n spring 2000, the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) opened in Bellinzona, the capital of the Italian-speaking Canton of Ticino. The building offers 1,400 square meters of laboratory space including tissue culture rooms, level 2 and 3 biosafety laboratories, and an animal house. Core facilities are available for nucleic acid and protein analysis, cytofluorimetry, cell sorting, and high-resolution microscopy with image analysis.
The IRB receives support from the city of Bellinzona, the Canton of Ticino, the Swiss Confederation, from private sources as well as from funding agencies. The Helmut Horten Foundation is the major sponsor with an initial contribution covering equipment and running costs for the first five years.
Providing extensive technical and logistic support, the institute offers optimal conditions for high-level research. This environment is expected to foster interaction and collaboration among the research groups, which are active in different areas of biology. The IRB strives to contribute to the progress of biomedical research by studying basic mechanisms of immune defense against bacteria, viruses and tumors, and to find new approaches to diagnostics and therapy.
Eight research groups are established under the guidance of Prof. Antonio Lanzavecchia and their number will grow up to twelve in the forthcoming years. An advisory board of eight internationally known specialists will guarantee standards of personnel appointments and research work. The topics of research range from cellular and functional aspects of the immune response to the molecular mechanisms of inflammation and innate immunity. Basic aspects of cell biology such as ligand-receptor interactions, intracellular signaling, protein structure and folding are also studied. Scientists at the IRB collaborate with several research institutes The IRB organizes seminars, scientific meetings and discussion groups. Moreover, the IRB provides support and training for graduate students from Switzerland and foreign countries.