The SPHN Management Office is hiring
The «Swiss Personalized Health Network» (SPHN) coordinates the establishment of data infrastructures for the responsible use of health-related data for research in Switzerland. Starting from 1 September 2022 or upon agreement, the SPHN Management Office is looking for a new team member with a focus on project administration. The deadline for applications is on Monday, 1 August 2022.
The diverse responsibilities of this position include, but are not limited to, overseeing the life-time management of SPHN-funded projects, support of financial reporting and budget control, and general administrative and organizational duties in the Management Office. Please see the job posting (in French) for more details and the contact person for questions. More information about SPHN can be found on the website.
Job posting (in French) (PDF)
Reducing the environmental impact of health services
While human health is certainly adversely affected by climate change, the health system itself is also partly responsible for the current environmental crisis. How can we rethink health services so that they respect planetary boundaries? The new SAMS position paper is dedicated to this urgent question.
The paper formulates seven proposals with three overarching goals: reducing the use of health services, adapting healthcare practices and improving the environmental efficiency of health services. The document aims to raise awareness among health actors at every level, inspiring them to develop concrete, context-specific measures designed to reduce their environmental footprint.
Position paper (in French and German) (PDF)
Stern-Gattiker Prize 2022: The SAMS recognises two female role models
With the Stern-Gattiker Prize, the SAMS is making female role models more visible, so as to motivate young women to pursue an academic career. This year, the prize has been awarded to Vanessa Banz (Bern) and Susanne Wegener (Zurich). Both are compelling as strong women who encourage others to successfully combine science and clinical work.
To ensure that sufficient medical scientists are available over the medium and longer term, it is essential that more women pursue a career in academic medicine. To enhance the visibility of female role models, the SAMS has established the Stern-Gattiker Prize in 2018. Further information on the Prize and the two laureates can be found on our website and in the media release published today.
Media release in French (PDF)
Reproductive medicine: preimplantation genetic testing
In 2020, the SAMS published the recommendations «Preimplantation genetic testing PGT», which address ethical aspects of the PGT counselling and decision-making. Their aim is to contribute to consistent good clinical practice in Switzerland. A recent evaluation shows that no new knowledge has been gained since 2020. The recommendations therefore remain in force without any changes.
The review followed the recent publication by the National Advisory Commission on Biomedical Ethics (NCE) of guidelines that specify the legal framework for PGT. The NCE refers in part to the recommendations of the SAMS, but comes to different conclusions on a few points, particularly with regard to the management of surplus information. The SAMS, on the other hand, adheres to its medical-ethical recommendations of 2020: no new knowledge has been acquired that could lead to different conclusions in the ethical weighing of interests.
Download the recommendations (PDF)
New members in the Senate and the Executive Board
This year the Senate elected 10 people from various disciplines and institutions as new individual and honorary members. There are also changes in the SAMS Executive Board: The Senate elected 3 new members to replace the same number of vacancies. Further, George Thalmann succeeds Daniel Scheidegger as vice-president of the SAMS.
The Senate is the supreme organ of the SAMS. It is composed of about 250 persons. 5 people were elected as individual members for their scientific excellence, 5 people were elected as honorary members for their outstanding services to the promotion of science, the health system and/or the SAMS. All names can be found in our newsletter of 7 June 2022 (in French).Further information
Robert Bing Prize in neurosciences 2022: call for nominations
The SAMS is launching a call for nominations for the Robert Bing Prize. The Bing Prize is awarded to authors of outstanding work that has advanced the diagnosis, treatment and cure of diseases of the nervous system. Nominations can be submitted by a third party or an academic institution. The submission deadline is 31 August 2022.
In accordance with the donor’s will, the Robert Bing Prize is awarded primarily to young (up to 45 years old) neuroscientists with the Swiss nationality or who have been working in Switzerland for a significant amount of time. The prize is awarded every two years with a prize money of CHF 50’000.– for a single laureate or CHF 30’000.– each if two laureates are distinguished simultaneously. All information about the Prize, the format and the submission of nominations can be found on our website.
Synopsis of past laureates (PDF)
SPHN and PHRT support 4 National Data Streams
In 2021, the Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN) and the Personalized Health and Related Technologies (PHRT) initiative from the ETH Domain jointly launched the call for National Data Streams (NDS). The 4 selected NDS projects will start in summer 2022.
NDS build central pillars of the SPHN health data ecosystem and the PHRT research platforms. In the long term, they shall serve as models and crystallization points for future research programs and clinical applications of personalized health. In addition, all NDS projects will involve patients and the public. For more information, please visit the SPHN website.Visit the website
SPHN has launched a call for Demonstrator projects
The Swiss Personalized Health Network has launched a call for «Demonstrator projects». These projects must demonstrate the added value of infrastructures, processes and frameworks developed within SPHN. Submission deadline for applications is 31 August 2022.
Importantly, Demonstrator projects shall not build new infrastructure from scratch, but consolidate what has been started, complement missing links, and assess applicability and impact on clinical decision making and personalized health research. In total, SPHN will allocate approximately CHF 3.7 million for Demonstrator projects. Funding requires matching contributions by the applicant institutions. For more information on the call, including all necessary documents for applicants, please visit the SPHN website.Visit the website
Guidelines on «dying and death» in the FMH Association’s Code
The Medical Chamber of the Swiss Medical Association (FMH) decided today that the SAMS guidelines on «Management of dying and death» are to be incorporated into the Association’s Code. The SAMS welcomes this decision, as the situation prevailing since 2018 – with two sets of guidelines in force – had given rise to uncertainty among physicians. The broadly accepted document is now available online.
The medical-ethical guidelines on this topic published by the SAMS in 2018 have not hitherto formed part of the FMH Code. The delay in their adoption was due to the controversy which arose in 2018 over the subsection on assisted suicide (6.2 and 6.2.1). Since then, this chapter and the terms used therein have been reviewed in depth by a joint working group, with various clarifications being made. The guidelines on «Management of dying and death» (2018, revised in 2021) are available in English, French, German and Italian. More information can be found on our website.
