Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research

Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research
Research typeBasic research (non-clinical)
Field of research
DirectorDirk Schübeler
LocationBasel, Switzerland
AffiliationsUniversity of Basel

The Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research (FMI) is a biomedical research institute founded in 1970. Based in Basel, Switzerland, the FMI is affiliated with the University of Basel and the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR). It is named after Friedrich Miescher. As of 2021, the FMI has around 340 collaborators, of which 21 are research group leaders, over 80 are postdoctoral collaborators and over 80 are postgraduate students participating in the FMI International PhD Program. The FMI is directed by Dirk Schübeler.

Scientific activities

The FMI is devoted to the pursuit of fundamental biomedical research. Areas of research are neurobiology, quantitative biology, and epigenetics.

Research is carried out in 21 independent but highly interactive[citation needed] research groups. In addition, several cutting-edge technology platforms - including microscopy & imaging, computational biology, functional genomics, proteomics, structural biology and more - support the research activities.[citation needed]

In 2014-2019, the FMI had the highest success rate for ERC grant applications of all European institutions.

Research highlights

  • Development of Western blotting technique to detect proteins.
  • Publication of two protocols for plant transgenesis, which were widely used in the 1980s.
  • Discovery that the gene for the human growth factor receptor 2 (ErbB2) is amplified in around 25% of primary breast tumors and dissection of its role in the pathogenesis and prognosis of breast cancer.
  • Discovery of the key signaling kinase PKB (Akt) and demonstration of its central role in cancer cell signaling.
  • First use of green fluorescent protein-tagged proteins in transfected cells and for live imaging in neurons.
  • Description of method of action of everolimus on the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and provision of rational for its application in cancer.
  • Isolation and characterization of human Dicer, the key enzyme in RNA interference and miRNA pathways.
  • Development of MeDIP: a technique for monitoring DNA methylation genome-wide.
  • New approach to restore vision in retinitis pigmentosa.

Teaching and training

The FMI is an affiliated institute of the University of Basel. It provides biomedical research and career training for its 80-100 PhD students at a time. FMI selects its highly international student body during a twice-yearly interview-based selection program. Most FMI group leaders have adjunct or full professorships at the University of Basel in the Natural Sciences Faculty. In particular, the FMI participates actively in the teaching program of the Biozentrum of the University of Basel.

The FMI also offers training in biomedical research to postdoctoral fellows. It was designated by a survey of The Scientist in 2012, as the “best place for postdoctoral training” outside of the US.

Patents and translational implementation

A goal of the FMI is the patenting of its discoveries and implementation of its basic research into pharmaceutical development.


The Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research is named after the Basel scientist Friedrich Miescher who discovered nucleic acids in the mid-19th century.

The FMI was founded in 1970, a hundred years after Miescher’s discovery, as a collaborative effort of two Basel-based pharmaceutical companies, Ciba Aktiengesellschaft and J. R. Geigy Ltd. The founding charter describes 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.” The Founding Director was Professor Hubert Bloch (died 1974) who had been Director of Research at Ciba Aktiengesellschaft, and Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Basel. He was an expert in tuberculosis and was also instrumental in the founding of the Institut Suisse pour les Recherches Experimentales sur la Cancer (ISREC), Epalinges, Switzerland. Between 1997 and 2012, the FMI was part of the Novartis Research Foundation. Since 2012 the FMI is an independent foundation.


List of the successive directors of the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research:

  • 1970-1974: Hubert Bloch
  • 1974-1974: Denis Monard
  • 1974-1976: Matthys Staehelin
  • 1976-1981: co-directorship of four-member Executive Committee
  • 1982-1984: Edward Reich
  • 1984-1987: Karl Heusler
  • 1987-2001: Max M. Burger
  • 2001-2002: Yves Alain Barde
  • 2002-2004: Denis Monard
  • 2004-2019: Susan M. Gasser.
  • 2019-2020: Silvia Arber & Dirk Schübeler (co-directors ad interim)
  • 2020- : Dirk Schübeler

Friedrich Miescher Award

The Friedrich Miescher Award is Switzerland's highest honor for up-and-coming biochemical researchers. The award is granted every year by the Swiss Society for Biochemistry to the best scientific contribution in this field. Prize winners must be under 40 and must either be Swiss citizens or have conducted the prize-winning research in this country. The award was instituted in 1970, proposed and donated by the FMI. It is named after the Basel scientist who discovered DNA, Friedrich Miescher.

