Direct Use of Micro-Organisms, 2016–2020

The program «Microbials» started in 2016 and invested CHF 2 mio. p.a. There was a yearly call open to researchers at Swiss universities, university hospitals, federal institutes of technology, research institutions affiliated with Swiss universities and universities of applied sciences. The 2020 call was the fifth and last call of the program.

Objectives: Microbial Resources in Health and Technology

With its initiative, Gebert Rüf Stiftung seeked to generate a significant impact by exploiting the potential and widespread use of microbial resources in health and technology. The program supported applied and impact-orientied projects in high-impact fields at Swiss universities that showed to be original, innovative and creative. The focus was on applications in human and veterinary medicine, the environment, energy production, water treatment, food science and other areas.

The projects were evaluated by a broadly compased experts:

  • Prof. Dr. Roland Siegwart, Gebert Rüf Stiftung, President
  • Dr. Jürg Ernst Frey, Agroscope
  • Prof. Dr. Martin Fussenegger, ETH Zurich 

  • Dr. Frank Petersen, Novartis
  • Prof. Dr. Jürg Schifferli, em. Universität Basel
  • Prof. Dr. Marcel Tanner, Gebert Rüf Stiftung, Board Member
  • Prof. Dr. Didier Trono, EPF Lausanne


Five annual calls for project submission have been made. Swiss research groups have prepared and submitted some 254 proposals to our foundation; of these, 29 have been accepted with a budget of total CHF 10 Mio. 34 % of the projects are from the environmental/energy sector, 17 % focus on food, 41 % on human medicine and 7 % on veterinary medecine.

The projects that have already been completed have been able to make an impact at various levels. From the successful promotion of young talents, a prototype for a product, the basis for founding a start-up to successful founding and financing of a company. 3T Pharma from Simon Ittig was able to raise CHF 25 Mio. in order to advance bacterial cancer therapy through clinic.

The researchers interested and involved exchange information on the network platform of the Microbials Group on LinkedIn.

Approved projects Microbials

Picture Credits Header

1. Algae C. Staurestrum; © Dr. Martin Oeggerli, Micronaut, in cooperation with Susanne Erpel, CCINA, Biozentrum, University of Basel

2. Map Egg Clutch, Captions: What looks like piles of yoghurt pots is an egg clutch of the Map (Araschnia levana), which deposits one egg on top of the other. Copyrights: © Martin Oeggerli 2010, supported by School of Life Sciences, FHNW.

3. Stinging Hair of a Stinging Nettle, Captions: Stinging hairs (trichomes) produce a painful stinging sensation by injecting a chemical mixture when touched by humans or other animals. They act like hypodermic needles: after the tip breaks off, a chemical mixture composed of histamine, acetylcholine, 5-HT (serotonin), moroidin, leukotrienes and formic acid is injected and causes pain or paresthesia. Copyrights: © Martin Oeggerli 2015, supported by S. Erpel, CCINA, Biozentrum, University Basel.