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 10. December 2018

Marcel Tanner appointed Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS)

Great honour for Marcel Tanner: The African Academy of Sciences (AAS) appointed the Director emeritus of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) and the President of the R. Geigy-Foundation a AAS-Fellow.

«I am very glad to continue to provide my knowledge and expertise for the development of science in Africa in general and for the AAS in particular», says Marcel Tanner. The former director of the Swiss TPH has been promoting research partnership in Africa since almost four decades. As director of the Swiss Tropical Institute Field Laboratory in Tanzania he was crucial to anchor the laboratory within the Tanzanian health system. He fostered partnership to health authorities and the local population. And he was the driving force behind the development of the Ifakara Health Institute (IHI), one of the most renowned research organisations on the African continent.


Tanner authored more than 650 research articles and trained whole generations of African scientists. «The joy of sharing my knowledge was always more important to me than hunting for useless impact factors», he confirms. One of his principles is the strengthening of research, training and implementation of scientific results on the ground. According to him, research findings have to be consequently validated and implemented to the benefit of the populations in need.


Tanner’s appointment as a AAS-Fellow was based on a rigorous and competitive selection process. Selection criteria included the number and quality of publications, teaching performance, leadership qualities and measurable contributions to the improvement of health policies. He is looking forward to the collaboration with Marcel Tanner to continue to drive African science and technology forward writes ASS-director Nelson Torto in his appointment letter.

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Stella Hartinger-Peña (left) and microbiologist Ani Gil

 07. December 2018

Stella Hartinger-Peña receives 10th R. Geigy Award

Stella Hartinger-Peña's work addresses pneumonia, diarrhoea and malnutrition in the Andes mountains of Peru. Her work has won her this year’s R. Geigy Award – CHF 20,000 courtesy of the R. Geigy Foundation.

Peru native Stella Hartinger-Peña has wanted to be a biologist for as long as she can remember. She has never once regretted her path: neither in the lecture halls of the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH) in Lima, where she discovered the mysteries of genetics, nor during her time in the Amazonas region, which opened her eyes to ecological interrelations. After finishing her master’s degree in environmental science, she packed her bags and travelled throughout Peru, researching the impact of the country’s many mines on the health of nearby populations. The Andes region, so rich in silver, copper and lead, had long been on the radar of international mining companies – with sometimes devastating effects on the health of the workers and people living there. Many rivers in the area are contaminated with lead; children and adults alike suffer from lead poisoning. “The fact that the government was aware of the situation but didn’t take any action shocked me”, says Stella Hartinger-Peña. She was able to channel her anger into clear goals: using her background as a scientist to improve people’s health and provide consulting to companies on health issues.


The land of thorns

The young mother strapped on her newborn daughter and headed towards Cajamarca, part of the Peruvian Highlands on the border with Ecuador. Known as “Cold country” or “The land of thorns” in the local language, it is the poorest region of Peru. Here, at 2,600 metres above sea level, inhabitants spend their lives raising cattle or mining. Cooking is done indoors over an open fire, and running water is non-existent. In a project financed by the UBS Optimus Foundation, these indoor fire places were replaced with new, energy-efficient cookstoves to reduce the amount of particles in the household air. Running water, built-in sinks and targeted hygiene education were aimed at reducing the rampant rates of diarrhoea, particularly in children. While some of the households in the area benefited from this infrastructure overhaul, other households were part of a “control group”, in which emphasis was placed on promoting the cognitive and psychomotor development of infants. This was done in close cooperation with existing national development programmes.


Human needs and long-term solutions

The stoves that the people of Cajamarca wanted had three burners with variable heat. They needed to be made locally for easy maintenance and repair and could significantly reduce the amount of smoke inhalation in the houses. And because they were energy-efficient, mothers were able to gain more free time. Taken together, the interventions reduced the incidence of diarrhoea in infants by 30%. “The biggest success of the project is surely the fact that even today, more than six years after the project ended, over 80% of the people there are still using our cookers”, says Stella Hartinger-Peña. “Compared to the success rate of cookers distributed by other organisations, this is remarkable.” But for Daniel Mäusezahl, project leader from the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), it is not only the direct impact that is important. The unintended side effects of these kinds of development projects also need to be taken into account. “When mothers tell you that they get more attention from their husbands and spend more time in the kitchen now that they don’t smell of smoke anymore, when they say that their relationship with their children has improved by our infant development lessons, then we’ve achieved things that cannot be so easily measured”, says Daniel Mäusezahl.

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 12. März 2018

Call for Submission: 10th R. Geigy Award 2018

The R. Geigy Foundation will confer the «10th R. Geigy Award 2018» to young researchers who have distinguished themselves with excellent work in the areas of neglected diseases or public/global health. The award is bestowed with CHF 20'000.



Senior scientists and/or global/public health specialists who are members of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) or members of institutions that maintain partnership with Swiss TPH


Deadline: 27th August 2018


Please apply online: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

or send a letter to: Prof. Dr. Marcel Tanner (president of RGS) c/o Swiss TPH, 4002 Basel, Switzerland

For further information: download info sheet

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 06. November 2017

Invitation - Preview of the documentary "Why Rudolf Geigy left for Africa"

It is with great pleasure that we invite you to the preview of the documentary "Why Rudolf Geigy left for Africa" by Stéphane Kleeb. The trailer will be shown in the frame of the Swiss TPH Wintersymposium on the 7th December 2017. We look forward to a fascinating journey to the roots of our institute!


