News archive



No Greta but a virus instead

In December 2019, the SAMS wished to find a Greta for the health system for the coming year. Unfortunately, fate decided otherwise. The last News of the year 2020 mentions the Academy's commitment to set common rules in the event of a shortage of resources in intensive care and is dedicated to the nursing, medical, administrative and technical staff at the front since March.

The General Secretariat of the SAMS will be closed between Christmas and New Year. In case of emergency, you can reach us by e-mail. Despite the circumstances, we wish you a happy holiday season and all the best for 2021.

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ICU triage: Version 3.1 of the medical-ethical guidelines

The SAMS and the Swiss Society of Intensive Care Medicine (SSICM) have issued a revised version of the guidelines on triage for intensive-care treatment under resource scarcity. Version 3.1 includes more detailed explanations of the ethical principles and further discussion of legal aspects. The recommendations for decision-making by ICU professionals (4.3 and 4.4) are essentially unchanged, although they have been clarified on the basis of experience accumulated during the pandemic.

Version 3.1 of the guidelines explains the principle of the short-term survival prognosis, which is crucial for triage decisions. Also highlighted is the need for careful consideration of, and re-evaluation of treatment in the light of, the patient’s wishes. In addition, the discussion of the unacceptability of age, disability and dementia as criteria for triage decisions, as well as the application of the Clinical Frailty Scale, was not sufficiently detailed in the previous version, which gave rise to some misunderstandings. These sections have now been expanded or reworded. The revised document is available in four languages (English, French, German and Italian) on our website, where you can now also find background information in the form of FAQs.

Download the guidelines (PDF)

Further information



SPHN: second funding period 2021–2024 and new fact-sheet

The Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN) is a national initiative to improve the accessibility of health-related data for research. Since its launch in 2017, SPHN has developed numerous infrastructures, technologies and methods to enable research with large sets of sensitive data in a responsible, ethical and legal manner. Following the completion of the first funding period, the federal government has confirmed funding for a continuation from 2021 to 2024.

Together with the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, the SAMS is responsible for the implementation of the SPHN initiative. The Confederation plans to invest CHF 66.9 million for the second SPHN funding period from 2021 to 2024. The focus will lie on real-world implementation and consolidation of SPHN infrastructures and on harmonized standards, processes and principles for data sharing. SPHN further plans to lay the foundation for a sustainable, independent national center for biomedical and health research data. A new fact-sheet provides an overview of the status of SPHN at the end of the first funding period.

Download the fact-sheet (PDF)

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Decisions on cardiopulmonary resuscitation: public consultation launched

CPR decisions and their consequences involve considerable stress for all concerned. The SAMS is launching today the three-month public consultation on the revised medical-ethical guidelines which were first published in 2008. Comments can be submitted using the form provided until 11 March 2021.

The updated text, which has been approved by the SAMS’ Central Ethics Committee, Executive Board and Senate, is based on the current state of scientific knowledge and considers developments since the last update of the guidelines, e.g. the use of extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It also takes into account recent social developments, such as Resuscitation-No-Stamp, tattoos or or the consideration of Advanced Care Planning. All necessary documents for a statement can be found on our website.

Link to the consultation



KZS Fund: five Seed Grants for young researchers in biomedical ethics

The 2020 call for applications for the Käthe-Zingg-Schwichtenberg Fund (KZS Fund) was thematically open and aimed at young researchers in the field of biomedical ethics. Out of the 26 submitted applications, five were retained for funding.

Five Seed Grants for a total amount of 236 000 francs will allow grantees to explore novel research ideas, to realize a small, independent pilot project and/or to prepare their own project proposal to be submitted to a larger funding agency. The synopsis below (pdf) provides an overview of all supported projects by the KZS Fund. The next call will be launched in spring 2021, provided that dividend yields are sufficient.

Synopsis of funded projects (PDF)

Link to the programme



COVID-19 pandemic: updated guidelines on triage for intensive-care treatment

The second wave of COVID-19 has reached Switzerland, and some hospitals are already running close to capacity as a result. The guidelines on triage for intensive-care treatment under resource scarcity, issued in March 2020 by the Swiss Society of Intensive Care Medicine (SSICM) and the SAMS, have now been updated and can be downloaded in four languages.

