Experimental Biophysics 



In cellular systems the main data storage for various functions is the cell nucleus containing the DNA. Beyond the sequence of DNA molecules, the three dimensional spatial organization of the micro- and nano-architecture plays an important role for the control of the complex system cell. In addition, in sequence data characteristic patterns can be found which lead to the expectation that the organization may not be random. These patterns are well conserved along phylogenetic lines during evolution.

Cellular data stored in the nucleus induce complex functional cascades and regulatory cycles of cellular proteins. These functional cycles are often displayed on the cellular membrane by appropriate signal molecules which allows cellular systems to communicate with their natural environment. Genes and nucleotide sequences in the nucleus and proteins and receptors on the membrane can be understood as corresponding endpoints of complex functional cascades of a cellular system. Molecular-chemically or physically triggered modification on one or the other side are resulting in spatial re-arrangements and compaction changes of DNA or receptors and proteins, respectively. The dynamics and charaxteristics can be investigated with novel techniques of super-resolution microscopy and nano-labelling.

The research group "€œExperimental Biophysics" is working on questions of the organization of bio-molecules and sub-cellular units in cellular systems considering biomedical applications and medical diagnostics. By means of fluorescence microscopy and super-resolution microscopy basic research as well as applied research is done in the field of radiation-biophysics and tumour medicine.

For the investigation of different kinds of information being contained by the cell nucleus chromatin, DNA data bases are analyzed and compared for specific pattern formations. Based on these analyses fundamental results for the chromatin organization can be obtained and also sequences for the design of specific oligonucleotide nano-probes for for microscopy are determined.

Such molecular labelling techniques allow the investigation of structures and organization principles in 3D-conserved cell nuclei. Cells are not only exposed to externeal stimuli like ionizing radiation, molecular ligands or therapeutic antibodies but also to special geometric physical boundary conditions which allow to mimic tissue equivalent cell ensembles.

Research on intrisic information being archived and processed in cells results in priciple investigations of organization and use of archives in a broader sense as being discussed interdiciplinarily between sciences and humanities.

Beyond this research and based on theoretical considerations, conditions are studied being relevant for the development of molecular pre-requisits which may be possible for life also under extreme conditions.

In the research group cellular and sub-cellular systems of organization are studied on different levels of complexicity and unter different boundary conditions. Theoretical and experimental work contribute to a coherent biophysical image of cellular and sub-cellular systems.The work can be subdivided in following projects:

  • Systematic analysis of sequence patterns and frquencies as well as positions of k-mers along the phylogenetic tree

  • COMBO-FISH: Development of oligonucleotide combinations for specific labelling of genome targets

  • Radiation biophysics: Investigations of the 3D micro- and nano-architecture of the cell nucleus and their modifications after exposure to ionizing radiation

  • Radiation biophysics: Specific incorporation of nano-particles (nano-gold) in cells and cell nuclei and mechanisms of interaction with ionizing radiation

  • Investigations of the 3D nano-architecture of receptor clusters and proteins of the cell membrane after exposure to ionizing radiation, molecular stimuli, and chemo-therapeutic agents

  • Preparation of artifical cell geometries and arrangements to mimic tissue equivalents for the investigation or orchestrated cell response mechanisms

  • Development of concepts for sustainable archivation of biophysical data

  • Astrobiophysics: Physical aspects on the development of living systems


The research is supported by:



Prof. Dr. Michael Hausmann

Kirchhoff-Institute for Physics
Im Neuenheimer Feld 227
69120 Heidelberg
At the 2021 annual conference of the German Society for Biological Radiation Research (DeGBS) Michael Hausmann was awarded the Ulrich Hagen Prize for outstanding merits to radiation research in Germany and his scientific work. He was also awarded honorary membership of the DeGBS in 2023.
Gesamtverzeichnis bis einschließlich 2022 /
List of publications until 2022

  1. Henn L, Sievers A, Hausmann M, Hildenbrand G (2023) Specific patterns in correlations of super-short tandem repeats (SSTRs) with G+C content, genic and intergenic regions, and retrotransposons on all human chromosomes. Genes 15: 33. https://doi.org/10.3390/genes15010033
  2. Scherthan H, Geiger B, Ridinger D, Müller J, Riccobono D, Bestvater F, Port M, Hausmann M (2023) Nano-architecture of persistent focal DNA damage regions in the minipig epidermis weeks after acute-irradiation. Biomolecules 13: 1518. https://doi.org/10.3390/biom13101518
  3. Fischer EF, Pilarczyk G, Hausmann M (2023) Microscopic analysis of heterochromatin, euchromatin and cohesin in cancer cell models and under anti-cancer treatment. Curr. Issues Mol. Biol. 45: 8152–8172. https://doi.org/10.3390/cimb45100515
  4. Reindl J, Abrantes AM, Ahire V, Azimzadeh O, Baatout S, Baeyens A, Baselet B, Chauhan V, Da Pieve F, Delbart W, Dobney CP, Jeppesen Edin NF, Falk M, Foray N, François A, Frelon S, Gaipl US, Georgakilas AG, Guipaud O, Hausmann M et al. (2023) Molecular Radiation Biology. In: Radiobiology Textbook (Baatout S, ed.): 83-189. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-18810-7
  5. Sievers A, Sauer L, Bisch M, Sprengel J, Hausmann M, Hildenbrand G (2023) Moderation of structural DNA properties by coupled dinucleotide contents in eukaryotes. Genes 14, 755. https://doi.org/10.3390/genes14030755
  6. Weidner J, Neitzel C, Gote M, Deck J, Küntzelmann K, Pilarczyk G, Falk M, Hausmann M (2023) Advanced image-free analysis of the nano-organization of chromatin and other biomolecules by Single Molecule Localization Microscopy (SMLM). Computational and Structural Biotechnology Journal 21: 2018-2034. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.csbj.2023.03.009
  7. Erenpreisa J, Giuliani A, Yoshikawa K, Falk M, Hildenbrand G, Salmina K, Freivalds T, Vainshelbaum N, Weidner J, Sievers A, Pilarczyk G, Hausmann M (2023)Spatial-temporal genome regulation in stress-response and cell-fate change. Int J Mol Sci 24: 2658. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms24032658
  8. Chapman KB, Filipsky F, Peschke N, Gelléri M, Weinhardt V, Braun A, Hausmann M, Cremer C (2023) A comprehensive method to study the DNA’s association with lamin and chromatin compaction in intact cell nuclei at super resolution. Nanoscale 15: 742. https://doi.org/10.1039/D2NR02684H
  1. Hausmann M, Schmitt E (2022) Combinatorial Oligonucleotide FISH (COMBO-FISH): Computer designed probe sets for microscopy research of chromatin in cell nuclei. In: "Oligonucleotides - Overview and Applications",Intech-Open, Rijeka, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5772/intechopen.108551
  2. Hausmann, M., Hildenbrand, G., Pilarczyk, G. (2022). Networks and Islands of Genome Nano-architecture and Their Potential Relevance for Radiation Biology. In: Kloc, M., Kubiak, J.Z. (eds) Nuclear, Chromosomal, and Genomic Architecture in Biology and Medicine. Results and Problems in Cell Differentiation, vol 70. Springer, Cham, pp.3-34. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-06573-6_1