University Research Priority Programs

In order to underpin its position among the world’s leading research institutions, the University of Zurich has established its University Research Priority Programs (URPP). The URPP create and promote academic networks in selected areas of research and contribute to the advancement of knowledge in areas of research that benefit society.

URPP Adaptive Brain Circuits in Development and Learning

The act of learning changes the neural networks of the brain. However, the genetic, molecular and cellular processes that form the basis of learning are only partially understood. The goal of the Adaptive Brain Circuits in Development and Learning URPP is to investigate how these neural networks form and how they contribute to specific behaviors in humans and different animal models.

Led by Prof. Dr. Esther Stoeckli, Prof. Dr. Fritjof Helmchen
Start: January 2021

URPP Digital Religion(s) – Communication, Interaction and Transformation in the Digital Society

Digitalization is also influencing the religious community and its behaviors. The Digital Religion(s) URPP is investigating how digitalization is shaping religious practice by individuals and institutions, looking at examples in church service, pastoral care, grief counseling and the formation of religious networks.

Led by Prof. Dr. Thomas Schlag
Start: January 2021

URPP Dynamics of Healthy Aging

Exploring the potential of an aging society will prove vitally important in the coming years. Taking lifespan psychological, neurophysiological, neuroanatomical, and medical foundations for the maintenance of health and quality of life into consideration, the URPP Dynamics of Healthy Aging examines how psychological health and quality of life can be stabilized at low, intermediate, and high levels of functioning from middle adulthood to advanced old age.

Led by Prof. Dr. Lutz Jäncke, Prof. Dr. Mike Martin
Contact: Dr. Christina Röcke
Website: www.dynage.uzh.ch
Running time: Until the end of 2024

URPP Evolution in Action: From Genomes to Ecosystems

Today’s technology enables scientists to directly study the diversity, expression and regulation of complete genomes, and the resulting “genomic revolution” is changing evolutionary research at a dramatic pace. The URPP Evolution in Action aims to integrate diverse research groups by focusing on a common research topic – diversification and adaptation – and by applying the novel technologies of the genomic revolution in both model and non-model systems.

Led by Prof. Dr. Beat Keller, Prof. Dr. Ueli Grossniklaus
Contact: Dr. Anngret Lesslauer
Website: www.evolution.uzh.ch
Running time: Until the end of 2024

URPP Equality of Opportunity

Factors such as sex, religion, ethnic background, country of origin and familial wealth can lead to significant differences between segments of the population. The Equality of Opportunity URPP aims to research the economic and social changes that lead to inequality.

Led by Prof. Dr. David Dorn, Prof. Dr. Silja Häusermann
Start: January 2021

URPP Financial Market Regulation

The global financial crisis has triggered a political debate on the need for stricter regulation of financial markets – a topic of great economic significance for Switzerland in general, and for Zurich as a financial center in particular. The URPP Financial Market Regulation examines existing regulatory concepts and analyzes them in terms of their historical development, but also in regard to international policies.

Led by Prof. Dr. Rolf Sethe
Contact: Inke Nyborg
Website: www.finreg.uzh.ch
Running time: Until the end of 2024

URPP Global Change and Biodiversity

Die Auswirkungen des Biodiversitäts-Verlustes auf Umwelt und Gesellschaft sind bisher nur ungenügend bekannt. Der UFSP «Globaler Wandel und Biodiversität» untersucht Rückkopplungsmechanismen zwischen Biodiversitätsverlust und globalem Wandel auf verschiedenen Massstabsebenen und bringt diese miteinander in Zusammenhang.

Led by Prof. Dr. Owen Petchey, Prof. Dr. Norman Backhaus, Prof. Dr. Maria J. Santos, Prof. Dr. Gabriela Schaepman-Strub
Former Directors (2013–2019): Prof. Dr. Michael Schaepman, Prof. Dr. Bernhard Schmid
Contact: Dr. Debra Zuppinger-Dingley
Website: www.gcb.uzh.ch
Running time: Until the end of 2024

URPP H2R: Human Reproduction Reloaded

Reproduction is no longer just a question of fate but is now often the result of a conscious decision. The Human Reproduction Reloaded URPP is exploring the decision to become a parent: its legal, medical and social preconditions, as well as its consequences for individuals, families, society and the economy.

Led by Prof. Dr. Andrea Büchler
Start: January 2021

URPP ITINERARE: Innovative Therapies in Rare Diseases - Challenges and Opportunities

There is a great need for new therapies to treat rare diseases as well as initiatives that raise the public’s awareness of these conditions. ITINERARE: Innovative Therapies in Rare Diseases – Challenges and Opportunities is a URPP that seeks to advance the development of new therapies for treating rare diseases while also trying to answer the ethical, legal and pedagogical questions that surround these illnesses.

Led by Prof. Dr. Janine Reichenbach, Prof. Dr. Olivier Devuyst, Prof. Dr. Matthias Baumgartner
Start: January 2021

URPP Language and Space

Communication is inherently linked to physical and social space. The URPP Language and Space approaches the relationships between language and space with cutting-edge technology, combining insights from dialectology with language typology and interactional linguistics.

Led by Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Stark, Prof. Dr. Robert Weibel
Former Directors (2013-2019): Prof. Dr. Elvira Glaser, Prof. Dr. Heiko Hausendorf
Contact: Dr. Agnes Kolmer
Website: www.spur.uzh.ch
Running time: Until the end of 2024

URPP Social Networks

Social networks exercise a great influence on how individuals and businesses interact in society. At the URPP Social Networks, researchers look beyond a particular or individual behavior and focus on complex, networked systems to gain a better understanding of the relationships between social structures and economic behavior.

Led by Prof. Dr. René Algesheimer
Contact: Dr. Susanna Flühmann
Website: www.socialnetworks.uzh.ch
Running time: Until the end of 2024

URPP Solar Light to Chemical Energy Conversion

he main objectives of the URPP Solar Light to Chemical Energy Conversion are to discover and develop new molecules, materials and processes for the direct storage of solar light energy in chemical bonds. The URPP Solar Light to Chemical Energy Conversion contributes to meeting the 21st century's demands for sustainable energy resources.

Led by Prof. Dr. Roger Alberto
Contact: Dr. Elisabetta Vannoni Thäler
Website: www.lightchec.uzh.ch
Running time: Until the end of 2024

URPP Translational Cancer Research

Cancer is caused by genetic and epigenetic changes that occur randomly, or that are caused by environmental factors. These changes generate cancer cells, which are characterized by uncontrolled growth, increased ability to survive and the capacity to metastasize. The URPP Translational Cancer Research builds a bridge between fundamental and clinical research, and fosters communication and collaboration between research groups investigating different aspects of cancer.

Led by Prof. Dr. Reinhard Dummer, Prof. Dr. Konrad Basler
Contact: Prof. Dr. Maries van den Broek
Website: www.cancer.uzh.ch
Running time: Until the end of 2024

Former URPP

  • Asia and Europe
  • Ethics
  • Finance and Financial Markets
  • Foundations of Human Social Behavior:
    Altruism and Egoism
  • Integrative Human Physiology
  • Systems Biology / Functional Genomics