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Update 23.11.2020: The coronavirus containment measures applicable in the canton of Bern will remain in force until 7 December 2020. This was decided by the Cantonal Government due to the epidemiological situation and the persistently high number of cases. The measures taken by the University of Bern will remain in force accordingly: All in-person teaching will be replaced by distance learning. Masks are compulsory on the entire campus of the University of Bern. Events with participation by external people are cancelled. Working from home ist still strongly recommended.
Swiss Alps continue to rise
An international team of geologists, headed by members of the University of Bern, has shown for the first time that the Swiss Alps are being lifted faster than they are being lowered through erosion – and are thus growing even higher. To do this, the researchers quantified the erosion of the Alps with the help of isotopes measured in the sand of more than 350 rivers throughout the European Alps. These isotopes are formed by cosmic rays and bear information on the Earth’s surface erosion.
What exoplanets have to do with the coronavirus
Astrophysicist Kevin Heng and epidemiologist Christian Althaus have just published a joint study. In an interview with "uniaktuell", the two researchers explain what the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19 has to do with exoplanetary chemistry and what they hope to gain from INPUT, a newly founded interfaculty platform.
How Particulate Matter injures airways and promotes exacerbation of pulmonary diseases
An international study led by the University of Bern has investigated the effects of ambient Particulate Matter (PM) from human and natural sources on human lung cells. Thereby, the researchers found damage to the cellular defense system of the lungs, which furthers the aggravation of pre-existing lung diseases like asthma or Cystic Fibrosis. Man-made PM components, among them from wood-burning fires and road traffic are mainly responsible for the investigated health damaging effects.
CHEOPS had to avoid space debris
Space debris increasingly threatens rockets, the international space station and satellites. At the beginning of October, the CHEOPS space telescope had to make an evasive manoeuvre due to a piece of Chinese space debris.
Research Award for project on Prostate cancer
This year's Johanna Dürmüller-Bol DBMR Research Award of the Department for BioMedical Research (DBMR) of the University of Bern goes to Joanna Triscott. It will be awarded today on the “Day of BioMedical Research”. Joanna Triscott receives the award, which is endowed with CHF 30,000, for her research on metabolic vulnerabilities in advanced prostate cancer.
Significant vulnerability in prostate cancer detected
Researchers at the University of Bern led an international team that has identified a novel vulnerability in advanced prostate cancer that is no longer responding to hormonal therapy. These findings could lead to the development of new treatment approaches for men suffering from the most aggressive form of prostate cancer.
Successful network research is extended
Sleep, religious conflicts and the health of the environment, plants, humans and animals: these are the topics of the three Interfaculty Research Cooperations at the University of Bern. The innovative network projects, which started in 2018, were very successful and will therefore be extended for two years.
Bern researchers identify sleep as possible target to improve recovery after ischemic stroke
Until today neurorehabilitation is the only approach that promotes recovery after stroke. Researchers at the Neurology Department of the University of Bern and Inselspital have provided first evidence that sleep could be targeted to improve post-stroke recovery.
Land management in forest and grasslands: how much can we intensify?
High land-use intensity reduces the beneficial effects of biodiversity on ecosystem services. This is the main result of a study conducted by an international team with participation of the University of Bern. The study assessed, for the first time, the effects of land management on the links between biodiversity, ecosystem functions and ecosystem services. It identified thresholds of management intensity, where these relationships change dramatically, which species groups were most important in driving services, and the ecosystem services that are at risk when management is intensified.
Coronavirus - Video from Rector Leumann
Rector Leumann appeals to everyone to take responsibility and follow the measures that have been taken to contain the pandemic.
How is gender diversity achieved in working life?
A new European research project led by the University of Bern is investigating the factors influencing the educational and professional careers of women and men, including members of gender and sexual minorities. "G-VERSITY" will receive EUR 4.1 million from the EU "Horizon 2020" funding program. The project is being coordinated by Prof. Sabine Sczesny from the Institute of Psychology.
Two planets around a red dwarf
The "SAINT-EX" Observatory, led by scientists from the National Centre of Competence in Research NCCR PlanetS of the University of Bern and the University of Geneva, has detected two exoplanets orbiting the star TOI-1266. The Mexico-based telescope thus demonstrates its high precision and takes an important step in the quest of finding potentially habitable worlds.
Venus flyby on the way to Mercury
The space probe BepiColombo, which is on its way to Mercury, will fly past Venus on October 15, 2020 – one of the deceleration maneuvers to bring the probe into orbit in front of Mercury. BepiColombo has instruments on board which were designed and built at the Physics Institute of the University of Bern. Data is now being collected on Venus on the way to Mercury using other instruments that the Bern researchers are involved in.
