News 2012

Publication Dec 19, 2012

Gift yourself a Horizon!

Do we need more permanent positions at universities? Why do we get out of bed two hours later when we are 20 compared to when we are 60?
You may find answers and more questions in the December issue of the science magazine «Horizonte», which is jointly published by the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences and the Swiss National Science Foundation. The magazine is published four times a year and can be subscribed free of charge.

Current issue (pdf in Germanin French)
Complimentary subscription to Horizonte (German) / Horizons (French)

Publication Dec 13, 2012

Medicine for the healthy? Report on «Human Enhancement»

Sometimes body and mind are in their best form: communicative performance is excellent; concentration and stamina help doing a great job. Will pharmaceutical drugs be able to reinforce such a condition?
The term «Human enhancement» describes medical treatments aiming at improving traits unrelated to sickness. The Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences now report on the state of neuro-enhancement. The review summarises new empirical studies from Switzerland, discusses ethical questions and presents recommendations for dealing with human enhancement.

Download of the publication (pdf) in German or French
Further information in German or French

Conference Dec 3, 2012

A Sustainable Health System for Switzerland
4 December 2012, Inselspital Berne, Paediatric Clinic

The Swiss health system gives reason for concern: to guarantee the personnel necessary in the health professions is difficult. The distribution of professional qualifications does not correspond to the requirements, the primary health care is threatened acutely. Costs are rising while the demands for services grow. Against this background, the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences launched the project «Sustainable health system» to sensibilise population and medical profession as well as to show up possible solution approaches.
At the conference on 4 December 2012 in Berne, project results will be presented. At the same time, the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences will release a Roadmap that presents the measures that need to be taken by which actors and with which urgency.

Press release (German / French)
Further information
Newsletter 4/2012: For a sustainable health care system (pdf, German; pdf, French)

Prix de Quervain Nov 14, 2012

Prix de Quervain 2012 for medical high altitude research

More relaxed and recreational holidays in the mountains for persons suffering from suspension of breathing during sleep – this is a promise given in the research by Yvonne Nussbaumer-Ochsner from the university hospital Zurich, for which she is awarded the Prix de Quervain 2012. The award ceremony by the Swiss Committee on Polar 
and High Altitude Research is on 14 November in the Alpine Museum in Berne.

Press release (German / French)
Programme (pdf, German/French)
Information and registration (German/French)

Conference Nov 1, 2012

Private sponsoring of chairs: animated workshop

More than 30 representatives from tertiary institution administrations, cantonal departments of education, researchers and funders took part in the workhop «Sponsoring of chairs: opportunities and risks» in Berne on 23 October. The input presentations were followed by an animated discussion on the implications of such private financing on the independence of university research. A majority of participants spoke out in favour of the Academies developing guidelines to protect the interests of donors and beneficiaries.

Presentations (pdf; in German)
Workshop report by the Academies (pdf; in German)
Media reports: Le Temps, NZZ, Radio DRS2
Article by Thomas Cueni (Interpharma), Basler Zeitung

Publication Oct 18, 2012

A nationally co-ordinated spatial planning for the expansion of renewable energies

The expansion of renewable energies aspired for needs to be connected to spatial planning. This way, further urban sprawl and an escalation of technical installations in the free landscape can be prevented. A national planning of preferential and connected areas can facilitate the use of energy in suitable areas on the one hand, and allows preserving natural and landscape assets especially worthy of protection. With its new study, the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences support important elements of the Federal Council’s energy strategy.

Download the publication:
Short version (pdf; German, French)
Full version (pdf; German)
Media release (GermanFrench)

Conference Oct 9, 2012

ScienceComm'12 was a success

On 27-28 September, the congress ScienceComm'12 took place on Rapperswil Castle. The congress is established as a market place to discuss ideas among science communication professionals and is likely to be the only congress of its kind in central Europe. The congress was visited by 194 participants from Switzerland and neighbouring countries. «With the congress ScienceComm, the foundation Science et Cité is taking an active part in bringing together the science communication professionals of Switzerland. We are looking forward to the ScienceComm'13 in La Chaux-de-Fonds», says Philipp Burkard, the new Executive Secretary of Science et Cité.

Further information and pictures from the congress

prize award Oct 1, 2012

Media Prize 2012

On Thursday 27 September 2012, on the occasion of the congress ScienceComm'12 in Rapperswil, the "Media Prize of the Swiss Academies" to the amount of 40,000 Swiss Francs, was awarded to the following people for having transmitted scientific information in a brilliant way: Sabine Bitter and An Lac Truong Dinh (human and social sciences), Fleur Daugey (natural sciences), Odette Frey and Cécile Guerin (medicine) as well as to Olivier Dessibourg and This Wachter (technical sciences).
Further information

conference Sep 14, 2012

ScienceComm'12: still places available

You may still register for the congress ScienceComm'12 on the topic «Science communication in the areas environment, health and children/youth» until 20 September. The complete programme with abstracts on the individual presentations and workshops are available at

Balzan Prize Foundation Sep 10, 2012

Balzan Prizewinners 2012

The International Balzan Prize Foundation awards four annual prizes to people or organisations who have made outstanding achievements in the fields of humanities, natural sciences, culture, as well as for endeavours for peace and the brotherhood of man. The amount of each of the four 2012 Balzan Prizes are 750.000 Swiss Francs, half of which must be destined to research work.

