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Foundation supports the realignment of the Faculty of Biology and the implementation of key aspects of JGU’s institutional strategy / University and state to construct state-of-the-art research building

The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation is providing support for top level research at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). The foundation will donate a total of EUR 50 million in funding over the next ten years to promote work and research specifically associated with the field of life sciences. The money will be used to finance research and research promotion in line with the institutional strategy that Mainz University had developed to submit to the 2012 Excellence Initiative by the German federal and state governments. The realignment of the Faculty of Biology, a key component of the life sciences at JGU, will therein play an important role. Internationally renowned scientists are to be appointed and support will be specifically targeted towards young researchers. At the same time, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz plans to construct a modern Biology research building with support from the state government of Rhineland-Palatinate.

"This marks a further milestone on Mainz's route to becoming an internationally competitive hub for the life sciences and will enhance and elevate its profile in this field. Together we create conditions that will attract leading scientists to Mainz," said Otto Boehringer, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation, Rhineland-Palatinate's Minister-President Malu Dreyer, and Doris Ahnen, Minister of Education, Science, Continuing Education, and Cultural Affairs of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate.

Back in 2009, the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation donated EUR 100 million towards the establishment of the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) and to fund its operations for ten years. The IMB will now serve as the nucleus around which the university’s faculty of Biology will be redefined. Cooperation between the IMB, the Mainz University Medical Center, the active substance-related materials sciences and a rejuvenated JGU Faculty of Biology will allow Mainz to evolve and sustainably enhance its international role and relevance.

"With our initiative for Mainz we are further committing ourselves to providing long term support for excellent research in Germany," said Otto Boehringer. "We, the foundation family Boehringer and von Baumbach, also wish to demonstrate our strong ties to the region and how seriously we take our responsibilities toward society as a whole."

The EUR 50 million grant from the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation means that Rhineland-Palatinate is once again the recipient of one of the largest private donations to a public university ever made in the Federal Republic of Germany. The Rhineland-Palatinate Minister-President, Malu Dreyer, is particularly pleased about the foundation's decision: "I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation for making this donation and thus displaying their exemplary commitment to and considerable confidence in the systematic, goal-oriented work in the sciences being undertaken at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz as well as in the scientific and research strategy of the state government. The significance of the life sciences in the context of the sciences as a whole cannot be overemphasized. It plays an important role in improving people's quality of life and thus also ensures the future sustainability of Rhineland-Palatinate. By donating the grant, the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation is sending out a signal that will not only be recognized within the academic and scientific community but also far beyond. The state – and I am sure the university as well – will go to all lengths to justify this trust."

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz is one of the leading research universities in Germany – with its Cluster of Excellence "Precision Physics, Fundamental Interactions and Structure of Matter" (PRISMA), the Graduate School of Excellence "Materials Science in Mainz" (MAINZ), and the nine Collaborative Research Centers funded by the German Research Foundation, of which alone four are dedicated to the life sciences.

"The distinct and nationwide eminent profile of Mainz University will be further enhanced thanks to this renewed support from the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation, for which I wish to thank them from the bottom of my heart," said Minister of Science and Education, Doris Ahnen. As one of the core future scientific fields, the life sciences open up new prospects for humanity as a whole. "It is wonderful that one of the largest private donations ever made to a university will enable Mainz to further develop this interdisciplinary field of research that combines Medicine, Biology, Biological Chemistry, Physics, Bioinformatics, Materials Science, and other disciplines. This will make Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz even more competitive in the national and international arenas and increase the significance of Mainz as a center of science and research. But it will also contribute extensively to enhancing the standing of Rhineland-Palatinate as a hub for research and science," Doris Ahnen continued.

Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Barner, Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation, added: "This new donation will help to further improve the quality of life sciences research at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. This goal is the same as for the donation made to the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) in 2009. The 2009 donation has already been put to very good use as is shown by the excellent appointments to the IMB. Thus, Mainz is becoming now significantly more able to compete internationally in this area."