Notes and references

  1. ^ "FMI ranks first in success rates for ERC grant applications". FMI website. 5 February 2020. Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  2. ^ Towbin H, Staehelin T, Gordon J (September 1979). "Electrophoretic transfer of proteins from polyacrylamide gels to nitrocellulose sheets: procedure and some applications". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 76 (9): 4350–4354. doi:10.1073/pnas.76.9.4350. PMC 411572. PMID 388439.
  3. ^ Pietrzak M, Shillito R, Hohn T, Potrykus I (July 1986). "Expression in plants of two bacterial antibiotic resistance genes after protoplast transformation with a new plant expressionvector". Nucleic Acids Res. 14 (14): 5857–5867. doi:10.1093/nar/14.14.5857. PMC 311596. PMID 3016666.
  4. ^ Grimsley N, Hohn T, Davies JW, Hohn B (1987). "Transformation of maize plants by Agrobacterium tumefaciens". Nature. 325 (6100): 177–179. doi:10.1038/325177a0. S2CID 4271725.
  5. ^ Berger MS, Locher GW, Saurer S, Gullick WJ, Waterfield MD, Groner B, Hynes NE (March 1988). "Correlation of c-erbB-2 gene amplification and protein expression in human breast carcinoma with nodal status and nuclear grading". Cancer Research. 48 (5): 1238–1243. ISSN 0008-5472. PMID 2893663.
  6. ^ Cross DA, Alessi DR, Cohen P, Andjelkovich M, Hemmings BA (December 1995). "Inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase-3 by insulin mediated by protein kinase B.". Nature. 378 (6559): 785–789. doi:10.1038/378785a0. PMID 8524413. S2CID 4285651.
  7. ^ Ludin B, Doll T, Meili R, Kaech S, Matus A (1996). "Application of novel vectors for GFP-tagging of proteins to study microtubule-associated proteins". Gene. 173 (1 Spec No): 107–111. doi:10.1016/0378-1119(95)00899-3. PMID 8707048.
  8. ^ Kaech S, Ludin B, Matus A (1996). "Cytoskeletal plasticity in cells expressing neuronal microtubule-associated proteins". Neuron. 17 (6): 1189–1199. doi:10.1016/S0896-6273(00)80249-4. PMID 8982165.
  9. ^ Saitoh M, Pullen N, Brennan P, Cantrell D, Dennis PB, Thomas G (May 2002). "Regulation of an activated S6 kinase 1 variant reveals a novel mammalian target of rapamycin phosphorylation site". The Journal of Biological Chemistry. 277 (22): 20104–20112. doi:10.1074/jbc.M201745200. PMID 11914378.
  10. ^ Zhang H, Kolb FA, Brondani V, Billy E, Filipowicz W (November 2002). "Human Dicer preferentially cleaves dsRNAs at their termini without a requirement for ATP". The EMBO Journal. 21 (21): 5875–5885. doi:10.1093/emboj/cdf582. PMC 131079. PMID 12411505.
  11. ^ Weber M, Davies JJ, Wittig D, Oakeley EJ, Haase M, Lam WL, Schübeler D (August 2005). "Chromosome-wide and promoter-specific analyses identify sites of differential DNA methylation in normal and transformed human cells". Nature Genetics. 37 (8): 853–862. doi:10.1038/ng1598. PMID 16007088. S2CID 14505320.
  12. ^ Busskamp V, Duebel J, Balya D, Fradot M, Viney TJ, Siegert S, Groner AC, Cabuy E, Forster V, Seeliger M, Biel M, Humphries P, Paques M, Mohand-Said S, Trono D, Deisseroth K, Sahel JA, Picaud S, Roska B (July 2010). "Genetic reactivation of cone photoreceptors restores visual responses in retinitis pigmentosa". Science. 329 (5990): 413–417. doi:10.1126/science.1190897. PMID 20576849. S2CID 916291.
  13. ^ "Stärkere Zusammenarbeit zwischen Universität Basel und Friedrich Miescher Institut". University of Basel. 15 April 2011. Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  14. ^ The FMI International PhD Program
  15. ^ "Best Places to Work 2006: Postdocs". The Scientist. 1 March 2006.
  16. ^ "Switzerland: High Standards and Quality Science". The Scientist. 1 March 2006.
  17. ^ Licensing Opportunities at the FMI
  18. ^ Stefen Dickman (November 1988). "Friedrich Miescher Institute: Plans for rejuvenation". Nature. 336 (5990): 337. doi:10.1038/336337a0. S2CID 4341912.
  19. ^ Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Founding charter, signed on April 10, 1970
  20. ^ Bloch H. (June 1948). "The effect of chick embryo extract on the growth and morphology of tubercle bacilli". The Journal of Experimental Medicine. 88 (3): 355–360. doi:10.1084/jem.88.3.355. PMC 2135819. PMID 18881493.
  21. ^ Bloch H. (1960). "Biochemical properties of virulent and avirulent strains of mycobacterium-tuberculosis". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 88 (5): 1075–1086. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.1960.tb20097.x. S2CID 84470553.
  22. ^ King, Patrick J. “FMI – 40 Years On”, Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel. ISBN 978-3-033-02820-3
  23. ^ "Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research". Moneyhouse. 2 April 2012.
  24. ^ "Announcements: Friedrich Miescher-Award 1991". Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences. 46 (8): 878. 1990. doi:10.1007/BF01935546.

See also

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