Welcome to the Biochemistry department

How are membranes organized and functioning in cells? In our department, we are addressing this question in a comprehensive manner, attacking the problem from many fronts: we are 7 groups with different strategies, model organisms (from yeast, through Dictyostelium, worms, flies, fish and human cells) and methodologies (from chemistry, biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, genetics, biophysics), but we all want to understand the role of lipids and proteins to organize the membrane system in the cell. Our work is therefore very interdisciplinary. As a consequence, the atmosphere in the department is highly interactive.

Our vision is to attack the biology of membranes from a few key fronts. Indeed, we aim at understanding the problem at different levels of complexity. Howard Riezman is studying the chemistry of lipids (and the role of the lipid metabolic pathways behind) to understand the role of lipids in the organization of the membrane and its relevance during membrane trafficking and function. He uses yeast, C. elegans and mammalian culture cells as model systems. Aurelien Roux studies the physical and molecular properties of membrane deformation using biophysical tools. Jean Gruenberg, Thierry Soldati and Marcos Gonzalez-Gaitan study the endocytic pathway. Gruenberg focuses in the membrane organization of the endosomal pathway and organelle biogenesis: the formation of multivesicular endosomes and its role in vesicular trafficking and signaling. Soldati cares about the role of the endosomal pathway in infection by Mycobacterium, the pathogen responsible for Tuberculosis. He uses Dictyostelium as a model system to study this. Gonzalez-Gaitan studies endocytosis in the context of signaling in development. His model systems are Drosophila and Zebrafish. They approach the problem with biophysics assays. He is trying to understand two main issues: how is growth controlled in developing tissues and how is asymmetric cell division regulated during the division of stem cells. Ulrich Laemmli, brings the analysis down to the nucleus. He studies in yeast the regulation of transcription close to the nuclear envelope, the role of the nuclear pore and its interaction with the transcriptional machinery.


The Department of Biochemistry forms part of the International PhD program in Life Sciences in Basic and Applied Molecular Life Sciences in Geneva. We also offer jobs for very motivated postdocs to join our international (we have collaborators from 15 countries all over the world), interdisciplinary, interactive team. Our Department also gives courses from the Bachelor to the Master level in the faculty of Sciences.