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz was successful in the Excellence Initiative by the German federal and state governments with its proposals for a cluster of excellence and a graduate school of excellence. However, its institutional strategy "The Gutenberg Spirit: Moving Minds – Crossing Boundaries" was less fortunate in this regard. The grant from the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation will enable Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and the Rhineland-Palatinate government to implement important aspects of the institutional strategy even without federal funding through the Excellence Initiative. The central idea behind JGU’s institutional strategy is the involvement of outstanding scientists in the management of the university by means of three excellence colleges: the Gutenberg Research College (GRC) and the Gutenberg Teaching Council (GTC) that promote excellence in research and teaching, together with the College for Young Researchers (CYR), which is intended to provide targeted support to young researchers. "We are delighted that we will now be able to implement large parts of our institutional strategy for the project-based promotion of top level research," explained the President of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Professor Dr. Georg Krausch. "In addition, the grant will support our objective of raising the international profile of the excellent research carried out at Mainz. The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation has set the course for a story of success: in view of the numerous scientific links between the field of Biology and the already established research areas at Mainz University as well as at the Mainz University Medical Center, this grant means sustained support for top level research at our university."

State-of-the-art building for Biology

The funding is flanked by university and state government support for the construction of a new building in which cutting-edge research in the life sciences will be possible and in which a large part of the JGU Faculty of Biology will be housed from 2016. In addition, a building that formerly belonged to the Max Planck Institute of Chemistry will be renovated and redesigned for use by life sciences researchers. "We will thus have workplaces adequate to meet the needs of the new professors to be appointed over the next few years and who need excellently equipped, modern laboratory facilities and scientific equipment," said the President. "The new building will be located in the vicinity of the Institute of Molecular Biology, the other natural sciences institutes, and the biomedical research institutes of the University Medical Center, so that the life sciences in Mainz will also have a very visible scientific center."

Further information:

The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization committed to the promotion of the medical, biological, chemical, and pharmaceutical sciences. It was established in 1977 by Hubertus Liebrecht (1931-1991), a member of the shareholder family of the company Boehringer Ingelheim. With the "PLUS 3" Perspectives Program and the Exploration Grants, the foundation supports independent group leaders, it endows the internationally renowned Heinrich Wieland Prize as well as awards for up-and-coming scientists. In addition, the foundation has endowed EUR 100 million over a period of ten years to finance the scientific running of the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) which was opened in 2011 at Mainz University.

 

Further information: www.boehringer-ingelheim-stiftung.de.

Minister-President Kurt Beck / Minister of Science Doris Ahnen: „A beacon for science and a showpiece for Rhineland-Palatinate“

Professor Christof Niehrs: „An innovative institute that conducts research at the highest international level“

Mainz, 11 March 2011 Although it has not been in existence for long, it is already a success story: after a construction time of only 15 months, the Institute of Molecular Biology gGmbH (IMB) at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), Germany, is ready to start work. Construction of this state-of-the-art research centre began in December 2009 with the official ground-breaking ceremony. It was an impressive demonstration of successful cooperation between the public sector and a private foundation: the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation will be funding research operations at IMB to the tune of €100 million over a period of ten years, while the state of Rhineland-Palatinate provided €45.5 million for construction of the institute. "The generous support of the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation has provided Rhineland-Palatinate with a new showpiece in the form of the Institute of Molecular Biology. We have demonstrated that we can turn innovative ideas into reality within a very short time. I hope that the IMB will be equally successful," said Minister-President of the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, Kurt Beck. Minister of Science Doris Ahnen is convinced of the sustainability of the new research centre: "The IMB was not only established in record time but also promises to become a global beacon for basic research - a hub between biology and medicine. I am convinced that the institute will provide major advances in life science research - here in our country and also within the context of international research."

Best conditions for cutting-edge research 

Professor Christof Niehrs, Founding Director of the IMB, has ambitious goals: "The IMB provides the most modern technologies and facilities that will enable our scientists to conduct research at an international world-class level. Linking the institute to Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz allows us to create synergies with other fields." Research at the Institute of Molecular Biology will concentrate on three fields: molecular developmental biology investigates how genes control the complex process in which a fertilized egg cell grows into an adult organism. Epigenetics, a relatively young discipline, investigates how genes are controlled, i.e. switched on or off in specific cells, and how genetic activity changes with age or under the influence of diseases. DNA repair research looks for ways of using our body's own endogenous mechanisms to repair the kind of damage to our DNA that could, for example, lead to the development of cancer. The research conducted by Professor Niehrs, who was awarded the prestigious Leibniz Prize in 2003, innovatively combines these three fields. In addition to his own group, he has already managed to attract three other groups to the Institute of Molecular Biology. With the aid of high-resolution microscopy, Professor Christoph Cremer is striving to shed light on the nano-structure of cells. Dr. George Reid's main field is gene expression and he is focusing on discovering when specific genes are active in an organism or in a cell. Dr. Stefan Legewie uses bioinformatics to look at how genes cooperate in regulatory networks.

