Clinical Research Priority Programs (CRPP)

The Clinical Research Priority Program (CRPP) is a part of the Faculty of Medicine's efforts to promote strategic areas of research for the Faculty of Medicine and University Medicine Zurich. The CRPP builds on the University's excellent reputation in research and teaching, and attach great value to knowledge exchange between basic research, applied research and clinical care. The program's goals include promoting selected – primarily clinical – areas of research in University Medicine and establishing effective networks within them. In addition, the programs are committed to supporting junior scholars.

CRPP at the University of Zurich:

radiz - Rare Disease lnitiative Zurich

University of Zurich; Children's Hospital Zurich; University Hospital Zurich

Prof. Dr. Matthias Baumgartner

In Europe, any disease affecting fewer than one in 2000 people, that causes a chronic disability or is life-threatening is considered a rare disease. Currently, over 7000 different rare diseases have been identified. As a joint platform of the Children’s Hospital Zurich, the University of Zurich and the University Hospital Zurich, radiz allows to join forces in research as well as in clinical contexts in the field of rare diseases. radiz aims to improve the treatment and outcome of patients with rare diseases by conducting translational research projects and aims to position Zurich as one of the leading centres in the field of rare diseases in Europe. By providing continuous training and education, radiz increases awareness, understanding, and knowledge of rare diseases both among specialists as well as in the general public. Thanks to the network uniting medical, biological, and technical expertise, the discovery of new and still unknown rare diseases and disease mechanisms is facilitated and better therapeutic strategies can be developed.

From basic research to the patient: Novel tissue engineered skin grafts for Zurich

University of Zurich; Children's Hospital Zurich

Prof. Dr. Martin Meuli, Prof. Dr. Ernst Reichmann

After more than 14 years of research, the Tissue Biology Research Unit (TBRU) of the Department of Surgery of the University Children’s Hospital, has come up with new skin grafts. The complex, bioengineered skin grafts are autologous and resemble human skin very closely. The collaboration between the TBRU and the Pediatric Burn Center of the Department of Surgery of the University Children’s Hospital revealed, that these skin grafts can be transplanted in just one surgical intervention and remain on the patient for her/his lifetime. Two types of graft, denovoSkin and denovoDerm, are presently applied in clinical phase I studies and will be soon used in multicentrical phase II studies. The development of these skin substitutes is based on findings gained by the knowledge and methods of basic research in cell and molecular biology.

Non-resectable Liver Tumors: From Palliation to Cure

University of Zurich; University Hospital Zurich

Prof. Dr. Pierre-Alain Clavien

The focus of the CRPP liver tumors is based on a multidisciplinary approach to help patients with unresectable liver disease. As the liver has the ability to regenerate, removal of tumors is possible as long as the remnant liver volume is above 25-30%. Below that threshold, liver failure ensues with serious consequences for the patient. Recent advances in surgical techniques using a two-stage procedure (ALPPS), has made it possible to resect larger tumors. To better understand the underlying mechanisms of accelerated regeneration during the two-stage procedure, experimental and clinical studies are performed. Transcriptomic and proteomic analysis will be compared to outcome data to identify therapeutic target factors.

Sleep and Health

University of Zurich; University Hospital Zurich; Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich; Children's Hospital Zurich

Prof. Dr. Christian Baumann, Prof. Dr. Hans-Peter Landolt

Enough and undisturbed sleep are a health imperative, yet sleep problems are highly prevalent in society. The clinical research priority program Sleep and Health aims at extending the frontiers of our current knowledge about sleep and its functions, and at fostering our understanding of sleep pathophysiology and regulation to critically improve quality of life of patients and public health. The tight collaboration of all clinical and basic scientists in Zürich studying sleep is further strengthened by the recent creation of the Zürich Center of interdisciplinary Sleep Research (ZiS). This unique network among University Hospital, Children’s Hospital, Psychiatric University Clinics and UZH permits to address highly complex research questions with state-of-the-art methods in humans and animals, and to model fundamental processes of sleep-wake regulation ranging from physiological to molecular mechanisms.

Tumor Oxygenation

University of Zurich; University Hospital Zurich

Prof. Dr. Martin Wolf

One main health threat is cancer. The concentration of oxygen in the cancer is one of the most important prognostic factors: low oxygenation leads to unfavorable outcomes and reduces the effectiveness of therapies. But oxygenation cannot routinely be measured in clinical care. The aim of the CRPP Tumor Oxygenation is to develop methods to image tumor oxygenation repeatedly and non-invasively. These measurements enable to study and better understand tumor physiology and ultimately treat cancer more effectively. This will reduce social costs and personal distress and increase the quality of life of cancer patients.

