Centers and Networks
Due to the ever more interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of research, networking beyond department and faculty boundaries is increasingly important. Centers of Excellence were created at the university level as fixed-lifetime topically oriented networks to nurture a fruitful exchange of ideas. Currently we favor less structured University Research Networks which allow groups of researchers to come together dynamically. As the Centers of Excellence come to the end of their lifetime, many will be transformed into University Research Networks.
In addition, researchers participate in numerous national initiatives involving topic-oriented and/or interdisciplinary cooperative research. Some of these are anchored to the University of Basel as Leading House while others are marked by significant participation on the part of researchers from the University of Basel.
University Research Networks
As an instrument for facilitating interdisciplinary exchange and collaboration of research groups, networks can be established in fields strategically relevant for the University of Basel. Networks are organized bottom-up; they finance themselves and show-case their joint activities and leverage future project-funding though recognition with the network label. Requests for recognition as a University Research Network should be submitted for February 1st or September 1st submission deadlines. Further information about University Research Networks can be found in the guidelines. To apply for recognition as a research network, please use the model plan.
Basel Stem Cell Network
The Basel Stem Cell Network (BSCN) aims to drive forward stem cell research in biomedicine, cancer research, as well as research in metabolic diseases, aging and regenerative medicine. Its goal is to exploit the unique opportunities resulting from the close proximity of over 50 research groups, working in clinical and basic research on a wide range of questions related to stem cells. Research topics include the biology of stem cells, epigenetics, in vitro differentiation programs, cell signaling, cell fate determination, and a variety of clinical applications in and beyond the hematopoietic system. There is also a growing interest of basic research laboratories and of the pharmaceutical industry for the in vitro use of stem cell-based assay systems to study development and to model diseases.
The BSCN involves scientists working at the department Biomedicine of the Medical Faculty and the department Biozentrum of the Faculty of Science at the University of Basel, the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE) of the ETH Zurich in Basel, the Friedrich Miescher Institute and Novartis and Roche.
The Research Network Computational Sciences (RNCS) replaces the former competence center CCCS and supports, coordinates, improves and consolidates the University Basel activities in the important area of computer sciences. The network focuses on topics such as personalized medicine, machine learning und high-performance computing. Network members are scientists from the Faculty of Medicine, 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.
Neuroscience Network Basel
The Neuroscience Network Basel (NNB) is an established research network in the neurosciences which promotes information exchange between basic research, biomedical and clinical research. As the successor organization of the former competence center it has a role for the public dissemination of trends in brain research, interdisciplinary cooperation and new treatment concepts in Basel. Every year the “Brain Awareness Week” takes place in Basel. Members of the NNB are researchers from the departments Biomedicine and Clinical Research of the Medical Faculty, the department Biozentrum of the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Basel, as well as the Friedrich Miescher Institute in Basel.
Novel Medicines for Tropical and Rare Diseases
The University Research Network „Novel Medicines for Tropical and Rare Diseases“ deals with tropical and rare diseases and focuses on model-based development of drugs, by improving the visibility of the researchers of the University of Basel and increasing the acquisition of third-party funding for their research. By establishing a platform to analyze biofluids of laboratory animals, the network is developing pharmacometric and mathematical data models for further study. This will facilitate the preclinical development of new drugs and strengthen 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 Clinical Pharmacology of the University Children’s Hospital.
Swiss Center for Comparative Effectiveness and Health Economic Research (S-CORE)
The University Research Network S-CORE is formed by researchers in the area of comparative impact research. The focus is to strengthen the comparative medical effectivity research and to develop sustainable health economic models to set standards for evidence-based health care. Innovation and the development of translational and personalized medicine will be promoted and the implementation of new technologies in the field of life science in north-western Switzerland accelerated. 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 professor for Health Economics at the Faculty of Economics, the Clinical Pharmacy & Epidemiology in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Department of Public Health (DPH) of the University of Basel.
University Research Centers and Platforms
University research centers and platforms are long term clusters of research groups that are collaborating beyond the borders of their particular disciplines. They are financed by their own budget. The directors of platforms can be associated with two faculties in joint professorships.
eikones – Center for the Theory and History of the Image
The digital revolution 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 an indispensable research tool. Questions about the image, its ability to unlock knowledge, its power and its impact are at the core of topics treated by the previous National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) “Iconic Criticism - the power and meaning of images” that will be continued as eikones Research Center.
“Iconic Criticism” gives the same attention to the image that language has received for centuries. In various disciplines, the image is considered as an established topic of research and is subject to critical reflection with the aim of developing expert knowledge to deal with images in their diverse facets, intellectual and historical perspectives as well as political, practical and artistic points of view.
