SNSF Advanced Grants 2022: 18 projects approved

© Gettyimages | Hinterhaus Productions

The SNSF has awarded research grants worth approximately 41 million francs in total under the "SNSF Advanced Grants 2022" transitional measure.

After a two-stage evaluation process, the SNSF selected 18 projects for funding out of the 91 applications it evaluated for SNSF Advanced Grants 2022. They will be allocated a budget of 40,858,632 francs for an average period of five years.

Due to Switzerland's status as a non-associated third country in Horizon Europe, the SNSF has launched the transitional measure "SNSF Advanced Grants 2022" on behalf of the federal government. The call was aimed at researchers who wish to carry out innovative, high-risk research in Switzerland.

In the last call, the success rate for women (20%) was well above that for men (8%). This year, the results are different. At 12.0%, the success rate for women is lower than that for men (22.7%). Women researchers lead 3 of the 18 funded projects, i.e. 16.7%.

The total success rate stands at 19.8%. Seven projects in mathematics, natural sciences and engineering, six in the life sciences, and five in the humanities and social sciences will be funded.

Almost 59% of the grant recipients will carry out their research project at a university, 37% in the ETH Domain and 4% at other institutions.

Examples of funded projects

Humanities and social sciences

In an interdisciplinary project, Marie Besse (University of Geneva) is investigating the role of highly specialised craftsmen in the Bell Beaker culture – a culture that emerged shortly before the Bronze Age. The special techniques for making ornamental ceramics, engraved stelae and gold and silver jewellery were mastered by only a few people, who thus became an integral part of European society. In the project "Specialized craftspeople on the move: a holistic approach to Bell Beaker societies in the Alps and in Europe" Marie Besse and her team want to find out what the social role of these craftspeople was around 3000-2000 BC. Using an innovative approach, they will study the emergence and activities of the Bell Beaker culture and relate the results to the emergence of cultures in general.

Life sciences

Parasites of the family Apicomplexa, which includes the malaria agent Plasmodium spp., can cause a multitude of infectious diseases in humans and farm animals. In her research project, Dominique Soldati-Favre (University of Geneva) is studying the transporters needed by parasites to transport nutrients and harmful substances in and out of cells. The aim of the research is to gain insights into the mode of action of these transporters and to develop novel therapeutic interventions.

Mathematics, natural sciences and engineering

The human body is a fascinating organism capable of continuously auto-controlling various physiological variables within healthy ranges thanks to its internal control systems. However, like other advanced functions, these control systems are largely hidden from us, revealing themselves only when they malfunction and lead to diseases. Most prevalent therapies work in an “open-loop” manner, i.e. treatment regimens are based on groups of patients whose relevant physiological variables are measured intermittently at best. The project of Mustafa Khammash (“Theory and design of advanced genetically engineered control systems”) aims to use a novel “closed-loop” approach based on control theory in which advanced cell-based genetic control systems continuously monitor the disease state and respond with treatments that precisely and robustly restore the balance of body functions, or homeostasis. This approach will be useful for a number of diseases, including immune diseases.