Titleimage: Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine (IBMM)

Research at the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine (IBMM) focuses on the structure (Fotiadis, Kukulski, Lemmin), function (Abriel, Albrecht, Fotiadis, Gertsch, Peinelt, Lemmin) and pharmacology (Abriel, Gertsch) of membrane proteins such as transporters, ion channels, and membrane receptors. A strong emphasis is put on the roles of these membrane proteins in human disease. We combine chemical synthesis (Lochner), chemical biology/analytics (Gertsch) with electrophysiology (Abriel, Peinelt), structural biology (Fotiadis, Kukulski) and computational biology (Lemmin). Both human ex vivo (Albrecht) and genetically-modified mouse models ( Abriel, Gertsch) serve to study these transporters in different diseases like cancer (Peinelt), cardiac disorders (Abriel), preeclampsia (Albrecht) and neuropsychiatric disorders (Gertsch).

The IBMM directorate is composed of Dimitrios Fotiadis (Managing Director and Co-Director Finances), Jürg Gertsch (Deputy Managing Director and Co-Director Infrastructure and Research), Christine Peinelt (Co-Director Teaching) and Wanda Kukulski (Co-Director Safety, Quality, and Equal Opportunities).

To apply excellence in membrane transporter research to the treatment of human diseases, the National Center of Competence in Research, NCCR TransCure, was established in 2010 and is currently led by Hugues Abriel and Jean-Louis Reymond. The IBMM is hosting most of the NCCR TransCure research groups from the University of Bern, which is the Leading House. For details see www.nccr-transcure.ch.

The specific focus areas of the individual research groups of the IBMM is shown in the section "Research"

News and Events

We congratulate our former Marie-Curie Fellow María Constanza Maldifassi to her new position

We congratulate our former Marie-Curie Fellow María Constanza Maldifassi to her new position as assistant professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York! Her latest work shows how nicotine promotes prostate and colorectal cancer progression. Coni, we wish you all the best for your future!

New principle investigator at the IBMM

The IBMM warmly welcomes
Ass. Prof. Thomas Lemmin.

Thomas is a recipient of the prestigious Eccellenza professorial fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). His expertise lies at the intersection of molecular dynamics simulations, protein modeling and design, and artificial intelligence.

We wish Thomas all the best at the IBMM and look forward to working with you.


neue Telefonnummern ab 1. Mai 2021

Am Wochenende des 1. Mai 2021 werden die Telefonnummern aller Mitarbeitenden, die über die Rufnummer +41 31 631 xx xx kommunizieren, geändert zu +41 31 684 xx xx. Die letzten 4 Ziffern bleiben für alle identisch. Die interne Wahl wird zudem von 4 auf 5 Stellen erweitert. Alle Mitarbeitenden sind für Anrufe aus dem öffentlichen Telefonnetz über die bisherige Rufnummer während 24 Monaten weiterhin erreichbar. Die Änderung wird vorgenommen, weil der bisherige Rufnummernbereich nicht mehr ausreicht.


Promotion to Ordinarius for Prof. Dimitrios Fotiadis

We congratulate our colleague Prof. Dimitrios Fotiadis for his promotion to Ordinarius per 1st of February 2021. Prof. Fotiadis received his PhD and habilitated in biophysics at the Biozentrum at the University of Basel, Switzerland. He was tenured as Extraordinarius at the University of Bern in 2013. Currently, he is the PI of different research projects related to structure biology and structure-function relationships of different transmembrane transporters (NCCR TransCure, Synergia, SNSF projects). Prof. Fotiadis is Co-Director of finances and Managing Director of the IBMM.


Prof. Wanda Kukulski, new Professor of Biochemistry at the IBMM

Today, May 1st, 2020, the IBMM is extremely happy to announce the start of Prof. Wanda Kukulski as a new Professor of Biochemistry. Wanda Kukulski studied Biology II at the University of Basel and obtained her Ph.D. in biophysics at the Biozentrum in Basel. In 2015, she was hired as a group leader at the prestigious MRC-LMB (Cambridge, U.K.), where she started her research on how the architecture of cellular membranes is linked to their function. Wanda Kukulski is well known for combining fluorescence microscopy with electron tomography to obtain novel insights into molecular membrane biology.

As a new group leader at the IBMM, Prof. Kukulski will also be one of the principal investigators of the Swiss National Science Foundation-funded NCCR TransCure. We wish Prof. Kukulski the best of luck with her projects. We are happy to count on her expertise for the development of cryo-electron microscopy capacities at the University of Bern.


New Professorship for Pharmaceutical Biology at the IBMM

We congratulate our colleague Prof. Jürg Gertsch for his nomination as Professor (Ordinarius) of Pharmaceutical Biology since August 1st, 2019. Jürg Gertsch studied Neuroscience and Biochemistry at the Biocentre Basel and in the UK and obtained his Ph.D. in 2002 at the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (ETH Zürich). Since 2009, he is a faculty member at the IBMM, where he obtained a tenured Professorship (Extraordinarius) in 2013. He is one of the co-directors of the IBMM since 2014. The research of Prof. Gertsch focuses on the endocannabinoid system and cannabinoids. This endocannabinoid system is recognized as a promising drug target and is currently investigated by numerous research groups and companies, among others, the start-up Synendos Therapeutics, co-founded by Prof. Gertsch. Some of the basic science projects of the Gertsch's group are parts of the Swiss National Science Foundation-funded NCCR TransCure. The new nomination of Prof. Gertsch is part of the new full curriculum in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Bern.


