In 2016, the ETH Board defined PHRT as a strategic priority for the ETH Domain for the 2017– 2020 period. Earlier this year, the Board approved a second phase of PHRT that will run from 2021 to 2024 and allocated CHF 50 million to the program. “We are very pleased with the decision of the ETH Board and are looking forward to consolidating and continuing our existing efforts in personalized health so that we can strengthen the progress made during the first period,” says Professor Bernd Wollscheid, chair of the PHRT Executive Committee.
During the first phase of PHRT, the program funded a multi-omics center to digitize the DNA, RNA, protein, metabolite and lipid data points of clinical cohorts. PHRT also funded 55 joint research projects with university hospitals in Switzerland, thereby building bridges between ETH Domain researchers and clinical scientists. PHRT aims to develop and drive projects in biomedical education (doctoral and post-doctoral level), technology translation to clinical practice, and research on targeted clinical questions. The overarching goal is to evaluate and show how ETH Domain technologies can support clinical decision-making and benefit patients in the context of precision medicine. Understanding patients’ genetic and other molecular information is essential for developing the next generation of theranostic technologies and medical decision support algorithms. PHRT works together with the Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN) and Swiss hospitals to support and promote the nationwide use and exchange of health data for research purposes.
Following its initial three calls for proposals between 2017 and 2019, PHRT will publish its next call in January 2021. Professor Wollscheid encourages researchers and clinicians to build consortia in time to position themselves for success. “The competitive selection process for the call necessitates building strong partnerships that will drive precision medicine research in Switzerland and abroad,” he says. “The next PHRT research projects will provide the opportunity to pave the way for tomorrow’s medicine. We are thrilled that ETH Domain institutions are part of this movement.”