All posts by SAAN

SAAN public lecture in Melbourne: Switzerland – A Paradise for Research?

The Swiss Australian Academic Network (SAAN) identified a unique opportunity to invite Prof Ed Palmer to deliver a public lecture in Melbourne during his visit to Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne as the guest of the Australian Society of Immunology. Prof Palmer is best known for his seminal contributions his group at University of Basel has made to our understanding of self-tolerance that allows our immune system to differentiate between pathogens and foreign cells, and those that make up the organs of the own body. To maximize exposure of this lecture, the event was held on November 20 at the Royal Society of Victoria in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD and also included as speakers Drs Markus German and Daniel Häusermann, two resident scientists from Switzerland.

In his keynote address “Switzerland – A Paradise for Research?”, Prof Palmer used the example of the academic institutions in which his own career was fostered to illustrate the differences of approaches by (medical) science funding agencies to support research in Switzerland and Australia. He also contrasted the attitude of the research environment frequently encountered in the world’s few top tier Universities with the more collegial and supportive environments common to the next level of Research Institutes. Prof Palmer’s insightful analysis painted a complimentary picture of the often more generous funding opportunities available to (established) researchers in Switzerland, with the greater willingness of Institutions and funding agencies to support high risk research in Australia. There was a general recognition among the audience that this information is of great relevance when tailoring future funding applications for collaborative research efforts involving scientists from both countries.

Dr Germann, a postdoctoral SNSF recipient, provided the audience with a first-hand account of the challenge of deciding on a host laboratory in Australia given the high density of world leading research groups comprehensively covering most areas of biomedical research in Australia. His forthcoming transfer to the EPFL in Lausanne will provide a strong link for SAAN to further strengthen bilateral exchange with scientists in the French-speaking part of Switzerland.

In his presentation Dr Häusermann, the nuclear physicist in charge of the biomedical beam line at the Australian synchrotron, expressed his delight about the most recent transfer of this world-class facility from a Victoria state-funded operation to being run by ANSTO, the Federally funded Australian Nuclear Research and Development organization. This important step ensures long-term viability of a unique resource for the ultrastructural analysis of living organisms that is centrally located among Melbourne’s leading Universities and Research Institutes. Customized on-site housing facilities for animals enables complex monitoring throughout long-term experiments that is currently not possible in most other synchrotron facilities around the globe.

This SAAN lecture event, made possible in part through the ongoing financial support of SAAN by Novartis, Roche and Nestlé as well as The Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI, attracted an audience in excess of 80 with a large proportion comprising early career postdoctoral researchers as well as many of Melbourne’s leading scientists. The evening was opened by Prof Ernst, President of SAAN and in his closing remarks Prof Medcalf, secretary of SAAN, acknowledged the evening’s attendance of Switzerland’s Honorary Consul for Melbourne, Ms Erika Kimpton.

Ambizione: Funding scheme through SNSF aiming young researchers. Call for proposals

With Ambizione, Ambizione-PROSPER, Ambizione-SCORE (hereinafter Ambizione), the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) would like to promote junior researchers in all disciplines. This funding scheme is aimed at young researchers who would like to conduct, manage and lead an independently planned project at a Swiss university.

Ambizione is aimed at qualified researchers from Switzerland who are spending a stay abroad or have returned after a stay abroad, e.g. within a fellowship for advanced researchers. Moreover, Ambizione would like to attract the best, next-generation foreign talents to carry out research work in Switzerland.

Researchers will be subsidised for a maximum of three years with a salary (research associate level) and research funds. Research funds may also be used to employ support personnel. Candidates with sufficient experience may apply for the appointment of a PhD student under specific conditions if good reasons can be given.

The approval of applications is always dependent on the agreement of the host institute. A prerequisite for submitting an application to Ambizione is a confirmation from the host institute, giving the applicant adequate support in covering expenses (e.g. material, equipment, personnel, travel, etc.).

