Designed for bold visions

March 12, 2024

The work of D-BSSE researchers builds on the foundation of systems biology. Blazing a trail in BaselD-BSSE’s work in the field of bioengineering, which uses DNA to regulate cells and organisms, has an equally practical focus. Looking back, it is clear just how bold this vision was. Equally astute was ETH Zurich’s decision to turn D-BSSE into a separate department in Basel in 2007 and to provide it with secure long-term funding. The newspaper expressed astonishment at ETH Zurich’s plans to create a fully fledged department of bioengineering or biomedical engineering in Basel: “Such a grandiose idea seems almost unachievable.” Yet their scepticism proved unfounded.

The work of D-BSSE researchers builds on the foundation of systems biology. Its aim is to generate a holistic understanding of how cells, organs and organisms function and of the temporal and biochemical processes that keep them alive. To study how they work, researchers typically employ large data sets, generated by high-throughput technologies such as DNA sequencers, as well as mathematical models and computer simulations. Systems biology also plays a role in the second strand of D-BSSE’s research work, synthetic biology – the main goal of which is to produce cells, organoids and microorganisms with new properties that are not found in nature, many of which offer potential medical benefits.

Blazing a trail in Basel

D-BSSE’s work in the field of bioengineering, which uses DNA to regulate cells and organisms, has an equally practical focus. Concrete outputs of this research include vaccines and antibodies for synthetic immunology, as well as cellular implants that can help combat metabolic disorders, and miniaturised platforms such as lab-on-chip technologies. “Two of the pioneering areas of work at our department in Basel are bioengineering and computational data science,” says Panke, who has been part of D-BSSE since 2009. “It is only logical that we also show our students the benefits of bringing these two components together.”

The idea of establishing an ETH bioscience research institute in Basel began to germinate in the year 2000. Looking back, it is clear just how bold this vision was. Equally astute was ETH Zurich’s decision to turn D-BSSE into a separate department in Basel in 2007 and to provide it with secure long-term funding. Of course, D-BSSE’s evolution wasn’t always plain sailing: in 2003, for example, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung declared that the plan to establish an ETH outpost in Basel had run into difficulties. The newspaper expressed astonishment at ETH Zurich’s plans to create a fully fledged department of bioengineering or biomedical engineering in Basel: “Such a grandiose idea seems almost unachievable.” Yet their scepticism proved unfounded.

The source of this news is from ETH Zurich

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