Download the guidelines (PDF)
In consultation: Model for the implementation of advance care planning
Advance care planning (ACP) provides the basis for whether or not to initiate medical measures in the event of sudden, prolonged or permanent incapacity. Since 2021, the national working group has been working to develop framework conditions and quality standards of ACP. It has drafted a model for this purpose, which is open for public consultation until July 15, 2022.
The aim of ACP is to initiate conversations at an early stage about personal values, wishes and expectations with regard to treatment and care in the event of illness, accident or need for care. It requires recording a person’s wishes for third parties in case the person loses decision-making capacity. ACP applies not only to end-of-life situations, but also in the event of prolonged incapacity. The model for the advancement and implementation of ACP is now subject to a public consultation until July 15, 2022. Interested organizations and individuals are invited to submit their feedback.Visit the website
Young Talents in Clinical Research: Call 2022
With the «Young Talents in Clinical Research» program, the Gottfried and Julia Bangerter-Rhyner Foundation and the SAMS aim at encouraging young medical doctors to start out in clinical research. For 2022, CHF 1 million is made available to finance «protected research time» and «project grants» for a consecutive research project. The submission deadline is 30 June 2022.
The YTCR program, which comprises two funding instruments, «beginner grants» and «project grants», focuses on residents who wish to be freed from clinical duty to gain a first research experience. Applications must be written in English and registered online. Details on the participation criteria, submission and evaluation procedure can be found in the program regulations, on our website and in the FAQ.
Download the flyer (PDF)
Organ transplantation: presumed or express consent?
Organ transplantation is an evidenced-based therapy. It finds its justification on the fundamental idea of the will and ability of individuals to help each other. On 15 May, the revised transplantation law will be put to a vote. In order to support the opinion building, the SAMS is publishing a factsheet that summarizes the ethical, medical and legal basis for the discussion.
The revised law provides for a shift to presumed consent in the broad sense. This means that people who do not wish to donate their organs must declare this during their lifetime. In the absence of a declaration, the will to donate is in principle presumed. The relatives, as it is currently the case, must be consulted to verify the accuracy of this presumption. For more information, read the factsheet or consult our website.
Download the factsheet (PDF)
Discover the SAMS Annual Report 2021 online
Although vaccination changed the situation in the second year of the pandemic, the coronavirus remained a key issue for the SAMS in 2021. In addition to topics related to this issue, we have initiated, accompanied and completed numerous projects, published papers and implemented funding programmes. Our online annual report (French or German) allows you to look back on the year 2021 as experienced by the SAMS.
For those of you who prefer to browse rather than to click, you can download a PDF version and print it. We hope you enjoy discovering or rediscovering the many highlights of the past year that reflect our commitment to science, medicine and society.
Annual Report (in French) (PDF)
Personalized health: The national infrastructure to boost research is up-and-running
Connecting researchers from across Switzerland with biomedical data to foster personalized health: this is the aim of the national secure computing network BioMedIT, setup by the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, in collaboration with ETH Zurich and University of Basel. The network is part of the Swiss Personalized Health Network initiative (SPHN).
The BioMedIT network builds on three scientific IT competence platforms, or nodes, in Basel, Lausanne and Zurich. After the setup and refining phases, it is now fully operational and its website officially launched today. Currently, over 60 national and international health-related projects are running on it – a major step to empower personalized health research in Switzerland. More information can be found on the new website.
Media release SIB (in French) (PDF)
SPHN: Second call for Swiss cohorts to join the Maelstrom catalogue
Supported by the Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN), the metadata of 10 Swiss cohort studies are currently being integrated into the international Maelstrom catalogue. SPHN launches now a second call for proposals to strengthen the reuse of these valuable data for research purposes and international scientific collaborations.
The international Maelstrom catalogue currently contains metadata from over 310 studies from all around the world. Researchers can explore the catalogue for information about the existing data and how to access them with a free, web-based search tool. To allow more Swiss data to be included, SPHN is launching the second call for proposals and will cover the costs incurred by Maelstrom. The submission deadline is 31 May 2022. More information can be found on the SPHN website.Visit the website
KZS call for proposals: Moral distress among the healthcare workforce
The SAMS is providing a total of CHF 250’000.– from the Käthe-Zingg-Schwichtenberg Fund for research in bio-medical ethics dealing with moral distress among the healthcare workforce. Moral distress describes the mental and moral repercussions experienced by health professionals when they are unable to provide ethically appropriate action, usually due to institutional constraints. The submission deadline is 15 May 2022.
With this call for proposals, the SAMS invites researchers to examine, from a clinical ethics and/or public health ethics perspective, the roots of healthcare workers' – nurses' and physicians' – frustration and high professional drop-out rates in the Swiss context. Applications can be written in German, French or English and must be registered online. Details on the call, format and submission of proposals can be found on our website.Visit the website
Open call: patient representative
The SAMS launches a call for applications for a patient representative in the Coordination Platform Clinical Research (CPCR). If you have experience of clinical research as a patient, an interest in medical topics and wish to contribute to the elaboration of strategic recommendations, this position may be right for you.
The CPCR was set up at the end of 2021 upon a mandate by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation. Please refer to the call document below for details on your tasks and the requirements. Applications can be submitted per e-mail to email@example.com until 15 March 2022. Further information about the platform can be found on our website.
Download the call (PDF)
«Stick to Science»: Switzerland in Horizon Europe
The campaign «Stick to Science» asks political authorities to rapidly conclude the process of associating Switzerland and the UK to Horizon Europe, the EU's research and innovation programme. It calls for an open and collaborative research and innovation landscape in Europe, without political barriers delaying this association.
Switzerland and the UK can make important scientific and financial contributions to the European Research Area so that it remains competitive at a global level. Allowing political differences to prevent scientific collaboration is contrary to the interests of society at large. The SAMS follows the call of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences to promote the campaign in order to gain the strongest possible support.Further information
Stern-Gattiker Prize 2022 for female role models in academic medicine
For the third time, the SAMS is launching a call for nominations for the Stern-Gattiker Prize to acknowledge the role of women in academic medicine and to motivate early-career female scientists. The Prize carries an award of CHF 15,000, the deadline for submission is 25 March 2022.