Otto Boehringer, Chairman of the Board of the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation, emphasized the dedication of all persons involved: "We are delighted that our idea of donating €100 million for independent top-level research, an idea originally conceived on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of Boehringer Ingelheim, has come to fruition within such a short time. I am impressed by the performance of all participants and cordially thank you for your dedication to this remarkable project. The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation and the founding family have close bonds with this region and will continue to provide sustainable support of excellent science and research in future."

"The establishment of the Institute of Molecular Biology provides the Mainz research hub with an internationally prominent centre for life sciences," states the President of JGU, Professor Georg Krausch. "The function of the IMB will be to provide a bridge between molecular biology and medicine, and extend and strengthen local know-how by creating scientific synergies between the various disciplines. This new institute strengthens the research infrastructure of the university and offers the scientists at this centre of excellence unusually attractive work opportunities."

Up to 180 jobs to be created at the IMB 

Some 12 different groups will be conducting research at the IMB. JGU Chancellor Götz Scholz indicated that up to 180 jobs will be created at the new research centre, which covers approximately 6,000 square meters. Founding Director Niehrs was very impressed with the speed at which the IMB had been constructed: "I want to thank all staff members of the LBB, the estate and construction management agency of Rhineland-Palatinate, for their exceptional efforts without which it would not have been possible to implement this project in record time."

Internet: www.imb-mainz.de

The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation is a non-profit foundation that focuses on long-term, sustainable support of the biological, chemical, medical and pharmaceutical sciences. It was founded in 1977 by Hubertus Liebrecht (1931–1991), a member of the family that owns the Boehringer Ingelheim corporation. One of the aims of the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation is to give expression to the close links that exist between the founding family and its region of origin. It has thus always had a particular affinity with Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. www.boehringer-ingelheim-stiftung.de

The Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has more than 35,000 students from over 130 countries. It is one of the biggest German universities, and it is the academic and scientific hub of the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Approximately 2,900 academics, among them 480 professors, teach and conduct research here in more than 150 institutes and medical departments. www.uni-mainz.de

 

 

 

The cell and developmental biologist Prof. Dr Christof Niehrs is the founding director of the new Institute for Molecular Biology (IMB) at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz. And so one of the world's leading bio-scientists will be guide the institute, which is presently under construction and due to go into operation in Spring 2011. “We are delighted that such a distinguished scientist as Professor Niehrs will in charge of the research centre. He has all the qualities required to advance top research in the field of molecular medicine here in Mainz”, as Otto Boehringer, chairman of the board of directors of the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation, explained. To mark the 125th anniversary of the Boehringer Ingelheim Company in 2010, the Foundation announced the decision to donate 100 Million Euros over a period of 10 years to finance the scientific running of a centre of excellence. The building in which the institute will be accommodated is financed by the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate.

His outstanding scientific achievements have bestowed numerous prizes and distinctions on Professor Niehrs. These include the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize from the DFG (German Research Foundation), which is the highest German research award. In his capacity as head of the department of Molecular Embryology at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, the 48-year old scientist was also recently awarded an “Advanced Grant” of 2.4 Million Euros from the European Research Council (ERC) for his research. As far as Niehrs is concerned, his call to Mainz is a further stepping stone in his scientific career. ”I am looking forward to this new challenge. It is an honour to be involved in moulding and launching the research centre for life sciences in my capacity as founding director”. Professor Niehrs will officially take up his new position on 1. July 2010.

Rhineland-Palatinate’s Minister of Science Doris Ahnen is convinced: ”this excellent appointment will secure the new institute's reputation as a centre of excellence for the life sciences well beyond the boundaries of Rhineland-Palatinate. The IMB will prove to be a real milestone in the scientific community of the federal state in general and in the development of interdisciplinary research at the University of Mainz in particular.” “The appointment of Professor Niehrs verifies that the IMB fulfils the international standards required for top research in terms of size and facilities. I am convinced that it will entice further top-class scientists to Mainz”, Georg Krausch, President of the University added. The new research centre will unite different biomedical disciplines such as developmental biology, epigenetics and DNA-repair under one roof. The university estimates that the IMB will provide at least 100 new jobs for the area.

The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation is a non-profit-making foundation whose purpose is the long-term promotion of biological, chemical medical and pharmaceutical science. It was founded in 1977 by Hubertus Liebrecht (1931 – 1991), a former partner of the Boehringer Ingelheim Company. The commitment of the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation reflects the benefactors' strong ties to their own roots. The interests of the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz have always been particularly close to their heart.

