May 24, 2024

FMI senior group leader Prisca Liberali joins ETH Zurich as professor

Prisca Liberali, a senior group leader at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research (FMI), joins the Basel-based Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE) of ETH Zurich as a Professor of Multicellular Systems. While continuing her appointment at the...

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Apr 23, 2024

New small molecule helps scientists study regeneration

Regenerating damaged tissues or organs has been a dream of scientists for decades. Now, researchers at the FMI and Novartis Biomedical Research have discovered a new molecule that activates a protein involved in regeneration. The tool holds promise for advancing our understanding...

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Mar 08, 2024

Prisca Liberali receives International Suffrage Science Award

FMI senior group leader Prisca Liberali received the 2024 International Suffrage Science Award for Life Sciences. The award recognizes the exceptional contributions of female scientists worldwide....

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Feb 22, 2024

Largest study of developmental microRNA dynamics uncovers mechanism of their regulation

Gene expression is controlled by numerous small RNA molecules called microRNAs, or miRNAs. However, specific functions of most miRNAs remain poorly understood. Working in worms, FMI researchers created an encyclopedia of miRNA dynamics during development, uncovering mechanisms of...

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Feb 05, 2024

Congratulations to our 2023 fellows and prize winners

Throughout the year, FMI researchers secure competitive grants and fellowships, underscoring the caliber and promise of their work. In this overview, we present FMI postdocs and PhD student who have been recipients of fellowships, grants, and awards in 2023 that will provide supp...

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Jan 25, 2024

‘Mini-placentas’ shed light on early events that are key for a successful pregnancy

The placenta provides oxygen and nutrients to a growing baby, but its early interactions with a mother’s uterus remain an enigma. Working with lab-grown versions of developing placentas, FMI researchers have shed light on some of the mechanisms underlying the earliest stage...

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Jan 11, 2024

FMI 2023 Year in Review

Learn more about our institute’s key 2023 scientific publications, events, projects, and facts & figures in this short, interactive PDF publication, which is also available in print....

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Jan 02, 2024

Cracking the secrets of virus ‘uncoating’ may help fight infections

Influenza and other viruses pack their genetic material into a protein shell, which must be disassembled for the viruses to efficiently replicate. But how viruses ‘uncoat’ their genes remains largely unknown. Now, FMI researchers have identified crucial features of th...

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Dec 20, 2023

Wishing you a happy holiday season and a wonderful new year

As we approach the end of 2023, the FMI extends warm wishes to you and your loved ones for a joyful and festive holiday season. This time of the year provides a great opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments and milestones achieved, and we want to express our gratitude for y...

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Nov 17, 2023

Zuzanna Kozicka awarded Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists

Zuzanna Kozicka, a former PhD student in the Thomä lab at the FMI, is the grand prize winner in molecular medicine of the 2023 Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists. Kozicka was recognized for her work on molecular glue degraders, small molecules that ...

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Nov 13, 2023

In remembrance of Thomas Hohn

It is with great sadness that we share the news that Thomas Hohn passed away last week, aged 85. Thomas was a group leader at the FMI for 25 years and Titular professor at the Botanical Institute of the University of Basel. He was a pioneer in plant molecular biology and made fun...

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Oct 25, 2023

Charlotte Soneson: embracing the command line

Spotlight on FMIers showcases the lives, work and passions of the institute’s researchers and support staff. Charlotte Soneson, a member of the FMI Computational Biology Platform, told us about her career path in a field that is dominated by men and discussed efforts to bui...

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Oct 18, 2023

Expectation vs. Reality: study maps the neurons that tell the difference

When our expectations differ from reality, specific sets of brain cells are activated. Working in mice, FMI researchers have characterized these neurons based on their gene-expression patterns, paving the way for a better understanding of some of the neuronal deficits associated ...

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Oct 12, 2023

Video: How AI can help uncover the way memory works

A symphony of electrical signals and a dynamic tangle of connections between brain cells help us to make new memories. Using AI-powered models of groups of neurons, FMI researchers are working towards unlocking how the brain orchestrates this dance. Their latest study has achieve...

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Oct 04, 2023

Small molecules to treat big diseases

Despite leaving behind thousands of deformed infants, thalidomide — and newer drugs derived from it — have proved effective cancer treatments. Researchers in the group of Nicolas Thomä at the FMI provided key insights into the mechanism of action of thalidomide-l...