The updated document «Triage for intensive-care treatment under resource scarcity» supplements, as before, the SAMS Guidelines «Intensive-care interventions» (2013). It covers all patients (i.e. patients with or without COVID-19) who require intensive care. The guiding principle is that uniform criteria for ICU admission and continued occupancy are to be applied throughout Switzerland. One key change from March 2020 concerns the national coordination body which has since been established by the federal authorities. This is to ensure that optimum use is made of all ICU treatment capacity available across Switzerland.


Other notable changes are summarised in the SAMS Newsletter of 4 November 2020. The Newsletter and all the documents mentioned here can be found on our website.

Download guidelines (PDF)

Further information



Stern-Gattiker Prize: The SAMS recognises two female role models

With the Stern-Gattiker Prize, the SAMS is making female role models more visible, so as to motivate young women to pursue an academic career. This year, the prize has been awarded to Professor Sophie de Seigneux Matthey (Genève) and Professor Sara C. Meyer (Basel).

To ensure that sufficient medical scientists are available over the medium and longer term, and to improve the gender balance of teaching staff, it is essential that more women pursue a career in academic medicine. To enhance the visibility of female role models, the SAMS has established the Stern-Gattiker Prize. Both of the prizewinners 2020 hold SNSF professorships and are research team leaders and senior physicians – Professor de Seigneux Matthey at the Nephrology Division of Geneva University Hospital (HUG), Professor Meyer at the Hematology Department of Basel University Hospital (USB). Further information can be found in the media release published today.

Download the media release (PDF)

Press releases



Thank you, Michelle Salathé, for almost two decades at the SAMS

Michelle Salathé, Head of the Ethics Department since 2001, is one of the people who have had a decisive influence on the SAMS. For almost two decades she has seen everything, heard everything and remembered so much that she is considered the institutional memory of the SAMS. She has worked tirelessly to solve the many ethical questions that arise in medical research, in practice and for society. We thank Michelle Salathé from the bottom of our hearts for her many years of great commitment.

Ethical issues, together with the promotion of research and young researchers, have always been a core area of the SAMS. We will miss Michelle Salathé's comprehensive understanding of medical ethics, her legal skills, the quality of her network and her diplomatic skills. In September she will hand over the management of the department to her successor Thomas Gruberski. The function of Deputy Secretary General will be taken over by Franziska Egli, Head of Communication, as of 1 October. Discover all the faces of the SAMS General Secretariat on our website and read the interview with Michelle Salathé in the SAMS Bulletin.

Download the interview (French) (PDF)

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Swiss Personalized Health Network: Goodbye Adrien Lawrence

The Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN) was launched in 2017 with the aim of facilitating the use and exchange of health data for research. As Managing Director of SPHN, Adrien Lawrence competently and efficiently set up the Management Office. After four years at the SAMS, he returns to EPFL where he began his career. We warmly thank him for his commitment and the work he has accomplished.

In his role as Managing Director, Adrien Lawrence has been closely involved in setting up the governance and structures of SPHN; he has defined the outlines of the two calls for proposals launched during the period 2017–2020, federated the various players in the field, allowed the conclusion of Collaboration Agreements with the University Hospitals and promoted SPHN abroad. His departure is an opportunity for the General Secretariat to review its internal organization. Myriam Tapernoux, already in charge of the Department Science, has taken over the lead a.i. of the SPHN Management Office since 1st August. To find out more about SPHN, visit its website or read the interview with Adrien Lawrence in the last Bulletin of the SAMS.

Download the interview (French) (PDF)

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Eleven MD-PhD grants awarded

The national MD-PhD program has awarded eleven grants to young physicians engaged in research to complete a doctorate in natural sciences, public health sciences and clinical research at a Swiss university. The synopsis of grantees gives an overview of the supported projects.

The national MD-PhD expert committee retained 11 young researchers for funding out of the 20 candidates preselected by the local MD-PhD committees. The grants cover the salary of grantees for two to three years. They are sponsored by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), Swiss Cancer Research (KFS) and the SAMS. The next call for proposals of the National MD-PhD program will be launched in autumn 2020 with a submission deadline set on 15 December 2020.

Synopsis of grantees (PDF)

Link to the programme



Recommendations on preimplantation genetic testing PGT

The genetic testing of embryos created through in vitro fertilizsation has been regulated since 2017 by the Federal Act on Human Genetic Testing. Its implementation, however, confronts health professionals and cantonal authorities with a number of practical and ethical questions. The new recommendations of the SAMS deal with important ethical aspects of the PGT counselling and decision-making situation in order to contribute to consistent good clinical practice in Switzerland.