5pm: Introduction Prof. Dr. Marcel Tanner (President RGS)

5.15pm: Film Preview

5.30pm: Cocktail Hour

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11th September 2017

Start of an implementation research course in Bukavu

On September 11th, 2017, the project "Connecting the Dots", an implementation research course, will be implemented in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The course teaches basics in implementation research and will serve the purpose of capacity building in fragile contexts. The project is a collaboration of Swiss TPH and the Université Catholique de Bukavu. The R. Geigy-Foundation has significantly contributed to the project.


In fragile states the provision of sufficient medical care for its people is often a challenge. Particularly in this environment the capacity building of local experts is highly relevant and needed. In close collaboration with the Université Catholique de Bukavu, a new implementation research course for young health professionals in Democratic Republic of Congo will kick-off on 11 September 2017. The 24 participants will learn basic qualitative and quantitative research methods and will develop and design their own research project focusing on sexual and reproductive health among adolescents and youth. The R. Geigy-Foundation has significantly contributed to this project.


Long-term partnership with the Democratic Republic of Congo

The Swiss TPH has supported the health care system in the region since decades, spanning from new medication for sleeping sickness, malaria control efforts and the improvement of health care. In the past years Swiss TPH has evaluated the project "Next Generation", a large sexual and reproductive health care project for young people, which was implemented by Cordaid and partner organisations. Swiss TPH, together with partners are implementing the follow-up project "Santé, Sexualité, Sécurité", which has started in 2016. Both projects are funded through the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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 31. August 2017

No roots, no fruits! Final Lecture of Prof. Dr. Marcel Tanner

On Friday, 15 December 2017, Prof. Dr. Marcel Tanner will deliver his final lecture at the University of Basel. This event marks the retirement of our President of the R. Geigy-Foundation and longstanding Director of Swiss TPH from his full professorship at both, the Faculties of Medicine, and Science, of the University of Basel. The lecture, "no roots, no fruits!", promises to deliver important insights into many successful undertakings in the field of global health. The event and the following Apéro are a rare occasion for intensive exchange and social gathering beyond disciplinary boundaries.

Date: Friday, 15 December 2017

Time: 5.15pm

Venue: Aula, Kollegienhaus, University of Basel (Petersplatz 1)

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 15. August 2017

The International Film Festival on Disability in Cannes shows the documentary "At night, the sould flies further" by Peter Jaeggi

The documentary "At night, the soul flies further" (Peter Jaeggi) supported by the R. Geigy-Foundation is one of the seven movies to be shown in full length at the International Film Festival on Disability in Cannes. The film recalls the life and fate of the painter Pina Dolce who lost her eysight at the age of fifteen. In impressive scenes, the film shows Pina Dolce performing her art, in everyday situations and in her relationshiop with her husband Urs Hodel, former PhD student of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH).

For more information see: International Film Festival on Disability


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9. December 2016

The R. Geigy Foundation honours efforts to overcome neglected tropical diseases

Giovanna Raso and Jean Coulibaly are the awardees of the R. Geigy-Award 2016 and will share a CHF 20,000 prize in honour of their efforts to fight neglected helminth infections in West Africa. To commemorate the spirit and the achievements of Rudolf Geigy, the founder of the Swiss Tropical Institute, the R. Geigy Foundation confers the prize every second year to distinguished young scholars in the field of tropical and neglected diseases.

Latrines, Hygiene and Neglected Worm Infections
Dr. Giovanna Raso is an epidemiologist who explores new ways to improve the health of rural populations in Côte d’Ivoire. In her research, she focuses on helminth infections and on improving water and sanitation. For instance, she developed an animated movie to convey hygiene and sanitation information to children and adults in a playful way. Her latest re-search project analyses the combined influence of chemotherapy, latrine construction and health education programmes in schools. Raso’s work provides the backbone for evidence-based health recommendations offered by WHO, among others. Giovanna Raso obtained a PhD at the University of Basel and Swiss TPH in 2004. She now works as a project leader at Swiss TPH.

Better Diagnosis and Treatment of Bilharzia in Côte d’Ivoire
Epidemiologist, Dr. Jean Coulibaly, leads the monitoring and evaluation unit at the Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques (CSRS) in Côte d’Ivoire in Western Africa. He has devoted his scientific career to better understanding the epidemiology and transmission of bilharzia and other helminth infections in his home country. He develops and evaluates novel tests for better diagnoses and explores new chemotherapies for treating helminth infections. Thanks to his research, there is a test that can quickly detect the parasite causing bilharzia in the urine. Laborious stool examinations are no longer needed. Together with the research unit of Prof. Jennifer Keiser at Swiss TPH, Coulibaly conducts clinical research to develop novel chemical compounds for the treatment of helminth infections.

Prof. Marcel Tanner, President, R. Geigy-Foundation: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..