Vaporised metal in the air of an exoplanet
An international team of researchers led by the National Centre of Competence in Research PlanetS of the University of Bern and the University of Geneva studied the atmosphere of the ultra-hot exoplanet WASP-121b. In it, they found a number of gaseous metals. The results are a next step in the search for potentially habitable worlds.
Marine heatwaves are human made
Heatwaves in the world’s oceans have become over 20 times more frequent due to human influence. This is what researchers from the Oeschger Centre for Climate Research at the University of Bern are now able to prove. Marine heatwaves destroy ecosystems and damage fisheries.
Most people infected with SARS-CoV-2 develop symptoms
While some people who contract SARS-CoV-2 infections never experience any symptoms, there remains disagreement about what proportion of total infections these cases comprise. A study by researchers of the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine of the University of Bern suggests that true asymptomatic cases of SARS-CoV-2 comprise a minority of infections.
Comet Chury's ultraviolet aurora
On Earth, auroras, also called northern lights, have always fascinated people. An international consortium involving the University of Bern has now discovered such auroras in the ultraviolet wavelength range at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Chury for short. This phenomenon was detected thanks to the analysis of data from the European Space Agency ESA's Rosetta mission.
Increasing the effectiveness of immunotherapy against skin cancer
Researchers at the University of Bern have discovered a mechanism in the body’s own immune system which is responsible for the maturation and activation of immune cells. In the fight against skin cancer, the results have the potential to help immunotherapies succeed, even in patients for whom they have so far been ineffective.
Raids and bloody rituals among ancient steppe nomads
Traces of violence on 1700 year old skeletons allow researchers to reconstruct warfare and sacrifices of nomads in Siberia. An international and interdisciplinary team of anthropologists, archaeologists and specialists in forensic sciences led by Marco Milella from the University of Bern performed a detailed and revealing analysis of the traumas found on the skeletal remains.
Mechanism discovered how the coronavirus hijacks the cell
Researchers at the University of Bern and ETH Zurich have discovered a mechanism by which the corona virus manipulates human cells to ensure its own replication. This knowledge will help to develop drugs and vaccines against the corona virus.
Coronavirus leads to a push towards digitalization and a raised media profile
Even in the emergency situation between March and June 2020, the teaching activities at the University of Bern continued on a very good basis – and numerous research successes surrounding Sars-CoV-2 gave it a pleasingly high and positive media presence. The teaching at the University was digitalized within a very short period of time. However, the new semester is getting underway again with as much classroom teaching as possible. 19,000 students are now enrolled.
Four ERC Starting Grants for researchers from Bern
Four researchers from the University of Bern will receive the coveted Starting Grants from the European Research Council (ERC). Plant researcher Christelle Robert wants to use the grant to understand the interactions between plants and the natural enemies of pests, while economist Christoph Oberlack is investigating new ways of establishing environmental justice. Physiopathologist Ziad Al Nabhani is investigating the influence of early childhood nutrition on the immune system, and chemist Tomás Solomek is exploring new ways to better understand and use a material of the future.
The Limitation Initiative is harmful to education, research and innovation
The Swiss universities and organisations that support the promotion of research and innovation are opposed to the popular initiative “For moderate immigration”. The initiative jeopardises some of the basic parameters that favour Switzerland’s role as a centre for science and enterprise. Adopting the initiative would halt the free movement of persons and thus bring the research agreement with the EU to an end. In order to deliver outstanding performance, Switzerland’s education, research and innovation (ERI) sector relies on the free movement of persons and close cooperation with other countries.
Explosive diversification explained by network analysis
Using genomic analyses of 100 cichlid species, scientists from Eawag and the University Bern, together with co-workers in Australia, the UK, Tanzania, Uganda and the US, have investigated the striking variation observed in cichlid fish speciation rates. Their findings show that exchanges of genetic variants between existing species dramatically accelerate the development of new species – given favourable ecological conditions.
Discovery of new genes that influence the success of cancer treatment
One of the great mysteries of cancer research is why certain patients respond better to radiation therapy than others. Researchers at the University of Bern have now discovered which genes play an important role in this. This results in new findings for cancer treatment.
Fuel cells for hydrogen vehicles are becoming longer lasting
An international research team led by the University of Bern has succeeded in developing an electrocatalyst for hydrogen fuel cells which, in contrast to the catalysts commonly used today, does not require a carbon carrier and is therefore much more stable. The new process is industrially applicable and can be used to further optimize fuel cell powered vehicles without CO₂ emissions.
A duo in search of life in space
Andreas Riedo and Niels Ligterink are searching for life in space. A portrait of two space explorers who are already eagerly awaiting how mankind will react to this, should their instrument ORIGIN find extraterrestrial life one day.
