Aleksander Rebane

Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Physics Affiliation: NYU Abu Dhabi
Education: BS ETH Zürich; MS Osaka University; PhD Yale University

Research Areas: Soft Matter Physics; Single-molecule Biophysics; Liquid-liquid Phase Separation; Optical Tweezers; Intracellular Trafficking;

Aleksander Rebane is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Physics. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary sciences from ETH Zürich in Switzerland and his Master’s degree in physics from Osaka University in Japan. In 2018, he graduated with a PhD in physics from Yale University.

Aleksander’s research area is experimental biophysics, with a focus on the self-organization and function of bio-molecules such as proteins, nucleic acids, and lipids within living cells. He is particularly interested in assemblies found at neuronal synapses, which provide the molecular basis for brain function.

During his doctoral work, Aleksander used single-molecule optical tweezers to study the assembly of SNARE proteins, which constitute the core machinery for synaptic transmission. In 2016, he received the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Award from the National Institutes of Health. For his postdoctoral research, Aleksander worked with Professor James E. Rothman at the Yale School of Medicine. He explored the exciting new hypothesis that the intricate architecture of the Golgi Apparatus, an essential organelle in all eukaryotic cells, could be generated and maintained by liquid-liquid phase separation of a family membrane proteins that are anchored to the Golgi surface.

In 2020, Aleksander joined the laboratory of Professor Eric R. Dufresne at ETH Zürich to study the emergent properties of metabolically active droplets of phase-separated proteins. In 2021, he was awarded the Ambizione grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation and promoted to group leader.  His team studied the mechanics of lipid bilayer membranes that are bent into complex morphologies such as those found in the Golgi Apparatus.

Courses Taught