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About Us

The Ernst Hadorn Foundation aims to promote Life Science Research in the University of Zurich.

"While I was still attending the Realgymnasium in Zürich, I had installed a ‘lab’ in my bedroom, equipped with a microscope, a microtome, a self-made oven for paraffin embedding and more, made possible by my father’s generous support of my budding scientific activities. Eventually my ‘research’ led me to write up a paper on vital staining of newt larvae with the fluorescent dye Acridine Orange. I approached Professor Ernst Hadorn, who was the Editor of the Zeitschrift für Zellforschung und Mikroskopische Anatomie, and requested he publish my paper.


Hadorn puffed on his pipe, hemmed and hawed and finally said I should get the paper reviewed by someone familiar with the subject. I sent the manuscript to a Professor Strugger, who had published on the subject, and then anxiously awaited the response. After three nail-biting weeks an envelope arrived, addressed (out of an abundance of precaution) to ‘Professor Charles Weissmann’ with a favorable review. When I presented the manuscript and the review to Hadorn, he agreed to publish the paper, provided I promised him I would not write any further papers before I completed my studies. A promise I kept.

After obtaining degrees in medicine and chemistry at the University of Zurich I became postdoc of Professor Severo Ochoa at the Dept. of Biochemistry NYU. Several years and several PNAS publications later, Hadorn showed up several times in New York, and after two years of negotiations he finally made an offer I could not refuse, namely an independent  Institute of Molecular Biology at the University of Zurich."


- Charles Weissmann, 2023



Charles Weissmann



Richard Weissmann

Board Member

Adriano Photo.jpg

Adriano Aguzzi

Charles Weissman is a molecular geneticist who is best known for being the first to clone the genes for interferon, a protein released in response to viral infection that can now be synthesised on an industrial scale for use as a medicine. He went on to research a number of different disease-causing agents, or pathogens.

He was the first to discover and document the life cycle of bacteriophages — viruses that infect bacteria — and subsequently investigated a number of pathogens, including those responsible for tuberculosis and malaria. He has made seminal contribution to the understanding of diseases caused by the small infectious protein particles known as prions, such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, more commonly known as ‘mad cow disease’.

Charles Weissmann has won numerous awards during his research career, including the 1995 Robert Koch Gold Medal. He is a Foreign Associate Member of the US National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and holds several honorary doctorates from universities around the world. He co-founded the leading biotech company Biogen and served on the Board of Directors of Roche, where he was instrumental in the acquisition of Genentech.

Richard Weissmann directs his own physiotherapy practice in Bülach, he is cofounder and president of the Swiss Dry Needling Association (DVS) and he is also co-founder and head of faculty of the David G. Simons Academy (DGSA).

He graduated in 1992 with a state diploma in Physical Therapy in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. After that he did further study and training in orthopedic manual therapy. He acquired the fundamental and practical experience for the treatment of myofascial pain syndromes during the six years that he worked with Dr. Beat Dejung, MD, pioneer in Manual Trigger Point Therapy in Switzerland. During this time, he also had the opportunity to gain experience with Dr. David Simons, Dr. Peter Baldry and Dr. Chann Gunn. In the out-patient department, he treats mainly patients with neuro-musculo-skeletal dysfunctions in his clinik in Bülach/Zürich. Since 1993, he regularly trains physical therapists and physicians in Trigger Point Therapy and Dry Needling. He headed the Society for Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy (IMTT) in Switzerland as founding president from 1994 to 2003. Richard Weissmann played a key role in the development of dry needling as a form of musculoskeletal therapy and in establishing this technique in Switzerland and Europe. Richard Weissmann has been invited internationally as a speaker for congresses and for different workshops and seminars. He is the author of several articles and book chapters as well as co-author of the book “Trigger Point Therapy” and „Myofasziale Schmerzen und Triggerpunkte“.
He has been a member of the board of the Ernst Hadorn Foundation since 2022.

Adriano Aguzzi directs the Institute of Neuropathology at the University of Zurich. His research focuses on prions - exploring how they damage brain cells, why they accumulate in lymphoid organs, and how they reach the brain after entering the body from peripheral sites. Prof. Aguzzi has provided the first evidence that prions can be halted in vivo with therapeutic antibodies (Heppner et al., Science 2001) and that epitope specificity is crucial to the action of such antibodies (Sonati et al., Nature 2013). His lab has discovered the prion protein receptor (Küffer et al., Nature 2016). Prof. Aguzzi is the Director of the MD-PhD program at the University of Zurich and Past President of the Swiss Society of Neuropathology. He is the Founding Director of the Swiss National Reference Center for Prion Diseases. Prof. Aguzzi has patented diagnostic and therapeutic methods in the prion field. He has advised the British, Italian, and Swiss government on prion diseases. He serves on the editorial board of the journal Science and is Editor-in-Chief of the Swiss Medical Weekly. Among other honors, Prof. Aguzzi has won the Ernst-Jung, Marcel-Benoist, Baillet-Latour, and Robert-Koch Prizes as well as the Gold Medal of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO). He was awarded three Doctorates honoris causa from the Universities of Bologna, Teramo, and Liege.

Board Member


Magdalini Polymenidou

Board Member


Artemi Bendandi has a PhD in Physics from the University of Genoa, Italy. After obtaining her Masters degree in Physics with a thesis in Theoretical Particle Physics in the University Roma Tre in Rome, Italy, she moved to Genoa, Italy to conduct research on the electrostatic interactions of proteins and nucleic acids in the Italian Institute of Technology. She came to Zurich as a postdoctoral researcher in the University of Zurich before becoming a Grant Manager & Scientific Coordinator in the Institute of Neuropathology. In her free time, Artemi is the Production Coordinator of the Zurich English Speaking Theatre.

Artemi Bendandi


Magdalini Polymenidou is Associate Professor of Biomedicine at the Department of Quantitative Biomedicine of the University of Zurich (UZH). She is an expert on protein aggregation, prions and prion-like phenomena, as well as RNA-binding protein biology. She joined UZH as an Assistant Professor in 2013 and since then, she has been leading a research team focusing on the molecular mechanisms of ALS and FTD. The team focuses on the formation and properties of the physiological and pathological states of TDP-43, FUS and the dipeptide repeat proteins, combining structural and biochemical analyses with cellular assays and animal models. Originally trained as a pharmacist in Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece), she did her PhD on prion diseases in the laboratory of Adriano Aguzzi at the University Hospital of Zurich (Switzerland). As a postdoctoral fellow in the group of Don Cleveland at the University of California in San Diego (USA), she used genome-wide approaches to understand the function of TDP-43 and FUS. Among other honors, she was awarded the ERC Consolidator Grant (2022), the Franco Regli Prize (2019), the EMBO Young Investigator Award (2018), the Georg-Friedrich Götz Prize (2015), the SNSF Professorship (2013), the HFSP Career Development Award (2013) and the NIH Pathway to Independence Award (2011). She is one of the 2022 Novartis Institute for Biological Research (NIBR) Global Scholars.

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