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Media releases 2022

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.



University of Bern joins European University alliance ENLIGHT

This year, Swiss universities can participate in European University alliances as “associated partners” for the first time. The University of Bern joined ENLIGHT, an alliance of comprehensive, research-intensive universities, on 1 December 2022.



Reliable planning tool for the emissions path to achieving the Paris temperature goal

Researchers at the University of Bern have developed a new method for the successive calculation of the emission reductions which are necessary for achieving temperature targets, such as the 2°C goal. The calculation method is based solely on observation rather than models and scenarios. According to the study, international climate policy has to become even more ambitious.



Small asteroids are probably young

The impact experiment conducted on the asteroid Ryugu by the Japanese Hayabusa2 mission which took place two years ago resulted in an unexpectedly large crater. With the use of simulations, a team led by the University of Bern and the National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) PlanetS has recently succeeded in gaining new insights from the experiment regarding the formation and development of asteroids. These insights are also important for the DART mission of NASA.



Searching for traces of dark matter with neutron spin clocks

With the use of a precision experiment developed at the University of Bern, an international research team has succeeded in significantly narrowing the scope for the existence of dark matter. The experiment was carried out at the European Research Neutron Source at the Institute Laue-Langevin in France, and makes an important contribution to the search for these particles, of which little remains known.



Better understanding of the development of intestinal diseases

Bacteria in the small intestine adapt dynamically to our nutritional state, with individual species disappearing and reappearing. Researchers at the University of Bern and University Hospital Bern have now been able to comprehensively study the bacteria of the small intestine and their unique adaptability for the first time. The findings contribute to a better understanding of intestinal diseases such as Crohn's disease or celiac disease and to the development of new therapeutic approaches.



Discovering New Cancer Treatments in the “Dark Matter” of the Human Genome

Researchers of the University of Bern and the Insel Hospital, University Hospital Bern, have developed a screening method to discover new drug targets for cancer treatment in the so-called “Dark Matter” of the genome. They applied their method to non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the greatest cancer killer for which effective therapies are urgently sought. They could show that inhibiting identified targets could greatly slow down cancer growth, and their method is adaptable to other cancers.



Group size enhancement explains cooperation in fishes

The survival chances of group members are often greater in large than in small groups. In some species, non-reproducing group members therefore help raising offspring, even if they are unrelated. In an experimental study, researchers at the University of Bern investigated this seemingly altruistic behavior in cooperatively breeding fishes. Their results indicate that helping can evolve by natural selection through increased survival chances of brood care helpers by selectively increasing group size.



Fighting fungal infections with metals

An international collaboration led by researchers from the University of Bern and the University of Queensland in Australia has demonstrated that chemical compounds containing special metals are highly effective in fighting dangerous fungal infections. These results could be used to develop innovative drugs which are effective against resistant bacteria and fungi.



How global warming affects astronomical observations

Astronomical observations from ground-based telescopes are sensitive to local atmospheric conditions. Anthropogenic climate change will negatively affect some of these conditions at observation sites around the globe, as a team of researchers led by the University of Bern and the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) PlanetS reports.



A thousand days of CHEOPS

After a thousand days in orbit, the CHEOPS space telescope shows almost no signs of wear. Under these conditions, it could continue to reveal details of some of the most fascinating exoplanets for quite some time. 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.



Hans Sigrist Symposium: Maternal-Fetal Communication during Pregnancy

The Hans Sigrist Symposium, which will take place on September 13, 2022, focuses on the topic of maternal-fetal communication during pregnancy. The event brings together experts in this field from around the world and provides the foundation with the opportunity to honor its 2020 Hans Sigrist Prize Winner, Prof. Amanda Sferruzzi-Perri from the University of Cambridge.



Two new rocky worlds around an ultra-cool star

An international research team, with the participation of the University of Bern and the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) PlanetS, discovered two "super-Earth" exoplanets. One is located at just the right distance from its star to potentially hold liquid water on its surface.



Technological advances in cancer therapy

Researchers from the University of Bern and Inselspital provide an overview of the latest technologies in precision oncology. Translating these into clinical application is still a major challenge. With research projects, the Bern Center for Precision Medicine (BCPM) contributes to bringing technological progress to the patient.



Phylogenetic tree reveals: new species of whitefish have emerged in every lake

For a long time professional fishermen have known that there is not just one whitefish species in Switzerland, but a whole range of species each with their own specialization and local name. Researchers have now analysed the entire genome of the various whitefish and shown how specialists have all developed independently of each other in each lake region.



