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 in Chemistry from Max Planck Institute and Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz (2001)

• MS in Chemistry (Diplom-Chemiker) from the University of Clausthal, Germany (1993 - 1998)

Honors and Awards

• Charles Ludwig Award for Distinguished Teaching (2023)

• Dennis M. DeTurck Award for Innovation in Teaching (2023)

• UPenn Faculty Fellow (2022)

• Chair, Membrane Structure and Function Subgroup, Biophysical Society (2018)

• Chair, UPenn Chemistry Department Graduate Committee (2012 - 2018)

• NSF CAREER Award (2011)

• Alfred P. Sloan Fellow (2008)

• Keck Fellowship for Postdoctoral Associates (2001 - 2004)

• German Research Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (1998 - 2001)

• Procter & Gamble Award for Diploma in Chemistry (1998)

• Bayer Company Undergraduate Student Fellowship (1997)

• Erasmus Scholarship, European Union (1995)


The Baumgart lab has been continuously funded by Federal grants in the PI’s name since 2007, two years after inception of the lab. These grants have funded graduate, undergraduate, and postdoctoral research.

Funding has been obtained through several grants from:

National Science Foundation, including an NSF CAREER award

The National Institutes of Health, including R21 and R01 grants

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

Additional grant funding has been obtained through:

The NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center at Penn

UPenn’s Physical Sciences and Oncology Center

A pilot grant from UPenn’s Institute for Advanced Science and Technology

NIH grant subawards through Yale University, as well as UPenn

Several University Research Foundation Awards

Funding specifically for undergraduate research has been obtained through:

The Roy and Diana Vagelos Molecular Life Science program

The Chemistry Department’s summer research program

The UPenn PURM program

UPenn’s grant for faculty mentoring undergraduate research

Graduate students and postdocs in the lab have been successful securing funding through:

UPenn’s PennPort program (postdoctoral training program)

The Structural Biology and Molecular Biophysics training grant

The  Chemistry/Biology Interface training grant

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:

Courses Taught

General Chemistry I (Chem 1012)

Honors General Chemistry II (Chem 1161)

Physical Chemistry I (Quantum Chemistry and Spectroscopy, Chem 2210)

Physical Chemistry Lab (Chem 2230)

Principles of Biological Chemistry (Chem 2510)

Biological Chemistry II (Chem 5520)

Statistical Mechanics (Chem 5210)

Biomolecular Imaging (Chem 700)

Biophysical Chemistry

Selected Publications

Tobias Baumgart (2023). Thoughts on Teaching STEM With Less Sting. UPenn Almanac.

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

10) Baumgart T, Hess ST, Webb WW, (2003). Imaging coexisting fluid domains in biomembrane models coupling curvature and line tension. Nature, 425, 821-824 DOI