Swiss Nanoscience Institute
The Swiss Nanoscience Institute (SNI) at the University of Basel is a center of excellence for nanoscience and nanotechnology. It was founded in 2006 by the Canton Aargau and the University of Basel in order to promote research, education and technology transfer in nanoscience and nanotechnology in Northwestern Switzerland. The SNI emerged from the National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) "Nanoscale Science" (2001-2013) with the University of Basel as Leading House. The Nano Imaging Lab was established in 2016 and offers imaging services for research groups and external partners. The technology division and the electronic and mechanical workshops of the Department of Physics are available for researchers.
Transfaculty Research Platform Molecular and Cognitive Neurosciences
The Transfaculty Research Platform Molecular and Cognitive Neurosciences (MCN) was one of the first transfaculty endeavors of the University of Basel and has developed into a thriving hub for neuroscience-oriented psychological and psychiatric research. MCN focuses on the molecular, neurobiological and neural underpinnings of human emotional and cognitive processes and the development of novel treatment options for neuropsychiatric disorders. MCN is affiliated with the Faculty of Psychology and with the University Psychiatric Clinics of the Medical Faculty. Members of MCN have backgrounds in various disciplines, including psychology, psychiatry, biology and mathematics.
National Centers of Competence in Research (NCCR)
The National Centers of Competence in Research (NCCRs) are federal instruments for promoting long-term research projects for transdisciplinary topics of strategic importance for science, economics and society in Switzerland. Thanks to the national network and local focus, the NCCRs help structure and open up the Swiss research landscape to new research directions which could not be achieved form individual institutions. The University of Basel is a leading or co-leading house for the following NCCRs:
Molecular Systems Engineering (2014-2026)
Biological systems are characterized by special properties that are challenging to reproduce in artificial systems. Biological systems are, for example, capable of producing new functional molecular components 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 NCCR Molecular Systems Engineering will provide the basic knowledge for the development of artificial molecular systems – for example by designing innovative, functional molecules that work like their biological counterparts but for very specific purposes. Examples include nano-containers that transport substances or signals or help to break down toxic compounds. Initial tests show that it might be possible to produce these kinds of molecular machines on an industrial scale.
Quantum Science and Technology (2011-2023)
Quantum mechanics is a groundbreaking theory of physics and forms the foundation for many modern technical devices. Firstly, it describes the behaviour of quantum particles such as atoms, electrons and photons which behave completely differently to the macroscopic objects in our everyday lives. In recent years, theoretical physicists have put forth concepts that can be employed to use the non-intuitive 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 recently. The NCCR Quantum Science and Technology (QSIT) studies modern quantum physics, in particular 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 and the University of Basel is co-leading house.
National Research Cooperations
Personalized Health Initiative
The Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN) is a national initiative for promoting the development of precision medicine and personalized health in Switzerland. The SPHN lays the foundations for enabling the necessary exchange of health-related data for research. The overarching aim is to prevention and precise diagnosis on the basis of the latest scientific evidence as well as to treat diseases more efficiently and with minimal side effects.
The regional research initiative Personalized Health Basel (PHB) has been established by the University of Basel, the University Hospital Basel, the University Children's Hospital Basel, the Department for Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE),and the University Hospital Zurich. The intention is to create a focal research area spanning North West Switzerland strengthening the life science location Basel. With regard to the national research initiative the University of Basel and the D-BSSE will be positioned ideally to contribute to the program.
Plant Science Center
The Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center is an established center for plant sciences of the University of Basel, the ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich. It was founded in 1998 and aims at the promotion of scientific exchange and cooperation as well as increasing knowledge about plants and organisms interacting with them. By supporting innovative and transdisciplinary research projects as well as applying findings from basic research, sustainable development of the environment and agriculture is promoted. The dialog with the public is strengthened by contributing scientific views to social, economic and political topics.
The Nano-Tera initiative aims to strengthen Switzerland in the field known as embedded systems, a very promising area in 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 by a total of CHF 123 million. One last call for project applications will be launched in 2017. The program will end in 2018.
The SystemsX.ch initiative was established in 2004 as cooperation project between the University of Basel, the University of Zurich and the ETH Zurich for the promotion and establishment of systems biology in Switzerland. Subsequently, SystemsX.ch supported around 300 research groups at 11 universities and other research institutions for research in systems biology. Along with collaborative research funding through technology and development (RTD) projects, funding schemes included transfer projects, transition postdoc fellowships and interdisciplinary PhD projects. Research groups from the University of Basel have been major contributors to several running and completed SystemsX.ch projects. The program is now in its run-down phase.