Conditions of participation

    • Doctorate
    • At the time of the submission deadline: Application submitted generally up to 5 years after doctorate
    • At the time of the submission deadline (for medical scientists): At least three years of postgraduate clinical/practical activity (qualification as specialist an advantage). Application submitted generally up to 9 years after the state examination
    • High-level publications
    • At the time of the submission deadline: after conferal of doctorate, research activities of at least 12 months at a university other than where the candidate obtained the doctorate

Evaluation procedure

The evaluation procedure is organised in two phases. In the first phase, the National Research Council of the SNSF makes an initial selection based on the documents submitted. In the second phase, candidates are invited to an interview to present their research project and career plan. The target figure for the proportion of female candidates is 35 %. Each year, 40 – 50 grants are awarded.

Call for applications and submission

All application documents should be submitted electronically via the web platform mySNF. Submissions will only be accepted in response to a specific call. Applications received outside the application period will be processed during the next application period.

Next call for applications: 14 November 2013
Next submission deadline: 14 February 2014
Start of the grant: 1 September 2014 at the earliest; 1 September 2015 at the latest

mySNF: To meet the submission deadline a mySNF user account must be requested two weeks before the submission deadline at the latest.

*please refer to the mentioned website below to apply*

*share and spread this news freely*

Reference Link: Ambizione Website

Bees buzzing in Sydney

“If the bee disappears from the surface of the Earth, man would have no more than four years left to live.” Einstein.

After the welcoming words of the new Swiss General Consul to Australia, Mr Ernst Steinmann, and SAAN member and EPFL Alumni Dr. Steve Cochard, the Swiss documentary ‘More than honey’ was screened in a fully booked up auditorium at the University of Sydney. With the provocative quote by Einstein, and searching for answers for the current worldwide honeybee colony decline, the documentary took the audience on a fascinating journey to meet almond growers in California, human pollinators in China, beekeepers in the Swiss mountains and researchers in Australia. Back in the auditorium, the showing of the film was followed by an animated panel discussion. Chaired by Prof. Barbara and BorisRoland Stocker, Vice-President of SAAN, the panel was composed of eminent researchers, specialized in the behavior of social insects: Prof. Madeleine Beekman, Associate Professor Nathan Lo, Prof. Ben Oldroyd (all University of Sydney), Prof. Boris Baer and Dr. Barbara Baer Imhoof (both University of Western Australia). The latter two have been intensively involved in the making and promotion of the film ‘More than Honey’ and served as scientific consultants to director Markus Imhoof. The panelists pointed towards current and future risks for Australia’s honeybees and explained how Australia’s isolation and strict quarantine policy helps to protect their bees from infectious diseases. Further, the audience was given the opportunity to ask specific questions on the making of the film and the work of the present bee researchers. During the following cocktail, the audience engaged in discussion on the themes highlighted by the various speakers.

SAAN kindly acknowledges EPFL Alumni, ETH Alumni, the Swiss Consulate General, the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation, and the University of Sydney for their generous support of this most successful event.

More than Honey has without any doubt played an important role in raising awareness of the global issue of bee decline; let’s keep fingers crossed for its nomination of Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards 2014.

Scholarships for UNIL Summer UG Research Programme in Biology 2014

The University of Lausanne School of Biology launches a call for applications to the 5th Summer Undergraduate Research (SUR) Programme in the biological sciences.

This English-taught 8-week programme (July 3rd to August 26th, 2014) aims at introducing Bachelor-level students to the world of biological and biomedical research: Individual students will be each integrated in a different experimental research laboratory of the School of Biology. This 5th edition of the SUR Programme will host around 20 participants from all over the world, including a couple of local students.

A full scholarship toward tuition costs, living expenses and justified travel costs will be awarded to all selected participants.

Application deadline: January 31st, 2014.

More information about the programme:

Please kindly disseminate this information through whichever channel you think appropriate. A flyer can be retrieved by contacting