The recommendations deal, on the one hand, with the indication of PGT for couples with genetic diseases and, on the other hand, with the screening of embryos in the context of infertility treatment. In addition, they discuss how, for example, surplus information should be managed. The recommendations are available in German, French, Italian and English and can be ordered in printed form (German/French) free of charge.

Download the document (PDF)

Further information



Young Talents in Clinical Research: Call 2020

With the «Young Talents in Clinical Research» program, the Gottfried and Julia Bangerter-Rhyner Foundation and the SAMS aim at encouraging young medical doctors to venture into clinical research. CHF 1 million is made available for this call. Due to the COVID-19 situation, the submission deadline has been postponed to 30 November 2020.

The program is conceived in two consecutive steps: Young medical doctors can start out in clinical research thanks to a «beginner grant» which guarantees them protected time for research by covering a portion of their salary. Interested grantees can then apply for a «project grant» to consolidate the acquired research skills during the next two years. More information can be found on our website.

Flyer «Young Talents in Clinical Research» (PDF)

Link to the programme



Research in Palliative Care: numbers, topics and challenges

In Switzerland today, around 90% of people do not die suddenly, but after a period of illness and nursing care; many of them will require palliative care. To decide on the best treatment option, research is necessary. Convinced that Switzerland was lagging behind in this field, the SAMS launched the funding programme «Research in Palliative Care 2014 – 2018». The final report on the programme presents an overview of projects, results and challenges for the future.

A total of CHF 4.4 million were made available through five calls, to support 34 research projects and to award 4 fellowships for an education and research stay abroad. The final report illustrates where the funds were invested, presents selected projects and outlines what is needed to establish research in palliative care in Switzerland on a sustainable basis. The brochure is available in German, French and English and can be ordered in printed form free of charge.

Download the report (PDF)

Further information



Personalized health in dialogue

Developments in the field of personalized health and related issues such as data protection, handling of probabilities etc. affect the whole population. For this reason, the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences conducted the dialogue project «Tailor-made people: personalized health». A recently published bilingual report summarizes the population's answers to an online questionnaire and from nine dialogue events.

As the questionnaire made no scientific claims, the answers were not evaluated according to scientific criteria. However, the publication «Personalized Health in Dialogue» reflects the diversity of views and may provide experts with food for thought for future research projects.

Download the publication (French/German) (PDF)

Further information



Epidemiologist Marcel Tanner is President of the Swiss Academies

The Assembly of Delegates has elected Marcel Tanner president of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences. The former director of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute has already been President a. i. in the last months and is currently a member of the Federal Government’s Covid-19 Science Task Force.

As president of the Swiss Academy of Natural Sciences since 2016, Marcel Tanner is familiar with the concerns and needs of the scientific community that is united under the umbrella of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences. He sees the role and strength of its members in the dialogue between science, politics and society. Further information can be found in the press release of the Academies.

Download press release (PDF)

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Prof. Henri Bounameaux is President of the SAMS

Today, 1 May 2020, Henri Bounameaux takes over the SAMS presidency from Daniel Scheidegger. He was unanimously elected to this position by the Senate in November 2019 and, as the previous Vice-President, is well prepared.

In Bulletin 1/2020 (p. 4) we introduced the new SAMS president in a short interview. In the next few weeks there will be further opportunities to read about Henri Bounameaux, while personal encounters will have to wait a little longer depending on the situation. Daniel Scheidegger will remain an asset for the SAMS as Vice-President. The current composition of the SAMS Executive Board can be found on our website.

Download Bulletin 1/2020, French version (PDF)

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The annual report 2019 is published online

The Annual Report 2019 is now available online. We use the advantages of the internet to link this review with further information and ongoing activities.

Those who prefer to leaf through rather than click have the option of downloading a printable PDF. We hope, you will enjoy discovering or rediscovering the many highlights of 2019. Our report is available in German or French.

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Covid-19 pandemic: interim report on patient triage

So far, the bottlenecks in Swiss hospitals feared because of Covid-19 have been avoided. The triage guidelines published by the SAMS and the Swiss Society for Intensive Care Medicine (SGI) are currently not being applied. Since their publication, however, they have been widely discussed and have led to numerous responses. How does the SAMS deal with this feedback?

