Promotion of Research Uni Internal Grants

Interfaculty Research Cooperations (IRC)

Media release: University of Bern enhances research across disciplines

Research at the University of Bern is being intensified: Networking projects from different subject areas are being supported with three new Interfaculty Research Cooperations IRC. The projects deal with the health of environment, animals and humans, with religious conflicts and with sleep. More...

The Vice-Rectorate Research opened the call for three Interfaculty Research Cooperations IRC in May 2016. In August 2017 the Executive Board of the University of Bern definitively approved a first project. On 14th of September 2017 the Board informed about its decision during its annual media conference.

New Interfaculty Research Cooperations

The University of Bern strikes a new path in research funding: With the Interfaculty Research Cooperations IRC it is launching joint projects, each of which involves 8 to 12 research groups and which are being specifically funded. "With this instrument, we are strengthening the scientific quality and currentness of research in Bern and enhancing our profile as a research-intensive university", explained Christian Leumann, Rector of the University of Bern. The IRC are based on the subject focuses of the National Centres of Competence in Research (NCCR or NFS, Nationale Forschungsschwerpunkte) of the Swiss National Science Foundation. They are oriented towards the thematic priorities of the University of Bern, as set out in the Strategy 2021. At least two faculties must be involved in each IRC . Each IRC is funded by the University of Bern for four years with 1.5 million francs per year. One project has already been approved, and two more have been identified. "If we enter new areas of research, it is entirely conceivable that this will yield applications for further National Centres of Competence in Research and thus new strategic research centres", explained Leumann.

"One Health": From the soil to plants and ruminants to humans

Vice-Rector for Research Daniel Candinas presented the already approved Interfaculty Research Cooperations. It deals with "One Health", an increasingly important area of research, in which connections between the health of the environment, animals and humans are investigated. The project unites 10 research groups with expertise in microbiology, environmental sciences, plant and animal health, human medicine and bioinformatics, from three faculties: Science, Medicine and Vetsuisse. The Interfaculty Research Cooperation is investigating in particular the influence of environmental changes on food chain systems – from soil to plants to ruminants and finally mice as a model organism for human health. For example, it is possible for the first time to carry out comparative analyses of how microbial communities react at various interfaces of the food chain to factors such as temperature, heavy metals and vegetable secondary materials, and what influence these changes have on the health of the individual links of the food chain and the whole system. By combining their specialist expertise the research groups can, among other things, observe health-related cascade effects within the food chain, which would otherwise not be possible for them. "This is an exciting new approach within the One Health concept. We expect that it will be possible to transfer the gained knowledge to other systems and to contribute to the understanding and remedying of negative environmental influences in global food chains", said Candinas.

(Source: media release, 14th of September 2017)

Call Interfaculty Research Cooperations (IRC)

The Vice-Rectorate Research calls for proposals for three Interfaculty Research Cooperations (IRC). IRCs are interfaculty projects that include 8-12 research groups. They draw on the National Centres of Competence in Research (NCCRs) of the Swiss National Science Foundation, are thematically open but are based on the focal aspects of research of the University of Bern as defined in the Strategy 2021 (Sustainability, Health and medicine, Matter and the universe, Intercultural knowledge, and Politics and administration, p. 18f.).

A maximum funding of 1.5 million Swiss francs per year per IRC is provided and the duration is limited to four years.

More detailed information can be found in the regulations (german only, see below).

The deadline for submission of applications is 30 November 2016.

Researchers who intend to submit an application for an IRC are asked to send a letter of intent containing a short description of the research area and the names of the participating project partners before 31 August 2016 to the Vice-Rectorate Research (

The applications need to be written in English. Please use the forms provided below (Word document and Excel sheet for budget). The entire application has to be sent by e-mail to the Vice-Rectorate Research as one single document. The budget table has to be submitted as an Excel file as well (


  • 31 August 2016: letter of intent with short information on project and participating partners
  • 31 November 2016: submission

Please note the following points:

  • IRC management = director and deputy director. They have to be members of two different faculties of the University of Bern (regulations Art. 3.2). Inselspital and University Psychiatric Services Bern (UPD) are counted as members of the Faculty of Medicine.
  • The management and the leaders of the individual projects have to be members of at least two faculties of the University of Bern (concerning Inselspital and UPD see above).
  • The management and the leaders of the individual projects should have an employment contract for the entire duration of the IRC at the University of Bern or at the Inselspital/UPD (Art. 3.1). Directors/deputy directors or project leaders cannot fund their own position with the IRC budget.
  • With respect to the promotion of early career researchers and the advancement of women, please check the introduction of the IRC regulations.
  • The usual infrastructure (workspace, computers, laboratory) has to be provided and financed by the participating institutes and clinics.
  • Letters of support from participating institutes or clinics must be provided.