“Pressure for sustainable universities is increasing”
Universities that want to stay competitive in the future must integrate sustainability values, says Anne Zimmermann, researcher at the University of Bern and President of the COPERNICUS Alliance, a network of universities committed to transformational learning for sustainable development. How this transformation can be anchored and qualitatively secured at universities will be discussed at the Higher Education Summit, held virtually from 31 August to 2 September 2020 and co-organized by the University of Bern.
REM sleep tunes eating behaviour
Despite our broad understanding of the different brain regions activated during rapid-eye-movement sleep, little is known about what this activity serves for. Researchers at the University of Bern and the Inselspital have now discovered that the activation of neurons in the hypothalamus during REM sleep regulates eating behaviour: suppressing this activity in mice decreases appetite.
Gut microbes shape our antibodies before we are infected by pathogens
Colonization with intestinal microbes is known to shape many body systems, especially the white blood cells that produce antibodies. Because the microbiota is so complex, containing hundreds of different bacterial species, it is not known how the presence of microbes in the intestine shaped the antibodies that are present even before we are challenged by an infection. Researchers at the Department for BioMedical Research (DBMR) of the University of Bern and the Inselspital, University Hospital Bern, have now shown how these beneficial microbes reprogram the repertoire of white blood B cells that produce antibodies and how this helps counter infections.
Rapid test for the determination of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2
A Swiss-German team presents a test that determines the amount of neutralising antibodies within a short period of time. The test was developed at the Institute of Virology and Immunology (IVI) of the University of Bern and the Swiss Federal Office for Food Safety and Animal Health, and evaluated in cooperation with colleagues from the Ruhr-University Bochum using serum samples from COVID-19 patients.
Immunoprotein impairs Sars-Cov-2
An international team with researchers of the Institute of Virology and Immunology (IVI) of the University of Bern and the Swiss Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) showed that an endogenous protein prevents the virus from fusing with host cells. This raises hopes for new therapeutic approaches.
Ethical recommendations for triage of COVID-19 patients
An international expert group led by Mathias Wirth, Professor of Systematic Theology and Ethics at the University of Bern, has developed recommendations for avoiding triage of COVID-19 patients in extreme situations. The recommendations should support medical personnel in difficult decisions during a second wave of the infection and ensure better patient care.
Age-related impairments reversed in animal model
Frailty and immune decline are two main features of old age. Researchers from the University of Bern and the University Hospital Bern now demonstrate in an animal model that these two age-related impairments can be halted and even partially reversed using a novel cell-based therapeutic approach.
The planetary scientist has one great wish
Christoph Mordasini deals with the formation and evolution of planets inside and outside our solar system. In an interview he explains why the University of Bern has been at the forefront of space research since an experiment on the moon. And he reveals the question to which he would very much like to have an answer.
First exposed planetary core discovered
Researchers led by the University of Warwick have discovered the first exposed core of an exoplanet, which provides an unprecedented glimpse inside the interior of a planet. Christoph Mordasini from the University of Bern is leading the theoretical interpretation of this discovery.
swissuniversities and Springer Nature sign a new Open Access agreement
swissuniversities has adopted a new transformative Open Access agreement with Springer Nature. This agreement provides Swiss researchers with access to SpringerLink with over 2’000 Hybrid journals and enables authors affiliated with the Swiss academic and research institutions to publish their accepted research papers Open Access, making this primary research immediately and freely accessible from the point of publication.
Push for non-animal methods
No less than three research groups at the University of Bern receive funding from the Swiss 3R Competence Centre (3RCC) for innovative projects that aim to replace animal experiments. In order to study cancer, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and drug transfer between mother and fetus, human patient cells are cultivated in the laboratory.
Alarming long-term effects of insecticides weaken ant colonies
This week, scientists of the Institute of Bee Health of the University of Bern have published an article in the peer-reviewed journal Communications Biology, which shows how even low doses of neonicotinoid insecticides, as they may realistically occur in contaminated soils, adversely affect the development of black garden ants (Lasius niger). This study highlights the need to overthink current deployment and management of chemical pest control for more sustainable agriculture.
Arctic Ocean acidification worse than previously expected
The Arctic Ocean will take up more CO2 over the 21st century than predicted by most climate models. This additional CO2 causes a distinctly stronger ocean acidification. These results were published in a study by climate scientists from the University of Bern and École normale supérieure in Paris. Ocean acidification threatens the life of calcifying organisms – such as mussels and "sea butterflies" – and can have serious consequences for the entire food chain.
Deadly bacterial infection in pigs deciphered
New-born piglets often die painfully from infection with an intestinal bacterium. A team of researchers from 3 faculties at the University of Bern has now discovered how the bacterium causes fatal intestinal bleeding. They have thus made a breakthrough in veterinary research. Promising prospects for vaccinations and medications for use in humans too have now opened up.
