No to a ban on animal and human experimentation
On 13 February 2022, the federal popular initiative for a ban on animal and human experimentation will be put to the vote. Acceptance of this initiative would prevent biomedical research and new medical treatments. At stake are the high quality of healthcare and responsible research in Switzerland.
Together with the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences, swissuniversities and other scientific institutions, the SAMS recommends to reject the initiative. More information can be found on our website.Further information
Five additional Swiss cohorts can join the Maelstrom catalogue
The Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN) is committed to responsible and sustainable use of health data. With a new funding program, SPHN enables Swiss cohort studies to integrate their metadata in the international Maelstrom catalogue. The funding program thus strengthens international scientific collaborations and advances the reuse of these valuable data for research purposes in Switzerland.
The renowned Maelstrom catalogue scheme enables the visualization of comprehensive information from more than 240 studies from around the world, which are grouped into several research network. In June 2021, SPHN launched an open call for applications to allow Swiss cohort studies to join the Maelstrom catalogue. After a careful evaluation of the applications, five additional cohort studies will be supported. More information can be found in the SAMS’ newsletter published today.Further information
Clinical Research Careers: new online portal
Getting trained and planning a career as a clinical researcher can be challenging. One of the hurdles is the access to relevant information: Which path to follow? Which trainings to attend? What kind of career support and funding instruments exist locally and nationally? The new Clinical Research Careers web portal now provides all relevant information in one place.
With their joint project, the SAMS, the association Médecine Universitaire Suisse (unimedsuisse) and the Education Platform of the Swiss Clinical Trial Organisation (SCTO, project leader) aim at guiding young physicians throughout their career in clinical research. Explore the new web portal, which offers information on the diverse support offer by clicking on the link below.Visit the website
Intensive care triage: medical-ethical guidelines updated
The SAMS and the Swiss Society of Intensive Care Medicine (SSICM) have issued an updated version of the guidelines for intensive care triage under exceptional resource scarcity. Version 4 takes account of recent developments and is less strongly focused on Covid-19 patients, but the underlying ethical principles remain unchanged.
The revision of the guidelines was prompted primarily by changes in the background to the intense pressures on Switzerland’s ICUs: unlike the situation during the first waves of the Covid 19 pandemic, ICU treatment is now required not predominantly by elderly people with underlying conditions, but increasingly by younger, previously healthy patients. The updated guidelines (V4) are now available in French, German, English and Italian. Information on the main changes compared to the previous version can be found on our website.
Download the guidelines V4 (PDF)
Monkey, Mouse or Zebrafish? Considerations in choosing model organisms
On what considerations do researchers base their choice of model organisms for their work? How do they deal with the implicit moral hierarchy among animals, with primates at the top and fish at the bottom? Scientific and ethical questions concerning the choice of model organisms were at the heart of the symposium on 1 July 2021 organised by the Ethics Committee for Animal Experimentation (ECAE). The report is now available.
The aim of the symposium was to raise awareness of these issues among researchers, animal welfare officers and regulators. In order to address questions as concretely as possible, the topic of the symposium was discussed with reference to a specific research field – Alzheimer’s disease. The report, available in English, German and French, can be downloaded below or on the ECAE website.
Download the report (PDF)
Changes in the SAMS Ethics Department
Medical progress continually opens up new possibilities that raise challenging ethical questions. The SAMS Ethics Department supports the development of guidelines and recommendations that provide practical assistance to physicians and other health professionals in medical practice and biomedical research. Sibylle Ackermann is the new Head of Department as from 1 September 2021.
Sibylle Ackermann has worked in the General Secretariat for 11 years, first as a scientific collaborator and then as project manager for the Ethics Department. She will build on her many years of experience in the SAMS and her extensive network to bear on the numerous tasks ahead. She will be joined by Manya Hendriks, who holds a doctorate in biomedical ethics and a master's degree in anthropology and sociology. We wish Manya Hendriks a warm welcome. You will find all the faces of the General Secretariat in the «Portrait» menu.Visit the website
Peter Meier-Abt: a tribute to a tireless spokesman for science
Peter Meier-Abt, President of the SAMS for many years, passed away in May. In the next Bulletin we will publish a tribute to this tireless spokesman for science. The full version of the article can be found on our website. It was written jointly with the Swiss Personalised Health Network and the Swiss Clinical Trial Organisation, two institutions that he has significantly shaped.
