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6 October 2006

Federal Research Minister Schavan Turns First Sod for EMBL's New Advanced Training Centre

Funding from the Federal Ministry of Research and Education, the Klaus Tschira Foundation, the state of Baden-Württemberg and EMBL member states — Building mirrors the structure of DNA

On 6 October 2006 the Federal Minister of Education and Research, Annette Schavan, turned the first sod on the building site of the new training and conference centre for the life sciences to take shape on the Heidelberg campus of the European Molecular Biology Lab (EMBL). The Advanced Training Centre (ATC) will cost just under 30 million euros and receives funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBL), the Klaus Tschira Foundation gGmbH (KTF) and the state of Baden-Württemberg. Klaus Tschira is honorary senator of the University of Heidelberg and provides the University with extremely generous financial support, notably in connection with the life sciences.

The new ATC is unique in Europe, combining ultra-modern facilities for the training of junior scientists with the infrastructure required for the organisation of international conferences. "European research in the life sciences has long since transcended national frontiers and the boundaries between scientific disciplines," says Iain Mattaj, director-general of EMBL. "That's why Europe needs a central podium where scientists from different countries, disciplines and generations can meet to exchange ideas and technical know-how. It will not only enhance the excellence of EMBL and its leading role in Europe, it will also benefit Europe as a location for scientific research and training."

Thanks to funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (13.1 million euros), the Klaus Tschira Foundation (10 million euros), the state of Baden-Württemberg (1 million euros) and the member states of EMBL, the ATC is expected to be able to start operations as early as 2009.

"The Federal Ministry of Research and Education is supporting the establishment of the ATC as a pioneering project in the fields of scientific exchange, training and encouragement for junior scientists working in the life sciences," says Federal research minister Annette Schavan. "With a high-ranking modern centre like this we will be able to attract many of the most renowned scientific conferences and the international research elite to Germany." The new ATC will cover an area of 16,000 m2. It boasts an auditorium for an audience of 450 and generous exhibition areas for poster presentations. Like DNA, the carrier of genetic information, the building will have the structure of a double helix. In its teaching labs and working areas EMBL's International Centre for Advanced Training (EICAT) will organise courses and practical workshops for the training of doctoral students and the continuing education of scientists at all career levels. The building also has additional venues for events serving the continuing education of teachers and providing information for the general public.

"Science is lifelong learning," says Klaus Tschira, whose Foundation supports the natural sciences, information science and mathematics. "That's why the Klaus Tschira Foundation attaches especial importance to continuing education and encouragement for junior scientists. The ATC's transparent architecture not only provides ideal conditions for this, it also creates an inspiring atmosphere for learning and teaching that is equally congenial to scientists and the public." Klaus Tschira himself dreamed up the layout of the building, putting the finishing touches to it in conjunction with the Darmstadt architects Bernhard + Partners. The ATC will profit not only from the extensive experience and the existing structures of EMBL and its sister organisation EMBO (European Molecular Biology Organisation) but also from the outstanding scientific infrastructure and the existing university, institutional and industrial networks of the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region.

The European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) is a basic research institution funded by public research monies from 19 member states (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain and the UK). About 80 independent research groups work at EMBL on subjects representing the entire range of molecular biology. The Laboratory is divided into five units, the main lab in Heidelberg and outstations in Hinxton (European Bioinformatics Institute), Grenoble, Hamburg and Monterotondo near Rome. The key concerns of the EMBL Mission are basic molecular biology research; training of scientists, students and visiting researchers at all levels; services for scientists in the member states; the development of new instruments and methods in the biosciences; and active technology transfer. EMBL's international doctoral programme caters for some 170 students. In addition, the Laboratory is involved in an activity programme for the relations between science and society. Visitors from the press and the general public are welcome. (www.embl.org)

The Klaus Tschira Foundation gGmbH provides support for the natural sciences, mathematics and information science. Among its commitments to the life sciences are funding for research groups at EML Research gGmbH and for BIOMS, the first German centre for modelling and simulation in the life sciences.

For more information go to

Picture material on the new Advanced Training Centre is available at

Please address any inquiries to
Klaus Tschira Stiftung gGmbH
Renate Ries
Public Information Dept.
Villa Bosch
Schloss-Wolfsbrunnenweg 33
D-69118 Heidelberg
phone: 06221/533214, fax: 533198

Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

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