Basel to Harvard and Back Again

Professors Schier and Mango will soon make the move from Harvard, where they each run labs, to University of Basel’s Biozentrum, one of the world’s leading life sciences institutes.

Event Details


swissnex Boston
420 Broadway, Cambridge , Massachusetts 02138 United States


February 22, 2018 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm America/New York (UTC-05:00)

Basel Night 2018: Basel to Harvard and Back Again

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When it comes to global leaders in the life sciences, it’s as natural to think of Basel as it is to think of Boston. The Greater Basel Area is among the most integrated, advanced, and innovative life sciences hubs in the world. It boasts more than 30,000 life sciences professionals and the headquarters of international giants like Roche and Novartis. In the midst of it all lies the University of Basel and its renowned Biozentrum, the birth place for many fundamental discoveries in biology and medicine, spawning several Nobel Laureates.

This year’s Basel Night will feature something akin to a ‘Back to the Future’ story. Join swissnex Boston and the University of Basel to learn about Professor Alex Schier’s journey starting from the Biozentrum, then moving to Cambridge, Massachusetts where he runs a lab at Harvard, and soon back to the Biozentrum where he will serve as its next Director. Joining him will be Professor Susan Mango, a renowned developmental biologist, also running a lab at Harvard. She too will move to the University of Basel, to teach at the Biozentrum.

At this special event, Professors Schier and Mango will share their perspectives on recent breakthroughs in the life sciences, and discuss the resulting challenges and opportunities for Switzerland.


  • 6:00 pm Doors Open
  • 6:20 pm Welcome Remarks
  • 6:30 pm Keynote by Alex Schier on his career and goals for the Biozentrum
  • 7.00 pm Joint presentation by Alex Schier and Susan Mango on recent breakthroughs in the Life Sciences
  • 7:30 pm Networking Reception
  • 9:00 pm Doors Close


Prof. Alexander F. Schier is the new Director of the Biozentrum at the University of Basel. He has been professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University since 2005 and is one of the leading scientists investigating vertebrate development and behavior.

Born in 1964 in Basel, Schier studied cell biology at the Biozentrum, where he earned his doctorate in 1992 under Prof. Dr. Walter J. Gehring. As a postdoc, he conducted research at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University. In 1996, he was recruited as Assistant Professor to the Developmental Genetics Program in the Skirball Institute and the Department for Cell Biology of the New York University School of Medicine. He returned as Professor to Harvard University in 2005 where he headed the Department for Molecular and Cell Biology from 2014 until 2017.

Schier is internationally renowned for his pioneering research on the development of vertebrates, using zebrafish as a model organism. His lab made fundamental contributions to the understanding of the molecular basis of vertebrate embryogenesis. In addition to developmental biology, Schier is also interested in the mechanisms of sleep and other behaviors. His research was honored by several awards, among them the Merit Award and the Pioneer Award from the National Institutes of Health.

Learn more about his research.

Prof. Susan Mango is the newly appointed Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology at the Biozentrum. A well-known leading scientist in the field of developmental biology, she has been leading her own research group as a Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University since 2009.

Born in New York City in 1961, after her undergraduate studies at Harvard University, she earned her doctorate at Princeton University. As a postdoc, she conducted research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison/Howard Hughes Medical Institute and then became H.A. and Edna Benning Professor of Oncological Sciences at the Huntsman Cancer Institute and University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

In her work, she studies the mechanisms of organ formation by using the gut of the roundworm C. elegans as a model system. Her research group combines approaches of molecular genetics, genomics, and cell biology to study organogenesis in all its aspects. Her research has been awarded several prestigious research awards, such as the Merit Award from the National Institutes of Health and a fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Learn more about her research.


The Biozentrum Basel is one of the leading Life Sciences institutes in the world. It consists of 30 groups that study how molecules and cells create life, spanning the scale from atom to organism. Founded in 1971, the Biozentrum has been the birth place for many fundamental discoveries in biology and medicine, spawning several Nobel Laureates.

Pictured above is the new building, currently set to open in 2019, which will house 600 researchers and 800 students: a tower of chrome steel and glass, radiating the charisma of modern urban development and facilitating scientific exchange with its internal architectural design.