Peter Meier-Abt was a man of many talents: a physician with two specialist titles, a leading clinical researcher and a tireless spokesman for science. His intelligence, energy and standing left their mark on all the positions he held during his career. We remember him with gratitude and fondness. Read the tribute on our website in French or in German.Visit the website
smarter medicine: Top 5 list for paediatrics
The association «smarter medicine – Choosing Wisely Switzerland», of which the SAMS is a member, aims to prevent unnecessary medical treatments. It promotes the development of Top 5 lists, for which medical societies determine interventions that should be avoided or only used under certain conditions. In August 2021, «pédiatrie suisse» (the Swiss Paediatric Society) published its list.
Like many other specialist societies, «pédiatrie suisse» supports the «smarter medicine» initiative. Its list contains five recommendations for the care of infants, children and adolescents and is aimed at paediatricians and general practitioners who care for children. The Top 5 list concerns paediatrics in private practice and in hospitals and focuses mainly on therapeutic aspects in the sense of «do not harm».
The recommendations can be downloaded below (in French). More information on the initiative and the Top 5 lists of other specialist societies can be found on the «smarter medicine» website (French or German).
Top 5 list for paediatrics in French (PDF)
White Paper: Seven goals for clinical research
What does publicly funded clinical research need to increase its benefit for patients and society? The SAMS White Paper Clinical Research presents a roadmap with seven goals to strengthen the impact of clinical research in Switzerland. It suggests ways on how to use resources more efficiently and how to align efforts on common priorities.
Considering the main stakeholders of clinical research, fragmentation, overlaps, and a lack of shared strategic priorities are evident. Elaborated by the SAMS on behalf of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation, the White Paper outlines in an action plan for change how to address the current challenges for clinical research so as to increase its benefit for all and to make Switzerland an international leader in the field.
Download the White Paper (PDF)
Science Communication in Switzerland: Assessment Report and Recommendations
What is the current state of science communication in Switzerland? Answers to this question are provided by an assessment report published by the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences. Together with a description of the actual situation, the report offers concrete recommendations on how science journalism in our country could be strengthened.
In addition to positive aspects – such as the high level of public trust in science or the wide range of formats available for science-society dialogue –, it also identifies challenges, like the insufficient support for researchers who communicate with the public, the erosion of science journalism, or the dissemination of dis- and misinformation on social media. Learn more in the report or at the online event on 19 August 2021.
Download the report (PDF)
Twelve MD-PhD grants awarded
The national MD-PhD program has awarded twelve 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 12 young researchers for funding out of the 25 candidates preselected by the local MD-PhD committees. The grants, amounting to a total of 2.2 million Swiss francs, 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 this autumn with a submission deadline set on 15 December 2021.
Synopsis of grantees (PDF)
New faces on the SAMS Executive Board
The Executive Board is renewing itself. At its meeting on 1 July 2021, it welcomed three new members recently elected by the Senate: Professor Luca Crivelli (Ticino), Professor Nicole Probst-Hensch (Basel) and Professor George Thalmann (Bern).
The SAMS takes this opportunity to say goodbye to Professor Claudio Bassetti and Professor Urs Brügger, who have both reached the end of their 8-year term of office on the Executive Board. The SAMS could not be active in so many areas without the voluntary commitment of members such as Professor Bassetti and Professor Brügger. We thank them very much for their dedication. You can find the current composition of the Executive Board on our website.Visit the website
The medical-ethical guidelines «Decisions on cardiopulmonary resuscitation» have been revised
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) decisions and their consequences involve considerable burdens for all concerned. The revised SAMS medical-ethical guidelines offer recommendations for medical professionals on how to proceed in various situations and provide guidance for discussing CPR with patients and relatives.
The interruption of the supply of oxygen to the brain in acute cardiac arrest requires immediate action. In the acute situation, it is particularly difficult to assess the individual prognosis, and the patient’s wishes are often not clear. To support medical professionals, the SAMS issued medical ethical guidelines in 2008. The revised version takes into account both medical and social developments, as well as the latest scientific findings. The guidelines are available online in four languages (eng/fr/ger/it), and print versions (fr/ger) can be ordered free of charge.
