News Archive

Like a revolving door: How shuttling proteins operate nuclear pores

Genetic information is protected in the cell nucleus by a membrane that contains numerous nuclear pores. These pores facilitate the traffic of proteins known as importins that deliver molecular cargoes between the nucleus and the... more

RNA molecules live short lives

RNA molecules are individual transcripts of the cell’s DNA. They transfer the genetic information of the DNA and provide a template for the production of proteins that regulate all the cell’s processes. The small carriers of... more

Synapses in the brain mirror the structure of the visual world

Individual visual stimuli are not processed independently by our brain. Rather neurons exchange incoming information to form a coherent perceptual image from the myriad of visual details impinging on our eyes. How our visual... more

Anatole Abragam Prize for Prof. Björn Burmann

On July 23, 2017, Prof. Björn Burmann, a recent member of the Biozentrum, University of Basel, has received the Anatole Abragam Prize at the ISMAR Conference 2017 in Canada, together with Dr. Loren Andreas from the Max Planck... more

Designed proteins to treat muscular dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy is a term used to describe many different muscular diseases caused by genetic defects. To date, there are no treatments available to stop disease progression. In their study, the scientists led by Prof. Markus... more

Bacteria free themselves with molecular “speargun”

Tularemia is an infectious disease that mostly affects rabbits and rodents, but also humans can become infected. The cause of this serious disease is the bacterium Francisella tularensis. The infection biologists led by Prof.... more

Distant brain regions selectively recruit stem cells

Our brain generates new neurons throughout life. A diversity of stimuli promotes stem cells in their niche to form neurons that migrate to their place of action. In an animal model Prof. Fiona Doetsch’s team at the Biozentrum of... more

Gene transfer keeps bacteria fit

Bartonella are bacteria that can cause diverse infectious diseases in man, such as cat-scratch disease. In order to prevent the accumulation of mutations during the infection cycle, pathogens require efficient DNA repair... more

Resistant cancer cells: 3D structure of a drug transporter decoded

In the course of evolution, the human body has developed diverse strategies to protect itself from harmful substances. In the intestine, the placenta and also in the blood-brain barrier are tiny transport proteins, which prevent... more

Award ceremony: Louis-Jeantet Prize for Silvia Arber

The neurobiologist Prof. Silvia Arber is awarded the 2017 Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine for her contributions to our understanding of how movement is controlled in mammals. The Louis-Jeantet Foundation grants the sum of CHF... more

Relocation of proteins with a new nanobody tool

The research group of Markus Affolter is investigating the growth of the wings of the fruit fly Drosophila to understand which processes control organ development and growth. Proteins that control such growth processes are the... more

Richard Neher wins the Open Science Prize

Prof. Richard Neher, who was just recently appointed to the Biozentrum of the University of Basel, and Prof. Trevor Bedford competed successfully with their open access website “” against two other teams in the... more

Michael N. Hall awarded Cancer Research Prize

With the Szent-Györgyi Prize, the American National Foundation for Cancer Research honors Prof. Michael N. Hall at the Biozentrum, University of Basel, for his fundamental contributions to the understanding of critical life... more

Not necessarily harmful: Protein aggregates in the brain

In the past, amyloids have mainly been associated with neurodegenerative diseases. These solid, insoluble protein clumps damage the nerve cells. The research group led by Prof. Martin Spiess at the Biozentrum of the University of... more

A Pfizer Research Prize for the Biozentrum

The Pfizer Research Prize is one of the most prestigious research awards in the field of medicine in Switzerland. This year, the Pfizer Research Prize Foundation has honored 25 researchers with awards. Maria Soledad Esposito and... more

Silvia Arber receives the 2017 Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine

The neurobiologist Prof. Silvia Arber is awarded the 2017 Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine for her contributions to our understanding of how movement is controlled in mammals. The Louis-Jeantet Foundation grants the sum of CHF... more

Christian Lori awarded Gottfried Schatz Prize 2016

At the Biozentrum Symposium 2017, Christian Lori, postdoc in the group of Prof. Urs Jenal, received the Gottfried Schatz PhD Student Prize 2016 of the Biozentrum endowed with 3,000 Swiss Francs. He was awarded for his PhD thesis... more