Designing animal studies to improve research reproducibility and reduce animal use
At the invitation of the University of Bern, international experts worked out new recommendations for the design of animal studies. They encourage a paradigm shift to improve the reproducibility of scientific results and reduce animal numbers.
Even natural products can be harmful for the unborn child
Plant products ingested by pregnant women through their diet are broken down by the intestinal microbiota into chemical substances, some of which can cross the placental barrier and reach the fetus. These foreign substances can harm the unborn child, even if they are of "natural origin". Researchers at the Department for BioMedical Research (DBMR) at the University of Bern and Inselspital, University Hospital Bern, therefore warn against underestimating the effects of such substances.
Dynamic measures against the coronavirus examined
An alternating cycle of suppression interventions and relaxation could offer a pragmatic strategy - particularly for developing countries - to prevent health systems from being overloaded while reducing the economical and societal burden. This is illustrated in an international study with significant participation by the Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM) at the University of Bern.
2019 digital annual report: Knowledge that shapes the future
The University of Bern’s 2019 annual report has now been published in digital format for the first time. The past year was shaped by many major accomplishments such as the launch of the CHEOPS mission, the founding of the Wyss Academy for Nature and the grand opening of the sitem-insel translational center. More than 18,500 students attended the University of Bern for the first time.
Geography of childhood cancer in Switzerland studied
A research group under the direction of the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine of the University Bern has investigated the spatial distribution of childhood cancer risks in Switzerland for the period 1985-2015. The group found evidence of increased risks in certain areas, particularly for brain tumors. The researchers demand that the search for the causes of brain tumors in children be intensified.
CHEOPS space telescope ready for scientific operation
CHEOPS has reached its next milestone: Following extensive tests in Earth's orbit, some of which the mission team was forced to carry out from home due to the coronavirus crisis, the space telescope has been declared ready for science. CHEOPS stands for “CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite”, and has the purpose of investigating known exoplanets to determine, among other things, whether they have conditions that are hospitable to life.
Six Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellows are coming to the University of Bern
The University of Bern is welcoming six Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellows this year. The "Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships", awarded annually by the European Commission, give experienced researchers the opportunity to enrich their scientific careers with a stay abroad.
A new approach to improve biological control agents of agricultural pests
In a new study, researchers from the University of Bern developed an experimental approach that may be used to improve a wide range of organisms that rely on microbial symbionts to control insect pests. This approach opens up a new avenue for the improvement of biological control strategies towards a more sustainable, pesticide-free agriculture.
How wallflowers evolved a complementary pair of plant defenses
A new study led by Tobias Züst from the Institute of Plant Sciences of the University of Bern shows that a pair of complementary chemical defenses evolved independently in wallflowers, shaped by co-evolution with local insects.
Questioning theory can be worth it
Where few thought to look, the NCCR PlanetS co-funded telescope "SAINT-EX" is searching for new worlds. After a year of operation, the project has brought some exciting first results.
Puzzle about nitrogen solved thanks to cometary analogues
One of the basic building blocks of life is nitrogen. An international consortium was able to detect ammonium salt containing nitrogen on the cometary surface of Chury thanks to a method using analogues for comet material. The method on which the study on the detection of ammonium salt is based was developed at the University of Bern.
Bern and Fribourg researchers identify neurons responsible for rapid eye movements (REM) during sleep
Why do we move our eyes fast in the paradoxical sleep - in that sleep phase, in which most dreams take place? The secret is not yet fully aired, but we are on his track: A team at the University of Bern, in collaboration with the University of Fribourg, has identified the nerve cells behind this curious phenomenon.
Dr. Josef Steiner Cancer Research Award 2019 goes to a bioinformatician
The Dr. Josef Steiner Cancer Research Award for 2019, endowed with €900,000 and originally referred to as the "Nobel Prize for Cancer Research", is going to Prof. Serena Nik-Zainal of the University of Cambridge. Thanks to her research, mutations in cancerous tumors can be analyzed using new bioinformatic methods, which makes new targeted therapy approaches possible. The prize is being awarded today at the University of Bern.
The path of breast-to-brain cancer metastasis
Scientists at EPFL’s Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research and University of Bern have discovered a signaling pathway that breast tumors exploit to metastasize to the brain. The work is published in Nature.
CAScination wins Swiss Medtech Award
CAScination wins the Swiss Medtech Award 2019 worth 50’000 Swiss francs for its computer-based surgical planning and robotic surgery platform. This technology allows for minimally invasive surgery to restore hearing with a cochlear implant. CAScination was founded in 2009 as a spin-off from the ARTORG Center of the University of Bern.