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Oct 03, 2023

Nicolas Thomä leaving the FMI

Nicolas Thomä, who has been a group leader at the FMI since 2006, has decided to take on a new role as Full Professor at the Faculty of Life Sciences of the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), where he will hold the Paternot Chair in Interdi...

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Sep 28, 2023

FMI science prizes — winners 2023

The FMI just held its three-day “Annual Meeting” with all the institute’s scientists in the Swiss alpine resort Davos. As every year, a highlight of the event was the award ceremony for the three FMI internal science prizes — recognizing respectively the b...

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Sep 20, 2023

From postdoc to entrepreneur

After a 1.5-year postdoc in the Liberali lab — where he co-developed and tested a new microscope to track the development of organoids in real time — Andrea Boni co-founded a company that provides live-imaging systems based on a revolutionary microscopy technology. Si...

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Jul 18, 2023

Mouse study sheds light on how antipsychotics work

Antipsychotic drugs are used to treat and manage symptoms of many psychiatric disorders, but their mechanisms of action remain a mystery. FMI researchers found that antipsychotics reduce long-range communication within a specific layer of the brain cortex — a finding that m...

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Jul 04, 2023

Luca Giorgetti elected as EMBO Member

Today, the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) announced that Luca Giorgetti, Senior group leader at the FMI, has been elected as EMBO member. Giorgetti is among the 69 new members and associate members joining the EMBO community of more than 2,000 leading life scienti...

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Jun 30, 2023

Zeroing in on how the ‘guardian of the genome’ works

The tumor suppressor protein p53 has been dubbed the ‘guardian of the genome’ because it protects the DNA from stress or long-term damage by regulating the expression of numerous genes involved DNA repair, cell division and cell death. Now, FMI researchers have homed ...

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Jun 27, 2023

Molecular ‘hub’ regulates gene-silencing proteins

To keep their vital functions in balance, many organisms use small snippets of RNA to ‘silence’ messenger RNAs that code for certain proteins. New research from FMI scientists revealed a molecular hub that integrates the activities of different protein complexes invol...

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Jun 13, 2023

Zuzanna Kozicka: diversity in science and ‘molecular glues’

Spotlight on FMIers showcases the lives, work and passions of the institute’s researchers and support staff. We talked to FMI PhD graduate Zuzanna Kozicka about her efforts to promote equity, diversity and inclusion in science, her work on ‘molecular glues’, and...

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Jun 06, 2023

Building face structures by remote control

Craniofacial birth defects, including cleft lip and palate, are among the most common human congenital malformations. Now, FMI researchers have identified a DNA region containing multiple regulatory elements that interact with genes across distant chromosomal neighborhoods, ensur...

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May 22, 2023

Video: Embryo-like models help map early stages of development

An organism’s body plan arises through a process called gastrulation, during which the embryo forms three distinct layers of cells that will later give rise to all organs. Now, FMI researchers have mapped the development of three-dimensional clusters of cells that mimic asp...

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May 02, 2023

Revealing how an embryo’s cells sync up

Scientists have known that when a mouse embryo is developing, the cells that will become its spine and muscles switch specific genes on and off repeatedly, in a synchronous fashion. However, there are deep mysteries about how these cells synchronize. FMI researchers have now deve...

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Apr 25, 2023

The double-helix 70 years on: five FMI studies that helped decipher the DNA

On April 25, 1953 an iconic research paper was published in the journal Nature: the description of the double-helix structure of the DNA, by James Watson and Francis Crick. Their study revolutionized the field of molecular biology and laid the foundation for modern genetics and g...

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Mar 30, 2023

Cell mapping and 'mini placentas' shed light onto human pregnancy

For the first time, researchers have mapped the full trajectory of placental development. Their work could offer new insights into pregnancy disorders and help develop better experimental models of the human placenta....

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Feb 13, 2023

Congratulations to our 2022 fellows

FMI researchers are awarded competitive grants and fellowship throughout the year, which speaks for the quality and potential of their work. Here we present FMI postdocs and other young scientists who received fellowships, grants, and prizes in 2022 that will support their resear...

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Feb 08, 2023

Luca Giorgetti receives SNSF Consolidator Grant

Today the SNSF (Swiss National Science Foundation) announced the recipients of the SNSF Consolidator Grants 2022, a transitional funding measure aimed at researchers who planned to apply for an ERC Consolidator Grant in 2022. FMI group leader Luca Giorgetti is among the grantees;...

