Media releases 2021
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.
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.
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.
Immune system keeps the intestinal flora in balance
Trillions of benign bacteria live in the intestine. They are kept in a continuous balance by the immune system, which thereby makes them harmless to humans. Researchers in the Department for BioMedical Research (DBMR) at the University of Bern and Inselspital, Bern University Hospital, and German Cancer Research Center have been able to show how certain natural antibodies keep these bacteria in check. The findings could make an important contribution to the development of superior vaccines.
Simultaneous optical and electrical tracking of heart activity
Bisher ist nicht geklärt, inwiefern Interaktionen zwischen den verschiedenen Zelltypen des Herzens den normalen Herzhythmus beeinflussen und möglicherweise auch lebensbedrohliche Rhythmusstörungen auslösen. Eine an der Universität Bern neu entwickelte Messmethode erlaubt es erstmals, die Herzaktivierung gleichzeitig optisch und elektrisch zu erfassen und so umfassende Antworten auf diese Fragen zu finden.
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.
Dr. Josef Steiner Cancer Research Award 2021 goes to immunologist
The Dr. Josef Steiner Cancer Research Award 2021, endowed with 1 million Swiss francs and also considered as the "Nobel Prize for Cancer Research", is awarded to Prof. Dr. med. Andrea Ablasser of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne. In her work, she discovered new mechanisms by which the immune system recognizes viruses as foreign particles. Interestingly, these mechanisms also apply to cancer cells which behave similarly to viruses with regards to genetic instability and the capacity to evade detection by the immune system. The findings open new perspectives in cancer immunotherapy that may ultimately lead to the development of new therapeutic strategies.
“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.
Science prize Marcel Benoist goes to a pioneer in online psychotherapy
Professor Thomas Berger from the University of Bern will receive this year’s Swiss Science Prize Marcel Benoist for his innovative contribution to Internet-based psychotherapy. This year’s Swiss Science Prize Latsis goes to Professor Nicola Aceto (ETH Zurich).
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.
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.
In vitro Zoo helps in understanding SARS-CoV-2
A team of researchers from the Institute for Infectious Diseases (IFIK) at the University of Bern and the Institute of Virology and Immunology (IVI) have used a unique collection of advanced cell culture models of cells lining the airways from various domesticated and wildlife animals to determine which animals are susceptibly to SARS-CoV-2 infection. The team found that SARS-CoV-2 efficiently infected respiratory cells from monkey and cats, and proposes that SARS-CoV-2 surveillance in these animals and its close relatives is necessary.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Global warming already responsible for one in three heat-related deaths
An international study coordinated by the University of Bern and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine shows for the first time the actual contribution of man-made climate change in increasing mortality risks due to heat: between 1991 and 2018, more than a third of all deaths in which heat played a role were attributable to global warming. The study, the largest of this kind, used data from 732 cities in 43 countries around the world and has just been published in the "Nature Climate Change" journal.
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.
Annual Report 2020: Knowledge strengthens society
The COVID-19 crisis has also been extremely challenging for the University of Bern. Nevertheless, the articles in the 2020 annual report impressively show that the University is leveraging its expertise to make a vital contribution toward efforts to overcome this crisis and serve as a catalyst for the future. The University of Bern’s future success is being called into question, however, by the sluggish pace of infrastructure renewal as well as collaborative research projects with Europe that are in jeopardy.
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.
New endowed lectureship in wild bee health
The University of Bern has established an endowed lectureship for wild bee health, which has been made possible thanks to support from the Vinetum Foundation. With it, the University and the Foundation intend to help combat the worldwide decline of wild bee populations.
Annika Frahsa becomes Lindenhof Endowed Professor of Community Health
Annika Frahsa has been chosen Lindenhof Foundation Professor of Community Health by the University Executive Board. The assistant professorship has been made possible thanks to support from the Lindenhof Foundation Bern. It focuses on participatory health promotion involving communities and is one of a kind in Switzerland.
The University of Bern welcomes seven Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellows
This year, seven researchers are visiting the University of Bern as Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellows. The "Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships" are an opportunity for experienced researchers to advance their career with a stay in a foreign country.
Uncertainty of future Southern Ocean CO2 uptake cut in half
The Southern Ocean dominates the oceanic uptake of human-made CO2. But how much carbon dioxide can it actually absorb in the future? This long-standing question remained unresolved as projections of different generation of climate models repeatedly showed a wide range of future Southern Ocean CO2 sink estimates. Climate scientists from Bern have now been able to reduce this large uncertainty by about 50 percent.
