Summer School 2022sponsor_fbbva

Physics of Biological Systems: From Emergent Collective behaviors to Functional Materials

Miraflores de la Sierra, Madrid, Sept. 2-7, 2022


The program will consist of invited lectures, as well as oral contributions and a poster session. A short program is available here.

You can see the book of abstracts here.

Arrival and announcements.

There will be buses available for registered participants from Plaza Castilla at 16:00 and 19:00 on September 2nd. Arrival to Miraflores de la Sierra by Public Transportation requieres taking a bus from Plaza de Castilla as well. You can check the schedule for Public Transportation here. Plaza de Castilla can be reached from the Airport by Metro taking the line 8 towards Nuevos Ministerios upto Colombia station, and from there taking line 9 towards Paco de Lucia upto Plaza de Castilla. From Atocha to Plaza de Castilla, you have to take line 1 towards Pinar de Chamartin upto Tribunal, and there change to line 10 towards Hospital Infanta Sofia and you will arrive to Plaza de Castilla.

Transportation details to “La Cristalera” are available here.

Scope and goals.

Natural selection has engineered sophisticated nano- and microscopic machines able to perform vital and complex biological processes such as directed transport of molecules, energy storage, tissue remodeling, wound healing and immune responses. To perform these processes, active systems transform energy into mechanical forces, thereby operating out-of-equilibrium. It is precisely the non-equilibrium nature of biological systems, which makes fascinating behaviors emerge, ranging from self-propulsion to collective behaviors, and including patterning formation. However, these behaviors strongly depend on their interaction with the environment, where the forces generated by these active systems can either stressed the environment or where the environment can serve as an energy sink. These environment-mediated interactions, which can be either physical or chemical, may result into coordinated behaviors. For example, the characteristic elements of these systems may be able to coordinate their movements or even their metabolic status through the environment. Therefore, understanding the physical principles that determine the interaction between active elements and their environment is crucial to develop functional materials that take advantage of these behaviors.

The development of functional materials capable of actively responding to external stimuli is thus an open frontier in material science. The dynamical properties of these responsive materials to deformations or sustained movements exhibit striking similarities to those exhibited by living systems. Therefore, the materials science community could be inspired by the behaviors of living matter to develop synthetic and versatile platforms that generate and control dynamically complex individual and collective behaviors. Can we thus use active matter systems to engineer novel responsive materials? Can we link the non-equilibrium physics inherent to living systems to material science in an attempt to apply dynamics and fluctuations to the design of smart materials?

This Summer School seeks bringing together researchers from the fields of biological physics, soft matter physics and material science to open a new avenue of biophysical soft matter research built on the knowledge gained over these years on both the building blocks and the fundamental interactions that drive the behavior of active systems. Understanding the dynamics of these elements enables the development of synthetic materials that either mimic behaviors found in living matter or exploit the elements to improve materials properties.

Confirmed Speakers up to date

History and venue

The International Summer School “Nicolás Cabrera”, funded by the BBVA Foundation, deals with current topics in materials science, condensed matter physics, nanophysics and biophysics since 1994. The School is a meeting point for numerous scientists all over the world, who share a few days in Madrid in a particularly pleasant and interacting environment.

The School is organized in the residence “La Cristalera” in Miraflores de la Sierra, a small village in the mountains near Madrid. There will be a welcome reception on Friday, Sep 2, with lectures taking place from the morning of Saturday, Sep 3, until lunch on Wednesday, Sep 7.


  • Juan L. Aragones (
  • Laura R. Arriaga (
  • Raul Guantes (