NCCR TransCure spin-off Synendos Therapeutics wins BaseLaunch

In December 2018, the BaseLaunch accelerator program for healthcare startups has selected four projects among over 100 applications received from Switzerland and Europe to receive non-dilutive funding in a competitive two-phase selection process. Among them, was the project by Andrea Chicca and Jürg Gertsch from the IBMM on the development of selective endocannabinoid reuptake inhibitors (SERIs) for neuropsychiatric disorders. The project was initiated by the NCCR TransCure research project cellular endocannabinoid transport. Over the last years, they and their collaborators have successfully identified a new drug target and generated solid IP protection on first and second generation SERIs and their medical uses. Their startup Synendos Therapeutics now aims to bring the lead SERI into a phase I clinical trial and the spin-off company will be incorporated at the Swiss Innovation Park in Allschwil in Basel. BaseLaunch is managed and operated by BaselArea.swiss and provides non-dilutive funding, access to Healthcare Partners and knowledge from highly experienced advisors. BaseLaunch is supported by Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Novartis Venture Fund, Pfizer, Roche and Roivant Sciences as well as by other public and private partners.
Synendos has recently also won the Venture Kick Stage I.


New Sinergia Project at the IBMM

The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) has granted a Sinergia Project to Dimitrios Fotiadis (University of Bern, Medical Faculty) together with the laboratories of Philippe Plattet (University of Bern, Vetsuisse Faculty) and Rainer Riedl (Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften - ZHAW) entitled “Morbillivirus cell entry machinery: mechanisms, structures and drug discovery”.


New IBMM Managing Director as of April 1st, 2018

We are pleased to announce that for the two-year term of April 2018 until March 2020 Dimitrios Fotiadis will serve as Managing Director and Jürg Gertsch as Deputy Managing Director of the IBMM.

Christine Peinelt has been elected as Co-Director Teaching and Hugues Abriel will serve as Co-Director in charge of Safety, Quality and Equal Opportunities. Congratulations and all the best for the new and important tasks!

July 4, 2017: IBMM Minisymposium GABAA receptors

Erwin Sigel hat in seiner langen Forschungskarriere hauptsächlich an GABAA Rezeptoren gearbeitet und sich insbesondere für die Funktion von allosterischen Modulatoren interessiert. So war er bei der Aufklärung der molekularen Mechanismen von Benzodiazepinen beteiligt. Erwin Sigel hat durch seine Lehr- und Forschungstätigkeit an der Universität Bern mehrere Generationen von Nachwuchsforschern nachhaltig beeinflusst.
Anlässlich seiner Pensionierung lädt das IBMM zum Minisymposium mit Gästen aus dem In- und Ausland.


Kleine Nachwuchsforscherinnen erobern das Labor

Anlässlich des «UN Day of Women and Girls in Science» am 11. Februar lud der NCCR TransCure Mädchen im Alter von fünf bis zehn Jahren dazu ein, Laborluft zu schnuppern. Wissenschaftliche Experimente brachten die jungen Forscherinnen zum Staunen und Strahlen.


New IBMM Managing Director as of October 1st, 2016

We are pleased to announce the seamless transition in leadership of the IBMM directorate from Matthias A. Hediger to Hugues Abriel. The change in management has been planned for some time, as Matthias Hediger has served as director of the IBMM since 2005. In 2010 Matthias Hediger established the NCCR TransCure, an interdisciplinary research network of 19 research groups affiliated at Universities in Bern, Zurich, Lausanne and Basel. This network is now being led by Hugues Abriel. The appointment of Prof. Abriel as the Managing Director of the IBMM will warrant the future commitment of the institute toward the success of NCCR TransCure. Prof. Hediger will continue to be an active member of both the IBMM and NCCR TransCure until his retirement in 2019.


Wie pathogene Darmbakterien die Magensäure überleben

Krankheitserregende Darmbakterien aktivieren Schutzmechanismen, um im sauren Milieu des Magens zu überleben. Berner Forscher des Nationalen Forschungsschwer-
punktes (NFS) «TransCure» haben nun die Struktur des zentralen Proteins eines bakteriellen Säure-Resistenz-Systems entschlüsseln können. Dadurch werden wichtige Einblicke in die «Überlebenstricks» von Darmbakterien gewonnen.


Synthetic Biology in Bern

Synthetic biology is an emerging and rapidly evolving engineering discipline. Within the NCCR Molecular Systems Engineering, Bernese scientists have engineered a chemically switchable version of the light-driven proton pump proteorhodopsin – an essential tool for efficiently powering molecular factories and synthetic cells.


New Professor at IBMM

On July 1, 2016 Prof. Christine Peinelt starts working as full Professor (Extraordinarius). Her research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of store-operated calcium channels (ORAIs/STIM) in non-excitable cells. She will greatly contribute to the research programs at NCCR TransCure and IBMM.


Membranprotein in Bern erstmals entschlüsselt

Die Struktur von Membranproteinen hoch aufzulösen und in 3D darzustellen, ist für Strukturbiologen eine grosse Herausforderung. In Bern ist dies nun zum ersten Mal gelungen.


«Türsteher» der Zellen helfen bei Medikamentenentwicklung

Matthias A. Hediger forscht an Transportproteinen, um neue Therapieansätze gegen Krankheiten wie Krebs oder Diabetes zu entwickeln. Er erklärt im Interview das grosse Potenzial dieser Proteine und warum interdisziplinäre Forschungsnetzwerke so wichtig sind.



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