Molecular Systems Engineering

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

Human Nature

Wed, 18 December, 18.00

Screening of documentary "Human Nature".

Science Lounge, D-BSSE.

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Revolutionising the CRISPR method

© ETH Zurich / Carlo Cosimo Campa

In a recent publication in Nature Methods, researchers from the Platt group have refined the famous CRISPR-Cas method. Now, for the very first time, it is possible to modify dozens, if not hundreds, of genes in a cell simultaneously. The method offers enormous potential for biomedical research and biotechnology.
> Read more (in German)

Imaging allows to track progression of Stargardt disease


Stargardt disease is a hereditary eye disease that leads to visual defects and the loss of sight. A study has now shown that autofluorescence imaging might offer a way to assess whether novel treatments are effective at slowing down vision loss. This is the result of a study published by researchers from the Scholl group.
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Daniel Müller receives the Marsilius Medal

Daniel Müller, Co-Director of NCCR MSE has received the Marsilius Medal from the Marsilius Kolleg of the University of Heidelberg.

Every semester, the Marsilius-Kolleg organizes a Marsilius Lecture in which renowned scientists from different fields speak on cross-disciplinary topics. These are then presented with the Marsilius Medal, which is awarded for special merits in the dialogue between scientific disciplines.
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A biosynthetic dual-core cell computer

Graphic: Colourbox/Steven Emmett, ETH Zurich

Researchers from the Fussenegger group have integrated CRISPR-Cas9-based core processors into human cells. Combining orthogonal Cas9-variants enabled the design of multicore genetic CPUs that provide parallel arithmetic computations. The Cas9-based multicore CPU design represents a huge step towards creating powerful single-cell mammalian biocomputers that may provide unparalleled opportunities in developing novel biomedical applications.
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Welcome, Hala!

NCCR MSE is welcoming Hala Helmy, our new Managing Director responsible for Finance, HR & Equal Opportunity.

Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine awarded to Botond Roska

The 2019 Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine has been awarded to Botond Roska, project leader at NCCR MSE and co-Director of the newly established Institute for Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology Basel, for his work on restoring vision. The Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine is the most prestigious European prize for medicine.
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Whole-brain imaging of mice during behavior

In a study published in Neuron, researchers from the Roska group have demonstrated how functional ultrasound imaging can yield high-resolution, unbiased, brain-wide activity maps of behaving mice. The team was particularly interested in the brain regions involved in the optokinetic reflex. These can lead to a brain-wide understanding of how brain activity relates to specific behavior – in healthy mice and in mouse models of neurologic or psychiatric diseases.
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Christof Sparr awarded the Ruzicka Prize 2018

Christof Sparr, project leader at NCCR MSE has been awarded the Ruzicka Prize 2018 for his work on catalytic cascade reactions inspired by polyketide biosynthesis.

The Ruzicka Prize is awarded to a young researcher for an outstanding publication in the field of chemistry, and is considered one of the most important awards in the field of chemistry in Switzerland.
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Recording device for cell history

© Martin Oeggerli / Micronaut.

Researchers from the Platt group are using the CRISPR-Cas system to develop a novel recording mechanism: the snippets of DNA it produces can provide information about certain cellular processes. In future, this cellular memory might even be used in diagnostics.
> Read more (in German)

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

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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).
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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.
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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.

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Parental leave

We are happy to announce the introduction of up to 3 months of fully-paid parental leave for parents that want to take a break to take care and raise their newborn (or adopted) children (up to max. 1 year old). The parental leave is available to both mothers and fathers that are Fellows paid directly by NCCR MSE.
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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.
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Dual leadership for the Botnar Research Centre for Child Health

The directors of the Botnar Research Centre for Child Health: Professor Georg Holländer and Professor Sai Reddy. (Image: University of Basel / ETH Zurich)

NCCR MSE Project Leader Sai Reddy (D-BSSE) has been appointed Vice Director of the Botnar Research Centre for Child Health (BRCCH). He will co-direct the BRCCH together with Prof. Georg Holländer from the University of Basel.

On 19 September, the University of Basel and ETH Zurich co-founded the Botnar Research Centre for Child Health (BRCCH) in Basel, funded by Fondation Botnar with a contribution of 100 Mio CHF. The BRRCH brings together top scientists and clinical researchers from a variety of disciplines in order to develop new methods, systems engineering principles, and digital innovations for global use in paediatrics. Several research groups from NCCR MSE were instrumental in planning and establishing the BRCCH and will be actively involved in its research.
> Read more (in German)

NCCR MSE has an Ironwoman

On the first weekend of September at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, South Africa, our NCCR MSE Phd student Sophie Herzog made place 3 (of age group 25-29)! Sophie qualified among 130'000 athletes worldwide to participate. From these about 3'000 athletes were allowed to race for the Ironman!

Upcoming events

Mon, 31 October, 10.00
Workshop «Balance Check: Wie kann ich Privates und Berufliches vereinbaren?» @Diversity UniBas
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18-22 November
ArtSci and ethics of responsibility @UniBas & ZHdK
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Wed, 18 December, 18.00
Screening of "Human Nature" @D-BSSE
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22-24 January 2020
International Symposium on Chemical Biology @Campus Biotech, Geneva
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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".

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Art of Molecule

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