With the Stern-Gattiker Prize, the SAMS rewards every two years a female medical scientist who has obtained her postdoctoral qualification within the past ten years, holds a permanent position in a hospital, and who, in her own way, is considered as a role model. The proximity to the next generation of doctors and the commitment to gender equality are a plus. Detailed information on the nomination process can be found on our website.Visit the website
The KZS Fund supports 3 projects with a focus on resource scarcity
The call for proposals of the Käthe Zingg-Schwichtenberg Fund focused in 2021 on the topic of «Access to medical and nursing care in the event of resource scarcity». Out of the 11 submitted applications, 3 were retained for funding for a total of 270’336 francs.
With the 2021 call for proposals, the SAMS wanted to broaden the debate around the triage of patients: the Covid-19 pandemic has clearly shown that questions of distribution equity affected further areas of healthcare in the institutional and outpatient sector, even before admission to the intensive care unit. The 3 supported projects will seek to understand how the experience of the pandemic has changed – and is still changing – perceptions and judgements on equity and distribution debates in the event of resource scarcity. The synopsis (pdf) offers an overview of all the projects supported by the KZS Fund. You will find more information on our website.
Neuroscience: Théodore Ott Prize 2022 for Prof. Burkhard Becher
The Théodore Ott Prize 2022 is awarded to Burkhard Becher, Professor at the Institute of Experimental Immunology at the University of Zurich. The SAMS recognizes the originality and quality of his scientific work as well as its exceptional translational impact. The prize is endowed with CHF 50’000 and awarded every five years.
Prof. Becher has identified key molecular mechanisms in the progression of chronic inflammatory brain diseases, such as in multiple sclerosis and brain cancer. With his research group, he has developed state-of-the-art tools that have brought about groundbreaking insights into diverse pathological processes where inflammation is involved. The award ceremony will take place on 2 June 2022 in Bern. Further information on the laureate and on the prize can be found in the media release published today and on our website.
Download the media release (PDF)
No to a ban on animal and human experimentation
On 13 February 2022, the federal popular initiative «Yes to the ban on animal and human experimentation – Yes to safe and progressive research approaches» will be put to the vote. The SAMS recommends to reject the initiative. The media release published today by the Association of Swiss University Medicine (unimedsuisse) summarises the main arguments for this rejection in clear terms.
Switzerland has a comprehensive legal framework to ensure responsible medical research. University hospitals and medical faculties emphasise that the adoption of the initiative would make research involving humans and animals impossible in the future. All patients, especially
those with serious and chronic diseases who urgently need better medical treatment methods, would have to bear serious consequences. You can find more information (in French or in German) in the PDF or on the unimedsuisse website.
Media release (in French) (PDF)
The SAMS guidelines in use: Examples from everyday clinical practice
The SAMS has been developing medical-ethical guidelines for over 50 years. These provide a theoretical basis and practical guidance on ethically challenging situations in everyday clinical practice. In the journal «Primary and Hospital Care», the SAMS guidelines are illustrated with concrete practical examples – the series is now available on our website in French and German.
Medical-ethical guidelines need to be put to the test in practice. In this context, not only one's own experiences are important, but also those of professional colleagues. For this reason, «Primary and Hospital Care» has published a series of case studies since 2018 in which various SAMS guidelines are applied in practice. Previous topics have included advance care planning, palliative care, coercive measures in medicine and the medical care of people with dementia.Further information
Consultation: Guidelines on the collaboration of the medical profession with industry
Collaboration between healthcare professionals and industry has long been established, contributes to medical progress, and is fundamentally in the interest of good healthcare. At the same time, it can entail dependencies and lead to conflicts of interest. The SAMS addresses this issue in the guidelines «Collaboration between the medical profession and industry». These guidelines have been updated and are open for public consultation from 29 November 2021 until 25 February 2022.
A broad-based subcommittee of the SAMS Central Ethics Committee has updated the guidelines from 2013. The new title «Collaboration between healthcare professionals, responsible persons in healthcare organisations and industry» shows that the scope of the guidelines no longer focuses on the medical profession, but concerns all healthcare professionals. Interested organisations and individuals are invited to comment. Further information and the documents for the statement can be found on our website.Visit the website
The SAMS remains true to its mission
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the SAMS's activities have taken on an additional focus. The changed vaccination and infection situation necessitated a further amendment of the guidelines on intensive care triage under exceptional resource scarcity. Nevertheless, it was also possible to carry out numerous other tasks in 2021. Thanks to a highly motivated team and the broad network based on a militia system, we can look back on a diverse, intensive year.
Advance Care Planning, the call for National Data Streams or the publication of the White Paper Clinical Research followed by the launch of a national Coordination Platform are some of the milestones of the past year. To all those who follow our activities or support us with their knowledge and skills, we wish a peaceful holiday season and above all a healthy 2022, despite the continuing challenging situation. Your General Secretariat.Visit the website
SPHN: Guidance for ethical sharing of health data
The Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN) is committed to enabling the responsible use of health data in a harmonized, ethically and legally compliant manner. To support SPHN funded projects, that aim to establish public-private partnerships (PPPs), the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications advisory group (ELSIag) of SPHN recently developed a guidance document.
During the first funding period of SPHN (2017–2020), collaborations of the network were largely focused on public institutions such as the university hospitals and academic research institutions. For the second phase of SPHN (2021–2024), it is likely that partnerships also with private actors will be realized. Such partnerships between publicly funded institutions and private providers in medical research are not new. The guidelines aim to support researchers with the negotiation of ethically robust, patient privacy conserving and fair conditions for PPPs. More information on ELSI activities can be found can be found on the SPHN website.
Download the guidelines (PDF)
Recommendations for addressing the concept of «futility» in medicine
Ineffective treatment is a part of medicine. Often this topic is summarized with the generic notion of medical futility. Assessing whether therapy is indicated in an individual case remains challenging and is not always free from value judgments. The SAMS has dealt with this topic in-depth and published recommendations.
Various medical-ethical guidelines of the SAMS deal with situations of ineffectiveness and its associated dilemmas. Based on discussions that intensified during the pandemic, the SAMS Central Ethics Committee decided to develop recommendations. These recommendations offer orientation for practice and aim to encourage a discussion on how to deal with ineffectiveness and unlikelihood of benefit. The recommendations are available in printed form in three languages (e/g/f) and can also be downloaded in each language from our website.