Given the current situation, the SAMS and SGI have concluded that there is no immediate need to update the document. Rather, the feedback received should be carefully reviewed as part of an overall evaluation of the Covid-19 pandemic, in order to decide to what extent the guidelines should be adapted, or even whether they should remain in force. The guidelines and other relevant documents can be found on our website.

Further information



Coronavirus: recommendations for Palliative Care

The coronavirus infection threatens the entire population but the most at risk for serious and fatal courses are elderly people, who are often multimorbid and frail. Severe diseases with an unfavourable prognosis and mortality situations require good palliative care for the people concerned.

The current pandemic situation and the publication of the SAMS and SGI guidelines have encouraged the Association for Geriatric Palliative Medicine (FGPG) to develop additional practice-oriented recommendations. The SAMS welcomes this step and also makes the document (d/f/i/e) available on its website.

Download the recommendations for palliative care (PDF)

Further information



Covid-19 pandemic: guidelines for triage in intensive care units

Due to the speed at which the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is spreading in Switzerland, an emergency situation has occurred which will lead to a massive flux of patients into acute hospitals. The Swiss Society for Intensive Care Medicine (SGI) and the SAMS publish joint guidelines for rationing decisions in intensive care units.

The burden placed on medical staff in intensive care units (ICU) is very high. This makes it all the more important that uniform criteria for ICU admission and continued occupancy are applied throughout Switzerland. The new guidelines form the basis for such decisions. The guidelines supplement the SAMS Guidelines «Intensive-care interventions» (2013). Patients with COVID-19 and other patients requiring intensive care are treated according to the same criteria.

Further information



We are here for you – working from home

The SAMS General Secretariat is working from home until further notice. You can contact our collaborators by email or through their direct phone number. Full contact details can be found on our website or by clicking on the link below.

Postmail will be checked regularly but not daily. Please send us a copy of any urgent correspondence as a file attached to an e-mail to Thank you for your understanding.

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Covid-19: bottleneck situations in intensive care units

The situation in Italy shows how rapidly the situation around the coronavirus can change. Due to the speed at which the virus is spreading in Switzerland, bottlenecks could occur in intensive care units. The SAMS addressed this situation in its medical-ethical guidelines «Intensive-care interventions» (2013). These guidelines are still valid and can help doctors to orient themselves.

In a first phase, measures such as restrictive admission of patients, restriction of elective procedures or patient transfer can free up sufficient capacity for patients with pulmonary insufficiency. If an emergency situation arises with a large number of critically ill patients, rationing decisions will have to be made. It is important that these decisions are understandable and fair and that comparable criteria are applied throughout Switzerland for admission to and keeping patients in intensive care units. In order to alleviate the burden on doctors, the SAMS describes the criteria according to which ethically justifiable triage should be carried out in its medical-ethical guidelines «Intensive-care interventions».

Excerpt from the medical-ethical guidelines (chap. 9.3.) (PDF)

See the guidelines



KZS Fund call for proposals for young researchers in biomedical ethics

In 2020, the SAMS is providing a total of CHF 250’000.– from the Käthe-Zingg-Schwichtenberg Fund (KZS Fund) to support junior researchers in biomedical ethics who wish to carry out an independent research project with a Seed Grant. The submission deadline is 30 April 2020.

Contributions for 2020 from the KZS Fund are provided to junior researchers aiming at an academic career in biomedical, clinical or public health ethics. Up to CHF 50’000.– can be awarded per Seed Grant to explore innovative research ideas, to realize a small, independent pilot project or to prepare a project proposal to be submitted to a larger funding agency. Details on the call and procedure for submission can be found on our website.

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Autonomy in Medicine: Reflections on Happiness and Outlook

What is the relationship between happiness and medicine? And what is the connection between happiness and self-determination in medicine? Answers to these questions are provided in the latest conference volume from the cycle «Autonomy in Medicine». Based on the findings of this five-year cycle of reflection, recommendations for medical practice are currently being elaborated.

Autonomy is considered an essential condition for a happy life. What a person perceives as «happiness» in the sense of a successful life should therefore be reflected in all important decisions. Medicine, which often touches on existential questions, is no exception to this principle. The report «Autonomy and Happiness» (German/French) reflects the presentations and discussions of the symposium held in summer 2019. All the documents related to the five symposiums can be found on our website.

Download the report (German/French) (PDF)

Further information



Discover the new website of the Swiss Personalized Health Network

The Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN), a national initiative led by the SAMS in collaboration with the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, has launched its new website. The new website combines previous contents with the activities of the SIB Personalized Health Informatics Group. All information and documents related to the initiative can now be found in one place.

