SPHN

05.12.2023

SPHN: The ELSI Advisory Group in a new composition

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The ELSI Advisory Group (ELSIag) of the Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN) addresses the ethical, legal and social aspects of health data sharing. After 7 years, Effy Vayena is handing over the ELSIag chair to Susanne Driessen. In addition, Michaela Egli has joined the SAMS General Secretariat to support the committee as new ELSI project manager of SPHN.

From the outset, the protection of sensitive personal data has been an essential premise of the SPHN initiative. The «Ethical Framework for Responsible Data Processing» was thus developed as one of SPHN’s first pioneering frameworks. In the upcoming year, the group will focus on questions related to the sharing of genomic data. The two new members, Thomas Gächter and Benno Röthlisberger, complement the broad expertise of the ELSIag. Detailed information on the ELSIag can be found on the SPHN website.

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Ethics

04.12.2023

Revision of the guidelines «Coercive measures in medicine»

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In medical practice, coercion can take several forms, their ethical and legal status ranging from «necessary» to «completely unacceptable». Since 2015, the guidelines «Coercive measures in medicine» provide a framework for resolving conflicts of this kind. Developments in medical ethics and legislation have made it necessary to revise the guidelines. The Central Ethics Committee has appointed an interprofessional and interdisciplinary subcommittee to carry out this work.

The aim of the guidelines is to raise and maintain awareness of the fact that coercive measures of any kind constitute a serious infringement of personal rights and thus require ethical justification in each case. Compliance with procedural requirements in itself does not justify the use of coercive measures. Careful ethical reflection is essential in all cases. More information on the subject, the composition and the proceedings of the subcommittee can be found on our website.

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Funding

23.11.2023

KZS Fund: 4 Seed Grants for junior researchers in biomedical ethics

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With resources from the Käthe-Zingg-Schwichtenberg (KZS) Fund, the SAMS supports research projects in biomedical ethics, namely clinical and public health ethics. The 2023 call was thematically open and specifically intended for junior researchers. This year, the SAMS funds 4 Seed Grants with a total amount of 226’675.

KZS Seed Grants allow grantees to explore an innovative research idea, 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 (pdf) provides an overview of all KZS grants to date. Further information can be found on our website.

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Publications

21.11.2023

The SAMS turns 80, takes a critical look back and a bold look ahead

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On its 80th birthday, the SAMS takes a critical look at one of its best-known products: the medical-ethical guidelines. The focus in Bulletin 4/2023 by Dr Magaly Tornay, co-leader of the SNSF project «Governing by Values: On the history of medical and bioethics in Switzerland», provides an initial, critical overview of their development. The author also demonstrates in a captivating way that ethics always rhymed with work on language, and that this is still true today.

In addition to the historical focus, Prof. Paul Hoff, President of the Central Ethics Committee (CEC), has written an article on how the CEC sees itself today. You can also read our President's (critical) thoughts on the Swiss healthcare system and its possible future, news from SPHN and details of two current calls for proposals in our Funding section.

Bulletin 4/2023, French version (PDF)

Other publications

Academy

20.11.2023

At the source of iodised salt

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A century ago, three country doctors solved Switzerland's serious goitre problem by introducing iodine into cooking salt. This significant achievement remained largely unknown to the general public until journalist Jonah Goodman uncovered the story in an in-depth article published in «Das Magazin» in 2022. The article was recently awarded the Prix Média of the Swiss Academies of Science.

Jonah Goodman delved deep into the archives to shed light on this little-known chapter in Swiss history, demonstrating that scientific knowledge alone is not enough; there must also be people willing to face up to resistance and able to market these discoveries. The award-winning article was praised by the jury for its scientific meticulousness, its topicality and its potential link with the management of current health crises. The SAMS hosts the «Fluoride and Iodine» Commission, which is responsible for examining scientific, technical and political issues relating to the intake of fluoride and iodine.

Further information

Ethics

09.11.2023

New regulations for the Central Ethics Committee

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At its meeting at the beginning of November, the SAMS Senate approved the entry into force of the new regulations of the Central Ethics Committee (CEC). Among other things, the document describes the composition and working methods of the committee and its subgroups. It also sets out in detail processes for the development and quality assurance of medico-ethical guidelines, a mechanism that has been in place for many years and has proved its worth.

For an ethics committee, the legitimacy and credibility of its work are essential. The revised regulations therefore describe the composition of the CEC and its subgroups in greater detail than before. The inclusion of representatives of patients, those affected and their families in the thematic working groups is now also stipulated. The CEC itself has taken the initiative of writing down its working methods in its regulations. The key terms of its modus operandi are open-ended and consensual. You can find out more about CEC activities and tasks on its web page.

Download the regulations (in French) (PDF)

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Funding

07.11.2023

Robert Bing Prize in neurosciences 2024: call for nominations

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The SAMS is launching a call for nominations for the Robert Bing Prize. The Bing Prize is awarded every two years to authors of outstanding work that has advanced the diagnosis, treatment and cure of diseases of the nervous system. Nominations can be submitted by a third party or an academic institution. The submission deadline is 1st February 2024.

In accordance with the donor’s will, the Robert Bing Prize is awarded primarily to young (up to 45 years old) neuroscientists with the Swiss nationality or who have been working in Switzerland for a significant amount of time. The prize is awarded with a prize money of CHF 50’000 for a single laureate or CHF 30’000 each if two laureates are distinguished simultaneously. All information about the Prize, the format and the submission of nominations can be found on our website.

Synopsis of past laureates (PDF)

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Projects

26.10.2023

Report of the Forum for sustainability in the healthcare system

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This summer, nearly 200 people gathered in Berne at the invitation of the SAMS to reflect on ways of making the healthcare system more sustainable and respectful of planetary limits. The Revue médicale suisse (RMS) takes us back to the event.

With the SAMS roadmap (2022) as a reference point, the aim of the Forum was to highlight existing initiatives, inspire further action and create a community of healthcare professionals committed to the ecological transition of healthcare services. Discover the RMS report, the report of the Academic Citizens’s Assembly, several video interviews of participants, as well as personal accounts published in various media.

Download the report, in French (PDF)

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