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University of Basel

Focal Areas

As a comprehensive institution, the University of Basel is involved in a broad range of research activities in its seven faculties. Thanks to its research achievements, it is regularly listed among the top 100 universities in various global rankings. As a research institution with an interdisciplinary tradition, the University of Basel has selected five focal areas for its «Strategy 2014», with the aim of positioning itself in specific content areas.

Life Sciences

Research in the life sciences has a long tradition at the university. They represent a pronounced focal area of the research activities and constitute more than half of the university’s scientific publications. The University of Basel is among the top ten European institutions and the top fifty internationally in this area. It is involved in numerous partnerships with research institutions and industry partners.

Life sciences-relevant research is conducted primarily in the Faculty of Medicine at the Department of Biomedicine, at the Department Biomedical Engineering, at the Department Klinische Forschung (DKF), at the University Hospital in the fields of nanomedicine, neuroscience and clinical medicine, and in the Faculty of Science at the Biozentrum, the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Department of Environmental Sciences in the fields of molecular biology and basic research. In addition, research in the life sciences is conducted by the Faculty of Psychology, specifically with a focus on molecular psychology and neuroscience.

The Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute Swiss TPH and the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research FMI, which are affiliated with the University of Basel, also have a research focus in the life sciences.

Visual Studies

In the focal area of visual studies, images from various contexts such as the arts, science, economics, urban planning, philosophy as well as the history of languages and writing are studied with respect to their functions and effects. The core of this focal area is the eikones National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR), which is currently in its third financing phase. eikones builds bridges between disciplines, between various Swiss and international universities, research institutions, collections and museums. To date, research in this focal area is mainly conducted in the Faculty of Humanities. There are plans to incorporate research topics from the cognitive neurosciences and imaging used in the natural sciences.


The nanosciences are a pioneering field of the natural sciences that will have a long-term impact on tomorrow’s world. Research in the nanosciences has an interdisciplinary orientation and is characterized both by its high quality and its importance for the industrial sector. The research is conducted primarily in the departments of Chemistry and Physics as well as at the Biozentrum. This focal area is shaped by research initiatives in the fields of imaging, translational research, materials science, sustainability research and quantum computing.

Basel was formerly the leading house of the successful National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) in Nanosciences, which was the predecessor to the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. In addition, the University of Basel is the co-leading house of the current Quantum Science and Technology NCCR with ETH Zurich as the leading house. The University of Basel has also been the leading house for the Molecular Systems Engineering NCCR since 2014, with ETH Zurich as the co-leading house.

Sustainability and Energy Research

This focal area forms a bridge between the natural and social sciences. Research in the relevant focal areas is conducted mainly by the departments of Chemistry and Physics as well as the Department of Environmental and Energy Economics belonging to the Faculty of Business and Economics.

Since 2014, the University of Basel has been the leading house (with ZHAW as the co-leading house) of the Competence Center for Research in Energy, Society and Transition CREST, making the University a center committed to researching the economic, legal and social science aspects of the “energy turnaround” or Energiewende. CREST is one of the seven Swiss Competence Centers in Energy Research (SCCER) funded as part of the 2050 energy strategy of the federal government.

European and Global Studies

In this focal area, the existing research concentration on Europe’s cultural foundations has been expanded to include two non-European parts of the world that are relevant to the university: Africa and China. By taking this direction, normative and geopolitical considerations can be incorporated into the analysis of dynamic relationship patterns that involve examining the interweaving of various concepts and societal practices. In addition to the pioneering Institute for European Global Studies, contributions to this focal area are made by the Center for African Studies as well as Confucius Institute at the University of Basel.

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