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Rubrik: News

From Berkeley to ETH: Systems biologist Luke Lee
Specialist for micro-laboratories

Published: 12.10.2006 06:00
Modified: 11.10.2006 17:12

(nst) The Center for Biosystems Science and Engineering of ETH in Basel (which will have the status of a separate department from 1 January 2007 (1) ) is visibly coming alive. Following the appointment of Centre Director Renato Paro, who took up his post in the summer, another renowned addition to the family has been announced. On Thursday 28 September 2006 the ETH Board elected the US-American Luke P. Lee, currently Distinguished Professor in Bio-engineering at the University of Berkeley, to the position of full Professor for System-Nanobiology at ETH Zurich.

Experienced in industry, successful in research

Lee, now 47 years of age, worked in the technology industry until 1996; after moving to the academic world he quickly climbed the career ladder. His doctorate in Applied Physics and Bio-engineering at Berkeley followed in 2000; only five years later he became a full professor at the same institute. In addition Lee has been Co-Director of the “Sensor and Actuator Center” since 1999 and Director of the “Bio-molecular Nanotechnology Center" since 2001. The numerous honours that Luke Lee has received include the “National Academies Keck Futures Initiative Award" in 2005.

Striving for pharmaceutical collaboration

His scientific focus is the technological development of nana-scale and micro-scale tools with which cellular processes can be described quantitatively. Luke Lee is one of the world’s leading experts in the area of micro fluidics and “Lab-on-a-Chip” technology. The latter enables for example individual cells to be opened up and manipulated and their behaviour observed and measured on a chip with microscopically-sized compartments – an extremely promising technique that is being used increasingly often by many cell biologists – as is shown by the publications in recent years. The representatives of the group managements of Roche and Novartis appear to be highly delighted with this appointment to the new Center. Initial discussions about possible collaborative work have already taken place..

The intention is for the Center for Biosystems to play a pioneering role in systems biology research in Switzerland and Europe. In the coming five years ETH Zurich will establish a total of 15 different research groups from the disciplines of Biology, Informatics, Engineering Sciences, Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics at the new Center.

Moving from Berkeley to the ETH Center for Biosystems Science and Engineering in Basel: system biologist Luke Lee.

(1 For information about the foundation of the Biosystems Science and Engineering Department (D-BESS) see the “ETH Life” article “A new structure for System Biology“ of 21 July 2006: (

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