Dr Ralf Richter

Dr Ralf Richter


MSc in Physics (Chalmers/Göteborg University, Sweden). PhD in Physical Chemistry (University Bordeaux I, France; 2004). Postdoctoral work at University of Heidelberg (2005-07). Research Group Leader at CIC biomaGUNE (San Sebastian, Spain; 2007-18). Chair of Excellence at University Grenoble Alpes (France; 2012-15). Associate Professor at University of Leeds since 2016.

Research interests

We aim to understand the mechanisms of assembly and function of soft biological interfaces, to advance knowledge and for applications in the life sciences

The Richter Lab develops novel physics and chemistry tools to address bioscience questions that are intractable with conventional methods. We are particularly interested in ‘biological interfaces’ such as cell membranes and extracellular matrices: how they regulate inter- and intra-cellular communication and how this can be exploited to direct cell fate decisions.

We are particularly interested in extracellular matrices that are rich in glycans; these microscopic hydrogel-like assemblies are important regulators of cell function and inter-cellular communication. Another main object of our research is the nuclear pore permeability barrier, a nanoscopic meshwork of intrinsically disordered proteins that makes macromolecular transport between the cytosol and nucleus of cells selective and is crucial for orderly gene expression. Resolving how these systems work provides new approaches to prevention, diagnosis and treat disease, and inspiration for the design of new functional materials.

To understand how biological functions emerge from the assembly and dynamic reorganization of biomolecules, we adopt a multidisciplinary approach that combines living cells and tissues with well-controlled models of tunable complexity. Exploiting surface science and engineering tools, we tailor-make model systems by the directed self-assembly of purified components. For the quantitative analysis of these biomimetic systems, we develop a toolbox of physico-chemical in situ analysis techniques including quartz crystal microbalance (QCM-D), atomic force microscopy (AFM), spectroscopic ellipsometry (SE) and advanced optical microscopy methods. We use concepts from biological and soft matter physics to rationalize the properties of soft biological matter, and collaborate closely with biochemists and biologists to integrate our bottom-up biosynthetic approach with work at the levels of molecules, cells and living organisms.

The Lab in Leeds

For our research at the cross-roads of biology, physics, chemistry and engineering, we are affiliated with the School of Biomedical Sciences and the School of Physics and Astronomy. We are also part of the Astbury Centre for Structural and Molecular Biology and the Bragg Centre for Materials Research.

Current Projects

For current projects, please refer to the personal hompage at the School of Biomedical Sciences.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://eps.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Student education

I am teaching to undergraduate and postgraduate students in Physics and in Biomedical Sciences.

Studentship information

Student projects:

  • We have various projects available for undergrad and postgraduate students. We also accept applications by self-funded students to work in our multidisciplinary team. Please get in touch if you are interested.

Research groups and institutes

  • Molecular and Nanoscale Physics
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>