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.

Watch the video to find out how UZH's University Research Priority Programs have triggered sustainable developments and established themselves as successful funding programs. (Video: MELS)

URPP AdaBD: 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
Contact: Dr. Sabina Huber-Reggi
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
Contact: Dr. Sabrina Müller
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
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. Ueli Grossniklaus, Prof. Dr. Kentaro Shimizu
Contact: Mira Portmann, Dr. Cornelia Roder
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                                         Contact: Anne Sander
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: Dr. Inke Nyborg
Running time: Until the end of 2024

URPP Global Change and Biodiversity

Understanding the loss of biodiversity associated with global change is one of today’s major research challenges, especially as the impact of this loss on the environment and human well-being is poorly understood. Researchers at the URPP Global Change and Biodiversity investigate and predict feedback mechanisms in coupled systems of human actors and ecosystems over different space and time scales. Large-scale and participatory observations, field, and laboratory experiments as well as models and simulations are combined in comprehensive projects to achieve these aims.

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
Running time: Until the end of 2024

URPP Human Reproduction Reloaded I H2R

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
Contact: PD Dr. Nina Jakoby
Start: January 2021

URPP ITINERARE: Innovative Therapies in Rare Diseases

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 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
Contact: Dr. Elisabetta Vannoni Thäler                                                         Website:                                                                                     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. Robert Weibel, Prof. Dr. Barbara Sonnenhauser
Former Directors: Prof. Dr. Elvira Glaser, Prof. Dr. Heiko Hausendorf, Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Stark
Contact: Dr. Agnes Kolmer
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
Running time: Until the end of 2024

URPP Solar Light to Chemical Energy Conversion

The 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: Eva Stehrenberger
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
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