Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation provides extensive support for cutting-edge research at Mainz University

Foundation makes EUR 100 million available for the foundation of an international excellence center for life sciences / Federal state government to finance the building

06.02.2009

The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation is strengthening cutting-edge research at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz by taking an unusual initiative: Over a period of 10 years, the foundation will provide a total of EUR 100 million for the establishment and operation of the Institute of Molecular Biology, an excellence center for life sciences. The state of Rhineland-Palatinate will thus receive one of the largest private donations invested in the research facility of a university to date. The state of Rhineland-Palatinate itself will be participating in the establishment of this center of excellence by sponsoring the construction of a new building, which will offer leading researchers excellent working conditions. "The new institute to be established will meet international standards for cutting-edge research", explained Otto Boehringer, Chairman of the Executive Board of the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation, and Doris Ahnen, Minister of Education, Science, Youth and Culture in Rhineland-Palatinate.

"We are pleased that the state of Rhineland-Palatinate and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz regarded our idea of providing additional cutting-edge research at Mainz University in such a positive light and have immediately offered their support," explained Otto Boehringer. "In view of the intensified competition and the international rivalry to attract the 'best brains' in research, we should like to support both the state and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in strengthening their cutting-edge research and increasing their international visibility," Boehringer emphasized. "We, the Boehringer and the von Baumbach families, regard our recent involvement as active citizenship and as a service to society. We want to make a long-term contribution. We want to strengthen and develop internationally visible cutting-edge research in Mainz and in the region as a whole, thus helping to provide solutions to scientific and medical problems and therewith improving the health of the population. This is also an example of how to turn social responsibility into a public-private partnership," said Boehringer.

The Minister-President of Rhineland-Palatinate, Kurt Beck, is very much pleased with the initiative of the foundation: "I am extraordinarily proud and thankful that the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation is sponsoring a scientific institution in Rhineland-Palatinate to such an extraordinary degree. This is a great step forward for Rhineland-Palatinate and an opportunity to extend its image as a viable science and research location of international standing." According to Beck, such a private commitment is a sign of far-sightedness and a well-developed sense of responsibility for the common good. Basic scientific medical research is contributing a great deal towards ensuring the future and is helping to increase people's quality of life in the long term. "The close collaboration and the cooperative negotiations between the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation, Minister Doris Ahnen, and Professor Georg Krausch, President of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, have resulted in a major project with which the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation has demonstrated considerable confidence in us. We are more than grateful for this confidence and we intend to live up to it," continued Minister-President Kurt Beck.

"The Institute of Molecular Biology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, an excellence center for life sciences, will become a milestone in our scientific landscape. Mainz University already counts among those German universities with large research capacities: The university has a total of eleven DFG Collaborative Research Centers, five of which are in the field of life sciences. This role will be underpinned in the long term by the generous support of the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation, with which I am also highly gratified," said Doris Ahnen, Rhineland-Palatinate's Minister for Education, Science, Youth, and Culture. "The life sciences have become the principal sciences of this century. It is therefore even more important that we should further extend this interdisciplinary area of research in Mainz at the highest level to be able to recruit the best scientists for this location and to further improve the position of top-level research at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in the national and international comparison," continued Ahnen.

For Professor Andreas Barner, Chairman and Spokesperson of the Board of Managing Directors of Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, this new initiative represents an opportunity for Mainz as a scientific hub: The planned center of excellence will enable Mainz to further strengthen its profile as a scientific location and offer newly recruited scientists a highly attractive scientific environment. The successors of the company's founder Albert Boehringer by this initiative make a further contribution towards research and allow for excellent and internationally-orientated fundamental research to settle and grow in Mainz.

"With the foundation of the Institute of Molecular Biology, Mainz as scientific hub will establish itself as an internationally significant scientific center for molecular medicine. The institute will bridge the gap between the active substance-oriented materials sciences on the one hand and medicine on the other, supplementing and reinforcing the existing know-how by promoting scientific synergies between these disciplines," explained the President of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Professor Georg Krausch. "The center of excellence in Mainz will offer researchers and scientists particularly attractive job opportunities with a perspective extending over more than the ten years of the concept we have today."

While the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation will guarantee the overall operation of the Institute of Molecular Biology for a period of ten years by contributing a total of EUR 100 million, the state of Rhineland-Palatinate will provide another EUR 50 million required for the construction of a state-of-the-art research building with a net internal area amounting to some 6,000 square meters. The building will be constructed in two phases: The plans for the first phase assume that it will be ready for occupation by 1 January 2011. The center of excellence will most probably be set up by Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in the form of a legally independent non-profit-making company with limited liability (gGmbH) that will be administrated by the University. Both the university and the foundation initially mean to appoint two or three internationally renowned researchers who will shape the development of the center and attract excellent young researchers from all over the world to Mainz. Up to three scientific departments are planned, each with a director and up to six independent groups of young researchers. The top researchers are to be appointed as professors or associate professors of Mainz University, but will be exempted from teaching duties to concentrate on their work at IMB. Internationally accredited founding directors will be recruited in accordance with the so-called Harnack principle. This will be used to identify top international researchers who themselves will subsequently specify the concrete scientific focus and subject of their work. They will be provided with excellent working conditions and they will be given a free hand in the selection of their members of staff. The establishment of the Institute of Molecular Biology will result in the creation of about 100 new jobs, both in research and non-academic capacities.

Otto Boehringer, Chairman of the Executive Board of the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation, Minister-President Kurt Beck, Professor Andreas Barner, Chairman and Spokesperson of the Board of Managing Directors of Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, Doris Ahnen, Minister for Education, Science, Youth, and Culture in Rhineland-Palatinate, and JGU President Professor Georg Krausch are convinced "that the location of the center in Mainz could not be better thanks to the numerous academic links to the university's main fields of research and its medical faculties, institutes, and clinics. This sets the course for success, both for science and for the population of the state as a whole. After all, the life sciences are all about the fundamental question of how we can live better in the future."