The Balzan Prizewinners 2012 were proclaimed today in a public announcement:
- Ronald Dworkin (USA), New York University, for Jurisprudence
- Reinhard Strohm (Germany), University of Oxford (UK), for Musicology
- Kurt Lambeck (Australia), Australian National University, for Solid Earth Sciences
- David Baulcombe (UK), University of Cambridge, for Epigenetics.

Further information

Publication Sep 3, 2012

Research magazine Horizonte / Horizons

The research magazine Horizonte / Horizons will, from now on, be jointly issued by the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences and the Swiss National Science Foundation. It considers, four times a year, the interface between science, politics and society and reports on new results and insights from all scientific disciplines. The magazine addresses itself to a broad audience interested in scientific questions.

Current issue (in German, pdf, 7 MBin French, pdf, 7 MB)
Complimentary subscription to Horizonte / Horizons
Press release (GermanFrench)

Position statement Aug 30, 2012

Clear framework conditions strengthen cross-boundary biodiversity research: the Academies welcome the ratification of the Nagoya Protocol

The Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences welcome the planned ratification of the Nagoya Protocol. This would strengthen the confidence of countries rich in biodiversity in the research location Switzerland. Hereby the Government confines itself to a minimum of administrative guidelines for academic research, which the academies explicitly recognise in their position statement in the legislative process by consultation.

Press release in German
Press release in French

Publication Aug 15, 2012

Annual report

Please find the annual report 2011 of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences here:
download (pdf in German language, 2 MB)

publication on future energy supply Aug 9, 2012

Energy turnaround vital, tremendous challenges

In a new publication, the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences, in co-operation with more than 50 experts, develop a possible future of energy supply in Switzerland. The change to renewable energies as well as the great demand in renewing and expanding the production and transmission let expect a significant conversion of the electricity system. The Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences welcome that the government intends to develop a clear framework for the energy policy in the coming years. In principle, they support the orientation proposed in the new energy policy, namely to use energy more efficiently and to expand renewable power production.

Download the publication:
Short version (pdf, 2.1 MB; in German)
Long version (pdf, 4.9 MB; in German)
Press release (in German)

Lecture Jul 30, 2012

Annual Balzan Lecture 2012 «Fair Society, Healthy Lives»
University of Zurich, Assembly Hall, 29 August 2012, 5-7.30pm

This year’s Annual Balzan Lecture will be given by Sir Michael Marmot, University College London, 2004 Balzan Prizewinner in Epidemiology. The aim of this lecture is to present recent research on the project «Fair Societies, Healthy Lives». This project highlights the influence of social inequalities on health and life expectancy and tries to give advice on taking suitable action.

The lecture will be held in English.

The deadline for inscription has expired.

Publication Jul 4, 2012

Measuring the use of natural resources

Human interventions in nature are more and more intensive and global, and thus interactions between humans and the environment are more and more complex and unpredictable. Suitable indicators help to understand and assess the effects of human action in order to find measures for a more sustainable governance of the environment. A new publication of the Swiss Academies of Sciences provides an overview.

Download of the publication (pdf, 2.3 MB, in English)
Press release (in German)

Conference Jun 27, 2012

Urban Development and Public Transportation

On 30 August 2012, the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences (SATW) organises an international symposium on «Urban Development and Public Transportation – Improved Understanding of the Interdependencies». Renowned experts from all over the world give lectures on the subject from different angles. The symposium aims at developing recommendations for the planning of efficient and sustainable development in urban areas. The symposium is the part of the three-day annual meeting of CAETS, the global umbrella organisation of academies in engineering science. Interested persons are cordially invited to participate at this one-day event.

Further information

Rio+20 Jun 25, 2012

Rio+20 for science

The final document resulting from the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), which was adopted on 22 June 2012, represents a minimal consensus among the negotiating states about the future they want. The text nevertheless provides the basis for continued work in the area of Sustainable development at all levels. We present the summary by Hans Hurni who represented the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences in the Swiss delegation at Rio+20.

Summary by Hans Hurni (pdf, in German)
Interview with Hans Hurni in the programme "Science", Radio DRS2, 23 June 2012 (in German)

Publication Jun 19, 2012

Where am I?

Simplified positioning, facilitated accident assistance, optimisation in the domain of transport: more and more often, location data becomes a basis for business models and services. Yet, the handling of private geodata also entails risks. The use of location-based information for marketing or supervision purposes is contentious. With the study «Localised and identified. How location technologies change our lives», TA-SWISS points out the advantages of location technologies for the economy and society, while analysing possible ethical, legal or societal problems, and provides a number of recommendations for action for the handling of location-based data.

