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University of Basel

Centers and Networks

Due to the increasingly interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of research, networking beyond department and faculty boundaries is becoming increasingly important. Centers of Excellence exist at the university level to bring about the appropriate structures for these topically oriented networks and promote a fruitful exchange of ideas. In addition, researchers participate in numerous national initiatives involving topic-oriented, cooperative research. Some of these are anchored to the University of Basel as the main site while others are marked by significant participation on the part of researchers from the University of Basel.

University Centers of Excellence

In order to support the interdisciplinary research orientation and the concentration on strategic research focuses, the University of Basel promotes the establishment of Centers of Excellence. Centers of Excellence are scientific networks in which departments, institutes or researchers from specific fields coordinate their research activities with strategic objectives. They are interdisciplinary and cooperate with institutions of other faculties, higher education institutions and centers of research as well as economic and cultural institutions.

Current Centers of Excellence

Centers of Excellence 2009 – 2013

University Research Networks

As an instrument of the interdisciplinary interconnection of research groups research networks can be established at the University of Basel. The call is addressed to researchers of the University of Basel who would like to found a research network in fields which are strategically relevant for the University and would thereby like to make visible their common activities by a label. Networks are organised bottom-up, finance themselves and promote the interdisciplinary exchange. Requests can be submitted by February 1st and September 1st. Further information about networks can be found in the guidelines. For the application for recognition as a research network, please use the development plan.

Current Research Networks

Swiss Center for Comparative Effectiveness and Health Economic Research (S-CORE)

Scientists of diverse areas have joined forces in the research network S-CORE to support innovations in healthcare. New discoveries from basic research are applied in a timely manner to treatments in the clinical medicine by translational health research. The network aims to strengthen the effectivity research and to establish sustainable health economic models and benchmarks for an evidence based medical care. The development of the translational und personalized medicine and the implementation of new technologies in the field of life science in north-western Switzerland are thereby promoted.

Network members are the Basel Institute for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (CEB), the European Center of Pharmaceutical Medicine (ECPM), the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), the professorship for Health Economics at the Faculty of Economics, the Basel Pharmacoepidemiology Unit in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Department Public Health (DPH) of the University of Basel.

Novel Medicines for Tropical and Rare Diseases

The establishment of a platform for pharmacometric and mathematical data models for experiments will strengthen the preclinical development of new medicaments and the translational research in biochemistry and molecular biology.  Clinical studies for promoting the development of new medicaments are planned in Basel and Tanzania. Network members are the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Center for Scientific Computing (sciCORE) of the University of Basel, the Department Clinical Research, the Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology of the University Hospital Basel and the Pediatric Pharmacology of the University Children’s Hospital.

Computational Sciences

The research network Computational Sciences replaces the former competence centre CCCS and aims to support, coordinate, improve and consolidate the various efforts of the University Basel in the promising field of computer sciences. The network focuses on the topic areas such as personalized medicine, machine learning und high-performance computing. Network members are scientists from the Faculty of Sciences, the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Economics of the University of Basel, researchers at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) and the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE) of the ETH Zurich in Basel. Collaborations with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Hermann-Paul Centre for Linguistics at the University Freiburg im Breisgau are planned.

National Centers of Competence in Research (NCCR)

The National Centers of Competence in Research (NCCR) are the federal government’s way of promoting long-term research projects for topics of strategic importance for science, economics and society in Switzerland. Thanks to the national network and local focus, the NCCRs help structure the Swiss research landscape.

The University of Basel is a leading or co-leading house for the following NCCRs:

Molecular Systems Engineering

Biological systems possess special properties that have thus far been very difficult to reproduce in artificial systems. For example, things like new functional molecular components can be produced to control complex molecular processes.

Thanks to advances in the fields of systems chemistry and biology, the life sciences and nanosciences, researchers are beginning to better understand the structural principles developed by nature at the molecular level. The new NCCR aims to make apply this knowledge for the development and energy supply of artificial, molecular systems – for example, by designing innovative, functional molecules that work much like their biological models but for very specific purposes.

Potential examples include tiny nano-containers that transport substances or signals or help break down toxic compounds. Initial tests show that it might be possible to produce these kinds of molecular machines on an industrial scale.

Director: Prof. Dr. Thomas R. Ward (University of Basel)
Codirector: Prof. Dr. Daniel J. Müller (ETH Zurich, D-BSSE)

Iconic Criticism (eikones)

The digital revolution that has been unfolding since the early 1990s has transformed the old, inert image into an extremely flexible instrument. Even in the modern world of science, images are a research tool that have become practically indispensable. The question of the image, its ability to unlock knowledge, its power and its impact are at the core of iconic criticism or Bildkritik.

Iconic criticism dedicates the same attention to the possibilities of the image that has been paid to language for centuries. In various disciplines, the image is considered as a common topic of research subject to critical reflection, with the goal of developing expert knowledge of the image for the purposes of dealing with images in all their diversity, from intellectual and historical perspectives as well as from political, practical and artistic standpoints.

Director: Prof. Dr. Ralph Ubl
Contact: Dr. Malika Maskarinec

Quantum Science and Technology

Quantum mechanics is the most groundbreaking theory of physics and forms the foundation for nearly all modern technical devices. Firstly, it describes the behavior of quantum particles such as atoms, electrons, photons, etc., which behave completely differently to the objects in our everyday lives. In recent years, theoretical physicists have put forth concepts that can be employed to use the nonintuitive properties of quantum mechanics in new ways. Tailor-made quantum systems can be realized in experiments and studied with a precision that was unimaginable until just recently. The Quantum Science and Technology (QSIT) NCCR studies modern quantum physics, in particular their future applications in the field of information technology.

33 research groups work together in the QSIT NCCR. ETH Zurich is the leading house of the research network. The University of Basel is the co-leading house.

Director: Prof. Dr. Klaus Ensslin (ETH Zurich)
Codirector: Prof. Dr. Richard Warburton (University of Basel)
Contact: Dr. Ilona Blatter (ETH Zurich)


The Nanosciences NCCR began in 2001 and was completed successfully in 2013. Its continuation is the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, where research and development is moving forward on projects in the nanosciences with substantial support from the Canton of Aargau.

Director: Prof. Dr. Christian Schönenberger
Contact: Audrey Fischer

National research cooperation projects


Thanks to considerable contributions from the University of Basel, the SystemsX initiative was established from 2004 to 2007 as a collaboration between the universities of Basel and Zurich and ETH Zurich for the promotion and establishment of systems biology in Switzerland. The national SystemsX.ch follow-up initiative was funded by the Federal Council and Parliament from 2008 to 2012 with a total of CHF 120 million. During the second phase (20132016), a total of CHF 100 million was approved for establishing research in the field of systems biology in Switzerland.

SystemsX.ch makes it possible for around 300 research groups at 11 universities and other research institutions to conduct research in systems biology. Along with the collaborative research, technology and development (RTD) projects involving several research groups, there are also transfer projects, transition postdoc fellowships, interdisciplinary PhD projects and other types of projects. The University of Basel was and continues to be a major player in several SystemsX.ch projects.


The Nano-Tera initiative aims to strengthen Switzerland in the field known as embedded systems, a very promising area of the engineering sciences. These tiny communications systems are used specifically in the fields of health care, security and the environment. Nano-tera.ch projects were launched in 2009 and funded with CHF 123 million. Nano-tera.ch is now in its second phase (2013 to 2016).

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