Molecular Systems Engineering

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

Treulose Experimente

14 – 22 December 2018

An Art of Molecule sound installation by Andrea Züllig (HGK FHNW), Heiko Schätzle (ZHdK) and Daniel Gerngross (D-BSSE). > Read more

Special exhibition: THERIAK

16 October 2018 – 31 January 2019

Artist Sarah Craske brings together the Pharmacy Museum’s collections with new artworks made at the D-BSSE and NCCR MSE. > Read more

Maestro Method

Sun, 13 January 2019

With argovia philharmonic and conductor Rune Bergmann.

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Sun, 7 February 2019

AoM Lab Concerto #1 in BPR 1096. More info soon.

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.

> Read more (in German)

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)

Botond Roska awarded the W. Alden Spencer Award

Botond Roska, project leader at NCCR MSE and co-Director of the newly established Institute for Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology Basel has been awarded the W. Alden Spencer Award for his work on restoring vision.
Read more (in German)

"Molecular balls" for a new type of catalysis

NCCR MSE researchers at the University of Geneva show how electrons can move together on the surface of molecular balls formed of carbon atoms and allow a new type of catalysis.
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New approach to terpene syntheses

Terpenes are natural products that are often very difficult to synthesize in the laboratory. Chemists from NCCR MSE working in the Tiefenbacher group have now developed a synthesis method that mimics nature. The decisive step takes place inside a molecular capsule, which enables the reaction.
> Read more (in German)

Contact to molecules established for the first time on silicon chip

Electrical circuits are constantly being scaled down and extended with specific functions. A new method developed by researchers from NCCR MSE now allows electrical contact to be established with simple molecules on a conventional silicon chip. The technique promises to bring advances in sensor technology and medicine.
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Could coffee replace insulin injections for diabetics?

NCCR MSE researchers working in the Fussenegger group have developed an implant which releases diabetes medication when it senses caffeine in the blood. The future of diabetes treatment might not be a shot in the arm after a meal, but a shot of espresso instead.
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An artificial enzyme regulates a synthetic gene-switch in engineered mammalian cells

Scientists from NCCR MSE have designed a mammalian cell with a synthetic gene switch that responds to a cell-penetrating artificial metalloenzyme. The new-to-nature reaction catalyzed by the artificial metalloenzyme promotes a cellular function as the result of turning-on a gene switch. The marriage of synthetic biology and organometallic chemistry opens the door to exploiting new-to-nature chemistry within a living organism.
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Biomedical tattoo as an early warning sign for cancer

NCCR MSE researchers working in the Fussenegger group have developed a synthetic gene network that serves as an early warning system for the four most common types of cancer. Should a tumour develop, a visible mole will appear on the skin.
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Novel method for reductive amination with unprecedented spatial and temporal control

Chemists from NCCR MSE developed a method for reductive amination that relies on the use of visible light and vitamin C. Reductive amination is an important reaction leading to many pharmaceutically relevant products. The new light-driven method developed at University of Basel permits unprecedented spatial and temporal control. The overall reaction involves a two-electron reduction, and light-driven multi-electron transfer is a key research focus in the group of Oliver Wenger.
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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!


We are happy to announce the "opening" of our very own Kinderspot - a mobile childcare facility equipped with toys for the children (<10 yrs.) of our team members. On Rosental areal in Basel we offer our own flexible childcare facility that can be installed on various floors and rooms whenever needed.
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Cooperation with Center for Gender Studies

While NCCR MSE recognizes that gender stereotypes exist in various areas of life we are strongly committed to assure that the fundamental right of equality between men and woman can be exercised in our group of researchers. To underline these efforts we have invited the renowned Center of Gender Studies to become our critical scientific partner.
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The lab as a bridge

Together with the library, the lab is one of the places of knowledge par excellence: in the former, knowledge is stored and made accessible, in the latter, created. But what if you make labs more open and accessible? A conversation with Head Ethics Ralf Stutzki.
> Read more (in German)

Why I am not a woman – Ralf's corner

Sorry about that, but sometimes you just have to use a catchy headline to get the reader’s attention. It’s an old journalism trick, I know. But apparently it still works: you are reading this.
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NCCR MSE sets up ethics think tank with PAL in Rome

Rev. Renzo Pegorara, chancellor of the PAL, during the ICMSE ethics debate in Basel.

Following our acclaimed ethics panel held during the 1st ICMSE in August 2017, the NCCR MSE teams up together with the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAL) in Rome to build a think tank focusing on the ethical implications of synthetic biology and molecular systems engineering.

Since our research in phase II will increase its focus on the therapeutic potential of molecular systems engineering (e.g. vision restoration; metabolic disorders; systems immunooncology), we are convinced that the PAL as a leading global networker and contributor to the academic field of bioethics will be an inspiring and challenging partner in our ethical discourse.
> Read more

Best science images of 2017

© Martin Oeggerli / Micronaut, supported by Prof. D. J. Müller and D. Martinez-Martin, ETH Zurich, and D. Mathys, Nano Imaging Lab, SNI, University Basel.

The image accompanying a recent paper from the Müller group got selected by Nature as one of the best science images of 2017! The image shows a cantilever scale designed to detect minute fluctuations in a living cell’s mass.
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Upcoming events

Mon, 17 December 2018, 12.15
Lunch Meeting with Dominik Scherrer (Lörtscher group) @Misrock (D-BSSE)
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Sun, 13 January 2019
Maestro Method with conductor Rune Bergmann
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Sun, 7 February 2019
Lab Concerto #1 @BPR1096

> More events

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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NCCR Flexibility Grants

New NCCR Flexibility Grants are available to postdocs and doctoral students who have to look after children at an important stage in their career and are in need of more flexibility.
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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 of NCCR fellows and students of the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) exploring new horizons at the interface between science and art.