Medical-ethical guidelines: Decisions on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (2021) (PDF)
Health and environment co-benefits: what does the literature say?
Anthropogenic climate change jeopardises medical progress made in recent decades and may lead to a rise in malnutrition, threaten mental health, increase the incidence of cardiovascular, pulmonary and infectious diseases, and cause premature deaths. Following the publication in 2019 of its position paper on sustainable development of the health system, the SAMS is seeking to raise awareness of the relationship between health and the environment.
The concept of «co-benefits», which was discussed by Professor Nicolas Senn (Unisanté, Lausanne) in the SAMS Bulletin 4/2020, is explored in depth in the Revue Médicale Suisse with a comprehensive, interactive literature review (f/e). The analysis was conducted by the Department of Family Medicine at Unisanté Lausanne and the Interdisciplinary Center for Sustainable Development at University of Lausanne. Although considering environmental perspectives in clinical practice may be a given for some, the authors conclude that our society needs a real paradigm shift to rethink the concepts of health, disease, and the associated health services.
Download the SAMS Bulletin 4/2020 (in french) (PDF)
KZS Fund call for proposals: Access to care under resource scarcity
The SAMS is providing a total of CHF 250’000.– from the Käthe-Zingg-Schwichtenberg Fund (KZS Fund) for research in bio-medical ethics on the topic of «Access to medical and nursing care under resource scarcity». The submission deadline is 31 August 2021.
The 2021 call for proposals of the KZS Fund supports theoretical or empirical research projects that examine, from a clinical ethics and/or public health ethics perspective, how the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic is changing perceptions and assessments of equity and distribution debates in the event of resource scarcity. Applications can be written in German, French or English and must be registered online. Details on the call and procedure for submission can be found on the KZS Fund website.Visit the website
Nine Centres for Rare Diseases recognized
In May 2021, the National Coordination for Rare Diseases (kosek) recognized three Centres for Rare Diseases in addition to the six structures approved in 2020. These nine Centres ensure comprehensive geographical and linguistic coverage in Switzerland. As a founding member of kosek, the SAMS welcomes these developments.
The Centres for Rare Diseases are interdisciplinary contact points for patients with an unclear diagnosis who need more detailed investigations. The centres coordinate the care and expertise of the specialists involved, promote continuing education and research. They cooperate in a network to exchange information and to organise patient care in the best possible way. For more information, visit the kosek website (fr/ger/it).Visit the website
The SAMS pays tribute to Peter Meier-Abt
It is with sadness that the SAMS learned of the death of Peter Meier-Abt on 27 May 2021. A member of the Senate since 2000, Prof. Meier-Abt was President of the SAMS from 2011 to 2016 and Vice President from 2004 to 2011 and 2016 to 2018. He was the driving force behind the Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN), which he chaired from its inception.
With his great commitment, Peter Meier-Abt profoundly marked the SAMS over the past 20 years. The Academy has benefited substantially from his experience in the areas of promoting young scientists, fostering clinical research, scientific integrity and personalized health. As Martin Schwab wrote in the SAMS Bulletin in 2016 on the occasion of Peter Meier-Abt’s handover of the presidency: «Moving things, not only analyzing and pointing out weaknesses, but also proposing solutions and implementing them dynamically; passionately committed – that is how we knew Peter Meier-Abt.»
The President and the members of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences join the SAMS in expressing their sincerest condolences to the bereaved family.
Read the quoted article from Bulletin 4/2016 (French or German) (PDF)
SPHN has launched calls for «National Data Streams» and for cohorts
The Swiss Personalized Health Network has launched with the Personalized Health and Related Technologies (PHRT) initiative from the ETH Domain a joint call for «National Data Streams» (NDS). A second call enables Swiss cohort studies to present their metadata in an international catalogue.