The website is currently available in English. Translation of selected pages into German and French will follow shortly. Would you like to get a brief overview of the initiative? Download the SPHN Fact-Sheet.

SPHN Fact-Sheet 2019 (PDF)

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New study on the obstacles and driving forces of interprofessional collaboration

Today, well-functioning interprofessional teams are considered an important component of a sustainable healthcare system. However, practical implementation is lagging behind. This discrepancy requires some explanation, which a new SAMS publication is attempting to address.

The new study draws a parallel with the theory of complex systems. According to this model, systems tend towards a state of equilibrium, that corresponds to the professional «normal case». Interprofessional collaboration, on the other hand, means a «deviation». Therefore, not only the basic model changes, but also a new equilibrium must be achieved. On the basis of semi-directive interviews with various health professionals, the authors identify the forces of liaison and opposition in these situations. You can download the electronic version or order a printed brochure free of charge.

Download the study (German, with a summary in French) (PDF)

Other publications



Robert Bing Prize in neurosciences 2020: call for applications

Every two years, the SAMS awards the Robert Bing Prize for outstanding achievements in neurosciences from the fund established by the Basel neurologist Robert Bing. The call for proposals is open until 31 March 2020.

Scientists and physicians (up to 45 years) doing research in basic, translational or clinical neurosciences are eligible for the Prize. Candidates should be Swiss or have been working in Switzerland for a significant amount of time. The prize amounts to CHF 50'000.–, the next submission deadline is 31 March 2020. For detailed information about the application procedure, please visit the Bing Prize website.

Synopsis of past laureates (PDF)

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Study on Clinical Preceptorship for Advanced Nurse Practitioners

The SAMS publishes a study on Clinical Preceptorship for Advanced Nurse Practitioners MSc, a new professional profile in our country. Based on scientific literature and numerous expert interviews, Prof. Iren Bischofberger and her colleagues have drawn several recommendations for practice, education and policy.

Until sufficiently experienced peers are available, it is the physicians who provide clinical preceptorship. The study commissioned by the SAMS shows, among other things, how this mentoring goes hand in hand with new educational tasks for physicians and how it transforms interprofessional collaboration. The study is published in German with a summary in French. You can download the electronic version or order a printed brochure free of charge.

Clinical Preceptorship for Advanced Nurse Practitioners MSc (in German) (PDF)

Other publications



Stern-Gattiker Prize 2020 for female role models in academic medicine

For the second time, the SAMS is launching a call for nominations for the Stern-Gattiker Prize to acknowledge the role of women in academic medicine and to motivate early-career female scientists. The Prize carries an award of CHF 15,000, the deadline for submission is 3 March 2020.

With the Stern-Gattiker Prize, the SAMS rewards every two years a female medical scientist who has obtained her postdoctoral qualification within the past ten years, holds a permanent position as a senior hospital physician, and who, in her own way, is considered as a role model. The proximity to the next generation of doctors and the commitment to gender equality are a plus. Detailed information on the nomination process can be found on our website.

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Prof. Henri Bounameaux will be the new president of the SAMS

The year 2020 will be a year of change for the SAMS. On 1 May, Daniel Scheidegger will hand over the presidency to his successor Henri Bounameaux, who was unanimously elected to this position by the Senate. Daniel Scheidegger will remain with the Academy as Vice-President.

Henri Bounameaux knows the SAMS very well. An individual member of the Senate since 2015, he joined the Executive Committee one year later and became Vice-President in 2019. He has participated in several SAMS working groups and represents the institution in external bodies. In his speech to the Senate, Henri Bounameaux emphasized that his programme would be that of the Academy, because: «Presidents pass, the Academy lasts». Get to know the new president better by reading his interview in Bulletin 1/2020 which will be published in March 2020. The current composition of the Executive Board can be found on our website.

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The SAMS is looking for a new Head, Ethics Department

The position of Head of the Ethics Department in the SAMS General Secretariat is vacant. Together with research funding, ethics is one of the two pillars of the SAMS and contributes to its national influence, particularly in the form of medical-ethical guidelines.

If you have a university degree, are trained in medical ethics, think strategically and conceptually, this position may be the right one for you. For details and contact information, please refer to the full text of the advertisement. The deadline for applications is Friday, 7 February 2020.

Download the advertisement (German) (PDF)