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January 27, 2012

End of a Research Era: Farewell to the Director of the Maurice E. Müller Institute

On Thursday 26th January, many internationally distinguished scientists came together to participate in the farewell symposium honoring Ueli Aebi, Professor of Structural Biology at the Biozentrum, University of Basel and former Director of the Maurice E. Müller Institute for Structural Biology. This celebration gave occasion to also honor Maurice E. Müller, a patron and generous financial supporter of the Biozentrum.

From right to left: Prof. Erich Nigg, Prof. Ueli Aebi, Prof. Andreas Engel

On January 26th, 2012, more than 25 local and internationally renowned scientists gathered in Basel to celebrate Prof. Ueli Aebi‘s research work and pioneering achievements in the life sciences. Amongst the guest speakers were the Nobel Laureate Prof. Werner Arber (Biozentrum, University of Basel), Prof. Tom Pollard (Yale University), Prof. Wolfgang Baumeister (Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry), and Prof. Hans-Joachim Güntherodt (Swiss Nanoscience Institute).

42 million francs: A great contribution to the success of the Institute

In his welcome address, Erich Nigg, Director of the Biozentrum, described the founding of the Maurice E. Müller Institute at the University of Basel in 1986 by Prof. Ueli Aebi as a “milestone for structural biology and nanoscale research“.This ground-breaking success story, which resulted from the pairing of strong financial sponsorship with visionary  scientific leadership, has today led to major breakthroughs in the life sciences and medicine.The goal of the Institute was to investigate the tiniest molecular structures at the nanometer scale, in order to better understand biological function and malfunction and to make pre-symptomatic diagnosis possible.

The Maurice E. Müller Foundation donated more than 42 million Swiss francs to the Biozentrum of the University of Basel for the establishment of the Institute. This gift provided important support to advance research in the field of structural biology and consequently contributed greatly to the success of the Biozentrum.  As Ed Constable, Vice Rector for Research at the University of Basel, announced in his speech, this generous financial support is now to be acknowledged: The science lounge in the “new” Biozentrum will be named after the patron Maurice E. Müller.

Pioneer in nanoscale research

As Professor of Structural Biology, Ueli Aebi published over 300 articles, which have been cited more than 16’000 times. In his research, Aebi’s main area of focus was to investigate the structure and function of the architectural components of the cell and the so-called nuclear pore complexes that regulate molecular transport into and out of the nucleus.  His pioneering work led to the development of new applications that have opened the doors to nanomedicine, particularly in the areas of diagnostics, treatment and prevention of soft tissue disorders, such as arthritic diseases of the joint cartilage, and breast cancer.

Prof. Ueli Aebi is a member of the Swiss Nanoscience Institute und the NCCR "Nanoscale Science" as well as numerous scientific associations including the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and the Academy of Europe. Ueli Aebi has been honored with the Gregor Mendel Medal from the Czech Academy of Science, the Arne Engström Lecture Award and the Carl Zeiss Lecture Award from the German Society for Cell Biology. Furthermore, he has received an honorary doctorate from the Charles University in Prague.

Contact: Communications, Heike Sacher