Our biophysics research laboratory employs advanced laser and detection technology in order to measure the structural heterogeneity of biological molecules and capture the dynamics of molecular conformations and interactions at the single-molecule level. Single-molecule fluorescence (SMF) techniques are now widely used in biology, including applications focused on studying protein and RNA folding, the mechanics of molecular motors, enzymatic activity, DNA replication, and the dynamics of ion channels and membrane receptors. Single-molecule experiments have the unique capability to observe and quantify the disorder and complexity of biological systems and thus can provide important feedback for theoretical models and molecular simulations.

We have built ultrasensitive optical microscopes which can track fluorescent molecules with nanometer accuracy and on time scales from picoseconds to seconds. Our instruments can simultaneously record multiple fluorescence parameters, such as color, lifetime, anisotropy, anisotropy decay, photon bunching, etc, which can be used to infer a wealth of information about the states and the dynamics of biological molecules and their environment. A remarkable range of single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy and imaging modalities are available in our lab: multiparameter SMF, smFRET, dual-color FCS, ALEX, single particle tracking, FRAP, FLIM, single-molecule photobleaching and multiparameter confocal and total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy.

Our main research projects focus on studying rapidly fluctuating conformations in intrinsically disordered proteins and drug-induced conformational and oligomerization dynamics of G-protein coupled receptors in the cell membrane. On top of that, we collaborate on projects aimed at characterizing the inhibitory action of new synthetic drugs against cancer proteins, the morphology of lipid-coated polymeric beads and the physical properties of nanoparticles for biosensing and cancer imaging applications. By its very nature, our work is very interdisciplinary and the people in the lab are being trained not only in physics, chemistry and match, but also in statistics, programming, molecular and cellular biology. We have active collaborations with various groups in the Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmacy departments at UofT, at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, and in the Physics department at Dalhousie University, as well as with local industry partners.