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Update 1.12.21: In view of the rising numbers of infections and hospitalizations resulting from COVID-19, the University of Bern is cancelling the Dies academicus, its foundation celebration, on Saturday, December 4. There are currently no changes for courses and exams. In accordance with federal and cantonal requirements, they can continue to be held in person for the time being. Moreover, employees of the University of Bern are strongly encouraged to work from home wherever possible and hold meetings virtually wherever reasonable or possible.
The University of Bern cancels Dies academicus 2021
In view of the rising number of infections and hospitalizations resulting from COVID-19, the University of Bern will cancel its foundation celebration, the Dies academicus, on Saturday, December 4. For the time being, courses and, in particular, examinations can continue to be held in person, in accordance with federal and cantonal requirements.
Developing Tools to Help Cancer Treatment
The 2021 Hans Sigrist Prize will be awarded to Professor Garry Nolan for his work in single cell analysis, which enables a better understanding of cancer development and helps to create individualized forms of therapy for patients.
Dangers of silent atrial fibrillation in diabetes
In a major study, a research group at Inselspital, Bern University Hospital and the University of Bern found that patients with diabetes were found to have significantly more frequent, silent atrial fibrillation. Because of the more frequent, asymptomatic atrial fibrillation and more severe concomitant diseases, the researchers raise the question of whether patients with diabetes should be systematically screened for atrial fibrillation.
Covid-19: Preventive measures for healthcare workers
A research team at Inselspital, the University of Bern and the University of Trieste (It) has investigated the effectiveness and economic efficiency of in-hospital preventive measures to protect healthcare workers. For this purpose, a mathematical model of SARS-CoV-2 transmission was developed, incorporating factors both inside and outside the hospital. Regular, broad-based, real-time PCR testing was found to be the most economical and effective method for screening and thereby maintaining hospital infrastructure.
Discovering exoplanets using artificial intelligence
By implementing artificial intelligence techniques similar to those used in autonomous cars, a team from the UNIGE and the UniBE, in partnership with the company Disaitek, has discovered a new method for detecting exoplanets.
When algorithms get creative
Uncovering the mechanisms of learning via synaptic plasticity is a critical step towards understanding how our brains function and building truly intelligent, adaptive machines. Researchers from the University of Bern propose a new approach in which algorithms mimic biological evolution and learn efficiently through creative evolution.
«Networking is essential for young scientists»
Aline Bornet is writing her PhD thesis in chemistry as part of a project that aims to enable sustainable energy storage in the future. In the interview, she talks about how she found a one-month stay this summer at one of the partner institutions in Denmark scientifically and personally enriching.
Symposium: 50 years of the ISPM
The Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine of the University of Bern (ISPM) celebrates 50 years of cutting-edge research for Public Health with a symposium. The event will take place in the Langhans auditorium on the Insel Campus and on Zoom.
New system developed for rapid SARS-CoV-2 variant characterization and facilitated drug development
Researchers led by the Nobel Laureate Charles Rice of The Rockefeller University and Volker Thiel of the University of Bern and Institute of Virology and Immunology have developed a non-contagious model of SARS-CoV-2 that makes it easier, faster and safer to study the virus and new variants. In addition, the realistic model can be used to better test drugs.
Mental patients suffer more from climate change
A new study by the Oeschger Center for Climate Research (OCCR) draws attention to a previously neglected group that suffers particularly from climate change: psychiatric patients. Three OCCR researchers explain why mentally ill people are particularly sensitive.
The planet does not fall far from the star
A compositional link between planets and their respective host star has long been assumed in astronomy. For the first time now, a team of scientists, with the participation of researchers of the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) PlanetS from the University of Bern and the University of Zürich, deliver empirical evidence to support the assumption – and partly contradict it at the same time.
swissuniversities warns of a medicine and research ban
The adoption of the initiative for a ban on animal and human experimentation would prevent biomedical research and new medical treatments in particular. The high quality of healthcare and responsible research in Switzerland to the benefit of the population and the environment are at stake.
Online-Event "New frontiers of digital inequality"
The series "Critical Perspectives on Digitalization" of the Vice Rectorate Quality takes a critical look at digitalization. On Monday, October 18, an online event of the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) on the topic of digital inequality will take place in this context from 2:00 to 6:00 pm. A keynote lecture by Dr. Jamie Woodcock (Open University London) and a case study from a CDE project will provide insight into ongoing research. In a panel discussion solutions for minimizing digital inequalities will be discussed.