Download the recommendations (PDF)
Avoid intensive care surge in order to prevent triage decisions
The Covid-19 pandemic is once more leading to critically high levels of occupancy in intensive care units. The Swiss Society of Intensive Care Medicine (SSICM) and the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences (SAMS) call for stricter measures and solidarity.
The increase in numbers of cases and the high levels of occupancy in intensive care units is worrisome. Patients are being transferred regionally, and at times also outside the canton. There is also a significant increase in the number of hospitalizations in regions that have been less affected so far. Triage decisions cannot be ruled out in the near future. In a joint media release, the SAMS and SGI call for solidarity, demand stricter measures, and remind of the medical-ethical principles of the triage guidelines.
Download the media release (in French) (PDF)
Young Talents in Clinical Research: 14 grants for young medical doctors
With the «Young Talents in Clinical Research» programme launched in 2017, the Gottfried and Julia Bangerter-Rhyner Foundation and the SAMS aim at encouraging young medical doctors to start out in clinical research. 14 grants have been awarded among the 33 proposals submitted within the 2021 call.
During the fifth call for proposals – with revised regulations to focus more clearly on the original target audience of the programme – the SAMS evaluation committee proposed to support 14 promising young clinician scientists. The Bangerter Foundation approved the awards for a total of CHF 1 million. You can find the list of grantees and supported projects in the synopsis below (PDF). The next YTCR call will be opened at the end of March 2022.
Synopsis of grantees (PDF)
Consultation: Guidelines on the collaboration of the medical profession with industry
Collaboration between healthcare professionals and industry has long been established, contributes to medical progress, and is fundamentally in the interest of good healthcare. At the same time, it can entail dependencies and lead to conflicts of interest. The SAMS addresses this issue in the guidelines «Collaboration between the medical profession and industry». These guidelines have been updated and are open for public consultation until 25 February 2022.
SPHN and the university hospitals renew the collaboration agreements
The Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN) sees itself as a supporting partner of the university hospitals. In addition to developing research infrastructures, SPHN aims to promote better, more personalized patient care. In order to build upon the achievements of the first funding period (2017 – 2020), the collaboration agreements between SPHN and the university hospitals have been renewed until 2024.
At the beginning of 2018, SPHN and the five university hospitals signed collaboration agreements for building interoperable clinical data management systems. Thereby, the foundation was laid for the close cooperation between SPHN and the hospitals to support nationwide research with health-related data within the framework of the initiative. In order to seamlessly continue the collaboration, SPHN and the university hospitals renewed the agreements in mid-November 2021 for another three years. They include annual milestones, joint monitoring and a regular updating of the objectives. More information about SPHN can be found on our dedicated page.Further information
Consultation on the Swiss Citizen Science Principles
The concept of Citizen Science refers to research projects in which scientists and citizens work together. As part of the Citizen Science 2021-2024 initiative, the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences have contributed to developing Citizen Science Principles for Switzerland. You are invited to taking part in the consultation on the document.
Various organisations have drafted a proposal that is adapted to Switzerland. The text is based on existing guidelines, in particular the European Citizen Science Principles (2015) and the Code of Conduct for Scientific Integrity of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences (2021). The consultation period runs until 15 December 2021.Further information
New tool for data query at the five university hospitals
The Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN) is committed to enabling FAIR* and responsible use of health data. To support researchers with the planning of their studies, the SPHN Data Coordination Center (DCC) has implemented a Federated Query System (FQS) for feasibility analyses in collaboration with the five university hospitals. The FQS allows researchers to check whether and which patient data may be available at the university hospitals to answer specific research questions.
Query systems that allow researchers to search for specific patient data have so far been restricted to individual hospitals or clinics and have not yielded cross-institutional results. With the implementation of the new FQS, the DCC together with the university hospitals succeeded to harmonize and standardize anonymized clinical information so that it can be accessed and analyzed across institutions via a common user interface, while strictly complying with data protection, ethical and legal regulations. More information can be found in the SAMS’ newsletter published today.Further information
What role did science play in managing the Covid-19 pandemic?
A study conducted by PD Dr. Alexandra Hofmänner mandated by the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences examines science advice to policy during the Covid-19 pandemic in Switzerland. The publication documents events, contexts and framework conditions and presents six options for future action.
In what way did the Swiss experience differ from selected other countries? Where is there a need for action in the future? To answer these questions, the study is based on extensive comparative literature research and nearly 40 interviews with stakeholders from science, politics, public administration and the media. The analysis provides both, insight and outlook, aiming to learn for future crises. Details can be found in the PDF and on the website of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences.
Download the report (PDF)
smarter medicine: Top-5-Liste für Ophthalmologie veröffentlicht
Der Verein «smarter medicine – Choosing Wisely Switzerland», dessen Trägerschaft die SAMW angehört, hat zum Ziel, unnötige medizinische Behandlungen zu verhindern. Er fördert die Erarbeitung von Top-5-Listen, womit Fachgesellschaften Interventionen bestimmen, die ganz zu vermeiden oder nur unter bestimmten Bedingungen anzuwenden sind. Im November 2021 hat die Schweizerische Ophthalmologische Gesellschaft (SOG) ihre Liste veröffentlicht.
Wie andere medizinische Fachgesellschaften unterstützt auch die SOG die «smarter medicine»-Initiative. Es ist ihr ein zentrales Anliegen, die hohe Qualität der Ophthalmologie in der Schweiz sicherzustellen, weiter auszubauen und gleichzeitig dazu beizutragen, dass die Ressourcen im schweizerischen Gesundheitswesen sinnvoll und effizient eingesetzt werden. Die Qualitäts- und Deontologiekommission der SOG hat für die Schweiz «Choosing Wisely»-Empfehlungen ausgearbeitet, die sich eng an der amerikanischen Vorlage orientieren. Die SOG-Empfehlungen können Sie hier herunterladen. Mehr Informationen zur Initiative und die Listen weiterer Fachgesellschaften finden Sie auf der Website von «smarter medicine».
Top-5-Liste «Ophthalmologie» (PDF)
No to a ban on animal and human experimentation
On 13 February 2022, the federal popular initiative for a ban on animal and human experimentation will be put to the vote. Acceptance of this initiative would prevent biomedical research and new medical treatments. At stake are the high quality of healthcare and responsible research in Switzerland.
