From breast cancer to tea plantations: another two million for SPIRIT projects

The SPIRIT programme supports team-oriented research cooperation with countries in the global South. As part of the third evaluation round, the SNSF has selected four new projects for funding.

The four projects each receive 0.5 million Swiss francs and last between 24 and 48 months. Researchers from Egypt, Mexico, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Switzerland are involved. Six of the twelve project leaders are women.

Twice cancer research

One of the projects combines pharmaceutical sciences from the University of Geneva, pharmacology from the University of Fribourg and biochemistry and pharmacology/toxicology from the German University of Cairo. It explores the role played by the nitric oxide pathway and the hydrogen sulphide pathway in the development of breast cancer.

In another project, two women researchers from University Hospital Lausanne and the National Institute of Neurology in Mexico City are working together to study FLASH radiotherapy, which uses ultrafast radiation at high dose rates. Their aim is to demonstrate that this new method can be used to treat brain tumours in children without causing impairments in their intellectual performance, attention or memory.

Researchers from the University of Fribourg and from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok are investigating how the protective layers of plants can be used as a blueprint for artificial membranes.

Can organic farming methods increase the efficiency of nitrogen use and reduce nitrogen losses in tea plantations? This is the question addressed by a project of ETH Zurich, the Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka and the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka.

Submission possible from August

The next call for SPIRIT applications will start in August 2021. The SNSF will now carry out the evaluation in a single stage, which will reduce the workload and enable faster decisions. The conditions remain the same. Each application involves two to a maximum of four persons, at least one of whom must be conducting research in Switzerland and one abroad.