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New Institute for Eye Research in Basel unites Fundamental and Clinical Research

The University of Basel, the University Hospital Basel and Novartis today announced the launch of IOB, the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology Basel. This new research institute will be constituted as a foundation, granting academic freedom to its scientists.

15 December 2017

The Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology Basel IOB will be led by two world renowned experts in the field of ophthalmic research and ophthalmology, Prof. Dr. Botond Roska and Prof. Dr. Hendrik Scholl. Botond Roska, currently Senior Group Leader at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research in Basel, is a pioneer in fundamental research on the retina and the processing of optic signals in the brain. Hendrik Scholl is Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Basel and Head of the Eye Clinic of the University Hospital Basel. He specializes in medical and surgical management of retinal diseases and especially inherited retinal degenerative diseases. Dr. Norbert Spirig, currently member of the Executive Board of the University Hospital Basel, has been appointed as Director of Operations of the IOB.

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“For Novartis, ophthalmology is a strategic research priority” says Dr. Jörg Reinhardt, Chairman of the Board of Novartis. “That is why we support the groundbreaking collaboration between research and the clinic here in Basel and trust, that the new institute will generate innovative solutions for patients suffering from vision loss.”

The new institute promises hope to the many patients suffering from currently incurable forms of vision impairment or vision loss. “Right now, there is a unique opportunity to launch such a specialized institute. Currently, we have limited treatment options for all of our patients with blinding eye diseases”, says Dr. Werner Kübler, Director of the University Hospital Basel. “I am confident that the IOB will bring new hope to countless patients with eye diseases.”

The set-up of the institute is highly collaborative and interdisciplinary. “Today, groundbreaking innovations in health care are not simply achieved in a research lab but happen at the interface of academia, health care and industry” states Prof. Dr. Andrea Schenker-Wicki, President of the University of Basel. “With IOB we are providing such a platform, combining academic freedom, proximity to patients and a strong commitment to innovation.”

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As one of the first of its kind on a global scale, IOB will bridge basic and clinical science for eye diseases within one organization. IOB will start its operations in 2018 and merge existing research groups of Prof. Roska at the Friedrich Miescher Institute and Prof. Scholl at the Eye Clinic of the University Hospital Basel in a new organization.

The Founders commit to fund IOB for its first ten years. Part of the funding may also consist of space, service or personal resources, accounted for at market rates. Five years after initiation, it is forecasted that the yearly contribution of the Founders will totally be CHF 20 m and divided as follows: Novartis: CHF 10 m per year, USB: CHF 3 m per year, University CHF 2 m per year. CHF 5 m per year would be provided by the Canton of Basel-Stadt given that the parliament agrees to the plan. Novartis will in any case not fund more than 50% of the total contribution. IOB is also expected to rise additional funding through research grants or further collaborations..

Further information

  • Matthias Geering, University of Basel, Head of Communications & Marketing, phone: +41 61 207 35 75, mobile: +41 79 269 70 71, email: matthias.geering@unibas.ch
  • Thomas Pfluger, University Hospital Basel, Head of Marketing & Communications, email: thomas.pfluger@usb.ch
  • Markus Jaggi, Novartis International AG, Communications Switzerland, markus.jaggi@novartis.com
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