This is where you can read the current media releases about research of the University of Bern. Not all releases are available in English. You can see all German releases by clicking on the link below. Would you like to receive media releases on a regular basis? You can subscribe in the navigation panel to the left.
The 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.
Bernese Researchers on Highly Cited Researchers 2020 List
Researchers at the University of Bern are among the most cited scientists in the world. The annual list of Highly Cited Researchers includes researchers whose work ranks in the top 1% of cited scientific publications in their respective fields. In 2020, researchers from Bern from various fields such as medicine, epidemiology, biology, environment/ ecology or Cross-Field have been recognized on the list.
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.
Bern Center for Artificial Intelligence in Medicine
The University of Bern and the Inselspital, Bern University Hospital, are founding a “Center for Artificial Intelligence in Medicine” (CAIM) that combines cutting-edge research, engineering and digitalization. Using artificial intelligence it will develop new medical technologies to enable tailor-made and efficient patient care. Partners of the new center are sitem-insel, the Swiss Institute for Translational and Entrepreneurial Medicine, and the University Psychiatry Services (UPD).
10 million euros for an optogenetic revolution
An interdisciplinary research project of the University of Bern, the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), the Humboldt Universität of Berlin (D) and the University of Manchester (UK) will be funded with 10 million euros by the European Research Council (ERC). Over the next six years, the SOL project intends to make cell activities in the entire body controllable by means of light pulses, thus opening new avenues of research opportunities and novel forms of therapy.
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.
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.
First study with CHEOPS data describes one of the most extreme planets in the universe
CHEOPS keeps its promise: Observations with the space telescope reveal details of the exoplanet WASP-189b – one of the most extreme planets known. CHEOPS is a joint mission by the European Space Agency (ESA) and Switzerland, under the aegis of the University of Bern in collaboration with the University of Geneva.
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.
Covid-19 research receives 8.4 million francs in national funding
The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) supports fifteen Bernese Covid-19 research projects totalling 8.4 million Swiss francs. These should contribute in helping to develop solutions to combat the pandemic in Switzerland. The projects deal with topics ranging from the effects of Covid-19 on the cardiovascular system to the use of artificial intelligence in the treatment of Covid-19 patients in hospital.
World Trade Forum 2020: «The Future of Trade Policy and External Cooperation: is Soft Power Passé?»
The World Trade Forum will take place on 22 and 23 September 2020. The theme of this year's forum is «The Future of Trade Policy and External Cooperation: is Soft Power Passé?». The Forum – which will take place online via Zoom this year – is organized by the World Trade Institute (WTI), University of Bern, and the European University Institute (EUI). The aim of the conference is to bring together leading trade experts from practice, science, administration, NGO’s, international organizations and the private sector.
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.
Nationwide decline of threatened plant species in Switzerland
The Swiss Flora is one of the richest and most diverse in Europe. However, more than 700 plant species are considered to be threatened. In a nationwide project over 400 volunteer botanists revisited known populations of all threatened and rare plant species in Switzerland and recorded their presence or absence. Researchers from the University of Bern and the National Data and Information Center on the Swiss Flora have now analysed the dataset, and the results are alarming.
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.
Space debris observed for the first time during the day
Researchers at the University of Bern are the first in the world to succeed in determining the distance to a space debris object using a geodetic laser in daylight. The distance was determined on June 24, 2020 at the Swiss Optical Ground Station and Geodynamics Observatory Zimmerwald. The number of measurements can be multiplied thanks to the new possibility of observing space debris during the day. As a result, possible collisions with satellites can be detected at an early stage and evasive maneuvers can be initiated.
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.
Anthropogenic CO₂ increase is unprecedented
Even in earlier warm periods there were pulse-like releases of CO₂ to the atmosphere. Today's anthropogenic CO₂ rise, however, is more than six times larger and almost ten times faster than previous jumps in the CO₂ concentration. This is the conclusion reached by a European research team led by the University of Bern.
The most sensitive instrument in the search for life in space comes from Bern
Researchers at the University of Bern have developed the highly sensitive ORIGIN instrument, which can provide proof of the smallest amounts of traces of life, for future space missions. Space agencies such as NASA have already expressed interest in testing ORIGIN for future missions. The instrument may be used on missions to the ice moons of Europa (Jupiter) and Enceladus (Saturn), for example.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Next-Generation Sequencing to provide Precision medicine for Rare Metabolic Disorders
Advances in next-generation-sequencing technology that allow researchers to look at billions of pieces of genetic information are changing the way a disease is diagnosed. Correct identification of changes in the human genetic code responsible for rare metabolic disorders provides scientists and physicians with fact-based guidelines for the treatment.
Unique biosafety laboratory in Switzerland up and running
The new BSL-3 biosafety laboratory at the University of Bern Institute of Infectious Diseases (IFIK) went into operation today in the presence of Member of the Governing Council Christoph Ammann. The laboratory is located in the Swiss Institute for Translational and Entrepreneurial Medicine (sitem-insel) building. It is nationally one of the largest and the only BSL-3 laboratory in Switzerland to combine diagnostics, research and translation under one roof.
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.
How does an increase in nitrogen application affect grasslands?
