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FSK3502 Cellular Biophysics 10.0 credits

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Headings with content from the Course syllabus FSK3502 (Spring 2019–) are denoted with an asterisk ( )

Content and learning outcomes

Course contents

Models and equations describing the transport of water, ions and nutrients within cells and through cell membranes. Active and passive transport. Channels and carriers. Cell electrical potential (graded and action potential). Methods for measuring cellular physical parameters.

Intended learning outcomes

The main purpose of the course is to give the students practical knowledge about models and experimental methods to study the transport properties of biological cells.

After the course the participants should be able to:

  • understand which molecules can be transported across cellular membranes and which mechanisms are used for the transport
  • choose the relevant mathematical models to describe the transport of water, ions and solutes within cells and through the cellular membranes
  • predict how water and ion homeostasis of the cells, as well as the membrane potential, are affected by the cell microenvironment
  • understand the principles of microscopy-based measurements of biophysical parameters in living cells
  • analyze the real data generated in biophysics experiments

Course disposition

The course consists of 12 lectures, 4 laboratory exercises (32 hours), a seminar, and a hand-in assignment.

Laboratory exercises:
- measurement of diffusion in an aqueous solution that mimics cytoplasm (fluorescent microscopy)
- measurement of diffusion in cell membranes (living cells, confocal microscopy)
- measurement of changes in cell volume (living cells, confocal microscopy)
- measurement of changes in cell membrane potential (living cells, confocal microscopy)

Literature and preparations

Specific prerequisites

Enrolled PhD student.

Recommended prerequisites

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Examination and completion

If the course is discontinued, students may request to be examined during the following two academic years.

Grading scale

P, F


  • INL1 - Hand-in assignment, 1.5 credits, grading scale: P, F
  • LAB1 - Laboratory exercises, 4.0 credits, grading scale: P, F
  • SEM1 - Seminar, 0.5 credits, grading scale: P, F
  • TEN1 - Written exam, 4.0 credits, grading scale: P, F

Based on recommendation from KTH’s coordinator for disabilities, the examiner will decide how to adapt an examination for students with documented disability.

The examiner may apply another examination format when re-examining individual students.

Opportunity to complete the requirements via supplementary examination

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Opportunity to raise an approved grade via renewed examination

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Profile picture Hjalmar Brismar

Ethical approach

  • All members of a group are responsible for the group's work.
  • In any assessment, every student shall honestly disclose any help received and sources used.
  • In an oral assessment, every student shall be able to present and answer questions about the entire assignment and solution.

Further information

Course web

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Offered by

SCI/Applied Physics

Main field of study

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Education cycle

Third cycle

Add-on studies

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Marina Zelenina

Postgraduate course

Postgraduate courses at SCI/Applied Physics