Together with the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences, swissuniversities and other scientific institutions, the SAMS recommends to reject the initiative. More information can be found on our website.Further information
Five additional Swiss cohorts can join the Maelstrom catalogue
The Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN) is committed to responsible and sustainable use of health data. With a new funding program, SPHN enables Swiss cohort studies to integrate their metadata in the international Maelstrom catalogue. The funding program thus strengthens international scientific collaborations and advances the reuse of these valuable data for research purposes in Switzerland.
The renowned Maelstrom catalogue scheme enables the visualization of comprehensive information from more than 240 studies from around the world, which are grouped into several research network. In June 2021, SPHN launched an open call for applications to allow Swiss cohort studies to join the Maelstrom catalogue. After a careful evaluation of the applications, five additional cohort studies will be supported. More information can be found in the SAMS’ newsletter published today.Further information
Clinical Research Careers: new online portal
Getting trained and planning a career as a clinical researcher can be challenging. One of the hurdles is the access to relevant information: Which path to follow? Which trainings to attend? What kind of career support and funding instruments exist locally and nationally? The new Clinical Research Careers web portal now provides all relevant information in one place.
With their joint project, the SAMS, the association Médecine Universitaire Suisse (unimedsuisse) and the Education Platform of the Swiss Clinical Trial Organisation (SCTO, project leader) aim at guiding young physicians throughout their career in clinical research. Explore the new web portal, which offers information on the diverse support offer by clicking on the link below.Visit the website
Intensive care triage: medical-ethical guidelines updated
The SAMS and the Swiss Society of Intensive Care Medicine (SSICM) have issued an updated version of the guidelines for intensive care triage under exceptional resource scarcity. Version 4 takes account of recent developments and is less strongly focused on Covid-19 patients, but the underlying ethical principles remain unchanged.
The revision of the guidelines was prompted primarily by changes in the background to the intense pressures on Switzerland’s ICUs: unlike the situation during the first waves of the Covid 19 pandemic, ICU treatment is now required not predominantly by elderly people with underlying conditions, but increasingly by younger, previously healthy patients. The updated guidelines (V4) are now available in French, German, English and Italian. Information on the main changes compared to the previous version can be found on our website.
Download the guidelines V4 (PDF)
Monkey, Mouse or Zebrafish? Considerations in choosing model organisms
On what considerations do researchers base their choice of model organisms for their work? How do they deal with the implicit moral hierarchy among animals, with primates at the top and fish at the bottom? Scientific and ethical questions concerning the choice of model organisms were at the heart of the symposium on 1 July 2021 organised by the Ethics Committee for Animal Experimentation (ECAE). The report is now available.
The aim of the symposium was to raise awareness of these issues among researchers, animal welfare officers and regulators. In order to address questions as concretely as possible, the topic of the symposium was discussed with reference to a specific research field – Alzheimer’s disease. The report, available in English, German and French, can be downloaded below or on the ECAE website.
Download the report (PDF)
Changes in the SAMS Ethics Department
Medical progress continually opens up new possibilities that raise challenging ethical questions. The SAMS Ethics Department supports the development of guidelines and recommendations that provide practical assistance to physicians and other health professionals in medical practice and biomedical research. Sibylle Ackermann is the new Head of Department as from 1 September 2021.
Sibylle Ackermann has worked in the General Secretariat for 11 years, first as a scientific collaborator and then as project manager for the Ethics Department. She will build on her many years of experience in the SAMS and her extensive network to bear on the numerous tasks ahead. She will be joined by Manya Hendriks, who holds a doctorate in biomedical ethics and a master's degree in anthropology and sociology. We wish Manya Hendriks a warm welcome. You will find all the faces of the General Secretariat in the «Portrait» menu.Visit the website
Peter Meier-Abt: a tribute to a tireless spokesman for science
Peter Meier-Abt, President of the SAMS for many years, passed away in May. In the next Bulletin we will publish a tribute to this tireless spokesman for science. The full version of the article can be found on our website. It was written jointly with the Swiss Personalised Health Network and the Swiss Clinical Trial Organisation, two institutions that he has significantly shaped.
Peter Meier-Abt was a man of many talents: a physician with two specialist titles, a leading clinical researcher and a tireless spokesman for science. His intelligence, energy and standing left their mark on all the positions he held during his career. We remember him with gratitude and fondness. Read the tribute on our website in French or in German.Visit the website
smarter medicine: Top 5 list for paediatrics
The association «smarter medicine – Choosing Wisely Switzerland», of which the SAMS is a member, aims to prevent unnecessary medical treatments. It promotes the development of Top 5 lists, for which medical societies determine interventions that should be avoided or only used under certain conditions. In August 2021, «pédiatrie suisse» (the Swiss Paediatric Society) published its list.
Like many other specialist societies, «pédiatrie suisse» supports the «smarter medicine» initiative. Its list contains five recommendations for the care of infants, children and adolescents and is aimed at paediatricians and general practitioners who care for children. The Top 5 list concerns paediatrics in private practice and in hospitals and focuses mainly on therapeutic aspects in the sense of «do not harm».
The recommendations can be downloaded below (in French). More information on the initiative and the Top 5 lists of other specialist societies can be found on the «smarter medicine» website (French or German).
Top 5 list for paediatrics in French (PDF)
White Paper: Seven goals for clinical research
What does publicly funded clinical research need to increase its benefit for patients and society? The SAMS White Paper Clinical Research presents a roadmap with seven goals to strengthen the impact of clinical research in Switzerland. It suggests ways on how to use resources more efficiently and how to align efforts on common priorities.
Considering the main stakeholders of clinical research, fragmentation, overlaps, and a lack of shared strategic priorities are evident. Elaborated by the SAMS on behalf of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation, the White Paper outlines in an action plan for change how to address the current challenges for clinical research so as to increase its benefit for all and to make Switzerland an international leader in the field.
Download the White Paper (PDF)
Science Communication in Switzerland: Assessment Report and Recommendations
What is the current state of science communication in Switzerland? Answers to this question are provided by an assessment report published by the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences. Together with a description of the actual situation, the report offers concrete recommendations on how science journalism in our country could be strengthened.
