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Zurich, Switzerland

ETH Zürich is an engineering, science, technology, mathematics and management university in the city of Zürich, Switzerland. Like its sister institution Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne , it is an integral part of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology Domain that is directly subordinate to Switzerland's Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research.ETH Zürich is consistently rated among the top universities in the world. It is currently ranked 4th in Europe overall, and 3rd best university in the world in engineering, science and technology. Twenty-one Nobel Prizes have been awarded to students or professors of the Institute in the past, the most famous of which is Albert Einstein in 1921, and the most recent is Richard F. Heck in 2010. It is a founding member of the IDEA League and the International Alliance of Research Universities and a member of the CESAER network.The school was founded by the Swiss Federal Government in 1854 with the stated mission to educate engineers and scientists, serve as a national center of excellence in science and technology and provide a hub for interaction between the scientific community and industry. Wikipedia.

Kornmann B.,ETH Zurich
Current Opinion in Cell Biology | Year: 2013

A long-observed but often neglected property of cellular organelles is their ability to associate into junctions. Aspects of cell physiology appear more and more to depend upon these contact sites, as their central molecular components are being identified. Contact sites between the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and the mitochondria are emerging as a prime example of such contacts. The physiological role of these contact sites, first thought to be limited to the facilitation of lipid and calcium exchange between the two organelles, is found to extend to unexpected aspects of mitochondria and ER functions. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Stark W.J.,ETH Zurich
Angewandte Chemie - International Edition | Year: 2011

Understanding the behavior of nanoparticles in biological systems opens up new directions for medical treatments and is essential for the development of safe nanotechnology. This Review discusses molecules and nanoparticles when in contact with cells or whole organisms, with a focus on inorganic materials. The interaction of particles with biology unravels a series of new mechanisms not found for molecules: altered biodistribution, chemically reactive interfaces, and the combination of solid-state properties and mobility. Externally guided movement of medicaments by using functional nanomagnets brings mechanics into drug design. In subsequent sections, the role of inertness and bioaccumulation is discussed in regard to the long-term safety of nanoparticles. Particles in motion: Nanoparticles combine the properties of a traditional solid (magnetic, optic, mechanic, radiation) with the mobility of molecules, including the ability to diffuse inside an organism. This combination opens up fascinating opportunities for medical treatments, industrial processes, and improved consumer products-but the environmental aspects must also be considered. © 2011 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

Studart A.R.,ETH Zurich
Advanced Materials | Year: 2012

Biological composites have evolved elaborate hierarchical structures to achieve outstanding mechanical properties using weak but readily available building blocks. Combining the underlying design principles of such biological materials with the rich chemistry accessible in synthetic systems may enable the creation of artificial composites with unprecedented properties and functionalities. This bioinspired approach requires identification, understanding, and quantification of natural design principles and their replication in synthetic materials, taking into account the intrinsic properties of the stronger artificial building blocks and the boundary conditions of engineering applications. In this progress report, the scientific and technological questions that have to be addressed to achieve this goal are highlighted, and examples of recent research efforts to tackle them are presented. These include the local characterization of the heterogeneous architecture of biological materials, the investigation of structure-function relationships to help unveil natural design principles, and the development of synthetic processing routes that can potentially be used to implement some of these principles in synthetic materials. The importance of replicating the design principles of biological materials rather than their structure per se is highlighted, and possible directions for further progress in this fascinating, interdisciplinary field are discussed. Copyright © 2012 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

Jiricny J.,ETH Zurich
Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology | Year: 2013

The mismatch repair (MMR) system detects non-Watson-Crick base pairs and strand misalignments arising during DNA replication and mediates their removal by catalyzing excision of the mispair-containing tract of nascent DNA and its error-free resynthesis. In this way, MMR improves the fidelity of replication by several orders of magnitude. It also addresses mispairs and strand misalignments arising during recombination and prevents synapses between nonidentical DNA sequences. Unsurprisingly, MMR malfunction brings about genomic instability that leads to cancer in mammals. But MMR proteins have recently been implicated also in other processes of DNA metabolism, such as DNA damage signaling, antibody diversification, and repair of interstrand cross-links and oxidative DNA damage, in which their functions remain to be elucidated. This article reviews the progress in our understanding of the mechanism of replication error repair made during the past decade. © 2013 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press; all rights reserved.

Hilvert D.,ETH Zurich
Annual Review of Biochemistry | Year: 2013

Diverse engineering strategies have been developed to create enzymes with novel catalytic activities. Among these, computational approaches hold particular promise. Enzymes have been computationally designed to promote several nonbiological reactions, including a Diels-Alder cycloaddition, proton transfer, multistep retroaldol transformations, and metal-dependent hydrolysis of phosphotriesters. Although their efficiencies (kcat/KM =0.1-100 M -1 s-1) are typically low compared with those of the best natural enzymes (106-108 M-1 s-1), these catalysts are excellent starting points for laboratory evolution. This review surveys recent progress in combining computational and evolutionary approaches to enzyme design, together with insights into enzyme function gained from studies of the engineered catalysts. © 2013 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.

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