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Feb 06, 2023

Translating an RNA boosts its degradation

In the cell, messenger RNAs — or mRNAs — are translated into proteins and eventually degraded, but the relationship between translation and mRNA decay remains cloudy. FMI researchers developed an innovative tool to control and visualize mRNA translation and decay, one...

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Jan 30, 2023

FMI 2022 Year in Review

In 2022, life at the FMI snapped back into pre-pandemic normality — a normality where our institute is buzzing and people are meeting in person, where scientific and social events play a prime role, and where visitors of all ages are welcome. As always, our scientists were ...

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Jan 23, 2023

Identified: components of the molecular clock that helps some animals shed their skin

Shrimps, flies and other animals shed their outer body covering at specific times of the year or at specific points in their life cycles through a process called molting. Working in worms, FMI researchers identified the mechanisms underlying a molecular ‘molting clock&rsquo...

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Jan 18, 2023

Becoming a lab head

In this new series, we feature FMI alumni and the diverse careers they have chosen after leaving our institute. We begin with Sabine Krabbe who was a postdoc in the Lüthi group for eight years. In 2020, she started her own lab at a leading institute for brain research in Ger...

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Jan 04, 2023

How cells choose between two fates

Our body is made of billions of cells that have the same overall genome but play specialized roles to create different tissues and organs. Working in a freshwater invertebrate, FMI researchers found that a protein called Zic4 drives the formation and maintenance of the tentacles ...

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Dec 13, 2022

Time to part: how to produce sex cells with the right number of chromosomes

FMI researchers have honed in on a key process that happens when yeast cells divide to form gametes, which are the equivalents of human sperm and egg. Their work suggests that proteins conserved from yeast to humans ensure the production of gametes with the right number of chromo...

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Dec 05, 2022

Video: Mighty proteins keep DNA regions close for longer

New work by FMI researchers shows that key proteins help to stabilize the interaction between otherwise highly dynamic DNA structures. The findings shed light onto how the complex folds that help to fit nearly two meters of DNA into the cell’s nucleus influence important bi...

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Dec 05, 2022

How chemical modifications on DNA keep genes off

Several diseases, including certain types of cancer and some neurodevelopmental conditions, have aberrant patterns of DNA methylation, a chemical modification that regulates gene expression in ways that keep genes in the ‘off’ position. FMI researchers found that DNA ...

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Oct 25, 2022

Marilyn Vaccaro: three decades of supporting scientists

Spotlight on FMIers showcases the lives, work and passions of the institute’s researchers and support staff. We talked to Human Resources associate Marilyn Vaccaro — one of FMI's longest serving employees — about how work practices and people at the institute ha...

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Sep 26, 2022

FMI science prizes — winners 2022

The three FMI internal science prizes are awarded yearly and recognize respectively the best thesis, the best postdoc study and an ingenious new method or tool. The prizes 2022 were awarded last week at the FMI Annual Meeting, in Grindelwald, in the Swiss Alps. Read more about th...

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Sep 15, 2022

Elements of scientific success

FMI Director Dirk Schübeler is one of the four top scientists who were interviewed for a Novartis live.magazine article about the elements of scientific success. Schübeler expresses his concern that researchers in Switzerland – notably at the FMI – do not ha...

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Aug 22, 2022

Jumping into the unknown

Prisca Liberali and her team have developed new tools to study how cells self-organize into systems, paving the way for a deeper understanding of biology and medicine. Risk-taking and a keen sense of competition have served Liberali as a compass in her scientific quest, which, sh...

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Aug 08, 2022

Filippo Rijli elected to Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei

Filippo M. Rijli, group leader at the FMI and Professor in Neurobiology at the University of Basel, has been elected Member of the Italian Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, one the world’s oldest and most prestigious scientific academies....

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Jul 21, 2022

PhD reps: the voice of our students

Spotlight on FMIers showcases the lives, work and passions of the institute’s researchers and support staff. We spoke to the current PhD reps to learn about their work and activities — and what they enjoy the most about their role....

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Jun 29, 2022

Video: Watching how cells deal with stress

FMI researchers developed an imaging approach that allowed them to visualize individual molecules involved in the cell’s response to stress. Watch this video to find out more....

