Coronavirus: the Swiss Confederation appoints a scientific advisory board and includes researchers from Ticino


Institutional Communication Service

6 April 2020

To identify the best approach to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic, the federal government intends to exploit the potential of the Swiss scientific community. To this end, it has set up a task force of researchers from higher education institutions throughout the country, including two academics in Ticino: Suzanne Suggs, Professor at USI, and Luca Crivelli, Professor at SUPSI and lecturer at USI. 

The current Covid-19 pandemic presents huge challenges for Switzerland and its health system. The Swiss scientific community has a high potential to positively influence on how this crisis develops in a number of ways, including through research, education and knowledge transfer. Scientists in Switzerland are keen to help overcome the crisis and make their expertise available to the federal and cantonal authorities as efficiently and effectively as possible. 

The “Swiss National COVID-19 Task Force” has therefore been set up by the Federal Council Coronavirus Crisis Unit, the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI and the Federal Office of Public Health FOPH. Headed by Swiss National Science Foundation SNSF, the task force will act as an advisory body to the Federal Council, the head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs FDHA, and to the federal and cantonal offices concerned. The Task Force members are selected on the basis of their specialist expertise, who will address a series of topics, in a coordinated approach, including diagnostics, clinical procurement and research, contact tracing through new digital applications to be developed and validated, as well as ethical and legal issues. 

Among the variety of expert groups we find of which also involve researchers and lecturers hailing from the Canton Ticino. In the group dedicated to public health we find Suzanne Suggs, Professor of Social Marketing at the Institute of Public Communication (USI Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society) and at the Institute of Public Health (USI Faculty of Biomedical Sciences), and Vicepresident of the Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+): "the need for this taskforce results from the enormous health, economic and social suffering caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. There is a profound sense of urgency to develop solutions to the pandemic that offer hope for the future. Together with Luca Crivelli and others, we will gather evidence about the nature of the problem and possible solutions to the numerous challenges that confront us. The task force includes a cross section of academic disciplines and research areas that reflect the complexity of this problem. If ever we needed multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral approaches to solve a crisis, the time is now", says Prof. Suggs.

Luca Crivelli, Director of the Department of Business Economics, Health and Social Care at SUPSI,  Adjunct professor at USI (Institute of Economics), and Deputy director of the Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), has been included in the group dedicated to economic aspects. "The members of this Task Force are just the tip of the iceberg," says Prof. Crivelli. "The challenge is in fact to involve the entire scientific community in a coordinated effort of collective intelligence. For this reason, one of the important qualities that the group of experts will have to demonstrate will be the ability to listen to colleagues, keeping open the communication with the whole national and international scientific community", affirms Crivelli.