For the fourth time in a row, the Swiss Federal government will fund the Biotechnology Institute Thurgau (BITg). The institute associated to the University of Konstanz, located in Kreuzlingen (Switzerland), will receive 2.9 million Swiss Francs for the period 2017 to 2020. Research at the BITg focuses on application-oriented basic research in the field of tumour biology, immunology and cell biology. The Foundation for Science and Research of the Canton Thurgau administers the institute.
The funding sum now granted by the Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research is considerably higher than in previous funding periods.
“The decision by the Swiss government confirms that research at our institute is of national and international importance", says Professor Daniel Legler, operative head of the Biotechnology Institute Thurgau. "Funding from the government is extremely important for us. It means that we can continue to conduct research at a high level, with the same number of staff members and using the same infrastructure", says Professor Marcus Goettrup, professor of immunology at the University of Konstanz and president of the executive committee of BITg.
The Biotechnology Institute Thurgau was evaluated by Professor Gerd Folkers of the Swiss Science and Innovation Council (SSIC), Monika Knill of the Government Council of the Canton of Thurgau, who is also the head of the Department for Education and Culture and president of the research foundation Stiftung Wissenschaft und Forschung (TSWF) of the Canton Thurgau, the TSWF's general manager Urs Schwager as well as Professor Dirk Leuffen, Vice Rector for Research and Academic Staff Development at the University of Konstanz. Especially the publication record of the BITg were rated outstanding.
Funding from the Swiss government is so important for BITg, as this means that it has the status of a research institution of national importance and is thus eligible to apply for funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF).
Another important factor for the BITg is the close cooperation with the University of Konstanz. It is an official partner of the Research School Chemical Biology at the University of Konstanz, which has been funded in the context of the German Excellence Initiative. Doctoral researchers at both institutions benefit immensely from the partnership. Daniel Legler’s teaching assignment as well as immunologist Marcus Groettrup, whose team members conduct research at the BITg, connect both institutions even further.
The BITg houses three research groups: Daniel Legler’s team investigates how immune cells migrate from the source of infection to the lymph nodes – the pre-requisite for successful immune reaction. The research team also studies how cancer cells travel and how they form metastases. Marcus Groettrup’s team focuses on a molecule similar to ubiquitin that controls protein degradation in immune cells and thus helps the T-lymphocytes to identify infected cells. These molecules play a significant role in cancer cells. Dr. Jeremie Rossy will succeed Dr. Hesso Farhan, who accepted an appointment as professor at Oslo University, as head of the junior research group at the beginning of 2017. He investigates how the signals of the T-lymphocytes’ antigen receptors are transmitted into the cells, are processed there, and how this affects the function of the T-lymphocytes in eliminating infected cells and tumour cells. To localise proteins and determine their functional status, he will use the high resolution microscope at the University of Konstanz’s Bioimaging Center.
- The Biotechnology Institute Thurgau (BITg) was founded as an associated institute of the University of Konstanz in 1999. It is legally administered by the Foundation for Science and Research of the Canton Thurgau.
- The Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research will provide funding of 2.9 million Swiss Francs from 2017 to 2020.
- The overall funding sum provided by the Swiss government since 2004 will therefore amount to 9.8 million Swiss Francs.
- The Canton of Thurgau, the Swiss government and competitively acquired external funding each account for around a third of funds.
- The University of Konstanz supports the BITg by providing infrastructure such as the Bioimaging Center.