The École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne [EPFL] is a leading Swiss institution that provides education and conducts research at the highest international level. The Bertarelli Foundation’s relationship with EPFL is long-standing, dating back to 2008 and the launch of the university’s Center for Neuroprosthestics.
The Center – at which the Bertarelli Foundation sponsors two of the six Chairs – defines its mission as establishing “a truly interdisciplinary area of study, merging neuroscience with engineering and medicine, and efficiently translating major breakthroughs from bioengineering and neuroscience to viable clinic applications.” The work being done there is benefiting from continuous advances in biotechnology, microelectronics and neural implants, as well as advances in our understanding of the brain and spinal cord.
The two Chairs sponsored by the Foundation are dedicated to “Neuroengineering and neuroprosthetics” and “Neurophysiology and coding of cochlear implants”. The first is focusing on the technologies that will be at the basis of a variety of neuroprosthetic approaches that are required to optimize implants. The second works on the interface between the neurophysiology of auditory processing and the development of novel cochlear implants.
In May 2013, it was announced that these two Chairs would be transferring to Campus Biotech, the Consortium established by the Bertarelli family, Hansjörg Wyss, the Wyss Foundation, EPFL and the University of Geneva. Campus Biotech was formed to acquire and develop the former Serono site in Geneva. Its mission is to retain the site as a centre for excellence in healthcare and life science research. The Bertarelli Foundation will also be sponsoring two Chairs at the new Wyss Centre for Bio- and Neuro-Engineering, which will be housed on the site. In October 2013 it was announced that the Human Brain Project and Blue Brain Project would be moving to Campus, with researchers due to arrive early in 2014.
The Foundation has also partnered with EPFL and Harvard Medical School to create the Bertarelli Program in Translational Neuroscience and Neuroengineering. Established in 2010, this transatlantic collaborative project brings together clinicians and experts in device design for sensory and other neurologic systems. The partnership with EPFL and Harvard was formally renewed in January 2014 with further substantial gifts to secure and develop the programme.
Images ©Alain Herzog / EPFL