Jan Lipfert appointed Professor of Experimental Biophysics & Bio-Inspired Materials

As of 1 February, Prof. Jan Lipfert is appointed Professor of Experimental Biophysics & Bio-Inspired Materials at the Department of Physics. With this chair, he will strengthen the connections between experimental physics and the adjacent biophysics and life science groups in Utrecht. Biophysics is an interdisciplinary research field that applies approaches and methods traditionally used in physics to study, understand, and manipulate biological phenomena.

Before joining Utrecht, Lipfert worked as a Professor and vice-dean at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. In late 2020, he received an ERC Consolidator Grant, a major European research grant of 2 million euros, for research to understand how mechanical forces can regulate protein function and to device approaches to interfere with aberrant mechano-regulation.


An central goal of Lipfert’s research in molecular biophysics is to understand the physical principles that govern biological processes and the building blocks of life. Fundamental knowledge of biological processes gives insights in health and disease, and creates the possibility to influence those. The same knowledge can also be used to create novel bio-inspired materials and devices that can adapt or repair themselves.


Jan Lipfert is passionate about teaching and considers education to be the core mission of the university. During his time at the LMU Munich, he has taught in a broad range of settings, from special courses in his field of research to some very large undergraduate courses. His teaching has received excellent evaluations and – as the first individual at the LMU Munich ever – he has been awarded teaching prizes from the Physics, Chemistry, and Biology Departments. His appointment is a great asset to both Bachelor’s and Master’s education in Utrecht, especially for students interested in biophysical research and for the interdisciplinary Master’s programme Molecular and Biophysical Life Science.

Jan Lipfert

Jan Lipfert

Jan Lipfert has a highly interdisciplinary and international career. He studied physics and economics in Heidelberg (Germany) and obtained two Master’s degrees, in Uppsala (Sweden) and at the University of Illinois (USA). In 2008, he obtained his PhD from Stanford University (USA) in theoretical and experimental biophysics. After his PhD, he worked for several years as a postdoc at Delft University of Technology, where he received a Veni grant. In 2013, he was appointed Professor at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, where he was also vice dean since 2018.

Microscopic tug of war with corona

A team of biophysicists, led by prof. Jan Lipfert found that SARS-CoV-2 can withstand large physical forces, and this might be one of the reasons for its success. This April, the scientific journal PNAS presented their method, which also allows the investigation of drugs designed to prevent the coronavirus from binding.