October 3, 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 Interdisciplinary Cancer Research.
An expert in structural biology and cryo-electron microscopy, Nicolas Thomä is an internationally acclaimed researcher. His laboratory investigates the structure and function of macromolecular machines that control genome stability, gene expression, and DNA repair. During his career, Thomä has made groundbreaking discoveries in molecular structures and interactions that contribute to advancing rational drug design. He received several awards, including three grants from the European Research Council, which support outstanding researchers. In 2012, he was honored with the Novartis Leading Scientist Award, and in 2022 he received the Otto Naegeli Award for Medical Research, one of the most prestigious scientific awards in Switzerland.
A specific emphasis of Thomä’s research has been on small-molecule therapeutics that target disease-causing proteins for degradation. His work has shown how some small molecules function as “molecular glues”, inducing interactions between a target protein and an enzyme that tags proteins for destruction. Such molecular glues have the potential to target proteins that were previously thought to be undruggable.
At EPFL, Thomä will bring new technologies and innovative approaches to existing groups at the forefront of therapeutic innovation. He will hold the Paternot Chair in Interdisciplinary Cancer Research, which was recently created by the ISREC Foundation and EPFL.
While Thomä is setting up his lab in Lausanne, several of his group members remain at the FMI and will slowly transition to the EPFL.
We are grateful that Nicolas Thomä spent more than 17 years of his career at the FMI. His scientific discoveries and personal initiatives contributed to a great extent to the success of our institute. For example, the joint FMI-Novartis structural biology unit that he set up is among our strongest assets. We wish Nico and his team continued success and exciting discoveries, and look forward to continued collaboration.
The Thomä group at a lab retreat on lake Como in June 2023