Sensor-based early detection of age-related diseases from home

Researchers at the University of Bern and Inselspital, Bern University Hospital have demonstrated how sensors that record movement patterns could help detect health problems in the elderly, including old-age depression, risk of falls or cognitive impairment, at an early stage. In the future, this could help seniors to live a self-determined life at home for longer and relieve increasing pressure on the healthcare system.



James Webb Space Telescope detects carbon dioxide in exoplanet atmosphere

The James Webb Space Telescope delivers a sensation right away with its first scientific result: for the first time, CO2 has been conclusively detected in the atmosphere of a planet outside the solar system. Researchers from the University of Bern, the University of Geneva and the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) PlanetS are involved in the study.



Compound extreme events stress the oceans

When marine heatwaves and ocean acidity extreme events co-occur, it can have severe impacts on marine ecosystems. Researchers at the Oeschger Center for Climate Change Research at the University of Bern have determined for the first time the frequency and drivers of these compound events and have projected them into the future.



Further pledges of EU funding for the University of Bern

Astrophysicist Jonas Kühn’s and philosopher Benjamin Matheson’s proposals for European Research Council (ERC) grants have been approved retroactively. As they will carry out their research projects at the University of Bern, instead of receiving funding from the EU, they will be funded by the State Secretariat for Education, Research, and Innovation, SERI.



Improved COVID-19 vector vaccine candidate

Scientists at the Institute of Virology and Immunology (IVI) and the University of Bern report on a Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV)-vectored COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Their work shows that intramuscular immunization of mice with VSV-vectored COVID-19 vaccines is inducing strong antibody responses against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein if the vector has been complemented with a specific protein.



Two Bernese researchers receive SNSF Advanced Grant

Neuropsychologist Katharina Henke and evolutionary biologist Katie Peichel are each receiving a highly endowed SNSF Advanced Grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). Their research projects deal with the ability to remember despite amnesia and the predictability of evolution.



UniBE Foundation establishes endowed professorship in tissue histology

An endowed professorship in tissue histology has been established at the University of Bern thanks to the support of Dr. h.c. Thomas Straumann, entrepreneur and founder of the Straumann Group. The professorship will be named after the renowned anatomist and bone specialist Robert K. Schenk and based at the Robert K. Schenk Laboratory of Oral Histology at the School of Dental Medicine, University of Bern. The professorship, endowed with CHF 10 million, is the first donation that the newly established UniBE Foundation is entitled to receive.



Shedding light on comet Chury’s unexpected chemical complexity

A team of researchers led by the University of Bern has for the first time identified an unexpected richness of complex organic molecules at a comet. This was achieved thanks to the analysis of data collected during ESA’s Rosetta mission at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, also known as Chury. Delivered to the early Earth by impacting comets, these organics may have helped to kick-start carbon-based life as we know it.



Major funding award to enhance breeding of laying hens

Open Philanthropy, a foundation based in California, USA, will support animal welfare scientist Michael J Toscano of the University of Bern and industrial collaborators. The funding of $2.7 million will be used to promote cage-free housing for laying hens and improve their welfare and health through new breeding programs.



Bernese researchers simulate defense of the earth

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission is the world’s first full-scale planetary defense test against potential asteroid impacts on Earth. Researchers of the University of Bern and the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) PlanetS now show that instead of leaving behind a relatively small crater, the impact of the DART spacecraft on its target could leave the asteroid near unrecognizable.



Long-term liquid water also on non-Earth-like planets?

Liquid water is an important prerequisite for life to develop on a planet. As researchers from the University of Bern, the University of Zurich and the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) PlanetS report in a new study, liquid water could also exist for billions of years on planets that are very different from Earth. This calls our currently Earth-centred idea of potentially habitable planets into question.



AI for diabetes project MELISSA launched

The EU Research Project “MELISSA: Mobile Artificial Intelligence Solution for Diabetes Adapted Care” was launched today by a consortium of 12 partners, comprising the ARTORG Center Artificial Intelligence in Health and Nutrition (AIHN) lab. AIHN is the artificial intelligence expert in the project and initiated it in collaboration with DEBIOTECH, but due to Switzerland’s non-association cannot act as official leading house.



Ground-breaking number of brown dwarfs discovered

Brown dwarfs, mysterious objects that straddle the line between stars and planets, are essential to our understanding of both stellar and planetary populations. However, only 40 brown dwarfs could be imaged around stars in almost three decades of searches. An international team led by researchers from the Open University and the University of Bern directly imaged a remarkable four new brown dwarfs thanks to a new innovative search method.



Major US award for Bern and Geneva researchers

A prestigious grant from the USA goes to the biomedical scientist Sven Rottenberg, University of Bern, and the clinical scientist Intidhar Labidi-Galy, University of Geneva and University Hospital of Geneva. They received a joint grant from the "Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs" for their project on ovarian cancer. This underlines the high quality of the collaborative research on ovarian cancer in Bern and Geneva.