Disease Heterogeneity of Multiple Sclerosis - From Pathogenetically Distinct Phenotypes to Novel Therapies

University of Zurich; University Hospital Zurich; ETH Zurich

Prof. Dr. Roland Martin

Multiple sclerosis (MS), the most common cause of disability in young adults in the western world, is considered a prototypic autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system by attacking and damaging the myelin sheaths around the axons of nerve cells and thus afflicting their ability to communicate with each other. Almost any neurological symptom can appear with the disease. Our objectives within this CRPP are primarily to apply state-of-the-art phenotyping algorithms and develop new approaches based on imaging-, clinical-, modeling- and neuropsychological/-psychiatric findings; to develop a better understanding of the underlying pathomechanisms in heterogeneous phenotypes; based on those findings developing novel treatments (e.g. neuro-/myelin protection, tolerization) and to test these in proof-of-concept trials as well as to build an internationally visible translational research focus in multiple sclerosis here in Zurich.

Viral Infectious Diseases

University of Zurich; University Hospital Zurich; Children's Hospital Zurich

Prof. Dr. Huldrych Günthard, Prof. Dr. Nicolas Müller, Prof. Dr. Alexandra Trkola

The vast variety of viral pathogens poses a great diagnostic challenge. The Metagenome Project uses high-throughput sequencing and metagenomics for virus detection in immunocompromised patients. Despite major successes in the treatment of HIV infection, neither an effective vaccine nor an eradication of HIV by drug intervention is within reach. In patients with primary HIV infection, the Primary HIV Infection (ZPHI) Study is exploring new treatment strategies. Together, the two domains of the CRPP Viral Infectious Disease are a very collaborative and multidisciplinary initiative at the crossover of virology, immunology, transplantation medicine and molecular diagnostics.

Neuro-Rehabilitation: Strategies for Customized Treatments

University of Zurich; Balgrist University Hospital; University Hospital Zurich; Children's Hospital Zurich; ETH Zurich

Prof. Dr. Armin Curt, Prof. Dr. Andreas Luft

In neurological disorders in adults and children such as stroke, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury outcomes following acute care rely on specialized rehabilitation programs to exploit best recovery. The CRPP “Neuro-Rehab” focuses on combining research projects of clinical experts in rehabilitation specialized in the targeted disorders and preclinical research in neurobiology and engineering. This will create a venue for the development of novel neuro-rehabilitation approaches that ultimately will advance clinical rehabilitation practices. The close collaboration in medical education and multi-disciplinary translational educational programs will provide invaluable information for conducting successful clinical trials.

Molecular Imaging Network Zurich (MINZ)

University of Zurich; University Hospital Zurich; Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich; ETH Zurich; Paul Scherrer Institute

Prof. Dr. Jürg Hodler, Prof. Dr. Markus Rudin

Molecular imaging is one of the most rapidly growing fields in life sciences and has emerged as a versatile, indispensible clinical tool. In our network the leading experts from basic and clinical sciences have joined forces to strengthen and accelerate the translational research for clinically relevant topics. Our main objective is to capitalize on synergies among existing laboratories at the University of Zurich, the University Hospital Zurich and the ETH Zurich, thereby providing state-of-the-art molecular imaging technology for translational research.

Small RNAs in pathogenesis, diagnosis, and therapy of human diseases

University of Zurich; University Hospital Zurich; ETH Zurich

Prof. Dr. Adriano Aguzzi

The main goal of this CRPP is to bring together the leading basic and clinical scientists within USZ into a cohesive multidisciplinary team devoted to the investigation and exploitation of small RNA in human diseases. The mission of our team is a joint effort with the following goals: to utilize siRNA in cell signalling discovery, to identify microRNA relevant in human disease, to establish their functional role, to provide preclinical animal models, and finally to test their therapeutic potential. We envision this research program to translate into novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies, which have the potential to impact future health care.

Human Hemato-Lymphatic Diseases

University of Zurich; University Hospital Zurich; Children's Hospital Zurich

Prof. Dr. Markus Manz

About 25% of annual world-wide death result from infection and the lifetime risk of developing or dying from cancer is about 50% and 25%, respectively. Both infectious diseases and cancer are mostly human specific or cause human specific pathologies. Research in humans is, however, due to practical and ethical limitations, hampered by slow progress. The CRPP-HHLD focusses on predictive preclinical model systems to investigate mechanisms and new therapies of respective human species specific diseases and pathology. This will lead to urgently needed and faster translation of new research findings into clinical therapies for the benefit of patients.