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January 31, 2022

Biozentrum Highlights: 2021 in Review

An intensive year lies behind us. We mastered the move into the new Biozentrum and since fall research and teaching is again in full swing. We have welcomed new research groups and had to say goodbye to others. And despite the corona restrictions, the many events, whether online or on-site, helped to keep the contact and community alive. A highlight for all in the cram packed calendar was the Biozentrum’s 50th anniversary. This new issue of “Biozentrum Highlights” takes a look back on 2021.


The past year was in every respect exceptional for the Biozentrum. And so it happened that “the move” coincided with the 50th Jubilee. The kick-off was the official handover of the new building to the University of Basel. In January, government officials representing the Cantons of Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft presented the University’s President Andrea Schenker-Wicki and the Director of the Biozentrum Prof. Alex Schier with the keys to the impressive research building. The official opening with prominent personalities from politics and science followed in September. 

In the months prior, the new building had been subject to rigorous testing and finally the greenlight was given to start moving on 28 June 2021. For the more than 500 employees, the relocation called for additional commitment and effort. Offices and labs and every single workspace were all cleared out and many old things were sorted out. This left some three tons of wood, metal, electrical waste and old appliances that were disposed of. The needed items ranging from computers, folders, glassware, pipette tips to PCR machines and centrifuges were all packed into over 3000 carton boxes by the Biozentrics and then unpacked again. Special companies from six countries took care of the transport of highly sensitive instruments, such as the NMR spectrometer, which “flew” to its new site. In three months, 230 labs, together with all their contents, were relocated – a masterpiece in planning and implementation. In the meanwhile, we have all set ourselves up and settled into our new home.

Despite the many challenges and hurdles, especially those due to the corona pandemic restrictions, the Biozentrum was able to maintain its high-level research and teaching. The many papers our researchers published in distinguished journals in the past year bear witness to this. The lectures and practical courses for students and high school students could still take place under special conditions. During last year's Research Summer, for example, eleven Bachelor students from a wide range of disciplines were once again able to gain an insight into research at the Biozentrum. Furthermore, a trial run for a new annual course started at the Biozentrum. In the practical course “Experimental Molecular Biology” undergraduates learn to work and think scientifically. Apart from the “Biozentrum Discovery Seminars”, which strengthen the Biozentrum community, the newly launched “Roche/Biozentrum Innovation Symposium” provides a further platform for scientific and informal exchange beyond institute boundaries.

A highlight was the Biozentrum’s 50th Birthday on 1 October 2021. The Biozentrics were able to hold the jubilee in their new home and personally celebrate the opening of the new building. The jubilee brochure, especially published for the anniversary, not only takes a look at the early days of the Biozentrum, its eventful history and its scientific achievements but also presents, in particular, what our scientists are researching today, seeking answers to fundamental questions such as how to combat antibiotic resistant pathogens, how the brain controls our movements or sleep and which SARS-CoV-2 variants are currently circulating.

An overview of important scientific discoveries and activities in the past twelve months, the new building and the jubilee celebrations can all be enjoyed, by those interested, in the 2021 edition of the “Biozentrum Highlights”.  We look forward with great excitement to the next twelve months in our new, ultramodern Biozentrum in the middle and “on top of” Basel and also follow with a teary eye the demolition of the old but rich in history Biozentrum.

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Contact: Communications