The Research Coordination Network (RCN) on Extreme Biophysics is an NSF-funded network aimed at stimulating the convergence of disciplines (e.g. geochemistry, oceanography, astrophysics, computation, biochemistry, microbiology and geomicrobiology, analytical chemistry, genomics, molecular and cellular biophysics) needed to understand how life evolved for 4 billion years in response to changing conditions on Earth. Genomes from a large number of extremophilic organisms are now available, providing a useful starting point for a systematic study of molecular evolution of organisms in different environments. This genomic information provides the necessary basis for asking how protein and nucleic acid sequences are adapted for function under extreme conditions?
The time is ripe for the development of Extreme Biophysics.
The goal of this RCN is to regularly gather scientists with vastly different backgrounds to examine systematically the biophysical and biochemical basis for life under extreme conditions. Meetings, workshops and lab visits will be the vehicle for exchange and for developing interdisciplinary collaborations.
The outcomes of the RCN include
(1) identification of critical questions in extreme molecular and cellular biophysics,
(2) identification of the promising research areas and systems useful for study,
(3) progress with technological and conceptual road-blocks,
(4) cross-disciplinary collaborative efforts to attract funding for research in this area,
(5) pathways for the training of young scientists to prepare them for a truly multidisciplinary approach to study life on Earth and beyond.