New collaboration between IRB and Rockefeller University

Rockefeller University, River Campus (credit: Halkin Mason Photography)
Rockefeller University, River Campus (credit: Halkin Mason Photography)

The Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) in Bellinzona and The Rockefeller University in New York announced the beginning of an important strategic collaboration to advance infectious disease research. As demonstrated by the Covid-19 pandemic, scientific research is increasingly interdisciplinary and international collaborations between leading centres facilitate significant discoveries that help scientists better understand disease and design countermeasures.

The Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB), affiliated with UniversitÓ della Svizzera italiana (USI), and Rockefeller University announced that they have finalised a scientific collaboration agreement for studies of infectious diseases, including those with epidemic potential. The agreement will make it possible to strengthen collaboration between the two institutions on specific projects, while promoting the exchange of knowledge and academic staff between Bellinzona and New York.

Rockefeller University ( ) is considered one of the world’s leading biomedical research and education centres. Despite its small size, Rockefeller currently counts five Nobel Prize recipients among its faculty, including Prof. Charles M. Rice, who directs the university’s new Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Institute for Global Infectious Disease Research. Dr Rice also now serves as an IRB Scientific Advisory Board member.

The IRB focuses on studying the body’s immunological defence mechanisms and the pathophysiological basis of infectious, inflammatory, degenerative and cancer diseases to identify new therapeutic strategies. The IRB and Rockefeller have a shared mission: to advance knowledge to benefit human health.

The new collaboration agreement was made possible by contributions from the Helmut Horten Foundation and the Leonardo Foundation, two philanthropies that are also committed to improving human health and have a history of supporting biomedical activities in the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland.

"The agreement between the IRB and The Rockefeller University represents a significant step forward in the development of the IRB and its position in the Swiss and international academic scene," says IRB Foundation President Atty. Gabriele Gendotti. "It is particularly important, given the uncertainties of the current relationship in scientific cooperation between Switzerland and the European Union."

"The strategic value for our Institute is remarkable," notes IRB Director Prof. Davide Robbiani. "Global challenges, such as emerging diseases, require team efforts. We collaborated effectively with colleagues at Rockefeller during the Covid-19 pandemic; we are pleased to now be able to strengthen this existing relationship."

Dr Charles M. Rice adds that "the scientific research activities carried out in Bellinzona meet the highest standards. This was readily apparent during a recent evaluation by the Scientific Advisory Board, an external group of experts of which I am a member. I welcome this opportunity to work closely with the IRB in the coming years."