“We must not displace patients from the center or care”
Claudio Bassetti, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Bern, talks in an interview about the opportunities and challenges of digitalized medicine - and what lessons can be learned from the Corona pandemic for the medicine of the future.
"We Are Stardust" – Presentation by Kathrin Altwegg
Kathrin Altwegg is a professor emerita in space research and planetology at the University of Bern. Her research interests are focused on cometary science using mass spectrometry. In a presentation at the sitem-insel School, she provides a new universal perspective to the processes on Earth and how relative it all is. An astronomical contribution with a twinkle in the eye for the assessment of the terresterial situation. Tuesday, 12 October 2021 from 16:00 until 18:00 at the Felix Frey Auditorium, Freiburgstrasse 3, Bern. Zoom participation is possible.
Simultaneous optical and electrical tracking of heart activity
It is still elusive to what extent interactions between different cell types of the heart influence the normal heart rhythm and possibly trigger life-threatening arrhythmias. A new measurement method developed at the University of Bern combines for the first time optical and electrical recording of cardiac ventricular activation which, in conjunction with optogenetics, will permit finding comprehensive answers to these questions.
Decrease in mortality from rare side effect
A large-scale international study co-led by Inselspital and the University of Bern investigated the very rare adverse cerebral venous occlusion (sinus venous thrombosis) after administration of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Janssen/Johnson&Johnson vaccines. Neither vaccine has been used in Switzerland to date. The mortality rate due to this complication decreased from 61% to 42% after the mechanism of its onset was clarified in spring 2021.
“Land deals are a risk factor for pandemics”
Large-scale agricultural land deals continue to destroy rainforests and natural habitats. So concludes the latest analytical report of the Land Matrix Initiative, an independent network that documents and monitors around the globe. They warn of a potential post-Covid boom – and an increasing risk of new pandemics. Uniaktuell talked to Markus Giger, Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) of the University of Bern, one of the main authors of the report.
“Welcome back” to the University of Bern
The University of Bern has also coped well with the second year of coronavirus and is welcoming students back in full in-person mode at the start of the semester. The certificate requirement will be extended to all courses at bachelor’s and master’s level from September 20, 2021. There are currently around 18,400 students enrolled, which represents a slight decrease compared to the previous year. New challenges arise from the construction situation of university buildings and Switzerland’s exclusion from the Horizon Europe research program.
The first farmers of Europe
A research team from the University of Bern has managed to precisely date pile dwellings on the banks of Lake Ohrid in the south-western Balkans for the first time: they came into being in the middle of the 5th millennium BC. The region around the oldest lake in Europe played a key role in the proliferation of agriculture.
New Mathematical Solutions to An Old Problem in Astronomy
The Bernese theoretical astrophysicist Kevin Heng has achieved a rare feat: On paper, he has derived novel solutions to an old mathematical problem needed to calculate light reflections from planets and moons. Now, data can be interpreted in a simple way to understand planetary atmospheres, for example. The new formulae will likely be incorporated into future textbooks.
The astrophysicist who achieved a rare feat
As a child, Kevin Heng wanted to become an astronaut. Today, he is the director of the Center for Space and Habitability (CSH) and has recently discovered new mathematical solutions that help solve a century-old problem in astronomy. In this interview, the astrophysicist talks about his career and what motivates him.
Creation of a detailed "catalogue" of degradation products in cells
Cells have their own quality control to prevent the production and accumulation of harmful proteins. This quality control is essential for correct embryonic development in all mammals and plays an important role in tumors and genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis. A group of researchers from the University of Bern and the University of Basel have now made visible and cataloged for the first time, "blueprints" that give rise to defective proteins and are normally recognized and rapidly degraded in cells. This leads to a better understanding of this degradation mechanism and helps in the development of new therapeutic approaches.
In-person courses will continue
At the University of Bern, the upcoming fall semester will continue to be planned in in-person mode. There is no longer a restriction on the number of people for events at universities and the room capacities can be fully utilized. Masks are mandatory in indoor spaces. The University of Bern recommends that all students and employees be vaccinated, but no certificates are required.