Digital advisory services for smallholder families in Africa and Asia
A research and innovation project at the University of Bern aims to strengthen sustainable farming methods among smallholder families in Africa and Asia using digitally supported agricultural extension services. Its overall goal is to improve the families’ productivity, incomes, and climate resilience. The project is being conducted together with international partners and is supported by the TRANSFORM programme of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) with five million Swiss francs.
World Laboratory Day 2021: Talent for top-level cancer research
In conjunction with World Laboratory Day 2021, Inselspital, Bern University Hospital and the University of Bern interview SNF Professor Dr. Georgia Konstantinidou about her work and recent findings to provide insight into a research laboratory.
Ocean temperature reconstructed over the last 700,000 years
Researchers from the Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Bern have, for the first time, reconstructed mean ocean temperatures over the last 700,000 years using ice core data.
How microbes influenced the Earth's atmosphere three billion years ago
For a long time, climate researchers could not explain the high concentration of greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere around three billion years ago. Now an international research team with the participation of Hendrik Vogel from the Institute of Geological Sciences and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Bern has solved the mystery. Sediment analyses revealed the surprising result that under the conditions at that time, microbes mainly produced the highly effective greenhouse gas methane for their metabolism.
Why SARS-CoV-2 replicates better in the upper respiratory tract
A team of researchers from the Institute for Infectious Diseases (IFIK) at the University of Bern and the Federal Institute of Virology and Immunology (IVI) have assessed virus growth and activation of the cellular defense mechanisms in the respiratory tract. They have shown that natural temperature differences that exist in the upper and lower respiratory tract have a profound influence on SARS-CoV-2 replication and subsequent innate immune activation in human cells. The findings can help to develop antiviral drugs and preventive measures.
Center for Artificial Intelligence in Medicine (CAIM) opens
The Center for Artificial Intelligence in Medicine (CAIM) of the University of Bern and the Insel Gruppe with the partners sitem-insel and the Bern University Psychiatry Services UPD is officially inaugurated today. The virtual opening event offers insights into controversial topics and current research projects on Artificial Intelligence in Medicine. 500 participants will connect online.
Opening Center for Artificial Intelligence in Medicine (CAIM)
The "Center for Artificial Intelligence in Medicine" brings together leading medical and engineering research with active digitalization efforts in healthcare at the Bern Medical Hub. Using artificial intelligence developments CAIM will bring forward new technologies for healthcare to enable tailored and efficient patient care. CAIM will be inaugurated on Friday, March 19, 2021 at a digital event with a panel discussion and a keynote lecture by AI for advanced healthcare pioneer Gregory D. Hager, Johns Hopkins University as part of a scientific symposium on AI in medicine research.
Glaciers and enigmatic stone stripes in the Ethiopian Highlands
Although past temperature variations in the tropics are of great importance to understanding the global climate system, little is known about their extent and chronological course. Researchers under the leadership of the University of Bern have now been able to demonstrate strong local cooling in the tropics during the last glacial period on the basis of glacier fluctuations and large stone stripes in the Ethiopian Highlands.
How the habitability of exoplanets is influenced by their rocks
The weathering of silicate rocks plays an important role to keep the climate on Earth clement. Scientists led by the University of Bern and the Swiss national center of competence in research (NCCR) PlanetS, investigated the general principles of this process. Their results could influence how we interpret the signals from distant worlds – including such that may hint towards life.
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.
Controlling adhesions in the abdomen
Adhesions are scars in the abdomen, which can occur after surgery, often have serious consequences. Now, researchers from the University of Bern and Inselspital, University Hospital Bern, in collaboration with Canadian researchers, have discovered how such adhesions form. The findings may help to develop a drug to prevent adhesions in the future. The study was published as the cover story of Science magazine.
Volcanoes might light up the night sky of this planet
Until now, researchers have found no evidence of global tectonic activity on planets outside our solar system. Under the leadership of the University of Bern and the National Center of Competence in Research NCCR PlanetS, scientists have now found that the material inside planet LHS 3844b flows from one hemisphere to the other and could be responsible for numerous volcanic eruptions on one side of the planet.
How to track the variants of the pandemic faster
A global group of researchers is calling for better integration of viral genetics, bioinformatics, and public health to enable better pandemic response now and better pandemic preparedness in the future. In a comment piece in the journal Nature, an international collaboration of specialists in viral and genetic analysis, led by Swiss scientists Dr. Emma Hodcroft at the University of Bern and Prof. Christophe Dessimoz at University of Lausanne, both at the SIB Swiss institute of Bioinformatics, alongside Dr. Nick Goldman at EMBL-EBI in the UK, lay out the ‘bioinformatics bottlenecks’ that are hindering response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, and propose ways to ‘clear the road’ for better tools and approaches. Here are the key take home messages and perspective from the Swiss angle.
