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ETH - Eidgenoessische Technische Hochschule Zuerich - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich
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Published: 16.03.2006, 06:00
Modified: 15.03.2006, 22:16
First director for the ETH Center for Biosystems in Basle
At ETH Zurich in Basel

(cm) Last week the ETH Council appointed Renato Paro as Professor for Biosystems at ETH Zurich. At the same time, the biologist becomes the first director of the ETH Center of Biosystems in Basel. At present the center represents one of currently four Scientific Nodes in the network of SystemsX, the Swiss Initiative in Systems Biology (1).

According to the media release distributed by SystemsX last Thursday, Paro's mandate is to make the Center of Biosystems Science and Engineering (C-BSSE) to an acclaimed address for systems biology all over the world. In its final form the center is to comprise at least 15 professorships in various disciplines from the fields of the life sciences, engineering and computer science.

Renato Paro, 51 and citizen of Birsfelden, began his scientific career in the Biocenter at the University of Basel with Walter Gehring where he studied the model organism Drosophila melanogaster. His diploma thesis was even accepted for publication in the scientific journal "Cell“. His academic route then took him to the universities of Edinburgh and Stanford, before he joined the Center of Molecular Biology at the University of Heidelberg (2).

Paro's primary area of research is epigenetics. Epigenetics is commonly defined as the study of heritable changes in gene function that occur without a change in the DNA sequence. The scientist himself describes epigenetics as a process that can be compared to the formatting of a text. He also points out that the extreme inefficiency of cloning shows how nature defends itself from the re-programming of epigenetic markers.

According to a report in the "Basler Zeitung", Renato Paro plans to move to his new office the coming summer, or in autumn at the latest. He hopes to be able to finish his work in Germany by then because he does not want to have to divide his attention between Heidelberg and Basel. The director's new place of work is situated in the "Biopark Rosental", next to the Friederich-Miescher Institute in a laboratory complex of the Syngenta that is currently being renovated.

The first director of the ETH Center for Biosystems in Basle: Renato Paro. (Picture: SystemsX) large

(1) SystemsX is a joint partnership of both of Zurich's universities and the University of Basle and for the time being comprises following units: "Institute for Molecular Systems Biology“ at ETH Zurich, "Competence Center for Systems Physiology & Metabolic Diseases“ at ETH Zurich, "Center for Model Organisms Proteomics“ at the University of Zurich and, new, in Basle the "Center of Biosystems Science and Engineering“ part of ETH Zurich. Further information at:
(2) Renato Paro's homepage in Heidelberg:

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