Download the publication free of charge at

Press release (in German)

Promotion of young researchers Jun 8, 2012

Young Alpine researchers honoured

On the occasion of the congress Phil.Alp for young researchers in Thun, Switzerland, the Alpine research commission ICAS of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences honoured the geologist Corinne Kämpfer (Institute for Geology, University of Berne, Switzerland) and Dr Frieder Voll (Institut for Geography, University of Erlangen, Germany) with an award. Corinne Kämpfer analysed in her Master thesis outbreaks of new lakes related to glacier movements – a significant hotspot in times of retreat of glaciers. In his doctoral study, Frieder Voll illustrates that the accessibility of an Alpine region within the regions is more important for its development than its connection to superior transport systems.

Summary of all presentations (in German or French)

Publication May 17, 2012

Factsheets for a policy of sustainability

On 20-22 June 2012, presidents and prime ministers from all over the world will meet at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), or Rio+20, in short. In view of this conference, the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences, in collaboration with Swiss researchers, prepared  factsheets on the following topics: water resources, development of mountainous regions, biodiversity and food security. They summarise the state of knowledge and contain policy recommendations, both for the international and national arena.

Further information

Conference and Internet discussion Apr 25, 2012

Boosting competences in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics

The Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences take part in organising a conference during the WORLDDIDAC Basel / Didacta Schweiz on 23-24 October 2012 in Basel. You are cordially invited to take part in an Internet discussion that is already open. Opinions from this discussion regarding the skills shortage in the areas of STEM (MINT in German) will be taken as input for the upcoming conference.

Programme (pdf, in German)
Link to the Internet discussion
Further information and registration

Festival Apr 23, 2012

Swiss Life Sciences Festival 7-13 May 2012

The festival Swiss Life Sciences takes place on 7-13 May 2012 in Basel, Berne, Davos, Geneva, Lausanne, Wädenswil und Zurich. If you want to experiment in a lab yourself, ask questions to experts and take part in discussions: the festival offers public events and the possibility to experience research in biology, medicine and genetics.

Further information

Call for Abstracts Apr 4, 2012

ScienceComm'12: Call for Abstracts is open

The Congress ScienceComm on 27-28 September 2012 links players in science communication of Switzerland. If programme includes presentations, workshops, a science Biergarten and a market place. We invite you to submit your abstracts until 7 May 2012 in the following categories:

•    Health and Medicine
•    Environment
•    Children and adolescents

Further information: pdf and

Call for Abstracts Apr 4, 2012

Technology Assessment in the service of a pluralistic political system

Every two years, the Network Technology Assessment (NTA), the organisation of the German speaking institutions active in the field of Technology Assessment, holds a conference to share information, identify research topics, initiate co-operations and reflect upon the role and significance of TA in science and society. This year's conference coincides with the jubilee of TA-SWISS, looking back at and celebrating 20 years of TA-experience in Switzerland.

Call for Abstracts (pdf)

Publication Mar 29, 2012

Benefits and value of medical interventions

«Methods of assessing the benefits and value of medical interventions» is a study conducted on behalf of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences by PD Dr Matthias Schwenkglenk and Dr Florian Gutzwiller from the Institute of Pharmaceutical Medicine at the University of Basel. Their work describes the methods for evaluating medical interventions and their application in different countries along with their advantages and disadvantages. It summarises the possible value of such methods for application in Switzerland. The study was presented on 29 March 2012 during a public conference in Berne.

Publication Mar 16, 2012

«Medical Humanities in Switzerland»

Since the Bologna Accords, the humanities are being integrated into medical curricula at Swiss universities and colleges. The Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences publish a survey on the implementation of Medical Humanities in Switzerland. The publication also contains a brief overview on the socio-medical research in Switzerland.
Download of the publication (pdf, in German)

Position statement Mar 7, 2012

The energy turnaround is not so much a technical, but a societal challenge

In their position statement, the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences welcome the «Federal concept of energy research 2013-2016». However, research questions in the social sciences and humanities should be dealt with more profoundly. Generally speaking, the human factor is missed out in most study areas presented in the concept. In many domains it is known on the technical level which behaviour would be target-aimed. Yet, the main problem is to convince people to act accordingly.
Press release (in German)
Position statement (in German)

Tools for schools Feb 22, 2012

New web platform for school teachers

The Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences established educa.MINT, a web platform offering teachers help and orientation with the vast number of materials and events that are available for teaching children of any age in the MINT  areas (mathematics, informatics, natural sciences, technics).
Press release (pdf, in German)

Publication Jan 16, 2012

Medical Humanities

Physicians need to be able to write and interpret case histories. Dealing with texts and narrations is one of the areas in which students of medicine can benefit from exchange with humanists. The Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences have organised three interdisciplinary workshops on the topic «Intimacy and Intrusion», in which the protection of intimacy in the context of disease was discussed. The collaboration of medical scientists and humanists remains a highly complex venture, as is stated in the report on the workshops; it contravenes professional specialisation, puts one's own view into perspective, and thus helps expanding the personal horizon.

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