How animals reach their correct size

Adults of the same species usually differ very little in their size. A team from the University of Bern and the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research (FMI) in Basel has now discovered a mechanism that ensures such size uniformity. The research using nematodes showed that the speed of growth determines the speed of a genetic clock that times development. Thereby, individuals that grow slowly are given more time to grow and can reach the same adult body size.



Unselfish behavior has evolutionary reasons

Altruistic behavior is often seen as an exclusively human characteristic. However, behavioral research has uncovered numerous examples of altruistic behavior in the animal kingdom. In a new study, researchers at the University of Bern show that animals that help others “selflessly” to raise their young generate an evolutionary advantage.



How sleep helps to process emotions

Researchers at the Department of Neurology of the University of Bern and University Hospital Bern identified how the brain triages emotions during dream sleep to consolidate the storage of positive emotions while dampening the consolidation of negative ones. The work expands the importance of sleep in mental health and opens new ways of therapeutic strategies.



European programmes - Time is pressing for the universities

Swiss universities have been hard hit by the breakdown of negotiations for a framework agreement between Switzerland and the EU, and thus the classification as a third country in the European research and education programmes. At the moment, there are no signals from the European Commission for a quick association. This drastically reduces the chances of association in this period.



The genetic origins of the world’s first farmers clarified

The genetic origins of the first agriculturalists in the Neolithic period long seemed to lie in the Near East. A new study published in the journal Cell shows that the first farmers actually represented a mixture of Ice Age hunter-gatherer groups, spread from the Near East all the way to south-eastern Europe. Researchers from the University of Bern and the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics as well as from the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and the University of Fribourg were involved in the study. The method they developed could help reveal other human evolution patterns with unmatched resolution.



Precision oncology helps prostate cancer patients

Researchers at the University of Bern and University Hospital Bern have achieved a breakthrough in a particularly aggressive form of prostate cancer. In tissue samples from advanced brain metastases, they were able to establish the genetic profile of the cancer cells. These findings show for the first time that affected patients could benefit from target treatment, from which they have so far not been eligible.



Annual Report 2021: Science under constant pressure

The University of Bern celebrated numerous successes again in the past year. One of the highlights in 2021 was undeniably the return to in-person teaching. As a center for academia, however, Switzerland still faces some tough challenges, not only in connection with the pandemic but especially due to the consequences of the failed framework agreement between Switzerland and the EU.



No glacial fertilization effect in the Antarctic Ocean

Can iron-rich dust fertilize the ocean, stimulate algae growth there, and thereby capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere? An international research team involving the University of Bern and led by the University of Bonn used deep-sea sediment cores from the Scotia Sea to investigate whether this hypothetical greenhouse gas sink had an effect during ice ages. Although dust input was high during ice ages, no evidence of a fertilization effect could be found in the Antarctic Ocean.



New strategy adopted by the University of Bern

With its new Strategy 2030, the University of Bern aims to build on its successes while responding to new challenges. The topics of digitalization and infrastructure are important driving forces for development and are now included as sub-strategies.



AI enables personalized treatment of heart muscle inflammation

A research team from the University of Bern and Inselspital, University Hospital Bern is investigating and developing innovative approaches that will enable personalized diagnosis and treatment of myocarditis. Artificial intelligence will allow individual risk assessment and progression prognosis in the future. The project has received funding from the Center for Artificial Intelligence in Medicine (CAIM) of the University of Bern and Insel Gruppe.



Our sleep shows how risk-seeking we are

Each person has their own individual sleep profile which can be identified by the electrical brain activity during sleep. Researchers at the University of Bern have now demonstrated that the brain waves during periods of deep sleep in a specific area of the brain can be used to determine the extent of an individual’s propensity for risk during their everyday life.



A novel painless and reliable allergy test

Although allergies are widespread, their diagnosis is complex and, depending on the type of allergy, the prospects of success with therapy are not always clear. Skin tests so far have been unpleasant, time-consuming and associated with a certain risk of triggering an allergic overreaction. Researchers at the University of Bern and Inselspital, Bern University Hospital, have now developed a novel test that massively simplifies the diagnosis of allergies and can reliably predict the success of a therapy.



The colored skeletons of Çatalhöyük

An international team with participation of the University of Bern provides new insights about how the inhabitants of the "oldest city in the world" in Çatalhöyük (Turkey) buried their dead. Their bones were partially painted, excavated several times and reburied. The findings provide insight into the burial rituals of a fascinating society that lived 9000 years ago.



