Everything in Biology is Mechanical

Julio M Fernandez

Principal Investigator

I aim to understand the dynamics of protein folding under force, and its implications for biological systems.  


I build single molecule instruments:

--Magnetic Tweezers


I study:

 --the folding/unfolding dynamics of Titin, and its role in muscle contraction and elasticity.  

-- the mechanical architecture of the Pili of gram positive pathogens.  

--mechano-sensing by Talin domains

Courses taught at Columbia University:

  • Frontiers of Science, Science C1000
  • Single Molecule Approaches to Biology, BIOLGU4070
  • Computer Models in Biology BIOLW4028
  • Cellular Physiology of Disease, BIOLGU4008,BIOLGU4009


Arthur Schopenhauer: "The truth can wait, for it lives a long life"  

Karl Popper:  "The growth of knowledge depends entirely upon disagreement"  

Thomas Kuhn: "Science undergoes periodic paradigm shifts"

Rafael Tapia-Rojo

Postdoctoral Researcher

I work at the interface between physics and biology, aiming to understand quantitively how proteins work under mechanical force.

Research Interests

- How do protein ligands bind to molecular substrates under force?

- How do proteins respond to arbitrary force signals?

- How do proteins fold under force at very short timescales?

Alvaro Alonso-Caballero

Postdoctoral Researcher

I study the mechanical properties of the proteins used by pathogenic bacteria to adhere to tissues.

Research interests

- Mechanical properties of the Gram positive pilus proteins.

- Mechano-chemical modulation of bacterial adhesin proteins.

- Force and chemical disruption of the pathogenic adhesion.

- Molecular binding to protein substrates under force.

Carmen L. Badilla

Molecular Biologist and Laboratory Manager

I am in charge of the molecular biology section of the laboratory.

Research interests

- Genetic engineering.

- Cell culture.

- Protein expression and purification.

- Mechanical antibiotics against Gram positive pathogens.

FOrmer Members

Edward C. Eckels


 MD/PhD (2014-2019)

Columbia Presbiteryan Hospital, New York, U.S.

Shubhasis Haldar


 Postdoctoral Researcher (2016-2018)

Assistant Professor in Ashoka University, New Delhi, India 

Andres Rivas-Pardo


Postdoctoral Researcher (2012-2018) 

Assistant Professor in Universidad de Santiago, Santiago, Chile 

Daniel J. Echelman


 MD/PhD (2014-2018)

Pediatrics Residency at Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, U.S.

Jessica Valle-Orero


Postdoctoral Researcher (2013-2017) 

Postdoctoral Researcher at Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris, France 

Ionel Popa


 Postdoctoral Researcher (2010-2015)  

Assistant Professor at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, U.S. 

Jorge Alegre-Cebollada


 Postdoctoral Researcher (2008-2014)  

Assistant Professor/Group Leader at National Institute of Cardiovascular Research (CNIC), Madrid, Spain 

Pallav Kosuri


PhD (2006-2012) 

Postdoctoral Researcher at Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology, Harvard University, U.S. 

Ronen Berkovich


 Postdoctoral Researcher (2010-2013)  

Principal Investigator in Chemical Engineering, Ben-Gurion University, Israel 

Raul Perez-Jimenez


 Postdoctoral Researcher (2005-2013)  

Group Leader at Nanogune, San Sebastian, Spain 

Sergi Garcia-Manyes


 Postdoctoral Researcher (2005-2012)  

Professor in Physics, Kings College London, U.K. 

Arun Wiita


MD/PhD (2002-2007) 

Assistant Professor at School of Medicine, UCSF, U.S.

Sri Rama Koti Ainavarapu


Podtdoctoral Researcher (2003-2007) 

Associate Professor in Chemical Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, India 

Jasna Brujic


 Postdoctoral Researcher (2004-2007)  

Associate Professor in Physics, New York University, U.S. 

Frauke Gräter


 Postdoctoral Researcher (2006-2007)  

Professor at Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies, Germany 

Robert Szoszkiewicz


Postdoctoral Researcher (2007-2008)

Associate Professor at University of Warsaw, Poland

Hongbin Li


Postdoctoral Researcher (1999-2004)

 Professor at Department of Chemistry, The University of British Columbia, Canada

Piotr Marszalek


Postdoctoral Researcher (1993-2002) 

Professor at Duke University, U.S. 

Andres Oberhauser


Postdoctoral Researcher (1989-1992, 1994-2002)
Professor at UTMB, U.S. 

Guillermo Alvarez de Toledo


Postdoctoral Researcher (1987-1992)

Professor at University of Seville, Spain 

Mariano Carrion-Vazquez


Postdoctoral Researcher (1994-2003)

Laboratory Director at Instituto Cajal, Madrid, Spain