Molecular Systems Engineering

A paradigm shift focusing on molecular factories, cellular systems and the improvement of health.

Botond Roska receives Körber Prize

Botond Roska, Project Leader at NCCR MSE and Professor at the University of Basel and Director of the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology Basel (IOB), will receive the Körber European Science Prize for 2020. The award, worth EUR 1 million, is one of the most prestigious science prizes for researchers in Europe.
> Read more (in German)

Gene therapy to reverse vision loss in macular degeneration

Image: Victorien Ameline / unsplash

Researchers from the Roska and Scholl groups have developed a strategy that has the potential to improve vision in patients with macular degeneration in the future. Using a gene therapy, they sensitized blind retinas of mice and human organ donors to near-infrared light. The team based at the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology Basel (IOB) has published its results in the journal Science.
> Read more (in German)

Using electrical stimulus to regulate genes

Image: Colourbox

The team of researchers led by Martin Fussenegger has succeeded in using an electric current to directly control gene expression for the first time. Their work provides the basis for medical implants that can be switched on and off using electronic devices outside the body. The prototype for such an implant was described in a recent paper published in Science.
> Read more (in German)

National Academy of Engineering welcomes Viola Vogel

Prof. Viola Vogel was elected by the National Academy of Engineering as an international member in the class of 2020 for her contribution to the elucidation of how proteins work as nanoscale mechanochemical switches, and applications to bioengineering and medicine.
> Read more

A functional combination between nature and chemistry

An interdisciplinary team from the Palivan and Lim groups has succeeded in creating a direct path for artificial nanocontainers to enter into the nucleus of living cells. To this end, they produced biocompatible polymer vesicles that can pass through the pores that decorate the membrane of the cell nucleus. In this way, it might be possible to transport drugs directly into the cell’s control center. The researchers have published their latest findings in PNAS.
> Read more (in German)

A functional combination between nature and chemistry

Researchers from the Meier and Palivan groups have succeeded in developing molecular factories that mimic nature. To achieve this they loaded artificial organelles inside micrometer-sized natural blisters (vesicles) produced by cells. These molecular factories remain intact even after injection into an animal model and demonstrate no toxicity, as the team report in the scientific journal Advanced Science.
> Read more (in German)

Understanding the mechanosensitive system for neuronal control

How do the different parts of a neuron respond to mechanical stimuli such as those occurring during subtraumatic forces? In an interdisciplinary effort, researchers from the Müller and Fussenegger groups at D-BSSE together with colleagues in the Roska group from the Institute of Ophthalmology (IOB) of the University Basel investigated the mechanosensitivity of neurons from the brain of rats. Their findings may guide future studies to mechanically control neurons by, for example, electromagnetic forces or ultrasound.
> Read more

Mammalian signaling circuits from bacterial parts

The ability to engineer synthetic signalling networks has proven challenging for synthetic biology. A breakthrough design strategy by the Benenson group shows that bacterial two-component-system-derived parts can be grafted into mammalian cells to create programmable phosphorylation circuitry.
> Read more

Randall Platt receives the ETH Latsis Prize

Randall Platt, Project Leader at NCCR MSE and professor in the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering at ETH Zurich in Basel, received the ETH Latsis Prize for his exceptional work in the field of genome engineering – an achievement made all the more impressive given his young age.

Established in 1975, the Latsis Foundation funds the annual ETH Zurich Latsis Prize, with which ETH honours outstanding young scientists from all fields. The prize comes with and endowment of CHF 25,000.
> Read more (in German)

Synergizing Enzymes with Homogeneous Catalysts for Sustainable Synthesis

Researchers from the Ward group in collaboration with colleagues at the D-BSSE have developed a chemo-enzymatic concurrent cascade that combines up to 8(!) enzymes in E. coli with a metathesis catalyst to convert olive oil into cycloalkenes. A molecular factory par excellence producing value-added products using sustainable chemistry.
> Read more

Postdoctoral Researcher

The Health Ethics and Policy Lab, ETH Zurich is offering a postdoc position on bioethical issues in regenerative medicine.

Application deadline: 15 August 2020
More info and online application

Welcome, Effy!

NCCR MSE is welcoming Effy Vayena, professor of Bioethics at the ETH Zurich. Effy will focus on the ethical aspects of our research through an interdisciplinary approach which fosters both theoretical and empirical methods.
You can listen to Effy's view on the ethical questions digital contact tracing is raising during the current COVID-19 pandemic and why she is optimistic that digital technologies can help reduce the speed at which the virus spreads.
> Podcast with Effy Vayena

ArtSci and Ethics of Responsibility

Foto: ©RaSt

26.10. – 30. 10.2020
Seminar: Ethics of responsibility in light of Art-Science collaborations.