In addition to positive aspects – such as the high level of public trust in science or the wide range of formats available for science-society dialogue –, it also identifies challenges, like the insufficient support for researchers who communicate with the public, the erosion of science journalism, or the dissemination of dis- and misinformation on social media. Learn more in the report or at the online event on 19 August 2021.
Download the report (PDF)
Twelve MD-PhD grants awarded
The national MD-PhD program has awarded twelve grants to young physicians engaged in research to complete a doctorate in natural sciences, public health sciences and clinical research at a Swiss university. The synopsis of grantees gives an overview of the supported projects.
The national MD-PhD expert committee retained 12 young researchers for funding out of the 25 candidates preselected by the local MD-PhD committees. The grants, amounting to a total of 2.2 million Swiss francs, cover the salary of grantees for two to three years. They are sponsored by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), Swiss Cancer Research (KFS) and the SAMS. The next call for proposals of the National MD-PhD program will be launched this autumn with a submission deadline set on 15 December 2021.
Synopsis of grantees (PDF)
New faces on the SAMS Executive Board
The Executive Board is renewing itself. At its meeting on 1 July 2021, it welcomed three new members recently elected by the Senate: Professor Luca Crivelli (Ticino), Professor Nicole Probst-Hensch (Basel) and Professor George Thalmann (Bern).
The SAMS takes this opportunity to say goodbye to Professor Claudio Bassetti and Professor Urs Brügger, who have both reached the end of their 8-year term of office on the Executive Board. The SAMS could not be active in so many areas without the voluntary commitment of members such as Professor Bassetti and Professor Brügger. We thank them very much for their dedication. You can find the current composition of the Executive Board on our website.Visit the website
The medical-ethical guidelines «Decisions on cardiopulmonary resuscitation» have been revised
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) decisions and their consequences involve considerable burdens for all concerned. The revised SAMS medical-ethical guidelines offer recommendations for medical professionals on how to proceed in various situations and provide guidance for discussing CPR with patients and relatives.
The interruption of the supply of oxygen to the brain in acute cardiac arrest requires immediate action. In the acute situation, it is particularly difficult to assess the individual prognosis, and the patient’s wishes are often not clear. To support medical professionals, the SAMS issued medical ethical guidelines in 2008. The revised version takes into account both medical and social developments, as well as the latest scientific findings. The guidelines are available online in four languages (eng/fr/ger/it), and print versions (fr/ger) can be ordered free of charge.
Medical-ethical guidelines: Decisions on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (2021) (PDF)
Health and environment co-benefits: what does the literature say?
Anthropogenic climate change jeopardises medical progress made in recent decades and may lead to a rise in malnutrition, threaten mental health, increase the incidence of cardiovascular, pulmonary and infectious diseases, and cause premature deaths. Following the publication in 2019 of its position paper on sustainable development of the health system, the SAMS is seeking to raise awareness of the relationship between health and the environment.
The concept of «co-benefits», which was discussed by Professor Nicolas Senn (Unisanté, Lausanne) in the SAMS Bulletin 4/2020, is explored in depth in the Revue Médicale Suisse with a comprehensive, interactive literature review (f/e). The analysis was conducted by the Department of Family Medicine at Unisanté Lausanne and the Interdisciplinary Center for Sustainable Development at University of Lausanne. Although considering environmental perspectives in clinical practice may be a given for some, the authors conclude that our society needs a real paradigm shift to rethink the concepts of health, disease, and the associated health services.
Download the SAMS Bulletin 4/2020 (in french) (PDF)
KZS Fund call for proposals: Access to care under resource scarcity
The SAMS is providing a total of CHF 250’000.– from the Käthe-Zingg-Schwichtenberg Fund (KZS Fund) for research in bio-medical ethics on the topic of «Access to medical and nursing care under resource scarcity». The submission deadline is 31 August 2021.
The 2021 call for proposals of the KZS Fund supports theoretical or empirical research projects that examine, from a clinical ethics and/or public health ethics perspective, how the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic is changing perceptions and assessments of equity and distribution debates in the event of resource scarcity. Applications can be written in German, French or English and must be registered online. Details on the call and procedure for submission can be found on the KZS Fund website.Visit the website
Nine Centres for Rare Diseases recognized
In May 2021, the National Coordination for Rare Diseases (kosek) recognized three Centres for Rare Diseases in addition to the six structures approved in 2020. These nine Centres ensure comprehensive geographical and linguistic coverage in Switzerland. As a founding member of kosek, the SAMS welcomes these developments.
The Centres for Rare Diseases are interdisciplinary contact points for patients with an unclear diagnosis who need more detailed investigations. The centres coordinate the care and expertise of the specialists involved, promote continuing education and research. They cooperate in a network to exchange information and to organise patient care in the best possible way. For more information, visit the kosek website (fr/ger/it).Visit the website
The SAMS pays tribute to Peter Meier-Abt
It is with sadness that the SAMS learned of the death of Peter Meier-Abt on 27 May 2021. A member of the Senate since 2000, Prof. Meier-Abt was President of the SAMS from 2011 to 2016 and Vice President from 2004 to 2011 and 2016 to 2018. He was the driving force behind the Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN), which he chaired from its inception.
With his great commitment, Peter Meier-Abt profoundly marked the SAMS over the past 20 years. The Academy has benefited substantially from his experience in the areas of promoting young scientists, fostering clinical research, scientific integrity and personalized health. As Martin Schwab wrote in the SAMS Bulletin in 2016 on the occasion of Peter Meier-Abt’s handover of the presidency: «Moving things, not only analyzing and pointing out weaknesses, but also proposing solutions and implementing them dynamically; passionately committed – that is how we knew Peter Meier-Abt.»
The President and the members of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences join the SAMS in expressing their sincerest condolences to the bereaved family.
Read the quoted article from Bulletin 4/2016 (French or German) (PDF)
SPHN has launched calls for «National Data Streams» and for cohorts
The Swiss Personalized Health Network has launched with the Personalized Health and Related Technologies (PHRT) initiative from the ETH Domain a joint call for «National Data Streams» (NDS). A second call enables Swiss cohort studies to present their metadata in an international catalogue.
