Molecular Systems Engineering

A paradigm shifting concept to control molecular factories, cellular systems and health.

  • Berta's Saloon


    Our new Art of Molecule lounge Berta's Saloon has been opened in the new chemistry building (BPR 1096), Rosental areal in Basel. > Read more

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.
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"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.
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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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The Botnar Research Centre for Child Health founded in Basel

On 19 September, the University of Basel and ETH Zurich co-founded the Botnar Research Centre for Child Health (BRCCH) in Basel. The Foundation Botnar will support the BRCCH with 100 Mio CHF.  In a team, Urs Frey, Director of the Childrens Hospital, and Daniel Müller, Co-Director of the NCCR MSE, worked out the BRRCH concept which 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 planing 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

© M. Oeggerli / Micronaut 2017, 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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Talking Science

Workshops and competitions in science communication


Science Slam Basel

Upcoming Events MSE

Various dates/events 

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. > Read more

Premiere on August 27, 2017 in Basel with argovia philharmonic

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.