October 19 2010
FMI celebrates 40th Anniversary
Between September 18 - 21, 2010, the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research celebrated its 40th Anniversary with two events. The FMI Anniversary Symposium "Frontiers in Biomedical Research" took place in honor of the long-standing dialogue between FMI and the research community, the University of Basel and the pharmaceutical industry. FMI was founded by Ciba Geigy and is now part of the Novartis Research Foundation. During the FMI Open House on September 18, 560 visitors from Basel learned more about FMI's stem cell, cancer and brain research.
FMI anniversary symposium attracts large audience
On September 20 & 21, the FMI invited alumni, friends and colleagues from academia and industry alike to a two-day symposium to acknowledge their long-standing support and friendship. Outstanding speakers, from leading universities as well as from the FMI, presented their latest results on topics ranging from neurobiology and epigenetics, to growth control and cancer.
The anniversary event attracted a large audience: more than 1'000 scientists registered for the event and participated in the sessions. The second day was organized together with the BioValley initiative, which generated a strong magnet for students from the universities of Strasbourg, Freiburg and Basel. In two poster sessions accommodating 180 posters, students and postdoctoral fellows presented their work and discussed it with the many renowned scientists attending the meeting. How often do you have the chance to discuss your results with three Nobel laureates, the Directors of various European research institutes and with participants from the leadership team of NIBR?
As plenary speaker, the Nobel laureate Professor Susumo Tonegawa presented intriguing work on molecular and circuit mechanisms for hippocampal memory formation. Professor Tonegawa had been a prominent member of the Basel Institute of Immunology in the 1970's, before leaving for MIT in Cambridge, where his research interests turned to the basis of memory formation.
During the symposium awards were presented for the best FMI PhD thesis and the best postdoctoral publication, called the Edmond H. Fischer and Max M. Burger Prizes, respectively. Fabio Mohn was awarded the Ed Fischer Prize for his thesis on the epigenetic regulation of nerve cell differentiation. During his studies he took advantage of the unique FMI research environment situated at the interface of academic and applied research. He not only collaborated with different groups at the FMI but also worked together with NIBR's Miriam Bibel, who provided the tissue culture model.
Saibal Chatterjee received the Max Burger Prize for his innovative and equally successful work on RNAi in C. elegans. During his two years at the FMI he disproved two preconceptions in the field: first, he found that RNAi is indeed actively degraded and second, he did this by using biochemical analyses in C. elegans extracts, something few thought possible. He published his results in 2009 in Nature.
Isolate DNA and learn more about the FMI
In an effort to increase public awareness of the FMI and its role in biomedical research, the FMI opened its laboratories to the public on Saturday, September 18, 2010. More than 550 visitors took advantage of this special offer-the last open house was 15 years ago-and learned not only more about the FMI by touring through the laboratories, but were also able to isolate DNA out of tomatoes, cultivate fruit flies and observe green fluorescent worms. The latter activities were particularly attractive to the many kids that came to the institute.