Single-molecular cellular biophysics

The Leake research group of Biophysics and Biological Physics is jointly hosted by the Physics and Biology Departments at the University of York and comprises research themes of both experimental biophysics and theoretical biophysics tools, as well the use of biophysics science tools and techniques to address questions in the life sciences and develop bionanotechnology tools for application in biomedicine, synthetic biology and bioengineering. We focus at a precision of single biological molecules but using cutting-edge biophysics tools and concepts to enable us to explore emergent properties in living cells and tissues. Prof Leake coordinates the ~50 researchers in the Physics of Life Group as well as running his own team focused of single-molecule biological questions addressed using home built technology.

These include a wide range of home-built light microscopy instruments including total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy, single-molecule Forster Resonance Energy Transfer (smFRET), variable-angle epifluorescence/HILO, optical tweezers and magnetic tweezers, and rapid millisecond single-molecule imaging using Slimfield. These are all integrated with advanced control software that we write ourselves, and synchronised microfluidics that we build ourselves. It is so much more rewarding to actually construct the instruments with our own hands to really cater them to overcome technological limitations that then lead to really new insights into biology.

We are an enthusiastic, interdisciplinary biophysics team and interface closely with Physics of Life Group in the Department of Physics, and the University of York’s Biological Physical Sciences Interdisciplinary network (BPSInet) and through a range of cross-departmental collaborations between physical and life scientists