Ruprecht-Karls-Universitšt Heidelberg

Medical Biophysics

Institute of Physiology and Pathophysiologie
Prof. Rainer H.A. Fink


The Medical Biophysics Group at the Institute of Physiology and Pathophysiology was founded in 1990 by Rainer H.A. Fink when he came from the University of Adelaide to take up his professorship in Heidelberg. The work of the group covers various research areas in the fields of physiology, biophysics and basic clinical research. The interdisciplinarity is borne by researchers from various fields of natural and medical sciences, including physicians, physicists, chemists and clinical doctors. Teaching is covered for medical students in physiology and in molecular physiology and biophysics for advanced medical students and students graduating in natural sciences. For interested students it is possible to carry out a PhD thesis in medicine (Dr. med. or Dr. Sc. hum.), a PhD thesis in physics, or a master's- (diplom-) thesis in physics.

Using skeletal muscle and neuronal preparations for the development of highly sensitive methods, we are seeking to expand state of the art technology in physical and biophysical sciences to the application in basic medical research. The techniques used by our group include microscopic fluorescence imaging techniques, as e.g. confocal/multiphoton imaging, ratiometric wide field fluorescence microscopy, microscopic laser application, as e.g. UV-laser microdissection and IR-optical tweezers, patch clamp and several other voltage clamp techniques, mathematical modelling of cellular and subcellular dynamic processes, and basic image processing techniques especially for studying dynamic processes.

With the help of this broad spectrum of sensitive techniques many clinical relevant questions can be studied in its molecular origins. For example the investigations on Duchenne muscular dystrophy are utilizing the patch-clamp method and the various approaches for determining the total intracellular calcium turnover in diseased single muscle fibers. The effects of volatile anaesthetics on the contractile proteins of skeletal and heart muscles, as well as on the ryanodine receptors can be ideally studied using permeabilised muscle fibres, with the contractile force and the calcium turnover as very sensitive indicators of cellular and subcellular effects of volatile anaesthetics.

The research projects of the group are embedded in a network of national and international cooperations, which further expand the interdisciplinary approaches of our research topics. This includes collaborative projects in molecular biology, biotechnology and physical chemistry.