The new NDS program provides funding for multidisciplinary consortia that invest in the development of sustainable health-related data infrastructure and contribute to the establishment of a Swiss personalized health ecosystem. SPHN and PHRT allocated together a total of CHF 20 million for the NDS program. The second call is specifically aimed at Swiss cohort studies. They are given the opportunity to improve their international visibility. For this purpose, SPHN finances the storage of cohort metadata in the renowned «Maelstrom» catalogue. More information about the two calls, including all necessary documents for applicants, is available on the SPHN website.Visit the website
National Working Group on Advance Care Planning
Health, illness and quality of life are decisive aspects of a dignified end of life. Addressing treatment options and dying at an early stage are essential for promoting self-determination. At the beginning of May, a national working group run jointly by the SAMS and the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) started its work with the aim of improving the framework conditions and quality standards in Switzerland.
Advance care planning involves discussing and documenting personal values, preferences, expectations and visions for treatment and care in the case of illness, accident or need for care. In order to promote and improve such planning, measures must be taken in Switzerland. Therefore, the Federal Council has mandated the FOPH, in collaboration with the SAMS, to set up a working group to lead the national process. More information is available in French and German.Further information
Young Talents in Clinical Research: 14 grants for young medical doctors
With the «Young Talents in Clinical Research» programme launched in 2017, the Gottfried and Julia Bangerter-Rhyner Foundation and the SAMS aim at encouraging young medical doctors to start out in clinical research. 14 grants have been awarded among the 61 proposals submitted within the 2020 call, which was extended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The YTCR programme focuses on assistant doctors who wish to be freed from clinical duty to gain a first research experience. The Bangerter Foundation makes ca. CHF 1 million available each year to this end until 2024. You can find the list of grantees and supported projects in the synopsis below (PDF). The 2021 call for proposal, with revised regulations, is already open. The submission deadline is 30 June 2021, details can be found on our website.
Synopsis of grantees (PDF)
A joint Code of Conduct for Scientific Integrity
The Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences understand it as their duty to promote scientific integrity in research and teaching and to contribute to good framework conditions. Together with swissuniversities, the Swiss National Science Foundation and Innosuisse, they are publishing the new Code of Conduct for Scientific Integrity.
The Code of Conduct is available in four languages (English, French, German, Italian). It describes a common understanding of scientific integrity and defines which responsibilities follow from this understanding. SAMS President Henri Bounameaux recommends: «Read, read again and above all apply it.» More information can be found on the Swiss Academies website.
Download the Code of Conduct (PDF)
Cochrane Library: Renewal of the national licence
With the support of swissuniversities, the SAMS has promoted the renewal of the national licence for the Cochrane Library until 2024. The Cochrane Library is available free of charge to professionals, but also to the Swiss population, enabling everyone to make informed health-related decisions thanks to reliable information.
The Cochrane network consists of around 12 000 people active in more than 130 countries. For over 25 years, they have been working together to produce systematic reviews without any commercial funding. The latter summarise research findings in the field of medical care and serve as a reliable basis for evidence-based medicine. The national licence is financed by the SAMS, the Federal Office of Public Health, the Swiss Medical Association as well as university libraries and hospitals. More information can be found on our website.Further information
Palliative Care: academic recognition for Steffen Eychmüller
Five years after his nomination at the newly created Chair in Palliative Care at the University of Bern, Prof. Eychmüller is appointed Chief Physician at the University Centre for Palliative Care at the Inselspital Bern and, at the same time, Extraordinarius at the University of Bern. The seed funding for the 2016 endowed professorship was provided jointly by the SAMS and Helsana to foster palliative care at the academic level.
The promotion is the result of Prof. Eychmüller's scientific activities in favour of the academic strengthening of palliative care at local, national and international level. In the field of research, Prof. Eychmüller is committed to the promotion of current topics such as Advance Care Planning and Community Palliative Care. He was also intensively involved in the SAMS funding programme «Research in Palliative Care» (2014 – 2018). The final report with goals, projects and results of the programme can be found on our website.
Smarter medicine: Top 5 List for general internal medicine in the outpatient setting
The association «smarter medicine – Choosing Wisely Switzerland», of which the SAMS is a member, aims to prevent unnecessary medical treatments. It promotes the development of Top 5 lists, for which medical societies determine interventions that should be avoided or only used under certain conditions. In April 2021, the Swiss Society of General Internal Medicine (SSGIM) published a second list for the outpatient setting.