The new NDS program provides funding for multidisciplinary consortia that invest in the development of sustainable health-related data infrastructure and contribute to the establishment of a Swiss personalized health ecosystem. SPHN and PHRT allocated together a total of CHF 20 million for the NDS program. The second call is specifically aimed at Swiss cohort studies. They are given the opportunity to improve their international visibility. For this purpose, SPHN finances the storage of cohort metadata in the renowned «Maelstrom» catalogue. More information about the two calls, including all necessary documents for applicants, is available on the SPHN website.Visit the website
National Working Group on Advance Care Planning
Health, illness and quality of life are decisive aspects of a dignified end of life. Addressing treatment options and dying at an early stage are essential for promoting self-determination. At the beginning of May, a national working group run jointly by the SAMS and the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) started its work with the aim of improving the framework conditions and quality standards in Switzerland.
Advance care planning involves discussing and documenting personal values, preferences, expectations and visions for treatment and care in the case of illness, accident or need for care. In order to promote and improve such planning, measures must be taken in Switzerland. Therefore, the Federal Council has mandated the FOPH, in collaboration with the SAMS, to set up a working group to lead the national process. More information is available in French and German.Further information
Young Talents in Clinical Research: 14 grants for young medical doctors
With the «Young Talents in Clinical Research» programme launched in 2017, the Gottfried and Julia Bangerter-Rhyner Foundation and the SAMS aim at encouraging young medical doctors to start out in clinical research. 14 grants have been awarded among the 61 proposals submitted within the 2020 call, which was extended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The YTCR programme focuses on assistant doctors who wish to be freed from clinical duty to gain a first research experience. The Bangerter Foundation makes ca. CHF 1 million available each year to this end until 2024. You can find the list of grantees and supported projects in the synopsis below (PDF). The 2021 call for proposal, with revised regulations, is already open. The submission deadline is 30 June 2021, details can be found on our website.
Synopsis of grantees (PDF)
A joint Code of Conduct for Scientific Integrity
The Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences understand it as their duty to promote scientific integrity in research and teaching and to contribute to good framework conditions. Together with swissuniversities, the Swiss National Science Foundation and Innosuisse, they are publishing the new Code of Conduct for Scientific Integrity.
The Code of Conduct is available in four languages (English, French, German, Italian). It describes a common understanding of scientific integrity and defines which responsibilities follow from this understanding. SAMS President Henri Bounameaux recommends: «Read, read again and above all apply it.» More information can be found on the Swiss Academies website.
Download the Code of Conduct (PDF)
Cochrane Library: Renewal of the national licence
With the support of swissuniversities, the SAMS has promoted the renewal of the national licence for the Cochrane Library until 2024. The Cochrane Library is available free of charge to professionals, but also to the Swiss population, enabling everyone to make informed health-related decisions thanks to reliable information.
The Cochrane network consists of around 12 000 people active in more than 130 countries. For over 25 years, they have been working together to produce systematic reviews without any commercial funding. The latter summarise research findings in the field of medical care and serve as a reliable basis for evidence-based medicine. The national licence is financed by the SAMS, the Federal Office of Public Health, the Swiss Medical Association as well as university libraries and hospitals. More information can be found on our website.Further information
Palliative Care: academic recognition for Steffen Eychmüller
Five years after his nomination at the newly created Chair in Palliative Care at the University of Bern, Prof. Eychmüller is appointed Chief Physician at the University Centre for Palliative Care at the Inselspital Bern and, at the same time, Extraordinarius at the University of Bern. The seed funding for the 2016 endowed professorship was provided jointly by the SAMS and Helsana to foster palliative care at the academic level.
The promotion is the result of Prof. Eychmüller's scientific activities in favour of the academic strengthening of palliative care at local, national and international level. In the field of research, Prof. Eychmüller is committed to the promotion of current topics such as Advance Care Planning and Community Palliative Care. He was also intensively involved in the SAMS funding programme «Research in Palliative Care» (2014 – 2018). The final report with goals, projects and results of the programme can be found on our website.
Smarter medicine: Top 5 List for general internal medicine in the outpatient setting
The association «smarter medicine – Choosing Wisely Switzerland», of which the SAMS is a member, aims to prevent unnecessary medical treatments. It promotes the development of Top 5 lists, for which medical societies determine interventions that should be avoided or only used under certain conditions. In April 2021, the Swiss Society of General Internal Medicine (SSGIM) published a second list for the outpatient setting.
A core concern of general internal medicine is the best possible care and treatment of increasingly multimorbid patients in GP practice and in hospital. As early as 2014, the predecessor of the SSGIM launched a campaign to improve quality and efficiency in the Swiss healthcare system and published a first Top 5 List in 2016. Now, the SSGIM follows up in the outpatient setting. The recently published recommendations can be downloaded below (in German). More information on the initiative and the Top 5 lists of other specialist societies can be found on the «smarter medicine» website (German or French).
Top 5 List for general internal medicine, in German (PDF)
Discover our project overview from A–Z at a glance
Serving as a think tank, the SAMS aims to encourage reflection on challenging issues in medicine and to help shape developments. An alphabetical list of keywords from A to Z on our website makes it easier to find the many topics covered.
In the newly structured menu you will find an overview of the topics we are currently working on or have worked on in recent years, an overview of the networks in which the SAMS participates and, lastly, information on the medicine and health-related activities of other members of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences. Take a look, ask questions or let us know if we can do things better.Visit the website
Young Talents in Clinical Research: Call 2021
With the «Young Talents in Clinical Research» programme, the Gottfried and Julia Bangerter-Rhyner Foundation and the SAMS aim at encouraging young medical doctors to start out in clinical research. For 2021, CHF 1 million is made available to finance «protected research time» and «project grants» for a consecutive research project. The submission deadline is 30 June 2021.
The YTCR programme, which comprises two funding instruments, «beginner grants» and «project grants», focuses on residents who wish to be freed from clinical duty to gain a first research experience. Details on the adapted participation criteria, submission procedure and evaluation can be found in the updated programme regulations, on our website and in the FAQ.