Immune defense without collateral damage

In the human body’s fight against bacterial pathogens, white blood cells are in the front line. They identify and ingest the invaders, and render them harmless using highly toxic substances. It is important that these substances... more

Not too young to be a researcher - kids@science at the Biozentrum

The kids@science study week at the University of Basel, introduced in 2008, is very popular among the young researchers. This year, some 120 school children have applied to participate. At the end of January, 81 will receive an... more

Treating cancer with drugs for diabetes and hypertension

Metformin is the most widely prescribed drug for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Besides its blood sugar lowering effect, it also displays anti-cancer properties. The usual therapeutic dose, however, is too low to effectively... more

Antje Hempel awarded Marie Heim-Vögtlin Fellowship

Antje Hempel, a postdoc in the lab of Urs Jenal, has recently been awarded a Marie Heim-Vögtlin Fellowship (MHV) by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). She is one of 42 highly qualified women scientists, who will be... more

Store and supply – how the brain saves time

Our brain is not only the most complex organ of the human body, it is also the most flexible. But how do neurons in the brain adapt their function in response to stimuli within a very short time frame? The research group of Prof.... more

Successful application NRP72: Antibiotic resistance

Six of these SNSF supported research projects are being carried out at the University of Basel and the University Hospital Basel and are being funded with 2.79 million Swiss francs. At the Biozentrum, the two research groups led... more

Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature“

Proteins are the building blocks of life. They are produced by molecular machines, called ribosomes. A human ribosome contains some eighty ribosomal proteins. Prof. Mihaela Zavolan’s research group at the Biozentrum of the... more

Walking is bound hand and foot: How long projecting neurons couple the movement of our limbs

The locomotor pattern consists of a highly controlled sequence of muscle contractions, which are controlled by neuronal circuits in the spinal cord and the brain. The research group of Prof. Silvia Arber at the Biozentrum of the... more

Calcium induces chronic lung infections

One of the most serious pathogens is the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which frequently causes hospital infections and is notoriously difficult to treat owing to its multi-resistance to antibiotics. Although P. aeruginosa is... more

Michael N. Hall awarded honorary doctorate from the University of Geneva

At a formal ceremony on Dies academicus, the “Day of the Academics” celebrated annually, Prof. Michael N. Hall received the highest distinction from the University of Geneva: Doctor honoris causa. The honorary doctorate is... more

Bacterial second messenger switches enzyme into “reverse gear”

All cells including bacteria in order to propagate need to continuously progress through the cell cycle, a strictly controlled succession of cell growth and division. In bacteria, cell cycle progression is controlled by histidine... more

Bacteria supply their allies with munitions

Many bacteria possess molecular spear guns, which they fire at enemies and rivals, thus putting them out of action. The tips of these nano-spear guns, known as Type VI secretion system (T6SS), are loaded with toxic molecules that... more

Cerebrospinal fluid signals control the behavior of stem cells in the brain

Stem cells are non-specialized cells found in different organs. They have the capacity to generate specialized cells in the body. In the adult brain, neural stem cells give rise to neurons throughout life. The stem cells reside... more

Protein pairs make cells remember

Like our brains, individual cells also have a kind of memory, which enables them to store information. To make this possible, the cells require positive feedback from their proteins. The research group led by Prof. Attila Becskei... more

Cell Death: How a protein drives immune cells to suicide

The best hiding place often lies behind enemy lines, as many bacteria such as the pathogens responsible for tuberculosis or typhoid have realized. They invade immune cells and can survive there, well hidden, for some time. To... more

Basler spin-off T3 Pharmaceuticals wins start-up prize

T3 Pharmaceuticals is a biopharmaceutical company, which develops novel therapies for cancer patients. The founder and CEO Dr. Simon Ittig and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Christoph Kasper, both former postdocs of the Biozentrum... more

