at BIOPROCESS LABORATORY, ETH Zürich, Basel, Switzerland
in collaboration with BIOFACTION, Vienna


The Bioprocess Laboratory (BPL), ETH Zürich in Basel, Switzerland – in collaboration with Biofaction, Vienna, Austria – is inviting applications for a four to six week long artist in residency during 2017.

As an artist in residence, you will actively engage with scientists working on a synthetic biology related project with focus on the design of antibiotics. We welcome international applications from artists, designers, biohackers, or other cultural practitioners who want to carry out artistic work with biological media.


Antibiotic resistance is an increasingly serious problem at an international scale, which calls for an immediate response. However, the development of new antibiotics is rarely undertaken by large multinational pharmaceutical companies due to the low return on investments of such drugs on one hand, and difficulties in finding new biochemical mechanisms to target resistant bacteria on the other. Since many large pharmaceutical companies have stopped investing into antibiotics research, that responsibility falls on public funding agencies, like the European Commission, which also supports the SYNPEPTIDE project.

In SYNPEPTIDE, a team of researchers from Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands and Austria aims to design new modified peptides with antibiotic activities through careful analyses of natural processes and applying these insights to synthetic biology. We want to find novel antibiotics in order to help fight pathogenic strains with multi-drug resistance. Peptides are among the most versatile products that nature provides to cater for a broad set of biotechnological applications, ranging from antibiotics to personal hygiene. Their diversity comes from a broad variety of posttranslational modifications that is used to provide additional functionality, beyond what is possible with the classic proteinogenic set of 20 amino acids. In SYNPEPTIDE, we want to recruit such additional functionality for rational molecular design purposes in order to facilitate the design and the production of synthetic peptides.

You, as the artist in residence, will interact with scientists in the laboratory in Basel as well as with the team at Biofaction in Vienna, in order to ignite a cross-disciplinary exchange. You will learn and engage with the current research, connect it to your own practice, as well as to wider societal and cultural aspects, in order to create a body of work, to be presented at the end of the residency.


This residency program is established:

  • to explore arts or alternative cultural practices’ potential with regards to the visions, challenges, philosophical, aesthetic, and ethical aspects of synthetic biology;
  • to add a complementary outside-the-box perspective to synthetic biology, its societal ramifications and cultural aspects;
  • to help envision the potential long-term changes synthetic biologymight bring to society


The residency will start in February 2017 and will conclude in April 2017. It may be held in one or two parts (4-6 weeks in total).


The stipend of max. 7000 € is provided by the FP7 EU research project SYNPEPTIDE and executed by the Bioprocess Laboratory (ETH Zürich in Basel, Switzerland) and Biofaction (Vienna, Austria). It covers travel and local expenses, a living allowance as well as (partial) support for the production and showcasing of the artistic prototype or finished work.


Applications and enquiries for the 2017 residency should be submitted to To apply please email the following relevant documents:

  • CV
  • Concise portfolio of previous relevant artistic work
  • Letter of motivation, outlining your project proposal for the residency

The application period closes on 22nd December 2016. Artists may be contacted for an interview or to supply further information.


BPL – Bioprocess Laboratory, ETH Zürich

Biotechnology thrives on the interface of engineering and molecular life sciences. This is its characteristic feature and its raison d’être. The biological systems we are dealing with are complex and designing them, and designing the processes in which they play a key role, are some of the crucial tasks of the chemistry, health, and energy industries in this century. The Bioprocess Lab wants to contribute decisive research to this quest.

Prof. Dr. Sven Panke


Biofaction is a research and science communication company based in Vienna, Austria. Biofaction has significant expertise in science communication, film production, technology assessment and the study of ethical, legal and social issues in a number of emerging sciences and technology (genetic engineering, synthetic biology, converging technologies).

BIOFACTION has produced a variety of projects, exhibitions and films relating to novel biotechnologies and synthetic biology such as:

Possible Tomorrows

BIO·FICTION Science Art Film Festival

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