Media releases, information for representatives of the media Media Relations (E)

Media releases 2015



How the brain wakes you up

Scientists from Bern have discovered a mechanism which is responsible for the rapid arousal from sleep and anesthesia in the brain. The results of their study suggest new strategies for the medical treatment of sleep disorders and recovery of consciousness in vegetative states.



«Freedom is essential for academic activity»

At the University of Bern’s 181st Dies academicus, Rector Martin Täuber emphasised the university’s autonomy as the basis for its success and stressed the importance of international networking. Executive Councillor Bernhard Pulver warned on his part against pitting vocational education and universities against each other. David Ginsbourger from the University of Bern’s Intermediate Staff Association (MVUB) ultimately called for more flexible «tenure-track» positions for aspiring researchers. Seven personalities were awarded an honorary doctorate and eleven researchers were honoured with academic prizes.



Swiss camera leaves for Mars

A camera designed and built at the University of Bern will leave Bern on Monday, 9 November, at 6:00 in the morning for Cannes in France where it will be integrated on the European Space Agency’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) spacecraft at the premises of Thales-Alenia Space.



Software detects at-risk tissue in record time following a stroke

The FASTER software developed in Bern can detect within minutes the areas of the brain that will be left with long-term damage following a stroke. The previous version – BraTumIA for tumour segmentation – has been in use around the world since 2014.



Honey bee queens highly vulnerable to two neonicotinoid insecticides

Throughout the northern hemisphere beekeepers have struggled to maintain adequate numbers of honey bee colonies for crop pollination and honey production due to dramatic increases in colony deaths each year. Recent surveys of beekeepers suggest that poor queen health is an important reason for these losses, but why queen health is now being affected is not understood. A research team from Bern, Switzerland and Wolfville, Canada has found that honey bee queens, which are crucial to colony functioning, are severely affected by two neonicotinoid insecticides. In 2013, governments in Europe moved to partially restrict the use of these neonicotinoids while further risks assessments could be performed. The province of Ontario, Canada followed suit in 2015. This is the first study to investigate the effects of neonicotinoids on honey bee queens. Its findings suggest that these insecticides may be contributing to bee colony mortality by affecting queen health, and it further strengthens calls for more thorough environmental risk assessments of these pesticides to protect bees and other beneficial organisms.



Ebola vaccine tested successfully for the first time

A vaccine against the Ebola virus, tested in West Africa for the first time in a field trial, has proved to be effective. People who had come into close contact with someone recently infected, and who are therefore at particularly high risk, were vaccinated. Investigators from the University of Bern were heavily involved in designing the World Health Organization (WHO) «Ebola ça Suffit» vaccine trial.



Comets: Soft shell, hard core?

Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko poses new riddles: Surface material measurements performed by the «Philae» landing module indicate that the near surface material might have changed since its formation. Up to now, many researchers had assumed that it has remained in virtually the same state since its formation about 4.5 billion years ago. The results of the study, in which researchers from the University of Bern were also involved, have been published in «Science» magazine.



Particulate matter from modern gasoline engines damages our lungs

Particulate matter from gasoline engines is harmful to our airways, regardless of whether the engines are a bit older or comply with recent EU standards. Fine dust particles allow pathogens to enter the lungs easier. Researchers at the University of Bern and the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have shown this conducting a realistic laboratory experiment.



How comets were assembled

Rosetta’s target «Chury» and other comets observed by space missions show common evidence of layered structures and bi-lobed shapes. With 3D computer simulations Martin Jutzi, astrophysicist at the University of Bern, was able to reconstruct the formation of these features as a result of gentle collisions and mergers. The study has now been published online in the journal «Science Express».



Looking for extra-terrestrial life in alien oceans

Great honour for Nicolas Thomas from the University of Bern: The scientist was selected as part of the imaging team for NASA’s Europa Clipper mission. The mission will help to answer the question whether there is life in the oceans of Jupiter’s moon, Europa.



Climate scientist at the University of Bern is awarded his second cutting edge research grant by the European Research Council

The Bernese climate physicist Hubertus Fischer is awarded a grant of 2.26 Million Euro by the European Research Council for research on polar ice cores. This is Fischer’s second project funded by one of the prestigious «ERC Advanced Grants», illustrating the internationally top ranking ice and climate research at the University of Bern.



How the brain «remembers» pain

Scientists from Bern have discovered a mechanism, which is responsible for the chronification of pain in the brain. The results of their study suggest new strategies for the medical treatment of chronic pain.



A Doctor for Arts

It is now definitely possible to earn a doctorate in Bern at the combined Graduate School of the Arts of the University of Bern and the Bern University of the Arts. This artistic/creative-scientific doctoral programme is one of a kind.



Comet probe detects the «most wanted molecule»

ESA’s comet probe Rosetta has for the first time ever measured nitrogen gas at a comet, providing clues to the early stages of the formation of our solar system. The findings of the study, which was led by researchers at the University of Bern, have now been published in the journal «Science».



Heart catheterization: Change in methods lowers mortality

The groin is the usual access point for investigating or treating the heart with a catheter, but using the wrist as access point reduces bleeding and lowers mortality. These findings are from an international study with major involvement from the University of Bern published today in the Lancet.



Norway rats reciprocate help according to the quality of the help they received

Research performed at the University of Bern indicates that animals beyond Homo sapiens consider the value of previously received help when deciding whether to help a social partner.



Scientists develop active substance for fatal muscle wasting in male children

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a congenital disease which causes muscle degeneration and eventual death in teenagers. Recently, researchers from Bern developed an active substance, which they together with an international team tested successfully.



Gas variations are suggestive of seasons on comet Chury

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko continues to reveal more of its secrets: Researchers in Bern have detected considerable variations in the gas escaping from the comet. This could amount to seasonal changes on the tiny celestial body. Meanwhile, the camera OSIRIS on board the Rosetta comet probe is revealing new details of the surface of «Chury».



Researchers create Methuselah fly by selecting best cells

A team of researchers at the University of Bern has managed to considerably prolong the lifespan of flies by activating a gene which destroys unhealthy cells. The results could also open new possibilities in human anti ageing research.