The University of Basel (UNIBAS)

Institution: The University of Basel (UNIBAS)

Department: Institute of Pharmaceutical Biology, Department of Pharmaceutical Biology


Role in project: UNIBAS is responsible for the WP4 (Automation/Bioinformatics). Also, UNIBAS will be implemented at WP1 (Bioprospecting), WP2 (Chemodiversity), WP6 (Dissemination) and WP7 (Project management)


  • Leader of WP4
  • Participation in WP1, WP2, WP6 and WP7

Brief description of Organisation:
The University of Basel is a leading European research university with a strong emphasis on life sciences. The focus of research at the Division of Pharmaceutical Biology is in natural product-based lead discovery for various applications, in Herbal Medicinal Products, Novel Foods and cosmetics, and in the development and validation of analytical methods for profiling and quantitation of natural products using LC-MS, qNMR etc. The Division was established four years ago and has a state-of-the-art infrastructure for natural products research. Particular emphasis has been placed on facile management of large sample numbers, on automation, parallelization of sample processing, and miniaturization. Of particular importance is the integrated technology platform which has been designed to permit miniaturized compound discovery. It consists of a library concept with 2D barcoded sample management and a customized database, sample handling robotics, UPLC, several analytical and semipreparative HPLC with various detectors (PDA, ELSD, ESI- and APCI-MS, HRESI-MS) microfractionation capabilities in the microtiter format, and a dedicated off-line microprobe NMR (500 MHz) with autosampler. This platform is complemented by devices for parallel evaporation and sample processing, and by equipment for rapid preparative isolation (several isocratic and gradient MPLCs, preparative HPLC, HSCCC, pilot-scale rotary evaporator, freeze dryer). The lab has several essential oil distillators, GC-MS, SFE and ASE as tools for extraction and analysis of volatile and non-volatile plant constituents. Also, the division has biological laboratories equipped for the in vitro biological characterization of isolated compounds with molecular and cellular biology tools. Research activities of the division since its implementation four years ago have resulted so far in the publication of over 50 research papers and numerous invited lectures worldwide. The staff is involved in several national and international projects with funding from public funding agencies and industry.

Short Profile of Staff and relevant experience:

  • Hamburger Matthias, is Full Professor of Pharmaceutical Biology. He has industrial experience in design, implementation and handling of extract and compound libraries, and HTS, and is an expert in natural product lead discovery. Role in the project: Supervision and coordination of activities related to automation issues.
  • Potterat Olivier, is Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Biology. He also has industrial experience in design, implementation and handling of extract and compound libraries. He is an expert in HTS and robotics. Role in the project: Coordination of library related activities for compounds and extracts.
  • Plitzko Inken, is Postdoctoral Scientist (SNF funded) at the Division of Pharmaceutical Biology. She is a specialist in NMR-based structure elucidation of natural products. Role in the project: Development and implementation of tools for NMR-based compound identification.
  • Adams Michael, is Postdoctoral Scientist at the Division of Pharmaceutical Biology. He is a specialist in discovery of bioactive plant constituents. Role in the project: Development and implementation of protocols for discovery of natural products by HPLC-based profiling, exchange of know-how.

Selected publications in line with scope of the project:

  1. K. Schmidt, W. Günther, S. Stoyanova, B. Schubert, Z. Li, M. Hamburger, Militarinone A, a neurotrophic pyridone alkaloid from Paecylomyces militaris. Org. Lett 4,197-99 (2002).
  2. C. Heinemann, S. Schliemann-Willers, C. Oberthür, M. Hamburger, P. Elsner, Prevention of experimentally induced irritant contact dermatitis by Isatis tinctoria and tryptanthrin and its impact on UVB-induced erythema. Planta Med. 70, 385-390 (2004).
  3. M. Ramm, J.-L. Wolfender, E. Ferreira Queiroz, K. Hostettmann, M. Hamburger, Rapid analysis of nucleotide activated sugars by HPLC coupled with DAD, ESI-MS and NMR. J. Chromatogr. A 1034, 139-148 (2004).