The "PaNDiv" experiment, established by researchers of the University of Bern on a 3000 m2 field site, is the largest biodiversity-ecosystem functioning experiment in Switzerland and aims to better understand how increases in nitrogen affect grasslands. The first article from this experiment has just been published in the scientific journal Functional Ecology after more than four years of work.
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.
Bern coronavirus clone goes "viral"
Researchers in virology and veterinary bacteriology at the University of Bern have cloned the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). The synthetic clones are being used by research groups worldwide to test corona samples, find antiviral drugs and develop vaccines as quickly as possible. The method developed in Bern can also be used in future to combat other highly infectious viruses.
A major step towards the explanation of the matter-antimatter asymmetry
The international T2K Collaboration has published results showing the strongest evidence to date implying the breaking of the symmetry between matter and antimatter in so-called neutrino oscillations. This is a major step towards the understanding of the dominance of matter over antimatter in the Universe. A team of particle physicists from the University of Bern provided important contributions to the experiment.
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.
Agriculture began in the Amazon 10'000 years ago
As a new study shows, more than 10,000 years ago, people in the southwest of the Amazon began growing manioc and squash, 8,000 years earlier than previously thought. The area is thus one of the early Holocene centres of plant domestication in the world. People also changed the landscape by creating thousands of so-called forest islands.
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.
About the distribution of biodiversity on our planet
Large open-water fish predators such as tunas or sharks hunt for prey more intensively in the temperate zone than near the equator. With this result, a study headed by Marius Roesti of the University of Bern is challenging a long-standing explanation for the distribution of biodiversity on our planet.
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.
Tracking down the mystery of matter
Researchers from the University of Bern, PSI, and ETH Zurich, together with international partners, have demonstrated in an elaborate experiment at PSI that the electric dipole moment of the neutron is significantly smaller than previously assumed. It has thus become less likely that the existence of matter in the universe can be explained by this dipole moment.
Investments by the super-rich drive deforestation
Wealthy individuals are increasingly investing in agriculture. Their investments boost production of plant-based raw materials for human consumption, industrial uses, and animal fodder. The resulting capital flows directly contribute to deforestation in the global South, especially in the tropics. That is the conclusion of a new study by the University of Bern’s Centre for Development and Environment (CDE).
Algorithms for identifying new "cancer genes"
It is estimated that the number of cancer cases worldwide will double by 2040. This makes the search for genes that cause cancer even more important. A team of researchers from the University of Bern and Inselspital, University Hospital Bern, has now developed algorithms that massively simplify the hunt for "cancer genes" in a poorly understood part of our genome.
CHEOPS space telescope takes its first pictures
Next milestone in the commissioning of CHEOPS: After the successful opening of the space telescope cover on January 29, 2020, CHEOPS has now taken its first images of the sky. CHEOPS is a joint mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) and Switzerland, led by the University of Bern, in collaboration with the University of Geneva.
Gut bacteria help control healthy muscle contraction in the colon
Micro-organisms in the gut support healthy digestion by helping nerve cells within the intestine to regulate the contraction and relaxation of the muscle wall of the colon, according to new research from the Francis Crick Institute and Bern University.
Shared power, more satisfied people
The attack by authoritarian governments on their own political institutions is pushing many democracies to their limits. This affects their legitimacy, among other things. In a wide-ranging study, researchers from the Universities of Bern and Mannheim show that a strong division of power in democracies tends to lead to greater satisfaction among the population.
Cover of CHEOPS Space Telescope Open
Decisive moment for the CHEOPS space telescope: The cover was opened as intended on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 at 7:38 am. CHEOPS is now being tested for precision and the first images are being produced. CHEOPS is a joint mission of ESA and Switzerland, led by the University of Bern, in collaboration with the University of Geneva.
The universities of Bern and Zurich offer continuing education in gender-specific medicine
There is increasing evidence that health behavior and disease manifestation differ substantially between women and men. The universities of Bern and Zurich are now offering the first continuing education program in sex- and gender-specific medicine in Switzerland. The program will start in May 2020 and aims to stimulate the implementation of sex- and gender-specific medicine in research and clinical practice.
Opening of the CHEOPS cover delayed by a few days
The cover of the CHEOPS space telescope was scheduled to be opened on Monday, January 27, 2020. The date is being pushed back by a few days because several tests are being repeated.
The salt of the comet
Under the leadership of astrophysicist Kathrin Altwegg, Bernese researchers have found an explanation for why very little nitrogen could previously be accounted for in the nebulous covering of comets: the building block for life predominantly occurs in the form of ammonium salts, the occurrence of which could not previously be measured. The salts may be a further indication that comet impacts may have made life on Earth possible in the first place.
Interstellar journey of life’s building block phosphorus unveiled
Phosphorus, present in our DNA and cell membranes, is an essential element for life. But how it became available on the early Earth when life appeared here about 4 billion years ago is something of a mystery. For the first time, astronomers – among them researchers from the University of Bern – have now been able to show that molecules with phosphorus are formed in star-forming regions and probably came to Earth with comets.
Reducing the risk of blood clots in artificial heart valves
People with mechanical heart valves need blood thinners on a daily basis, because they have a higher risk of blood clots and stroke. Researchers at the ARTORG Center of the University of Bern, Switzerland, now identified the root cause of blood turbulence leading to clotting. Design optimization could greatly reduce the risk of clotting and enable these patients to live without life-long medication.