A core concern of general internal medicine is the best possible care and treatment of increasingly multimorbid patients in GP practice and in hospital. As early as 2014, the predecessor of the SSGIM launched a campaign to improve quality and efficiency in the Swiss healthcare system and published a first Top 5 List in 2016. Now, the SSGIM follows up in the outpatient setting. The recently published recommendations can be downloaded below (in German). More information on the initiative and the Top 5 lists of other specialist societies can be found on the «smarter medicine» website (German or French).
Top 5 List for general internal medicine, in German (PDF)
Discover our project overview from A–Z at a glance
Serving as a think tank, the SAMS aims to encourage reflection on challenging issues in medicine and to help shape developments. An alphabetical list of keywords from A to Z on our website makes it easier to find the many topics covered.
In the newly structured menu you will find an overview of the topics we are currently working on or have worked on in recent years, an overview of the networks in which the SAMS participates and, lastly, information on the medicine and health-related activities of other members of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences. Take a look, ask questions or let us know if we can do things better.Visit the website
Young Talents in Clinical Research: Call 2021
With the «Young Talents in Clinical Research» programme, the Gottfried and Julia Bangerter-Rhyner Foundation and the SAMS aim at encouraging young medical doctors to start out in clinical research. For 2021, CHF 1 million is made available to finance «protected research time» and «project grants» for a consecutive research project. The submission deadline is 30 June 2021.
The YTCR programme, which comprises two funding instruments, «beginner grants» and «project grants», focuses on residents who wish to be freed from clinical duty to gain a first research experience. Details on the adapted participation criteria, submission procedure and evaluation can be found in the updated programme regulations, on our website and in the FAQ.
Download the regulations (PDF)
Discover the SAMS Annual Report 2020 online
For the SAMS too, 2020 was a year marked by the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it was more than that: we dealt with numerous topics ranging from A for Autonomy to S for Smarter Medicine, published various brochures, implemented funding programmes and awarded prizes. You can find all the details in our online annual report (in French or German).
For those who prefer browsing rather than clicking, you can download a PDF version and print it out. We hope you enjoy discovering or rediscovering the many highlights that reflect our commitment to science, medicine and society.Visit the website
Neurosciences: Call for the Théodore Ott Prize 2022
Every five years, the SAMS announces the Theodore Ott Prize for established researchers in neurosciences. Bequeathed by the Professor of Neurology from Lausanne Théodore Ott (1909 – 1991), the Prize is endowed with 50’000 francs and honours outstanding work in the field of basic neurological research. The submission deadline is 31 May 2021.
In accordance with the donor's will, the Prize is awarded primarily to Swiss researchers or research groups from Swiss universities. Applications can be submitted by the candidates or by the heads of their institute or academic institution. For detailed information about the application procedure, please visit the Ott Prize website.
Synopsis of past laureates (PDF)
Swiss Personalized Health Network: changes in the Management Office
The Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN) was launched in 2017 to contribute to the development, implementation and validation of the research infrastructure necessary for health data interoperability and sharing in Switzerland. Having served for seven months as director ad interim of the Management Office, Myriam Tapernoux passes on the baton to Thomas Geiger.
Already in charge of the Science Department at the SAMS, Myriam Tapernoux added in August 2020 the ad interim direction of the SPHN Management Office to her tasks. On 1 March 2021, she is returning full time to her duties as head of the Science Department. Thomas Geiger was manager of «Personalized Health Basel» before joining the SAMS. Thanks to this experience, he is ideally prepared to take over the direction of the Management Office. More information about SPHN can be found on the website.Visit the website
Young Talents in Clinical Research: funding renewed for 2021 – 2024
The Gottfried and Julia Bangerter-Rhyner Foundation and the SAMS launched the Young Talents in Clinical Research (YTCR) funding programme in 2017 to encourage more young medical doctors to start out in clinical research. The Bangerter Foundation has renewed its generous support for a period of four years with a total of 4 million francs.
