Jeremy England

Jeremy England is a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology best known for a mathematical explanation of the origins of life known as dissipation-driven adaptation.

Professor England's research is directed towards understanding the patterns of organization in space and time that form the basis of life at the molecular level. Which arrangements of macromolecules in the cytosol are consistent with cell survival? How do a protein's form and function arise from its linear architecture? What are the physical conditions necessary for the emergence of self-replicating molecular forms capable of evolution? What these and other questions of interest all have in common is that they point to theoretical physics as a means to make better sense of fundamentally biological phenomena. The overall objective is to chart a course of inquiry that traces the boundary between inanimate and living matter.

The England research group aims to span the range from the basically theoretical to the medically practical: theoretical through the construction of analytical models and computer simulations from the concepts of statistical mechanics, and practical through the development of new computational tools for biologists, as well as through the establishment of close collaborations with experimenters in biomedical fields. For example, England has recently developed a new phenomenological theory of conformational fluctuations in polypeptide chains that successfully predicts the allosteric motions of many globular proteins (Structure, 2011). Future work will not only focus on elaborating this theory's basis in the statistical mechanics of polymers, but also on its use in identifying druggable allosteric sites on proteins, as well as on its application to the in vivo characterization of mutant proteins known to undergo the deleterious misfolding and aggregation events that underlie human neurodegenerative disease.