Translational projects at Empa and PSI get extra funding

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Following a selection process by an international review panel, the Executive Committee of the ETH Board’s Strategic Focus Area Personalized Health and Related Technologies (PHRT) has chosen to fund three projects from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) and Empa with an overall budget of CHF 1 million.

Through its Strategic Focus Area Personalized Health and Related Technologies (PHRT), in collaboration with Swiss hospitals, the ETH Domain has been promoting the integration of ETH technologies into clinical practice for the benefit of patients since 2017.

Expressing his enthusiasm for the newly funded projects, Bernd Wollscheid, Chairman of the review panel, stated: "By supporting these three projects spearheaded by Empa and PSI, PHRT enables innovative technologies developed within ETH Domain institutions to be evaluated with clinical partners on human samples. Successful translation of such projects today and further testing in clinical trials are the basis for new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies benefiting patients tomorrow."

These groundbreaking studies, funded by PHRT, exemplify the ETH Domain’s commitment to, together with its clinical partners, drive the future of healthcare. By leveraging novel technologies and algorithms developed by the ETH Domain’s institutions, these projects aim to enhance clinical decision-making and therapeutics, benefiting patients in Switzerland and worldwide.

The project proposed by Inge Herrmann from Empa in collaboration with the Cantonal Hospital of St. Gallen and the Cleveland Clinic (USA) aims at developing a monitoring system to analyze the surgical drain fluid after digestive surgery. Based on colorimetric sensors, the results of this project will help in preventing complications after surgery and support a more efficient health care for patients undergoing digestive surgery.

The project proposed by Serena Psoroulas at PSI, in collaboration with the University Hospital of Geneva, will test a new form of radiotherapy, called flash proton therapy, in a preclinical model of an aggressive form of brain cancer mainly affecting children. The results of these studies should open the door for the first clinical trial implementing this therapeutic approach in children suffering from this type of cancer.

The project led by Marco Stampanoni of PSI, in collaboration with the University Hospital of Zurich, aims at developing a computer tomography imaging technique based on X-ray phase contrast for mammography. This new technique allows a more detailed assessment of the soft tissues compared to classical X-ray imaging. This study will improve the capacity of diagnosing breast cancer.

The Personalized Health and Related Technologies (PHRT) is a strategic focus area of the ETH Domain, running from 2017 to 2024 and dedicated to advancing personalized healthcare through the integration of cutting-edge technologies, research collaborations, and innovative clinical trials. PHRT aims to bridge the gap between academia and clinical practice, driving the development and implementation of transformative healthcare projects.