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When it is practiced at the interface with biology, chemistry produces more than a toolkit for labeling biomolecules or analyzing the composition of biosystems. Chemistry first brings a specific molecular point of view, which challenges the quantification of interactions and the kinetic analysis of exquisitely complex networks of reactions. This is the program of chemical biology, which applies chemical concepts and tools (fluorescent probes, light-triggered actuators,…) to study and manipulate biological systems. Chemists also build artificial constructs mimicking biological objects (e.g. self-folding molecules, molecular assemblies) and functions (e.g. enzyme catalysis, autocatalytic networks), as in supramolecular chemistry or in system chemistry. The members of the pole of biophysical chemistry have adopted both perspectives in their research activities, aiming at development and validation of chemical approaches in the context of biologically relevant systems..


On the premise that biomolecules and their interactions shall constitute one basic language of biology, chemists have successfully addressed biological questions at the molecular level. In line with recent biology developments simultaneously integrating several levels of living matter description, chemists now apply their skills in synthesis and physical chemistry to introduce tools to perturb and trigger biological processes with resolution both in space and in time. The pole of biophysical chemistry currently develops various tools for quantitative dynamic descriptions in biology (stimuli-responsive molecules, polymers, and nanoparticles, implementing light, magnetic field, or temperature modulation as the stimuli…). They are combined with biological elements, to enable us to control dynamic interactions in vivo. Conversely, we design, synthesize, and implement de novo various bio-inspired chemical systems reproducing non-trivial chemical phenomena observed in biology (e.g. free energy transfer, symmetry breakage in confined systems, chaperonin activity, etc).