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Jun 24, 2022

Prisca Liberali awarded EMBO Gold Medal 2022

Prisca Liberali, a research group leader at the FMI and Professor at the University of Basel, receives the Gold Medal of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO). She is recognized for her exceptional contributions to understanding the formation of intestinal organoids ...

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Jun 20, 2022

Andreas Lüthi receives SNSF Advanced Grant

Andreas Lüthi has been awarded a highly endowed Advanced Grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). This new transitional grant scheme is aimed at researchers who intended to apply for an ERC grant. Lüthi’s project addresses the fundamental question ...

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Jun 13, 2022

Iskra Katic: what worms can teach us about life

Spotlight on FMIers showcases the lives, work and passions of the institute’s researchers and support staff. Iskra Katic, head of the FMI C. elegans facility, tells us about her job and how a tiny worm can help researchers understand the building blocks of life....

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Jun 07, 2022

How animals reach their correct size

Even small differences in how fast animals grow during development can sum up to large differences in their adult body size. Nevertheless, adults of the same species are usually nearly identical in size. Benjamin Towbin, a postdoc in the Grosshans lab who is now at Uni Bern, disc...

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May 16, 2022

What it is like to be a researcher

Over 200 high school students visited the FMI to learn more about biomedical research and the everyday life of a researcher. The goal of the event was to help the student better understand what it really means to work in research so that they can take more informed decisions abou...

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May 11, 2022

Thwarting cellular enzyme can fight viral infections

FMI researchers have identified a synthetic protein that dampens the activity of a cellular pathway involved in viral infection. The findings could help to develop drugs that combat viruses such as influenza A and Zika....

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Apr 26, 2022

Nicolas Thomä receives the Otto Naegeli Prize 2022

Nicolas Thomä, a research group leader at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research (FMI) in Basel, receives the Otto Naegeli Prize for Medical Research, one of the most prestigious scientific awards in Switzerland. Thomä is recognized for his groundbreak...

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Apr 20, 2022

Structural insights into the assembly of cilia

Cilia, the little “hairs” attached to almost all cells of the human body, play a role in various cellular functions and cause diseases called ciliopathies when they are defective. Researchers from the group of Patrick Matthias and the FMI Structural Biology platform d...

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Apr 13, 2022

Enhancer-promoter interactions — distance matters

When and where a gene is transcribed in a living organism often depends on its physical interactions with distal genomic regulatory regions called enhancers. Researchers in the group of Luca Giorgetti have thrown light on how such interactions control transcription thanks to a no...

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Mar 31, 2022

Enlightening the brain’s circuitry

For nearly 50 years FMI Neurobiology has played a crucial role in shedding light on neuronal circuits that program how we behave, learn, and remember. In particular, neurobiologists at the FMI contributed – and are still contributing – to providing answers to a fundam...

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Mar 22, 2022

Community-based initiative improves reproducibility in microscopy and imaging

Researchers from the FMI Facility for Advanced Imaging and Microscopy (FAIM) are drivers of a large-scale international initiative dedicated to improving quality assessment and quality control in light microscopy. Recently, the workgroup chaired by the Head of FAIM delivered the ...

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Mar 03, 2022

Brain Prize 2022 for Silvia Arber

Silvia Arber from the FMI and the Biozentrum, University of Basel receives the Brain Prize 2022, the world’s largest neuroscience Prize. With this award, the Lundbeck Foundation recognizes this year's three prize winners for their pioneering research into the neuronal circu...

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Feb 28, 2022

Familiar objects can prevent autism-like behaviors in mouse model

The emergence of autism traits can result from different factors, such as a person’s environment and genetic background. FMI researchers and their Novartis collaborators showed that exposing mice with an autism mutation to a new environment can trigger autism-like behaviors...

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Feb 16, 2022

A "resolution revolution": how cryo-EM accelerates biomedicine and drug discovery

Cryo-electron microscopy, or cryo-EM for short, has revolutionized the way scientists image the smallest of structures. In a short video, the heads of the joint Novartis-FMI cryo-EM center discuss how the technique is advancing biomedical research and drug discovery, and where th...

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Feb 04, 2022

Gisèle Ferrand: advancing research, protecting animals

Spotlight on FMIers showcases the lives, work and passions of the institute’s researchers and support staff. In this Q&A, Gisèle Ferrand — head of the FMI animal facility — talks about her career trajectory, how her team cares for lab animals, and wha...

