This year, the Leenaards Foundation will hand out its annual Science Prize, together with over CHF 1.5 million in award money, to three research groups in the Lake Geneva region. The research groups are headed by Dr. Indrit Bègue, who is investigating cerebellar stimulation as a method for alleviating certain symptoms of schizophrenia, such as apathy; Dr. Sylvain Meylan, who is addressing the problem of antibiotic resistance with a new antibiotic-treatment strategy based on sugar; and Prof. Julien Vaucher, who is working to better understand the causal link between genetic markers and cardiovascular disease. EPFL is involved in two of these researches.

Address the negative symptoms of schizophrenia

The research team is led by Dre Indrit Bègue (HUG-UNIGE), Prof. Camilla Bellone (UNIGE), Dr Jonas Richiardi (CHUV-UNIL). Around 85,000 people in Switzerland suffer from schizophrenia. This psychiatric disorder usually manifests as an altered perception of reality and leads to symptoms such as withdrawal and apathy. “Our research hypothesis is that we can reduce the intensity of these negative symptoms by stimulating the cerebellum, which is located at the back of the brain,” says Dr. Bègue, from the University of Geneva’s Department of Psychiatry and Geneva University Hospital. She’s running this project alongside Prof. Camilla Bellone from the University of Geneva’s Department of Basic Neurosciences and Dr. Jonas Richiardi from the CHUV’s Department of Radiology. The cerebellum contains over 50% of the brain’s neurons and is connected to regions deep within the brain that are associated with our reward system. “The kind of stimulation we’re studying could reactivate the reward systems of patients suffering from schizophrenia, thus helping them recover a more normal level of social interaction,” says Dr. Bègue.

The Leenaards Prize for Translational Biomedical Research is awarded every year to between one and three research projects that bring together researchers from at least two different universities or teaching hospitals in the Lake Geneva region.

View EPFL post

View press release of the Leenaards Foundation (in french)