Director's Welcome

Christopher Jarzynski
Christopher Jarzynski

The mission of the Institute for Physical Science and Technology (IPST) is to foster excellence in interdisciplinary research and education at the University of Maryland. IPST accomplishes this by integrating people, science and technology.

Our selective and highly ranked graduate programs in the fields of

provide specialized training at the intersection of traditional fields, and are a central component of our mission.

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News and Special Events

Biophysics Graduate Student is first author in Nature Communications Article

August 9, 2018. In "Interphase human chromosome exhibits out of equilibrium glassy dynamics", just published in Nature Communications, Guang Shi (lead author and graduate student, Biophysics Program) with Dave Thirumalai (IPST Visiting Professor) and Changbong Hyeon (Korea Institute for Advanced Study) have mapped the movement of a chromosome for the first time, using computer modeling to show how billions of base pairs of DNA get packed into an impossibly small space without getting tangled. The movement is sluggish and glass-like, differing from one cell type to the next and even among cells of the same type. Understanding this movement better could have big implications for the study of genetic diseases, human health and gene editing.

"Rather than the structure, we chose to look at the dynamics to figure out not only how this huge amount of genetic information is packaged, but also how the various loci move," said Dave Thirumalai, chair of UT Austin's chemistry department. "We learned it is not just the genetic code you have to worry about. If the timing of the movement is off, you could end up with functional aberrations."

"We found that the movement of the chromosomes was sluggish, reminiscent of glass-like behavior. We believe this might have profound consequences for how the cells behave both individually and collectively," said Shi. "In addition, different regions of the chromosome move at different speeds."

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