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Biophysical methods in drug discovery

National course. The course is open for current and potential facility users such as PhD students, postdocs, group leaders and core facility staff in need of skills in biophysical methods, within all Swedish universities. Priority will be given to researchers already involved in specific drug discovery projects, but participants with a broad interest in the techniques and their application for life science research are also welcome to apply, and can attend if space allows.

Participants are encouraged to bring their own research questions, protein samples and data to analyse. It should be stated in the application and the course leaders will select those deemed suitable as case studies for the course.

This course is supported by SciLifeLab.

Arranged by the SciLifeLab Drug Discovery and Development platform, involving the Biophysical Screening and Characterization facility in Uppsala and the Protein Expression and Characterization and the Protein Science facilities in Stockholm.

Important dates

Application closed

Confirmation to accepted participants: October 30, 2019

If you don’t receive information according to the dates above, contact

Contact information for questions regarding the course curriculum:

Social program and course fee

The course fee, 1800:-, includes the social program with coffee breaks, lunches and a course dinner. The course fee will be invoiced after the completion of the course. NOTE – Uppsala University cannot invoice individuals.


For schedule, please click here

Course content

The purpose of the course is to provide participants with a deeper knowledge of different biophysical techniques used for characterising protein-ligand interactions in drug discovery projects.

It will cover a range of biophysical methods used to characterize interactions between drug target proteins and potential inhibitory compounds, and how to use the information for lead generation. The methods include, but are not limited to those offered at the three SciLifeLab facilities.

Methods in focus:

  • Biosensor technologies (Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR), SwitchSENSE, Wave)
  • X-ray crystallography
  • Protein-based NMR techniques
  • In silico–based structural design of ligands
  • Differential scanning fluorimetry
  • Isothermal Calorimetry
  • Microscale thermophoresis
  • Light scatteringThe physical principles of the methods and their potential to provide structural, thermodynamic and kinetic data of relevance for drug discovery will be described. The design and practical execution of experiments, and analysis of data will be demonstrated. The information that can be obtained by different biophysical methods will be compared. The rapid development in the field, both in terms of technology improvements and implementation in projects, will be discussed.

Teaching and examination

The course consists of lectures, complemented by computer exercises, and demonstrations in the form of laboratory experiments. A large part of the course will be dedicated to discussions on how to set up relevant experiments and analyse acquired data. Time will be given for analysis of student’s own data.

Active participation in all parts of the course and completion of required exercises, including an individual project presented orally at the end of the course is mandatory in order for the students to receive a course certificate.


Please note that SciLifeLab training courses do not provide any formal university credits.
The course content is estimated to correspond to a certain number of credits, however the estimated credits are just guidelines.
If formal credits are crucial, the student needs to confer with the home department before course application, whether the course is valid for formal credits or not.

Course literature

Handouts and material online.

Entry requirements

Priority will be given to researchers involved in specific drug discovery projects, which are to be briefly described upon application. Participants interested in bringing samples or data for analysis must state this in the application.
The course will be held at an advanced level, assuming that participants have a master degree or equivalent in a life science discipline. It aims to be relevant for a broad research community, and not just PhD students or researchers who already work with the techniques presented.

A limited number of participants will be admitted. Selection criteria include correct entry requirements, motivation to attend the course as well as gender and geographical balance.

Teachers and invited lecturers

Biophysical instrument practicals/demos


  • Microscale thermophoresis (MST), NT Automated
  • Intrinsic differential scanning fluorimetry (nanoDSF), Tycho
  • Thermofluor-based DSF, BioRad
  • SwitchSENSE, Dynamic Biosensors
  • Wave, Creoptix


  • Intrinsic differential scanning fluorimetry (nanoDSF) Prometheus
  • Dynamic light scattering (DLS)
  • Differential static light scattering (LS), Stargazer