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Switzerland's FMI Creating New Genomic Stability Program; Seeks Group Leader

By Alex Philippidis

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — The Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research in Basel, Switzerland, is establishing a new research program in genomic stability, and is seeking a group leader to run the new lab.

According to an advertisement for the position posted on the institute's website, FMI especially hopes to hear from candidates intending to carry out independent research in DNA repair, replication, the replication-transcription interface, repeat instability, chromatin remodeling, telomeres, or centromeres.

"We consider this field to be rich in promise for novel anti-cancer targets," FMI Director Susan Gasser told GenomeWeb Daily News this week.

Gasser said the genomic stability program would build on her research into replication fork stability and DNA damage checkpoint studies in yeast, as well as on discoveries of several structures involved in DNA repair — notably the human Rad54 DNA repair protein and the DDB1/DDB2/Cul4 protein complex — by FMI structure biologist Nicolas Thomä, whose lab focuses on premature aging syndromes tightly linked to cancer and genomic instability.

"We want to expand our expertise in this area and seek synergy with their interests, as well as interaction with our groups that study signal transduction in cancer and epigenetics," Gasser said.

FMI — which celebrated its 40th anniversary earlier this year — carries out basic biomedical research focused on cell growth control, epigenetics and neurobiology, as well as on development of new technology platforms.

The Novartis Research Foundation accounts for most of FMI's funding, though the institute also receives CHF8 million ($8.3 million) a year in research funding from public institutions such as the European Union and Swiss National Science Foundation.

The Institute provides core facilities for high-end microscopy, cell sorting, genomics, protein crystallography, proteomics, and bioinformatics.

FMI has set a Dec. 31 deadline for applications for the group leader position, which would be equivalent to an assistant professor. "The selection process takes about two months for a final offer to be made. The person could join and start anytime in autumn 2011 or winter 2012," Gasser said.

She said FMI hopes to expand its proteomics expertise with the new research program, though it would not be a prerequisite. If the institute expands its proteomics … it would add to the cost of the new research program, which Gasser projected would be roughly CHF700,000 to CHF800,000.

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