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New Institute for Eye Research in Basel Unites Fundamental and Clinical Research

On December 15, 2017 the foundation of a new institute was publicly announced by the three founding partners: University of Basel, University Hospital Basel and Novartis.

The University of Basel, the University Hospital Basel and Novartis founded a novel research institute in Basel. At the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology Basel (IOB), basic researchers and clinicians will work hand in hand to advance the understanding of eye diseases and to develop new therapies for vision loss.

  • Globally, the prevalence of eye diseases is constantly rising. For most of them, there is no effective therapy available.
  • In aging societies, disorders such as macular degeneration or glaucoma constitute a leading cause of disability and loss of independent lifestyle.
  • Worldwide and especially in Asia, myopia – or short-sightedness – is on a steep incline with up to 90% of teenagers being affected in some regions.
Prof. Botond Roska and Prof. Hendrik Scholl - founding directors of the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology Basel (IOB)

The new institute will be headed by two leading experts in basic and clinical research, Prof. Botond Roska and Prof. Hendrik Scholl. Dr. Norbert Spirig, currently a member of the Executive Board of the University Hospital Basel, has been appointed as Director of Operations of the IOB.

The institute will be constituted as a foundation, granting academic freedom to its scientists, and start its operations in 2018.

IOB’s research priorities will be in five distinct areas:

  • Development of gene therapy for Stargardt macular dystrophy
  • Optogenetic approaches to generate light sensitivity in the retina of completely blind patients suffering from retinitis pigmentosa
  • Development of artificial retinas as in-vitro testing models for glaucoma research
  • Growth regulation of the eye bulb to address myopia
  • Identification of currently unknown disorders of movement detection

About the Institute’s Founding Partners

University of Basel

The University of Basel is proud to be Switzerland’s oldest university. Over the centuries, it has evolved to become an internationally respected, regionally integrated research university with an extensive curriculum that enjoys an excellent position within the life sciences and other disciplines. Well-respected rankings attest to the University of Basel’s outstanding academic performance. The Basel region is one of the most successful life science clusters in the world. Naturally, we also want to belong to the world’s best research institutions in this field. At the same time, the University of Basel strives to create knowledge in all kinds of disciplines for the benefit of society.

University Hospital Basel

The University Hospital Basel is one of five university hospitals in Switzerland and the largest healthcare center in the North-Western region of the country. It is one of the largest employers in the region with over 6,700 employees and treats more than 35,000 inpatients per year. The University Hospital Basel enjoys close ties with the University of Basel and the local life sciences industry. These connections help to foster the highest standards of scientific research and education. With a total of 39 clinics, the University Hospital Basel covers the whole spectrum of medicine.


Novartis is a global healthcare company based in Basel, Switzerland, with a history going back more than 150 years. The company’s mission is to discover new ways to improve and extend people’s lives. Novartis harnesses the power of science to address the evolving healthcare needs of society and deliver better health outcomes for patients. Novartis focuses on growing areas of healthcare where innovation plays an important role: pharmaceuticals, generic medicines and biosimilars, and eye-care devices. Novartis products are available in about 155 countries and they reached nearly 1 billion people globally in 2017. About 120,000 people of more than 140 nationalities work at Novartis around the world.

More information on the website of the institute: