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Biophysics of Topological Olympic Networks

Event description

Olympic gels are “mythological beasts” in soft matter and material science. Hypothesised by P.G. de Gennes in the 1980s by topologically interlinking ring-shaped polymers, they are extremely challenging to synthesise chemically. Recently, physicists realised that Olympic gels existed in nature for millions of years.

Discovered in the 1970s by a biologist, a “kinetoplast DNA” is the mitochondrial genome of blood sucking parasites called Trypanosomes. They carry deadly diseases with important health and economic consequences especially in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa and South America. Beyond their impact on human health, Trypanosomes are fascinating unicellular organisms because of their complex life cycle and their unique mitochondrial genome which consists of covalently closed DNA rings forming a 2D flat sheet of interlinked rings and curiously resembling a medieval chainmail. How this unique structure came into existence is a question that has been puzzling biologists for decades but attracted the attention of bio and soft matter physics only in the last 5 years.

This meeting is intended to align several groups in their efforts of addressing open questions in the field of kDNA, Olympic gels and topological materials. By finding common grounds among different groups we will forge new collaborations and define research boundaries between groups so as to create a collaborative field rather than a competitive one.


Biophysics of Topological Olympic Networks


Higgs Centre Seminar Room, JCMB (Find us on campus maps)
The Higgs Centre for Theoretical Physics
School of Physics and Astronomy
James Clerk Maxwell Building, 4305
Peter Guthrie Tait Road