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Jan 27, 2022

Congratulations to our fellowship winners

Three FMI postdoctoral researchers were among the recipients of the prestigious EMBO postdoctoral fellowships, autumn 2021 selection. In addition, an FMI student was recently awarded a Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds (BIF) fellowship. Read on to learn more about these researchers and ...

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Jan 06, 2022

The neuronal mechanism behind motivation

Our actions are motivated by the goals we want to achieve. However, little is known about the mechanism in our brains that allow us to make the right decisions to reach our goals. Researchers in the Lüthi lab now identified the sequence of events taking place in a mouse brai...

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Dec 23, 2021

How neurons that wire together fire together

For amplifying sensory stimuli quickly and accurately, neuronal circuits require specific wiring. Some 70 years ago, the compelling idea that “neurons that fire together wire together” emerged. Yet, in computational models, neurons that wire together tend to succumb t...

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Dec 10, 2021

Mechanical forces shape the ‘immortal’ Hydra

Hydras are tiny creatures with regenerative superpowers: they can renew their stem cells and replace damaged body parts in only a few days. Now, researchers in the Tsiairis group have found that mechanical forces turn on key genes as the mighty Hydras regenerate their entire bodi...

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Dec 07, 2021

How sound changes sight

When we learn to associate an auditory stimulus with a visual stimulus, the perception of that visual stimulus changes, but this phenomenon is not well understood. For the first time, the Keller group has now identified a mechanism in the brain that enables auditory information t...

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Dec 02, 2021

Uterine atlas can lead to better models of the womb, provide insights into diseases

In the quest to study the womb and its role in reproductive health, researchers in the Turco lab and their collaborators have generated a cellular map of the human uterus and of endometrial organoids — lab-grown models of the womb’s lining. The atlas, which is the mos...

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Nov 24, 2021

Studying the understudied in human biology: a chat with Margherita Yayoi Turco

Margherita Yayoi Turco is FMI’s newest group leader, leading a team of researchers who will investigate how the placenta develops and works together with the mother’s uterus during early pregnancy. She talks about her fascination with conservation biology, why 3D clus...

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Nov 19, 2021

Eccellenza Fellowship for Friedemann Zenke

FMI group leader Friedemann Zenke receives an Eccellenza Professorial Fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). These recognitions are awarded yearly to outstanding independent researchers who aspire to a permanent professorship....

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Nov 16, 2021

Susan Gasser receives honorary doctorate from the University of Fribourg

Susan Gasser, former FMI director and professor emeritus of molecular biology at the University of Basel, has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Fribourg....

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Nov 15, 2021

A histone modification essential for tissue integrity

Chemical modifications of histones, the small proteins around which DNA is wrapped, are known to affect gene expression. In a study conducted in C. elegans, researchers from the Gasser group show that the defining modification of the tightly packed form of DNA called het...

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Nov 08, 2021

Mini-placentas: promising tools for studying early pregnancy and its complications

Despite its crucial role in healthy pregnancies, the placenta is one of the least understood organs in the human body. In a new study, Margherita Yayoi Turco and her colleagues compared the two main experimental models of the human placenta. The findings suggest that 3D clusters ...

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Nov 05, 2021

Congratulations to the winners of the FMI Science Prizes 2021

Our three internal FMI Science Prizes were awarded last week during our Annual Meeting, which took place at the FMI this year. The Ed Fischer Prize, the Max Burger Prize and the Ruth Chiquet Prize recognize respectively the best thesis, the best postdoc study, and an innovative n...

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Nov 01, 2021

FMI research areas

Research themes at the FMI evolve, reflecting our scientific interests and goals. Following an internal review of our strengths and the definition of the most pressing biomedical questions that we aim to address, we have decided to evolve our research areas into: Genome Regulatio...

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Oct 27, 2021

Research grant for Silvia Arber to investigate Parkinson's

Silvia Arber — group leader at the FMI and at the Biozentrum, University of Basel — and a team of international experts receive 8 million Swiss Francs from the Aligning Science Across Parkinson's (ASAP) initiative to investigate Parkinson's. The aim is to uncover how ...

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Oct 05, 2021

Worm atlas could help crack mysteries in animal evolution

Researchers in the Friedrich group have contributed to create an atlas that links subcellular structures to gene expression in each cell of the sea worm Platynereis dumerilii, a key model organism for the study of development and evolution. The atlas will help researcher...

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