31. August 2022 | Magazine:

High-Tech with a Long Tradition 50 years of biotechnology in Braunschweig

On 3 September 2022, the Institute of Biochemistry, Biotechnology and Bioinformatics will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a ceremony and alumni reunion. The Chair of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, founded in 1972, was the seed for the establishment of biotechnology in teaching and research in Braunschweig. Half a century of continuous development of the institute’s research topics illustrates the historical development of modern biotechnology from the improvement of processes in the bioreactor to the construction of customised molecules as biological agents for medical applications.

Group photo with staff of the Chair of Biochemistry and Biotechnology from 1980; with Prof. Dr. Fritz Wagner as head; taken in front of a GBF building in Braunschweig-Stöckheim (today Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research). Photo credit: BBT archive

Together with the departments of bioinformatics and medical biotechnology, which were added in 2007, the institute now forms the Institute of Biochemistry, Biotechnology and Bioinformatics. The biotechnology degree programme at TU Braunschweig, founded in 1987, was led by Deans of Studies from the institute for the first four years and from 2005 to the present day. The subject is also very popular with students and repeatedly receives top marks in the CHE ranking, one of the most important university rankings in Germany.

Several high-tech spin-offs from Biotechnology have created numerous jobs in Braunschweig. For example, the spin-off Yumab GmbH, now an internationally renowned drug development company, is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. The founding teams have been awarded many prizes, most recently Abcalis GmbH again for its replacement method for animal experiments in antibody production.

The institute became internationally known in particular for a novel cancer drug based on an invention from the Biotechnology Department, which is currently undergoing clinical testing in the USA. During the pandemic, the researchers attracted attention with a development of the “Braunschweig antibody” COR-101 against the Corona virus, whose further clinical development is being funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with a two-digit million sum.

TU President Professor Angela Ittel congratulated: “The institute has firmly established biotechnology as a highly topical high-tech research field in Braunschweig. Today, biotechnology is an important key technology for the future. We are proud to have contributed to this from TU Braunschweig and will continue to shape the future potential of the research field together with our partners.” Professor Stefan Dübel, Head of the Department of Biotechnology since 2002, is pleased about the great interest: “I am thrilled how many alumni, also from abroad, want to celebrate with us!”

The team of the Biotechnology Department in the courtyard of the Biozentrum. Photo credit: Ulrike Dübel