Genetic enigma solved: Inheritance of coat color patterns in dogs
An international team of researchers including scientists from the Institute of Genetics of the University of Bern has unraveled the enigma of inheritance of coat color patterns in dogs. The researchers discovered that a genetic variant responsible for a very light coat in dogs and wolves originated more than two million years ago in a now extinct relative of the modern wolf.
How micro-circuits in the brain regulate fear
The brain mechanisms underlying the suppression of fear responses have attracted a lot of attention as they are relevant for therapy of human anxiety disorders. Despite our broad understanding of the different brain regions activated during the experience of fear, how fear responses can be suppressed remains largely elusive. Researchers at the University of Bern and the Friedrich Miescher Institute in Basel have now discovered that the activation of identified central amygdala neurons can suppress fear responses.
For a rapid association of Switzerland to Horizon Europe
swissuniversities asks the Federal Council and the Parliament to stabilise relations with the European Union as soon as possible so that Switzerland can be quickly associated with Horizon Europe. This is important for the academic world, but also for companies and, beyond that, for the maintenance of the quality of life enjoyed by the Swiss population, in terms of prosperity, health, education and security.
AI improves speech understanding of hearing aid users
In noisy environments it is difficult for hearing aid users or people with a hearing implant to understand their conversational partner because current audio processors still have difficulty focusing precisely enough on specific sound sources. In a feasibility study, researchers from the Hearing Research Laboratory at the University of Bern and the Inselspital are now suggesting that artificial intelligence could solve this problem.
Sinergia grants for three University of Bern researchers
Three researchers at the University of Bern are receiving Sinergia grants from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) for their research projects. The projects will be supported by the SNSF with funds totaling around CHF 7.3 million over three to four years.
Unique exoplanet photobombs CHEOPS study of nearby star system
While studying two exoplanets in a bright nearby star system, the CHEOPS satellite has unexpectedly spotted the system’s third known planet crossing the face of the star. This transit reveals exciting details about a rare planet “with no known equivalent”, as the scientific team led by the Universities of Geneva and Bern, and members of the National Center of Competence in Research PlanetS, point out.
Scientists detect signatures of life remotely
It could be a milestone on the path to detecting life on other planets: Scientists under the leadership of the University of Bern and of the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) PlanetS detect a key molecular property of all living organisms from a helicopter flying several kilometers above ground. The measurement technology could also open up opportunities for remote sensing of the Earth.
"We should not underestimate how important travel can be"
Emma Hodcroft of the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, using the Nextstrain sequencing platform she co-developed, has identified a new coronavirus variant (EU1) that spread rapidly in Europe last summer. Travel during summertime played an important role for the rise of EU1. Summer vacations are coming soon: How can we travel without too much risk?
Plastic waste in the sea mainly drifts near the coast
A study conducted at the Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Bern provides new insights into the pollution of the world's oceans with plastic waste. The modelling shows that most of the plastic does not end up in the open ocean, but beaches or drifts in the water near the coast.
Vice-Rector for Research Daniel Candinas resigns
After more than five years in the University Executive Board, Daniel Candinas will step down as Vice-Rector for Research of the University of Bern at the end of 2021. He will now devote more time to his duties as head of a newly created medical department at the Inselspital, University Hospital Bern. The University of Bern would like to thank Daniel Candinas for his many years of dedicated service as the Vice-Rector for Research.
swissuniversities calls for the continuation of talks on the institutional framework agreement with the EU
The institutional framework agreement between Switzerland and the EU is of central importance for Switzerland as a centre of research, education and innovation. The EU has clearly signalled that it considers progress towards the conclusion of a Framework Agreement to be a prerequisite for Switzerland's participation in the research and education programmes. The swissuniversities Board calls on the Federal Council to avoid by all means the exclusion of Swiss researchers and students from these research and education programmes and to put relations with the EU on a permanent footing.
Predicting success in therapy with individualized cancer models
Scientists at Urology Research Laboratory of the Department for BioMedical Research (DBMR), University of Bern and Urology Department of the Inselspital of Bern, have established organoid culture models from prostate tumor biopsies. These are small clusters of cells which can be used to test the efficacy of various drugs. In this way, it is possible to test which treatment will most likely benefit individual patients.
What shapes our health very early on
Examining the communication between mother and fetus and showing the influence it has on the lives of mothers and children long after birth, Amanda Sferruzzi-Perri was awarded the 100,000 CHF Hans Sigrist Prize from the Hans Sigrist Foundation at the University of Bern.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.