Tobias Baumgart

Tobias Baumgart

Professor of Chemistry


250 Chemistry Bldg.


Biological Chemistry, Chemical Biology, Biochemistry, Physical Chemistry


• Postdoctoral associate with Prof. Watt Webb at Cornell University (2001 – 2005)

• PhD from Max Planck Institute and Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz (2001)

• Diploma in Chemistry from the University of Clausthal, Germany (1998)

Research Interests

More than 60% of current drug targets are membrane proteins, which come in the form of enzymes, receptors, channels, and transporters. This underlines the biomedical relevance of our research into the function of membrane proteins and lipids.

Our research is highly interdisciplinary and collaborative. Our group members typically have backgrounds in fields such as physical chemistry, chemical biology, biochemistry, physics, and various engineering disciplines, and we collaborate with multiple different groups in our department, elsewhere on campus, or at nearby research institutions.

Specifically, we are interested in the function of lipid transporters (flippases) and how these can be modulated through photopharmacology, the structure and function of proteins involved in endocytosis (using techniques such as Cryo Electron Tomography and various fluorescence labeling, microscopy, and spectroscopy approaches), the function of intrinsically disordered proteins on membranes (using 2D NMR spectroscopy and various fluorescence techniques), all complemented with micromanipulation techniques and interpretation with thermodynamic and statistical mechanical models and simulations. A recent development in our lab has been to ask to what extent and by what mechanisms protein-protein liquid phase separation, referred to as LLPS, contributes to some of these phenomena.

We are always looking for kind, caring, and highly curious team members. We have a long-standing and continuous tradition of including undergraduate students in our research, which provides mentoring opportunities for more senior co-workers and an embedding into an ambitious research team for undergraduate scientists. If you are interested, feel free to drop us an informal note at:

Selected Publications

85) Samsuzzoha Mondal, Karthik Narayan, Samuel Botterbusch, Imania Powers, Jason Zheng, Rui Jin, Tobias Baumgart (2022). Multivalent Interactions between Molecular Components Involved in Clathrin Independent Endocytosis Drive Protein Phase Separation. Nature Communications. DOI

77) Mondal S, Powers, I, Narayan K, Botterbusch S and Baumgart T. (2020). Endophilin recruitment drives membrane curvature generation through coincidence detection of GPCR loop interactions and negative lipid charge. Journal of Biological Chemistry. DOI

74) Shi Z, Graber ZT, Baumgart T, Stone HA, Cohen AE (2018). Cell membranes resist flow. Cell, 175(7):1769-79 DOI

62) Chen Z, Zhu C, Kuo CJ, Robustelli J and Baumgart T (2016). The N-terminal amphipathic helix of Endophilin does not contribute to its molecular curvature generation capacity. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 138(44):14616-22 DOI

56) Shi Z and Baumgart T(2015). Membrane tension and peripheral protein density mediate membrane shape transitions. Nature Communications, Vol.6, Article No.5974 DOI Penn News

51) Chen Z, Chang K, Capraro BR, Zhu C , Hsu CJ, and Baumgart T. (2014). Intradimer / intermolecular interactions suggest auto-inhibition mechanism in endophilin A1. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 136 (12), 4557–4564 DOI

33) Heinrich M, Tian A, Esposito C, Baumgart T. (2010). Dynamic sorting of lipids and proteins by membrane tubes with a moving phase boundary. Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences of the United States of America, 107 (16), 7208-7213 DOI

29) Capraro BR, Yoon Y, Cho W, Baumgart T (2010). Curvature sensing by the epsin N-terminal homology (ENTH) domain measured on cylindrical lipid membrane tethers. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 132 (4), 1200-1201 DOI

26) Christian D, Tian A, Ellenbroek W, Levental I, Rajagopal K, Janmey P, Liu A, Baumgart T, Discher D (2009). Spotted vesicles, striped micelles and Janus assemblies induced by ligand binding. Nature Materials, 8, 843-849 DOI

17) Tian A, Johnson C, Wang W, & Baumgart T (2007). Line tension at fluid membrane domain boundaries measured by micropipette aspiration. Physical Review Letters, 98 (20), 208102 DOI