Dec 04, 2019

Safeguarding one-way traffic

Animal development is a unidirectional process that steers undifferentiated cells of the early embryo into specialized cell types such as brain, muscle or skin cells. Once differentiated, there is almost no way back. A notable exception is the de-differentiation of mature into im...

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Nov 18, 2019

Prisca Liberali becomes an EMBO Young Investigator

Congratulations to our FMI group leader Prisca Liberali who is among the 27 life scientists selected this year. EMBO Young Investigators are researchers under the age of 40 who are within their first four years as group leaders and have a proven record of scientific excellence....

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Nov 11, 2019

In remembrance of Max Burger

It is with great sadness that we learned that Max M. Burger, former Director of the FMI (1987-2000), passed away on November 2, at the age of 86. Max Burger had a decisive and lasting influence on the FMI – under his leadership our institute grew substantially, and achieved...

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Oct 27, 2019

A facelift for the FMI Internet site

Today we are "relaunching" our website. The FMI homepage now has a fresh new look with a clear structure, updated content and new features. Please take some time to browse our website, and learn more about the FMI on the way....

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Oct 22, 2019

A fundamental neuronal microcircuit for learning

How does the brain control the mechanisms of memory so that it only remembers major events in a constantly changing environment? The group of Andreas Lüthi has now described a fundamental neuronal microcircuit that allows mice to learn about unexpected important events and a...

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Oct 11, 2019

ERC Synergy Grant for viral infection and cellular regulation research

The European Research Council has awarded one of the prestigious ERC Synergy Grants – the most competitive funding scheme from ERC – to a joint research project of the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, the ETH Zurich and the University of Bristol. ...

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Oct 08, 2019

Complex odors made simple

Animals are able to attach simple ratings to complex objects in their environment to guide behavior. For example, humans can easily tell whether they like a wine or not, which will influence their future choices in the wine store. Similarly, animals can tell whether a complex odo...

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Sep 26, 2019

Congratulations to our prize winners

A highlight at the FMI Annual Meeting 2019, which has taken place last week in the Swiss Alps (Grindelwald), was the Award Ceremony: the winners of the Ed Fischer Prize for best thesis, the Max Burger Prize for an outstanding postdoctoral publication, and the Chiquet Originality ...

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Sep 10, 2019

Chromatin looping: CTCF versus ADNP

The organization of chromatin in the three-dimensional space is complex and requires the help of many proteins, including CTFC. Researchers from the group of Marc Bühler have identified a new player in the process: the transcription factor ADNP. In a recent study, they show...

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Aug 29, 2019

Preventing the onset of schizophrenia in mouse model

Although predisposing processes occur earlier, schizophrenia breaks out at young adulthood, suggesting it might involve a pathological transition during late brain development in predisposed individuals. Using a genetic mouse model of schizophrenia, researchers from the Caroni gr...

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Aug 17, 2019

Function from structure: the double life of a DUB

Deubiquitinases (DUBs) play a general role removing protein-degrading ubiquitins throughout the cell and are not typically known for specificity. Analyzing the two protein complexes BRISC and BRCA1-A, which have the same DUB core but play different roles in human biology, the Tho...

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Aug 05, 2019

Unlocking the secrets of an important regulator of human development

The protein TRIM71 is an important regulator of animal development and plays a role in various diseases. In close collaboration, scientists from the groups of Helge Grosshans and Marc Bühler at the FMI elucidated the mechanism by which TRIM71 binds and turns off its RNA targ...

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Jul 21, 2019

Friedrich Miescher – 150 years of DNA

The Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research is a leader in the field of DNA and RNA research. DNA has become the icon of modern bioscience but few people realize that it was our namegiver, who – almost a century before Watson and Crick – laid the chemical...

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Jun 24, 2019

In conversation with our two new group leaders

Johannes Felsenberg and Friedemann Zenke both joined the FMI as group leaders in June. While Johannes focuses on neural circuit mechanisms of memory re-evaluation, Friedemann is a computational neuroscientist interested in learning and the principles of neural computation. In thi...

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Jun 10, 2019

New method reveals principles of chromatin folding in vivo

Characterizing chromosome structure is fundamental to a better understanding of gene expression. Current experimental methods helped to build mechanistic models of chromosome folding, however they could not be formally validated so far by independent techniques. This is what the ...

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May 30, 2019

A new mechanism for accessing damaged DNA

UV light damages the DNA of skin cells, which can lead to skin cancer. But this process is counteracted by the DNA repair machinery, acting as a molecular sunscreen. It has been unclear, however, how repair proteins work on DNA tightly packed in chromatin, where access to DNA dam...

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May 22, 2019

A role for gene activators in 3D nuclear organization

From yeast to man, the genome is partitioned into subnuclear compartments, with active euchromatin spatially separated from silent heterochromatin, which is often found at the nuclear periphery. This spatial distribution correlates with gene expression and contributes to cell-typ...