Proposals by two Bernese researchers receive positive evaluation for EU funding

Proposals by plant scientist Matthias Erb and astrophysicist Brice-Olivier Demory for the coveted "Consolidator Grants" with the European Research Council ERC have received positive evaluation. As they will carry out their research projects at the University of Bern, they will not be funded by the EU but by the State Secretariat for Education, Research, and Innovation, SERI.



Swiss vaccine candidates enter clinical trial phase

Researchers from Bern, Geneva, Berlin and Riems (Germany) are developing two vaccine candidates against SARS-CoV-2. Thanks to a just-signed collaboration agreement with the Basel-based biotech company RocketVax AG, they can now be prepped for phase I of the clinical trials required for regulatory approval.



Extreme temperatures come at a high price

A study prepared at the University of Bern shows in detail for the first time how heat in Switzerland has increasingly led to high death rates over the past 50 years. The combination of climate change and an aging population, it concludes, will become a major source of problems in the future.



3Rs Awards 2021 go to researchers at the University of Bern

The Swiss 3RCC has awarded Bernhard Voelkl from the Vetsuisse Faculty of the University of Bern the 2021 3Rs Award in recognition of his work supporting researchers to better design animal studies to improve research quality and reduce animal use. The 2021 3Rs Young Investigator Award went to Pauline Zamprogno from the ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research, also at the University of Bern, for her contribution to a lung-on-chip model, which aim at replacing animals testing.



Fjords in the Swiss Plateau

A team of researchers of the University of Bern supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation drilled a borehole into the Bernese subsoil. Their discoveries have now been published: a few hundred thousand years ago, fjords shaped the face of the Central Plateau.



Three Bernese researchers receive Pfizer Prize

Three immunologists from the University of Bern and Inselspital, University Hospital Bern, have been awarded a Pfizer Research Prize for their work. The researchers have shown how our gut microbes influence the formation of antibodies.



The last ice age widened the Aare and Gürbe valleys

A team led by the University of Bern was able to proof that the glaciers of the penultimate ice age ('Riss' glaciation) mainly eroded the bedrock between Thun and Bern, but that during the last glaciation (' Würm'- glaciation) glacial carving resulted in a widening and not in a further deepening of the valleys. The researchers reconstructed the geometry of the bedrock using gravity measurements to reach their conclusions.



Extreme exoplanet has a complex and exotic atmosphere

An international team including researchers from the University of Bern and the University of Geneva as well as the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) PlanetS analyzed the atmosphere of one of the most extreme known planets in great detail. The results from this hot, Jupiter-like planet that was first characterized with the help of the CHEOPS space telescope, may help astronomers understand the complexities of many other exoplanets – including Earth-like planets.



Universities pay a high price for Switzerland's sidelining in the European Union's research and education projects

Swiss higher education institutions can no longer participate as full partners in Horizon Europe and Erasmus+. This has serious consequences for the universities, as projects cannot be realised or can only be realised to a limited extent. The recruitment of researchers is made considerably more difficult, and there is a risk of top researchers migrating to other countries. In addition, millions will be missing from the budgets of the universities.



Magnesium is essential for the immune system, including in the fight against cancer

The level of magnesium in the blood is an important factor in the immune system’s ability to tackle pathogens and cancer cells. Writing in the journal Cell, a research group from the University of Basel and University Hospital Basel with Bernese participation have reported that T cells need a sufficient quantity of magnesium in order to operate efficiently. Their findings may have important implications for cancer patients.



CHEOPS reveals a rugby ball-shaped exoplanet

With the help of the CHEOPS space telescope, an international team including researchers from the Universities of Bern and Geneva as well as the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) PlanetS, was able to detect the deformation of an exoplanet for the first time. Due to strong tidal forces, the appearance of the planet WASP-103b resembles a rugby ball rather than a sphere.



Eccentric exoplanet discovered

Led by the University of Bern, an international research team has discovered a sub-Neptune exoplanet orbiting a red dwarf star. The discovery was also made thanks to observations performed by the SAINT-EX observatory in Mexico. SAINT-EX is run by a consortium including the Center for Space and Habitability (CSH) at the University of Bern and the National Center of Competence in Research NCCR PlanetS.



New European master’s degree program on stroke

Stroke is the second most common cause of death in Europe, affecting around 16,000 people in Switzerland every year. For this reason, the Medical Faculty of the University of Bern and the Stroke Center of the Inselspital, Bern University Hospital, in collaboration with the European Stroke Organisation, are launching the MAS Stroke Medicine continuing education program: It will train the next generation of specialists in stroke medicine throughout Europe starting in spring 2022.