The Faculty of Biomedical Sciences at USI, a new destination and an "academic leaven"

First group of appointed professors at the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences
First group of appointed professors at the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences

Institutional Communication Service

23 January 2017

A press conference presenting the new structure of the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences at USI was held on Monday, January 23rd, 2017, in the Lugano campus auditorium. Detailed presentations were given by Mauro Dell’Ambrogio (Secretary of State for Education, Research and Innovation), Boas Erez (Rector of USI), and Mario Bianchetti (Faculty Dean), followed by speeches given by the representatives of the partner institutions, the presentation of appointed faculty, and an overview of the Bachelor and Master study curricula.

The appointed professors, including Dean Prof. Mario Bianchetti, embody the core faculty and are, in alphabetical order: Andrea Alimonti (Group Leader at IOR Institute of Oncology Research), Luca Gabutti (Head of Internal Medicine at ORBV Ospedale San Giovanni di Bellinzona e Valli, and Head of Internal Medicine at EOC), Michele Ghielmini (Chief of Medical Oncology, and Medical Director at Istituto oncologico della Svizzera italiana), Alain Kälin (Medical Director at Neurocentro della Svizzera italiana, and Head of Research in neurosciences and of the Neurosciences laboratory), Antonio Lanzavecchia (immunologist, Director of IRB Institute for Research in Biomedicine), Giovanni Pedrazzini (Co-Head of cardiology at Cardiocentro Ticino), and Giacomo Simonetti (Chief of pediatrics at ORBV Ospedale San Giovanni di Bellinzona e Valli and Ospedale della Beata Vergine a Mendrisio).

All professors were evaluated and appointed by the Constituent Committee of the Faculty, which includes leading national and international experts such as Ludwid Kappos, Luigi Mariani, Giatgen Spinas, Christian Wolfrum and Thomas Zeltner.

Secretary of State Mauro Dell’Ambrogio underlined the importance of the Federal government grant of 100 million CHF for the years 2017-2020 to support the increase of the number of students in medicine. The goal of the Federal Council is to train up to 1.350 new physicians in Switzerland by 2025. Mr. Dell’Ambrogio commended the USI project that will not only address the underlying issue of the shortage of physicians trained in Switzerland, but will also enable the discussion on the overall funding system for medical training and research nationwide.

USI Rector Boas Erez said, about the new structure of the Faculty, that it "represents an important stimulus for medical training in Switzerland and in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, on three levels: educational, by adding resources to train more physicians; research, by bringing together and coordinating valuable scientific activities developed in Ticino over the past few decades in the field of biomedicine; innovation, by fostering development in the region and extending the relationships with its pharma industry and with translational research in biomedicine. The role of the Faculty – he continued – is essentially to add 'leaven' to this mix of and make it grow, academically." The Faculty will also house the highly appreciated advanced study programme CASE BioMed.

Prof. Erez expressed his gratitude towards the many partners involved in the project for their collaborative spirit, and concluded: "It is thanks to this joint effort that our project can offer a new outlook to the medical sector in Switzerland, in terms of training and of geographic location, thus providing a significant contribution towards overall growth in the region and in the country."

Faculty Dean Mario Bianchetti thanked the members of the Committee that guided the project from its inception, in particular Prof. Piero Martinoli, the former President of USI.

Prof. Bianchetti then outlined the structure of the study curriculum, starting with the Bachelor programme organised at the partner universities – ETH Zurich, University of Zurich and University of Basel. In 2020, upon completion of the three-year undergraduate programme, around 70 students from the three partner universities will continue their studies with the Master at USI. The Master degree in Medicine is required to then apply for the Federal medical examination.

Prof. Bianchetti concluded by underlining the important contribution of the IBSA Foundation, grantor of scholarships to students who will choose to complete their studies with the Master at USI. These scholarships will be granted to students already during the Bachelor.

The press conference continued with the speeches by representatives of the partner institutions involved in the project. Prof. Jörg Goldhahn, Medical Director of the new Bachelor programme in medicine at ETH Zurich, underscored the role of USI as main partner of ETH in this new project, extending therefore the relationship between the two universities. Conclusive speeches were given by Paolo Sanvido (President of EOC), Giorgio Giudici (President of the Cardiocentro Ticino Foundation), and Arturo Licenziati (President of IBSA).



First group of appointed professors at the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences: from the left, Luca Gabutti, Antonio Lanzavecchia, Giacomo Simonetti, Mario Bianchetti, Giovanni Pedrazzini, Alan Kälin e Andrea Alimonti