Download the regulations (PDF)
Discover the SAMS Annual Report 2020 online
For the SAMS too, 2020 was a year marked by the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it was more than that: we dealt with numerous topics ranging from A for Autonomy to S for Smarter Medicine, published various brochures, implemented funding programmes and awarded prizes. You can find all the details in our online annual report (in French or German).
For those who prefer browsing rather than clicking, you can download a PDF version and print it out. We hope you enjoy discovering or rediscovering the many highlights that reflect our commitment to science, medicine and society.Visit the website
Neurosciences: Call for the Théodore Ott Prize 2022
Every five years, the SAMS announces the Theodore Ott Prize for established researchers in neurosciences. Bequeathed by the Professor of Neurology from Lausanne Théodore Ott (1909 – 1991), the Prize is endowed with 50’000 francs and honours outstanding work in the field of basic neurological research. The submission deadline is 31 May 2021.
In accordance with the donor's will, the Prize is awarded primarily to Swiss researchers or research groups from Swiss universities. Applications can be submitted by the candidates or by the heads of their institute or academic institution. For detailed information about the application procedure, please visit the Ott Prize website.Visit the website
Swiss Personalized Health Network: changes in the Management Office
The Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN) was launched in 2017 to contribute to the development, implementation and validation of the research infrastructure necessary for health data interoperability and sharing in Switzerland. Having served for seven months as director ad interim of the Management Office, Myriam Tapernoux passes on the baton to Thomas Geiger.
Already in charge of the Science Department at the SAMS, Myriam Tapernoux added in August 2020 the ad interim direction of the SPHN Management Office to her tasks. On 1 March 2021, she is returning full time to her duties as head of the Science Department. Thomas Geiger was manager of «Personalized Health Basel» before joining the SAMS. Thanks to this experience, he is ideally prepared to take over the direction of the Management Office. More information about SPHN can be found on the website.Visit the website
Young Talents in Clinical Research: funding renewed for 2021 – 2024
The Gottfried and Julia Bangerter-Rhyner Foundation and the SAMS launched the Young Talents in Clinical Research (YTCR) funding programme in 2017 to encourage more young medical doctors to start out in clinical research. The Bangerter Foundation has renewed its generous support for a period of four years with a total of 4 million francs.
YTCR finances, with 1 million francs per year, protected time for research (beginner grants) and project grants for young clinicians who wish to take their first steps in research. Since 2017, the programme has established itself, is recognised and fills a gap as the only national competitive instrument to support starters in clinical research. The next call for proposals will be launched at the end of March 2021 with slightly adapted regulations. Further information on the programme can be found on our website.Link to the programme
Neurosciences: Robert Bing Prize 2020 for Johanna Joyce and Grégoire Courtine
The Robert Bing Prize 2020 goes to Lausanne: Johanna Joyce, professor at the University of Lausanne and member of the international Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, is distinguished for her pioneering work on the role of immune cells in the development of brain tumours. Grégoire Courtine, Professor at EPFL, the University of Lausanne and CHUV, is awarded the Prize for his highly innovative research on neurotechnology to restore walking ability after a spinal cord injury. Each prize is worth 30’000 francs.
Every two years, the SAMS bestows the Robert Bing Prize. In accordance with the donor’s will, the Prize is awarded to researchers who have done outstanding work to improve the recognition, treatment and cure of neurological diseases. Due to the corona virus situation, laureates were confirmed by the SAMS Senate at the end of 2020 only, and the announcement was postponed to 2021. The award ceremony will take place on 27 May 2021. Further information about the laureates and the Prize can be found in the media release published today and on our website.
Media release (PDF)
SPHN: Report from the National Steering Board 2016 – 2019
Personalized health has the potential to transform health research and the healthcare system towards more quality and efficiency. The Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN) initiative was launched in 2016 on behalf of the Confederation with the aim of developing a national research infrastructure for interoperable health data. The report of the National Steering Board 2016 – 2019 presents the progress of the initiative and the challenges to be met.
The report presents the many infrastructures, technologies and methods that SPHN and its partners have developed to enable research with large amounts of sensitive data in a responsible, ethical, secure and legally compliant manner. One of the most important achievements of the first phase of the initiative is the in-depth analysis of the systemic challenges and complexity of data-driven health research in the Swiss federalist system. On that basis, solutions were developed with the aim to establish a sustainable research ecosystem for personalized health. You can download the report below or order a free printed copy.
Download the report (PDF)
Science Communication: Call for Proposals
The Future of Science Communication Conference brings together European actors from research and practice of science communication. The conference will take place on 24-25 June 2021 in Berlin. It is co-organised by «Wissenschaft im Dialog» and ALLEA, the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities. The call for proposals is open until 28 February 2021.
Who can apply? The organizing committee explicitly encourages the submission of contributions by researchers as well as practitioners whose research and work is focused on science communication and the relationship between science, researchers and the public. The «Call for Proposals» (PDF) provides all the necessary information including the application form. More information regarding the conference can be found on the ALLEA website.
Call for Proposals (PDF)
Chances and risks of commercial DNA testing
As DNA analysis is becoming less and less expensive, genetic tests are becoming more and more accessible. However, their commercialization raises technical, legal and societal issues. At the end of 2020, TA-SWISS, the centre of excellence for Technology Assessment incorporated in the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences, published a study on this topic.
The researchers draw attention in particular to the blurred delimitation between so-called lifestyle genetic testing and medical tests, the abuse of parentage tests and the risks of using DNA phenotyping in criminal investigations. The study published by TA-SWISS is available as a report (German), a summary (English) or a short explanatory film. Download the summary below or visit the TA-SWISS website.
Download the summary (PDF)
New members in the bodies of the SAMS
At the beginning of the year, several changes are taking place in the different bodies of the SAMS. Prof. Paul Hoff (Zurich) becomes president of the Central Ethics Committee and ex officio member of the Executive Board. He succeeds Prof. Jürg Steiger (Basel) in both functions. In addition, the SAMS Senate elected seven new individual and honorary members by correspondence in November 2020.
A further change awaits the SAMS Executive Board from 1 February 2021. Dr. Jürg Schlup, ex officio member as President of the FMH, will hand over to his successor, Dr. Yvonne Gilli. The SAMS General Secretariat cordially welcomes the new members. Further details on the organisation of the Academy can be found in the "Portrait" menu.About SAMS