Prof. Dr. Roderick Lim

and The Swiss Nanoscience Institute
University of Basel
Klingelbergstrasse 50 / 70
CH - 4056 Basel
Biozentrum, Room 390 Phone: +41 61 207 20 83
Curriculum Vitae

Administrative Assistant

Dr. Stephanie Gehlen
Biozentrum, Room 308
Phone: +41 61 207 22 61


Video imaging by high-speed atomic force microscopy captures the molecular motions of a nuclear pore complex at work.
The “stickiness" of “dirty molecular velcro” is sufficient to bind selective objects but is weak enough to permit their two-dimensional diffusion.
Karyopherin-centric control of the nuclear pore complex. Animation: Immanuel Wagner


Nuclear pores captured on film

Using an ultra fast-scanning atomic force microscope, the team of Prof....more

kids@science 2016 study weeks at the Biozentrum

The Biozentrum of the University of Basel has opened its doors again this year...more

Nanoscale 'velcro' used for molecule transport

Biological membranes are like a guarded border. They separate the cell from the...more

Research group Roderick Lim

Nanobiology: Life signs at the nanoscale

Our group seeks to resolve the fundamental principles and functional relationships between molecular mechanics, selectivity and transport in biological systems.

AFM-image of a living fibroblast cell.

Nature has developed sophisticated biological machines that are fundamentally intriguing and technologically unprecedented. Here, we use quantitative nanoscience techniques and develop new biophysical methods to obtain deep insight into the interactions that drive biological functionality. In return, we realize and implement biomimetic concepts for novel non-physiological applications.

Selective transport through the nuclear pore complex

We want to know how the nuclear pore complex (NPC) facilitates the rapid and selective exchange of specific cargo proteins into and out of the cell nucleus. Each 50 nm-diameter NPC functions as a gate that is open or closed depending on whether it recognizes the "identity" of its molecular "guest". Our objective is to decipher the biophysical mechanisms that govern NPC transport selectivity. To underscore this point, viruses hijack the very same mechanisms to infiltrate the nucleus.

Mechanobiology and the diagnostics of disease

We use atomic force microscope (AFM)-based technologies developed in our lab to study the mechanobiology of cells within tissues with sub-nanoNewton precision. We anticipate that such information can be relevant to understanding diseases such as breast cancer and cartilage degeneration i.e. osteoarthritis.

Building biomimetic devices inspired by nature

"Protein targeting" refers to how proteins are delivered to the precise spatial location within the biologically complex environment of the cell. Based on our understanding of molecular transport and selectivity, we aim to replicate the same biochemical selectivity and protein targeting control in biomimetic molecular transport systems with potential applications in water purification and bioseparations.