Sinergia: 19 new projects by research consortia

Humanitarian work, climate change in Tibet or skin stretching: collaboration between researchers from different disciplines often produces groundbreaking results. The SNSF has just awarded 50 million francs for such projects.

In May 2022, researchers submitted 74 grant applications under the Sinergia programme. The best 19 projects are now being funded, corresponding to a success rate of 26 per cent. The 68 participating researchers work in 46 different disciplines. On average, a project will receive 2.6 million Swiss francs, which corresponds to 49.3 million francs in total. With Sinergia, the SNSF supports joint projects of two to four scientists who collaborate across disciplinary boundaries with the aim of making groundbreaking discoveries.

Technology, design and architecture in humanitarian work

How can vulnerable people in prisons or refugee camps be protected from violence? What contribution can technology, design and architecture make? In a project consortium, social scientists, designers and development engineers as well as experts from the field are working together to find solutions. They are based at the following institutions: IHEID Geneva, HEAD Geneva, EPFL, the University of Copenhagen, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Terre des hommes and Doctors without Borders. Two research partnerships have also been established with institutions in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Colombia. The consortium will use qualitative methods such as ethnographic observation, interviews, focus groups and visual analysis in its research.

The Tibetan Plateau and climate change

Another project aims to recover and analyse one of the longest sedimentary records of past climate and environmental change in the Tibetan Plateau. Combining expertise and methods from sedimentary geology, environmental physics and microbiology, the researchers hope to identify biological and tectonic traces in minerals and to explore and interpret their evolution in the sediments. The project is led by four researchers working at the University of Bern, the University of Lausanne, EAWAG Dübendorf and the University of Greifswald respectively.

Complexity of skin stretching

When tissues are stretched, their cellular microenvironment changes. However, our understanding of this physical process and how it affects skin cells is still limited. Thanks to one of the funded projects, this is about to change. Using an interdisciplinary approach combining biomechanics, biomaterials and cell biology, it shines a light on the complex processes involved in skin stretching at tissue and cell level. Responsible for the project are three researchers based at different departments of ETH Zurich. The experimental methods used will provide a mechanistic understanding of the skin's response to stretching. This will, in turn, pave the way for new treatments for skin defects and diseases.