Raymond and Beverly Sackler Chair in Biophysics

Chairholder: Professor Carlos Bustamante

bustamanteCarlos Bustamante is a world leader in the application of various types of single molecule microscopies, especially optical tweezers, to unravel complex biological phenomena. His work has led to a much improved understanding of DNA replication, DNA transcription via RNA polymerase, viral coat packaging of DNA to extraordinary pressures and many more processes involving molecular motors. Similar techniques are used by Bustamante to study the mechanical unfolding of globular proteins. He also uses scanning force microscopy to study the structure of chromatin and the global structure of protein-nuclei and complexes relevant to the control of transcription of genes.

Professor Bustamante is truly multidisciplinary in his approach to science, bringing knowledge from all three of the departments of which he is a member – Molecular and Cell Biology, Physics, and Chemistry. He has been a leader in the application of new theoretical methods in non-equilibrium thermodynamics to determine free energy landscapes of RNAs and proteins. He received the Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Science in 2012.

Professor Bustamante’s research group is affiliated with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), the California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research (QB3), the Department of Physics, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). For more information about Professor Bustamante’s research see http://alice.berkeley.edu/.


The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Chair in Biophysics was established with a gift from Raymond and Beverly Sackler that was matched by the Hewlett Foundation to support the work of an eminent UC Berkeley faculty member whose research interests build on and enhance new connections between biology and the engineering and/or physical sciences. The Chair is part of the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biomedical, Physical and Engineering Sciences.