovered that the spatial reorganization of Myddosomes into clusters regulates the formation of M1/K63 ubiquitin chains and the activation of NF-kB signaling. Inhibiting Myddosome clustering reduced the recruitment of the K63 ubiquitin ligases TRAF6 and the M1 ubiquitin ligase HOIL1. Finally, I will describe our efforts to create a spatial and temporal map of the IL-1-Myddosome signaling network. These efforts seek to understand how extracellular signalling triggers the assembly of the Myddosome and how the stoichiometric composition of oligomeric signaling complexes remodels in time.

14 July | 10 am | Sainsbury Lab Auditorium 

Registration here


CPB Symposia

Biomolecular Condensates 2.0 @ Cambridge

14th July - Robinson College


Conference registration is £15 per person. Registration fee covers coffee breaks, lunch and afternoon reception.

Use this link to register (includes payment instructions):



All events

Previous Seminars




Kevin Chalut (Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cells Institute)

Mechanobiology of cell fate choice

23 June | 2 pm | Sainsbury Lab Auditorium 


Alain Chédotal (Vision Institute / INSERM, Paris)

3D analysis of human embryonic development

17th June | 5.30 pm | McCrum Lecture Theatre Benet's Street,CB2 3QN


Matteo Rauzi  (Université Côte d'Azur) 

Mechanisms and mechanics driving epithelial tube formation during sea urchin embryo gastrulation

10 May |  2 pm | Department of Zoology (Main Lecture Hall)


Iain Couzin (MPI-AB Konstanz, Germany)

The geometry of decision-making

14 April | 2 pm | Sainsbury Lab Auditorium 


Jonas Cremer (Sanford University)

The cell-physiological constraints of microbial growth in and out of steady-state

8 March | 17:00 (UK) | Zoom




Sebastian Streichan (UC Santa Barbara Physics)

Physics of Living Matter: From Molecule to Embryo 

9 December | 17:00 (UK) | Zoom


Nicoletta Petridou (EMBL)

Rigidity phase transitions in embryo development: from identification to function

4 November | 14:00 (UK) | Zoom


Buzz Baum (LMB) and Andela Saric (UCL)

The mechanics and evolution of cell division

7 October | 14:00 (BST) | Zoom


Patricia Bassereau - Institut Curie, Paris

How filopodia locally protrude from cell plasma membrane

15 June | 14:00 (BST) | Zoom


Nathalie Questembert-Balaban - Hebrew University

Observation of universal dynamics in the recovery of single cells to stress

11 May | 14:00 (BST) | Zoom


Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan FRS - Harvard University

The wisdom of hives, nests and mounds

23 April | 15:00 (BST) | Zoom


Timothy Russell - London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine 

Mathematical modelling of the COVID-19 pandemic: using a range of simple and complex models to get the most out of the available data

10 February 2021 | 14.30 | Zoom



Matthieu Piel - Institute Curie (Paris)

The actin cortex in live cells

19 November 2020 | 14.30 | Zoom


Previous Mini-Symposia

Termly mini-symposia will be held based around our Research Areas



CPB Annual Meeting - 2022

Keynote Lecture - Prof. Jordi Garcia Ojalvo (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)

29 April | 14:00 - 20:00 St Johns College - Old Divinity School




CIN CPB joint meeting:

Experimental and Conceptual Modelling of Immunity and Disease

 8 July 2021 - 2 pm at the Jeffrey Cheah Biomedical Centre* (in-person and online)


CPB Single Cell Symposium

Keynote Lecture - Dr. Rahul Satija​  (New York Genome Center - NYU )

19 April 14:00 - 16:00 (BST)


CPB Mechanics of Epithelia Symposium

23 March 13:00 - 18:00 (GMT)



CPB Annual Meeting 2020

Keynote Lecture - Prof. Lisa Manning  (Syracuse University)

16 December | 14:00 - 16.30 | Zoom


Live Imaging of Cells and Molecules

Keynote LectureProf. Achillefs Kapanidis (University of Oxford)

29 May 2020 | 14:00 - 16:30 | Zoom


Launch Event

Keynote LectureProf. Martin Howard (John Innes Centre - Norwhich)

20 January 2020 | 14:00 - 19:30 | Old Divinity School - St John's College 



Call for proposals