History of the Friedrich Miescher Institute

Based on vision on future of biomedical research

The Friedrich Miescher Institute was established as a foundation on April 10, 1970 by a joint decision of the then two separate companies Ciba AG and J.R. Geigy AG. The Friedrich Miescher Institute was named after the Basel scientist Friedrich Miescher (1844-1895) who first purified nucleic acids.
The founding Director was Prof. Dr. Hubert Bloch, former Head of Pharmaceutical Research at Ciba in Basel, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Basel, and a member of the Swiss National Science Foundation.
The founding charter described the aims of the Institute as to "pursue and promote basic research in the fields of biochemistry and medicine ..." and "to provide young scientists from all over the world with an opportunity to participate in scientific research". This was a far-sighted move triggered by the emerging revolution in DNA technologies and the birth of molecular genetics. It is also a measure of the accurate vision of the founders that the FMI has remained within the general themes laid down in the 1970s, namely tumor biology, neurobiology and regulation by hormones.

Broadened interest in plant biology

In 1976, the Institute broadened its interests into plant biology, where probably the first impact of the evolving molecular techniques was felt. Long-researched topics such as plant development, the action of plant hormones and plant-microbe interactions developed a new impetus that was very productive in the laboratory and even in agriculture in the field. Following the spin-off of the Novartis agribusiness into Syngenta AG, plant science at the FMI was gradually transformed into a strong epigenetics focus.

New focus on epigenetics, neurobiology and quantitative biology

In 2012 the area of research 'mechanisms of cancer' was replaced by the more inclusive 'quantitative biology'. Today, under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Susan Gasser, the FMI holds lead positions in the areas of epigenetics, neurobiology and quantitative biology, backed up by state-of-the-art technical resources, in particular in bioinformatics and live cell imaging.

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