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Roche to promote university research

The Swiss pharmaceutical group, Roche, is to set up a research fund at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) to promote research in molecular and structural biology.

The fund, which will provide start-up financing of SFr2.5 million, spread over a period of five years, will make it easier for the Department of Biology to recruit top researchers to fill the five assistant professorships in its pool.

The research fund will help the ETH provide highly qualified researchers with the infrastructure they need for their research work. This is likely to enhance the competitiveness of the ETH when it comes to recruiting talented young researchers.

Professor Jonathan Knowles, Roche's head of global pharmaceutical research, and Professor Kurt Wüthrich, head of the Department of Biology at the ETH, signed an agreement on Thursday creating of the research fund.

"Our co-operation with the ETH will enable Roche to promote long term basic research in molecular and structural biology. Enhancing this expertise will make it easier for us to create innovative solutions for important medical problems," said Knowles at the signing ceremony.

Wüthrich emphasized the advantages for the ETH of the agreement with Roche: "We are delighted to have this opportunity to co-operate with Roche. It will significantly improve our ability to recruit outstanding young scientists. I would like to draw special attention to our partner's generosity in leaving the choice of fields and the professors to be recruited completely up to us."

The Board of the Federal Institute of Technology has already appointed Dr. Nenad Ban as the first scientist in the "assistant professor pool" set up at the ETH's Department of Biology. He will commence his research work in structural molecular biology in September of this year.

The Department of Biology at the ETH is one of Switzerland's most important research institutes in molecular and structural biology. The department's excellent international reputation should be reinforced by the promotion of research in structural biology, the production and processing of bio-information and the molecular biology of organisms.

by Tom O'Brien.

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