University of Geneva

University of Geneva

Department of Biochemistry at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, represented by Dr. Marcos Gonzalez-Gaitan

The University of Geneva is recognised as a leading research institution worldwide. It consistently scores very highly in various rankings of universities in Europe and worldwide (e.g., among the top 10 in Europe in rankings from Leiden University or from the US magazine Newsweek). The Department of Biochemistry, headed by Marcos Gonzalez-Gaitan, presently consists of seven research groups and is truly international at the level of professors, postdoctoral fellows, and PhD students, with an International PhD Program in Basic and Applied Molecular Life Sciences. The Department of Biochemistry is exceptionally well-equipped in state-of-the-art technologies, and it also benefits from direct access to common core facilities, including Functional Genomics, BioImaging, and Proteomics. Moreover, Prof. Gonzalez takes part in LipidX, a grant in Systems Biology of Bio-Membranes funded by the Swiss Systems Biology Initiative, offering full access to the core facilities of the EPFL in Lausanne, including the Biomolecular Screening Facility for high-content screens and Lipidomics Core Facility. Finally, Prof. Gonzalez is a member of the Chemical Biology National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR), awarded in spring 2010 jointly to the University of Geneva and EPFL in Lausanne. The NCCR will create an academic chemical screening platform (ACCESS) to find the next generation of molecules with novel biological properties. Both LipidX and the NCCR Chemical Biology provide generous support for state-of-the-art technologies and foster scientific exchange between leading Swiss research teams in other universities (EPFL, ETH, University of Zurich, and University of Basel).

Dr. Marcos Gonzalez-Gaitan is a prominent internationally recognised developmental biologist. He leads an interdisciplinary group that investigates the molecular and biophysical mechanisms of the signalling that controls tissue growth, shape, and size. He is interested in growth control by morphogen gradients and asymmetric cell division in stem cells, studied primarily in two model organisms: Drosophila and zebrafish. He made important contributions to our understanding of how cells can form, read, and interpret morphogen gradients during development, with his seminal studies identifying the role of endocytic transport in the gradient formation of the TGFβ homologue in flies. His other discoveries concern the mechanisms of asymmetric cell division that are of key importance for the generation and maintenance of cancer stem cells. Prof. Gonzalez studies the principles of cell signalling in quantitative terms to understand how cells compute the concentration and duration of signals and the mechanisms that provide cellular memory to determine cell fate. He has published over 50 articles, including in top journals, such as Nature, Cell, and Science, with more than 2000 citations. Among several grants and distinctions, he currently holds an ERC Advanced Grant.

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