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Apr 25, 2019

Intestinal organoid development mimics regeneration

Intestinal organoids are three-dimensional structures derived from a single intestinal stem cell. They are great tools for applications ranging from fundamental biology to personalized and regenerative medicine. However, despite their relevance in research, it is still unclear ho...

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Apr 23, 2019

Stressed, anxious? Ask the brain!

Our actions are driven by “internal states” such as anxiety, stress, hunger or thirst – which will strongly affect and motivate our behaviors. Not much is known about how such states are represented by complex brain-wide circuits, including sub-cortical str...

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Apr 17, 2019

Making room for genome regulation

Chromatin remodelers have the ability to move nucleosomes, which represent a physical barrier for access to DNA. Work by the group of Dirk Schübeler helps to better understand how remodelers orchestrate the global organization of nucleosomes in mammals. In a study published ...

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Apr 08, 2019

Interview with new group leader Guillaume Diss

Guillaume Diss joined the FMI as a new Quantitative Biology group leader on March 1. His research focuses on understanding the mechanisms whereby genetic variation translates into phenotypic variation – for example, in diseases. We spoke to Guillaume to find out more about...

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Mar 25, 2019

A key player in the maturation of sexual organs

Puberty is a period of extensive changes of body morphology and function. As much as we are familiar with these life-altering changes, relatively little is known about what sets the whole process in motion. Thanks to studies in the tiny worm C. elegans, the group of Helg...

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Mar 25, 2019

Silvia Arber receives the International Prize of the Fyssen Foundation

Silvia Arber  neurobiologist at the FMI and the Biozentrum of the University of Basel, and the new co-director of the FMI  has been awarded the International Prize 2018 of the Fyssen Foundation. Arber receives this recogni...

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Mar 19, 2019

A distinct form of epigenetic memory

Epigenetic memory of transcriptional gene silencing has been observed in several organisms. However, it was not known whether mechanisms exist that convey transgenerational memory of a silencing “experience”, without silencing the gene permanently. The Bühler gro...

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Mar 13, 2019

New Marie Curie and EMBO Fellows at the FMI

Five of our postdocs were recently awarded the prestigious EMBO and Maria Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Fellowships. These grants are highly competitive and known worldwide for promoting innovative and interdisciplinary research. These new recipients join a long list of postdoc...

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Mar 07, 2019

Transfer of FMI Directorship: Silvia Arber and Dirk Schübeler to be co-directors

Susan Gasser, who has led the FMI for the past 15 years, has stepped down from her role as Director of the FMI, while she continues to lead her research team within the institute. Silvia Arber and Dirk Schübeler, FMI senior group leaders highly regarded for their scientific ...

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Feb 26, 2019

Oncogenic risk arising from the loss of repeat silencing

The heterochromatin of eukaryotes contains repetitive DNA, which can lead to genome instability when transcribed. These sequences are normally silenced through the methylation of lysine 9 in histone H3 (H3K9me). Researchers from the Gasser group explored the role and importance o...

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Feb 12, 2019

Alexander Attinger and Bo Wang awarded Pfizer Research Prize 2019

The two ex-PhD students from the group of Georg Keller are recognized in the category "Neurosciences and Diseases of the Nervous System" for a study in which they shed light on neural circuits in the cortex that underlie the integration of movement and visual feedback. The Pfizer...

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Feb 05, 2019

Fine-tuning gene regulation by CG dinucleotides

Transcription of our genes mostly begins in regions of the genome called CpG islands. These are rich in the dinucleotide CpG (thus the name), critical for gene activity and devoid of DNA methylation. Despite the relevance of CpG islands, it is unclear if the CpG dinucleotide itse...

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Jan 28, 2019

How do mRNAs deal with stress?

Two hallmarks of the integrated stress response of cells are the inhibition of translation and the formation of stress granules (SGs) and processing bodies (PBs). However, it is not well understood how both processes are coupled. In a study published in Molecular Cell, researcher...

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Jan 22, 2019

Botond Roska awarded Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine

Botond Roska, who has a research group at the FMI and is co-director of the Institute of Ophthalmology Basel (IOB), is awarded the 2019 Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine, as announced yesterday. As one of the best-endowed awards in Europe, the Prize fosters scientific excellence a...

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Jan 14, 2019

A metabolic checkpoint for embryonic stem cell differentiation

Upon exit from self-renewal, embryonic stem cells differentiate into different types of tissues – a process regulated by various complex mechanisms. Recent work published by the Betschinger group shows the importance of the lysosome – which is directly associated with...

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Jan 02, 2019

Pushing the boundaries of the visible

Our cutting-edge technology platforms are key enablers of research at the FMI. One of the biggest of these, with the largest number of users, is the Facility for Advanced Imaging and Microscopy (FAIM). To find out more about the facility, and microscopy in general, we spoke to th...

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