SARS-CoV-2 mutations in competition
How dangerous are new mutations of the SARS-CoV-2 virus? An international team involving researchers from the Institute of Virology and Immunology (IVI) of the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office BLV and the University of Bern (Switzerland), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (USA), and the Friedrich-Loeffler Institute (Germany), has developed an approach that can accurately assess the transmissibility of new virus mutants.
Targeted elimination of leukemic stem cells
Cancer research in Bern has discovered a further mechanism to combat leukemia: a research team at Inselspital, Bern University Hospital and the University of Bern has succeeded in identifying an important signaling pathway for regulating leukemic stem cells. With this discovery, the researchers are expanding the arsenal of potentially highly effective drugs against leukemias (“blood cancers”).
Bernese researchers create sophisticated lung-on-chip
In collaboration with clinical partners from the Inselspital, researchers from the ARTORG Center for Biomedical Research of the University of Bern have developed a second-generation lung-on-chip model with life-size dimension alveoli in a stretchable membrane, made of purely biological material. The new model reproduces key aspects of the lung tissue architecture not found in previous lungs-on-chip. This opens up new possibilities for basic pneumological research, understanding lung pathologies, drug screening and precision medicine.
Only 14% of the Bernese population have antibodies against coronavirus
In the canton of Bern, only 14% of the adult population were infected with the coronavirus and developed antibodies against SARS-Cov-2. These are the preliminary results of a seroprevalence study coordinated by the Swiss School of Public Health and carried out in Bern by the University of Bern in cooperation with the Inselspital, University Hospital of Bern.
Four Bernese researchers receive Pfizer Prize
This year, four of a total of fifteen Pfizer Research Prizes have been awarded to physicians from the University of Bern and the Inselspital, University Hospital Bern. The award-winning work deals with leukemia, cardiac arrhythmias and the fever threshold in children and adolescents with cancer.
A NEAT reduction of complex neuronal models accelerates brain research
Unlike their simple counterparts in artificial intelligence (AI) applications, neurons in the brain use dendrites – their intricate tree-like branches – to find relevant chunks of information. Now, neuroscientists from the University of Bern have discovered a new computational method to make complex dendrite models much simpler. These faithful reductions may lead AI applications to process information much like the brain does.
CHEOPS finds unique planetary system
The CHEOPS space telescope detects six planets orbiting the star TOI-178. Five of the planets are in a harmonic rhythm despite very different compositions – a novelty. 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.
TRAPPIST-1's 7 Rocky Planets May Be Made of Similar Stuff
The TRAPPIST-1 star is home to the largest batch of roughly Earth-size planets ever found outside our solar system. An international study involving researchers from the Universities of Bern, Geneva and Zurich now shows that the exoplanets have remarkably similar densities, which provides clues about their composition.
Newly founded: A multidisciplinary center for research into infectious diseases and immunity
The University of Bern is establishing a multidisciplinary center to study the origin and course of infectious diseases and their impact on health, society and economics. The new research center is to receive some 30 million Swiss Francs financial support from the Vinetum Foundation over a period of 10 years.
Thomas Sauter receives an endowed professorship in emergency telemedicine
Thomas Sauter, Head of Education, eHealth and Emergency Telemedicine at Bern University Hospital's emergency center has been appointed by the University Executive Board for an endowed professorship in emergency telemedicine. The assistant professorship was established thanks to the support of the Touring Club Switzerland (TCS). It deals with "eHealth" in the field of emergency medicine and is one of the very few of its kind in the world.
4D-Simulator breakthrough in brain surgery
Aneurysm operations in the brain rank among the most delicate procedures in neurosurgery. A new training technology co-developed between Inselspital, Bern University Hospital, and ARTORG Center of the University of Bern, will further improve patient safety during future procedures: a new 4D simulator enables the planning, testing and optimization of the procedure on an exact 4D model, which also emulates the blood, blood vessels and pulse.
Persistent lung damage after Covid-19
The nationwide study published today was initiated by Inselspital, Bern University Hospital with the collaboration of the University of Bern and has established for the first time: severe Covid-19 can result in prolonged impairment of oxygen uptake in the lungs even after four months. Long-term monitoring and treatment of these patients is urgent and important .