Dr. Lin Senior, you are a member of the Board of Trustees of the MDPI Sustainability Foundation. The MolMall Sample Collection is the operational partner of this foundation. Can you tell us more about the role of MolMall within the foundation?
Dr. Lin Senior: The purpose of our MolMall chemical collection is to contribute to the preservation and conservation of the chemical-molecular diversity on our planet and to develop it further. A comparable, albeit better-known organization with a similar objective, for instance, is the Svalbard Seed Vault in Norway. In parallel, our sample collection is proof of the authenticity and the reproducibility of chemical methods published in scientific publications. Due to these activities, we have been able to secure around 30’000 different compounds since the mid-1990s and are proud to be able to archive them in a special laboratory in building 1059 since January 2022.

Pocket park in front of the entrance area.

Pocket park in front of the entrance area.

2. Dr. Lin Junior and Dr. Bauer, you are in charge of managing the Chemical Sample Collection. What is meant with ‘exchange of chemicals’ and what is your daily business?
Dr. Lin Junior: We call our exchange project MolMall. You can illustrate the way we work similarly to an academic library or a natural history museum. The difference is that we archive knowledge and experience not in a printed form or as a natural science exhibit but in form of small molecules. Everybody who ever has worked in a science lab sooner or later experienced the difficulty to reproduce the aforementioned printed version of chemical knowledge.

Dr. Bauer: It is our daily business to share chemicals from our collection with the scientific community providing very generous terms and conditions while respecting the interest of those who share and contribute. What we share are all chemically stable chemicals that normally are not available from established suppliers – ranging from the complex building block for drug discovery to the reference sample for pharmaceutical development or from the out-of-stock solvent to the exotic catalyst. All our coworkers have a background in R&D and experience in project work. This will ensure synergies for those who submit and those who request chemicals from our molmall sample collection, for instance when it comes to rapidly organizing some special fine chemicals.

3. Are there any chemical stock rooms in Switzerland operating the way you do?
Dr. Bauer: Yes. There are many stock rooms – basically too many with too little of a sustainable network amongst each other. Every organization capable of R&D must have a professionally managed, more or less well equipped, in any case dearly bought chemical stock room. However, we are different. We provide a unique platform for the distribution of new and rare research chemicals. Further, we provide active scientists and startups with limited resources a platform to safely and professionally store chemicals and – if desired – to share these with the science community.

4. Why did you choose Rosental Mitte as the location for your organization?
Dr. Lin Junior: Historically seen, we archive many compounds which were first synthesized in Basel and later moved on to become commercial products elsewhere. This alone is reason enough to consider Rosental Mitte as the location for our lab. We appreciate the vicinity to reputed research organizations and we are very much interested in serving the interdisciplinary working SMEs on campus when providing an alternative to classical stock rooms known from huge organizations.

5. How is your interaction with other on-site companies?
Dr. Lin Junior: We want to serve all organizations working according to the open science principles. Interested readers will find more information on our websites and we hope that this interview is a first step to increase our visibility. It would be appreciated if Rosental Mitte kept fostering the campus culture which we consider to be essential for the success of this project.

Our websites are: http://www.molmall.net/ and https://wsforum.org/