New Associate Professor appointed to the Biozentrum

On Wednesday, 22 June 2016, the University Council nominated Richard Neher to become the new Associate Professor of Computational Modeling of Biological Processes at the Biozentrum. Since 2010, Prof. Richard Neher has headed a... more

Immune cells on alert: Inflammasome activates emergency program

Immune cells are very sensitive to the presence of pathogens. When pathogens invade these cells, a protein complex - the inflammasome - is activated. Prof. Petr Broz’s team at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel... more

Nobel laureate Ada Yonath to speak at "Excellence Symposium 2016"

Since 2006, the Biozentrum has promoted the careers of talented, young scientists through the Fellowships for Excellence program, which was initially established with support from the Werner Siemens Foundation. For the tenth... more

Important for learning: Protein strengthens neuron connections

The brain resembles an extensive network of roads. Frequently used connections between nerve cells expand into highways, while seldom used ones close. This ability is essential for learning and memory. The team of Prof. Markus... more

Nuclear pores captured on film

The atomic force microscope (AFM) is not a microscope to look through. Like a blind man uses his fingers, it “feels” a surface with an extremely fine tip to resolve tiny cellular structures of only millionths of a millimeter in... more

"ERC Advanced Investigator Grant" for Peter Scheiffele and again for Silvia Arber

Prof. Silvia ArberThe ERC supports Silvia Arber’s project "Control of Action Diversification by Descending Motor Circuits". Silvia Arber, Professor for Neurobiology at the Biozentrum, University of Basel and the FMI,... more

Assembly line: How bacteria and fungi produce drugs

In an assembly line every step of work must be carried out precisely, each station has its specific position and task. This effective form of labor distribution is also employed by nature. Fungi and bacteria synthesize complex... more

Urinary tract infection: How bacteria nestle in

Many women have already experienced how painful a bladder infection can be: a burning pain during urination and a constant urge to urinate are the typical symptoms. The main cause of recurrent urinary tract infections is a... more

New insights into the function of the main class of drug targets

A wide variety of drugs such as beta-blockers against high blood pressure or drugs against allergies, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, HIV and others bind to cell surface proteins which belong to the family of G protein coupled... more

Another step in understanding microcephaly

The human brain consists of some 200 billion nerve cells. These develop from very few neural stem cells, which are the key to healthy brain development. Errors in stem cell division, caused by genetic defects, can lead to... more

kids@science 2016 study weeks at the Biozentrum

For the fifth time, nine girls and nine boys from all over Switzerland will have the chance to experience the research atmosphere at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel. The kids@science study weeks, a program initiated and... more

The clock is ticking: Self-activating protein stops growth of bacteria

In the cell they are usually inconspicuous. But once Fic proteins unfold their full action, the consequences are drastic: the cell ceases to grow. An interdisciplinary team of researchers from the Biozentrum, University of Basel,... more

Putting vision into context

As soon as we open our eyes in the morning, our brain is flooded with images. Information about these images is sent from the eyes to a brain region called the thalamus, and from there on to the visual cortex. The visual cortex,... more

Petr Broz receives the Friedrich Miescher Award 2016

After Jürg Rosenbusch (1975), Mark Noll (1978), Jean Pieters (2002) and Silvia Arber (2008), Broz is the fifth scientist at the Biozentrum to be given this prestigious recognition. Prof. Marcus Thelen, president of the Swiss... more

Architecture of mTOR protein complex solved

About 25 years ago, Prof. Michael Hall discovered the protein “Target of Rapamycin” (TOR) at the Biozentrum. It is one of the most studied proteins of the protein kinase family, an important family of regulatory proteins that... more

Heading towards a new spin-off at the Biozentrum

Early next year, Dr. Chee-Seng Hee and Dr. Christoph Schmutz, from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel, will take the first steps in their venture to self-employment. The aim of the CTI feasibility study ”Therapeptix”,... more

Bacterial nanomachine serves as a versatile tool

Without proteins life would be unthinkable. They fulfill a diverse range of tasks and are often highly specialized. Proteins reproduce genetic material, transport substances and play an active role in the immune defense. In order... more