Rudolf Podgornik

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R. Podgornik, photo courtesy Sara Cohen (2009).

Rudolf Podgornik (born August 27, 1955 in Ljubljana, Slovenia) is a physicist. His fields of research are: physics of soft matter, physics of coulomb fluids and macromolecular interactions, the Lifshitz theory of van der Waals dispersion interaction and the Casimir effect, physics of membranes, polymers and polyelectrolytes and especially the physics of DNA and viruses.


Podgornik and coworkers discovered the line hexatic phase in the phase diagram of the concentrated long fragment DNA solutions [1]. The line hexatic mesophase appears to be the preferred packing form of long DNA in bacteriophages. He is the author of more than two hundred scientific papers [2] and a coeditor of books: "Electrostatic Effects in Soft Matter" [3] (Proceedings of the NATO Advanced Study Institute, Les Houches, France, 1–13 October 2000, Series: NATO Science Series II: Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry, Vol. 46 ), together with Christian Holm and Patrick Kekicheff and "Electrostatics of Soft and Disordered Matter" [4] (Pan Stanford Publishing, March 31, 2014) with David S. Dean, Jure Dobnikar and Ali Naji. Together with D. Harries, J. DeRouchey, H. H. Strey, and V. A. Parsegian, he coauthored the chapter "Interactions in Macromolecular Complexes Used as Nonviral Vectors for Gene Delivery", in the leading textbook of gene therapy: "Gene Therapy: Therapeutic Mechanisms and Strategies" [5], N. Smyth – Templeton, Marcel Dekker, New York (2008), Third Edition.

Rudolf Podgornik is the head of the research program Biophysics of polymers, membranes, gels, colloids and cells, financially supported by the Slovene Agency for Research and Development (ARRS) [6]. He is a member of the Theoretical Physics Department at the Jozef Stefan Institute [7] in Ljubljana, and until 2010 he was an adjunct researcher at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD. He is a professor of physics at the Physics Department [8], Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, University of Ljubljana and a professor of biophysics [9] at the Medical Faculty, University of Ljubljana. From 2011 to 2016 he was also adjunct professor at the Physics Department, University of Massachusetts, Amherst and from 2013 to 2016 an adjunct professor at the Materials Science & Engineering Department at the Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland [10]. He is a coeditor-in-chief of the Journal of Biological Physics, published by Springer, a member of the Editorial board [11] of the journal Scientific Reports published by Nature-Springer and an Advisory Editor of the European Biophysics Journal (EBJ) published by Springer Nature on behalf of the European Biophysical Societies Association (EBSA) [12].

Selected publications[edit]

  • R. Podgornik, H.H. Strey, K. Gawrisch, D.C. Rau, A. Rupprecht and V.A. Parsegian: Bond orientational oreder, molecular motion and free energy of high density DNA mesophases, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 93 , 4261-4266 (1996).
  • R. Podgornik, Interactions and Conformational Fluctuations in Macromolecular Arrays, in 'Electrostatis effects in soft matter and biophysics', C. Holm, P. Kekicheff and R. Podgornik Eds., NATO Science Series II - Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry, volume 46 (2001).
  • V. Lorman, R. Podgornik and B. Zeks, Positional, Reorientational, and Bond Orientational Order in DNA Mesophases, Phys. Rev. Lett. 87 (2001) 218101-4.
  • M. Mkrtchian, V.A. Parsegian, R.Podgornik, W.M. Saslow, Universal Therma Radiation Drag on Neutral Objects, Physical Review Letters 28 November 2003 Phys. Rev. Lett. 91, 220801 (2003).
  • R. Podgornik: DNA off the Hooke, Nature (Nanotechnology), 1, pp.100-101 (2006) .
  • R. Podgornik, D. Harries, J. DeRouchey, H. H. Strey, and V. A. Parsegian, Interactions in Macromolecular Complexes Used as Nonviral Vectors for Gene Delivery, in Gene Therapy: Therapeutic Mechanisms and Strategies, N. Smyth – Templeton, Marcel Dekker, New York (2008), Third Edition.
  • R.H. French, V. A. Parsegian, R. Podgornik et al. Long Range Interactions in Nanoscale Science, Reviews of Modern Physics, 82, 1887 (2010).
  • A. Siber, A. Losdorfer Bozic and R. Podgornik, Energies and pressures in viruses: contribution of nonspecific electrostatic interactions, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2012, 14, 3746–3765.
  • A. Naji, M. Kanduč, J. Forsman, R. Podgornik, Perspective: Coulomb fluids -- weak coupling, strong coupling, in between and beyond, J. Chem. Phys. 139, 150901 (2013).
  • M. Ghodrat, A. Naji, H. Komaie-Moghaddam, and R. Podgornik, Strong coupling electrostatics for randomly charged surfaces: Antifragility and effective interactions, Soft Matter 11, 3441-3459 (2015).
  • R.Garćes, R. Podgornik, V. Lorman, Antipolar and anticlinic mesophase order in chromatin induced by nucleosome polarity and chirality correlations, Phys. Rev. Letts. 114, 238102 (2015).
  • D.S. Dean, Bing-Sui Lu, A.C. Maggs, R. Podgornik, Nonequilibrium tuning of the thermal Casimir effect, Phys. Rev. Letts. 116, 240602 (2016).
  • T. Markovich, D. Andelman, R. Podgornik, Charged Membranes: Poisson-Boltzmann theory, DLVO paradigm and beyond, Chapter 9 in: Handbook of Lipid Membranes, ed. by C. Safynia and J. Raedler, Taylor & Francis (2016).
  • L. M. Woods, D. A. R. Dalvit, A. Tkatchenko, P. Rodriguez-Lopez, A. W. Rodriguez, R. Podgornik, A Materials Perspective on Casimir and van der Waals Interactions, Reviews of Modern Physics 88 045003 (2016).
  • M.A. Aksoyoglu, R. Podgornik, S.M. Bezrukov, P.A. Gurnev, M. Muthukumar, V.A. Parsegian, Size dependent forced PEG partitioning into channels: VDAC, OmpC and Alpha-Haemolysin, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 113 9003-8 (2016).


In 1986-1989 he was awarded the Fogarty fellowship, at the Laboratory of Structural Biology, DCRT, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda. In 1995 he was te recipient of the Division of computer research and technology Director's award for "recognition and appreciation of special achievement" (National Institutes of Health, Bethesda). In 1999 he was the recipient of the Zois Award, which is the highest prize for scientific excellence in Slovenia [13]. In 2002 he was awarded the CNRS Chercheur Associe fellowship at the Laboratoire de Physique des Solides - UMR 8502 Universite Paris Sud 11. In 2008 he was a co-recipient of the Martin Hirschorn IAC Prize, made possible by the generosity of Martin Hirschorn, given once every two years and funded by the INCE Foundation. In 2015 he was awarded the Joliot chair fellowship of the Ecole supérieure de physique et de chimie industrielles de la ville de Paris (ESPCI). In 2016-2017 he was awarded the Sackler Scholar award and became a Nirit and Michael Shaoul Fellow, within the framework of the Mortimer and Raymond Sackler Institute of Advanced Studies, Tel Aviv University, Israel.

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