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2011 Competition

Sandoz Family Foundation – Monique de Meuron Programme
for the Encouragement of Up-and-Coming Academics
2011 competition «Chemistry»

Press Release – 15 January 2012

Since 1999, the Sandoz Family Foundation, which is keen to encourage Up-and-Coming Academics in the universities in French-speaking Switzerland (Fribourg, Geneva, Lausanne, Neuchâtel and EPFL), has financed the post of an assistant lecturer every year, up to a maximum of four years. In addition, the endowment fund covers the salary of a graduate or post-doc assistant as well as an establishment credit. The areas supported vary from year to year. The 2011 competition focuses on chemistry. The candidate proposed by the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Mr Beat Fierz, has been awarded first place by an international jury of professors and researchers in chemistry. The Sandoz Family Foundation has endorsed this decision.

Beat Fierz is of Swiss nationality. The main part of his training was spent at the Biozentrum in Basel. Since 2007 he has been pursuing his career in the USA. He was chosen by EPFL after a rigorous selection procedure to research further the areas of biophysical chemistry and structural biology at the Institut des sciences et de l’ingénierie chimiques (ISAIC). EPFL is offering a very attractive teaching and research package, which inspired Beat Fierz to submit his proposal and try his hand at the competition.

His project is a mix between chemistry and biochemistry. It deals with understanding the control of the structure and functions of chromatin, the form in which DNA is presented. The application of his research could lead to the re-programming of stem cells in order to understand the process of memory acquisition by cells. His research on a single protein will be used to analyse and modify the genetic code of cells in living bodies. Over the long term it could lead to better ways of understanding and fighting certain types of cancer.

Mr Beat Fierz is due to take up his post in September 2012. EPFL is delighted to be able to welcome him as a member of its teaching and research staff.