State government and Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation promote state-of-the-art research at Mainz University

The state government of Rhineland-Palatinate, Johannes Gutenberg University (JGU), and the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation (B.I.F.) jointly celebrate the start of building operations for the new Excellence Center for Life Sciences at Mainz University. Minister of Science for Rhineland-Palatinate Doris Ahnen, Finance Minister Dr Carsten Kühl, University President Professor Dr Georg Krausch together with Otto Boehringer, Chairman of the Executive Board of the B.I.F., and Professor Dr Dr Andreas Barner, Chairman of the Scientic Advisory Board of the B.I.F., jointly performed the groundbreaking ceremony for the planned institution. In early February 2009 they had announced that they intended to establish an Excellence Center for Life Sciences at the JGU, to be sponsored by the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation to the amount of 100 million euros. The state of Rhineland-Palatinate is to contribute 45.5 million euros towards the construction of the state-of-the-art research building in order to ensure top-quality working and research conditions.

The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation has undertaken to set aside 100 million euros over a period of 10 years to finance the scientific operations of the new Excellence Center. This represents one of the largest private donations ever provided for a scientific institution at a German university. "We are today creating a visible symbol of our solidarity with the region. Our commitment is designed to provide long-term support to Mainz as a center for science and to contribute towards ensuring excellent research conditions in view of the forthcoming 125th anniversary of the Boehringer Ingelheim company," says Professor Dr Dr Barner.

"Today's ground-breaking ceremony marks the creation of a landmark in our scientific environment. By initiating the construction of the new research building, the state of Rhineland-Palatinate is both expressing its gratitude for the exceptional commitment of the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation and making its own contribution towards promoting the state as a university, science, and research location over the long term. The size of the center and its facilities will make it one of the leading international research hubs and will attract top scientists and researchers to Mainz. The JGU has the perfect prerequisites for establishing such a center of excellence," declares Science Minister Doris Ahnen.

Minister of Finance and Construction Carsten Kühl emphasizes that "exceptional dedication has been the result of the exceptional input here. The remarkable outcome: the excavators are already at work - only 10 months after the first negotiations." The very ambitious time schedule requires more than just determined commitment on the part of all participants. The building is to be ready for use by early 2011. "That is less than 2 years from concept to occupation. Given the fact that this is a highly specialized laboratory building, this constitutes an extraordinary performance with regard to construction," concludes Finance Minister Dr Carsten Kühl.

There are to be two construction phases: as announced in February, the first phase should be ready for occupation as soon as late 2010. The research building will provide a total of 6,297 square meters main floor space, with seminar and meeting rooms, a large auditorium, an extensive laboratory area, and general offices. The university expects approximately 100 new jobs to be created at the new Excellence Center.

At the planned Excellence Center for Life Sciences, various biomedical disciplines such as cell biology, genetics, biochemistry, and, quite possibly, materials sciences will be combined under one roof. Thanks to this potential for interdisciplinary cooperation, researchers will be in the position to compete at the very peak of international science. "The creation of an Excellence Center for Life Sciences will establish the science hub Mainz as an internationally relevant center for molecular medicine. The institute will provide a bridging function between the active agentorientated material sciences and medicine, while at the same time extending and strengthening the know-how available "onsite" by creating scientific synergies between the disciplines. In view of the many already existing scientific links with research centers at the university as well as with the University Medical Center, the location in Mainz could hardly be better," comments Professor Dr Georg Krausch, President of the JGU Mainz. 

Otto Boehringer, Chairman of the Executive Board of the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation, thanked Mainz University and the state of Rhineland-Palatinate for their excellent support: "The rapid and productive coordination of the construction and financial aspects of the planned Excellence Center for Life Sciences is a shining example of the success that can be achieved through a public-private partnership. I should like to thank all those concerned for the excellent collaboration and wish the Center every success for the future."

 

 

Foundation donates 100 million euros to establish Excellence Centre for Life Sciences; state government finances state-of-the-art research building

With its exceptional initiative, the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation has strengthened cutting-edge research at the University of Mainz. Over a period of ten years, the Foundation will finance the establishment and scientific operations of the Excellence Centre for Life Sciences (working title) with a total of 100 million euros. The state of Rhineland-Palatinate has thus received one of the largest-ever private donations for a scientific institution at a German university. The state will contribute towards the Excellence Centre by financing a state-of-the-art research building that will offer the best conditions for internationally renowned researchers. According to Otto Boehringer, chairman of the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation, and Science Minister Doris Ahnen, the institute will fulfil international standards for top research in terms of its scale and infrastructure.

Translation of the German-language press release