In this joint seminar together with the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste, we want to explore questions of ethics in sciences and art. We will place a specific focus on the role of responsibility in science’s and art’s approach to the world.
> Read more and register

Online professional coaching

NCCR MSE is offering online professional coaching for free to all NCCR members during the COVID-19 pandemic. Just contact Hala Helmy, who is a professional BSO certified coach and supervisor with over 10 years of work experience.

The focus should be on the individual, not on their gender

"From birth onward, the focus should be on the individual, not on ascribing them to a gender."

Read a captivating interview with educational researcher Elena Makarova from the University of Basel about gender equality in the school system, which directly affects equality in the working world.
> Read more (in German)

Bullying in science and what to do about it

Bullying in science can take on many forms, and its more widespread than generally known. Read more about bullying in research, and what you can do about it by recognizing what’s really going on, enlist support, and be kind to yourself.
> Bullying in science
> Being bullied? Here’s what to do

DeepCDR Biologics gets venture capital and entrepreneurial training

DeepCDR Biologics, a spinn-off from the Reddy group focusing on novel discovery workflows that combine drug screening in mammalian cells with deep learning to generate thousands of optimized lead candidates for therapeutic antibodies, has received venture capital and entrepreneurial training from Venture Kick.
> Read more

Robert Waterman on spirituality and science

"Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a Spirit is manifest in the Laws of the Universe—a Spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we, with our modest powers, must feel humble.” — Albert Einstein

> Read more

NCCR MSE meets Locarno Film Festival

World-renowned Locarno Film Festival and NCCR MSE merged expertise to initiate a unique cooperation: for its 72nd edition (August 7 – 17, 2019) the festival invited NCCR MSE to discuss the ethical challenges of its research and to join the new ‘BaseCamp laboratory of ideas’ with a group of young scientists (PhD students and Postdocs).
> Read more

Molecular Factories — the Art of Engineering on the Microscale

Image: 123RF | CC0

Read Alina Stein's thoughts and views on synthetic biology, what really natural or artificial is, and how she is contributing to the NCCR MSE and our efforts in molecular systems engineering.
> Read more

Paul Walton on gender equality

Over nearly all scientific organisations, across every country and across time one finds that the progression of women in research and academia is significantly hindered when compared to men. Such a universal truth represents an enormous loss of talent.

> Read more

Something knocked me out' the tree – Ralf's corner

The MIT Technology Review recently reported that "Chinese scientists have put human brain genes in monkeys". After reading the article I fell asleep and had the weirdest dream. I dreamt that I was a scientist in a lab, wearing a fancy white coat. In the afternoon I waved good bye to my research group and drove home where my lovely wife who had her day off (she works full-time, we are very liberal) opened the door.
> Read more

SwissCovid app

Together we can prevent a second wave of the coronavirus: with contact tracing and the SwissCovid app. We have successfully contained the spread of the new coronavirus in Switzerland. Now the aim is to prevent a second wave.
> More info

Merchandise Shop

Check out our official merchandise shop and add some more NCCR MSE to your life!
> Shop now

Locarno Talks la Mobiliare

On August 16, 2019 NCCR MSE staged one of the three "Locarno Talks la Mobiliare" and discussed "The ethical challenges of engineering life and the effects on human identity".

> Read more

Lab Concerto

Our public Lab Concerto series premiered in 2019 in the chemistry labs at the University of Basel. The argovia philharmonic classical quartett played works by Händel, Britten, Tscherepnin, Dukas a.o. to an audience which had arrived from all over Switzerland. In between, our young researchers Alina Stein and Jaicy Vallapurackal showed some exciting lab experiments which helped our audience to better understand the research goals of the NCCR MSE.

> Read more

Maestro Method

"Maestro Method" is an out of the lab learning tool for our young as well as our experienced scientists. The idea behind it is that by gaining insight into work processes and methodological approaches implemented successfully by non-scientists we may enhance and improve our own professional skills.

> Read more

SRF Interview with Ralf Stutzki

Ralf Stutzki, Head Ethics, on scientific misconduct and integrity in research (in German).

SRF Interview with Benjamin Gaub

Watch the interview with NCCR MSE fellow Benjamin Gaub from the Müller group talking about vision restoration in the SRF 1 show gesundheitheute.

Sound of Molecules – I. fiddle (with)

This audio-visual production represents a milestone in the on-going cooperation between NCCR MSE and argovia philharmonic and a most unusual communication tool meant to stimulate the societal debate about the ethical challenges of synthetic biology.

> Read more

Lynn Hershman Leeson visits the NCCR MSE

American artist and filmmaker Lynn Hershman Leeson has long studied the relationship between technological innovation and human identity. For her latest project she visited the NCCR MSE on October 27 to discuss art and its role in bridging the gap between science and the public.

> Read more

Art of Molecule

Take a look at the projects exploring new horizons at the interface between science and art.