YTCR finances, with 1 million francs per year, protected time for research (beginner grants) and project grants for young clinicians who wish to take their first steps in research. Since 2017, the programme has established itself, is recognised and fills a gap as the only national competitive instrument to support starters in clinical research. The next call for proposals will be launched at the end of March 2021 with slightly adapted regulations. Further information on the programme can be found on our website.Link to the programme
Neurosciences: Robert Bing Prize 2020 for Johanna Joyce and Grégoire Courtine
The Robert Bing Prize 2020 goes to Lausanne: Johanna Joyce, professor at the University of Lausanne and member of the international Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, is distinguished for her pioneering work on the role of immune cells in the development of brain tumours. Grégoire Courtine, Professor at EPFL, the University of Lausanne and CHUV, is awarded the Prize for his highly innovative research on neurotechnology to restore walking ability after a spinal cord injury. Each prize is worth 30’000 francs.
Every two years, the SAMS bestows the Robert Bing Prize. In accordance with the donor’s will, the Prize is awarded to researchers who have done outstanding work to improve the recognition, treatment and cure of neurological diseases. Due to the corona virus situation, laureates were confirmed by the SAMS Senate at the end of 2020 only, and the announcement was postponed to 2021. The award ceremony will take place on 27 May 2021. Further information about the laureates and the Prize can be found in the media release published today and on our website.
Media release (PDF)
SPHN: Report from the National Steering Board 2016 – 2019
Personalized health has the potential to transform health research and the healthcare system towards more quality and efficiency. The Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN) initiative was launched in 2016 on behalf of the Confederation with the aim of developing a national research infrastructure for interoperable health data. The report of the National Steering Board 2016 – 2019 presents the progress of the initiative and the challenges to be met.
The report presents the many infrastructures, technologies and methods that SPHN and its partners have developed to enable research with large amounts of sensitive data in a responsible, ethical, secure and legally compliant manner. One of the most important achievements of the first phase of the initiative is the in-depth analysis of the systemic challenges and complexity of data-driven health research in the Swiss federalist system. On that basis, solutions were developed with the aim to establish a sustainable research ecosystem for personalized health. You can download the report below or order a free printed copy.
Download the report (PDF)
Science Communication: Call for Proposals
The Future of Science Communication Conference brings together European actors from research and practice of science communication. The conference will take place on 24-25 June 2021 in Berlin. It is co-organised by «Wissenschaft im Dialog» and ALLEA, the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities. The call for proposals is open until 28 February 2021.
Who can apply? The organizing committee explicitly encourages the submission of contributions by researchers as well as practitioners whose research and work is focused on science communication and the relationship between science, researchers and the public. The «Call for Proposals» (PDF) provides all the necessary information including the application form. More information regarding the conference can be found on the ALLEA website.
Call for Proposals (PDF)
Chances and risks of commercial DNA testing
As DNA analysis is becoming less and less expensive, genetic tests are becoming more and more accessible. However, their commercialization raises technical, legal and societal issues. At the end of 2020, TA-SWISS, the centre of excellence for Technology Assessment incorporated in the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences, published a study on this topic.
The researchers draw attention in particular to the blurred delimitation between so-called lifestyle genetic testing and medical tests, the abuse of parentage tests and the risks of using DNA phenotyping in criminal investigations. The study published by TA-SWISS is available as a report (German), a summary (English) or a short explanatory film. Download the summary below or visit the TA-SWISS website.
Download the summary (PDF)
New members in the bodies of the SAMS
At the beginning of the year, several changes are taking place in the different bodies of the SAMS. Prof. Paul Hoff (Zurich) becomes president of the Central Ethics Committee and ex officio member of the Executive Board. He succeeds Prof. Jürg Steiger (Basel) in both functions. In addition, the SAMS Senate elected seven new individual and honorary members by correspondence in November 2020.
A further change awaits the SAMS Executive Board from 1 February 2021. Dr. Jürg Schlup, ex officio member as President of the FMH, will hand over to his successor, Dr. Yvonne Gilli. The SAMS General Secretariat cordially welcomes the new members. Further details on the organisation of the Academy can be found in the "Portrait" menu.About SAMS
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.Visit the website
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.Visit the website
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)
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 sams.ch/en/contact 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 email@example.com. Thank you for your understanding.Visit the website
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)
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.Visit the website
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.Visit the website
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.Visit the website
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)