A showcase of the Swiss ecosystem of microbiome technologies

The NCCR Microbiomes and The Society for Women in Natural Sciences at ETH (WiNS) are proud to announce the second edition of the Swiss Microbiomes Forum, on Tuesday 30 January 2024 at 15h00 in the Audimax at the ETH Zurich Main Building.

A better understanding and management of microbiomes offers great opportunity to address challenges in explicit priority areas for Swiss policies. The Forum will illustrate these opportunities along three key axes:

Diagnostics – The ability to identify microorganisms and measure characteristics of microbiomes is revolutionizing health practices. These methods are already being applied in hospitals and animal husbandries, and are starting to find their way in agriculture.

Interventions – The ability to change the composition of an imbalanced microbiome to achieve a healthier state holds great promise for future applications in healthcare, agriculture and the environment.

Conservation – We are just beginning to learn about all the fundamental ways in which Earth’s ecosystems depend on microbiomes. We need to preserve microorganisms as natural resources, to ensure quality of life in the future.

During the event, a pitching competition will be hosted to give visibility to projects spinning-off as early-stage start-ups from Swiss universities.

The Forum will bring together at ETH Zurich key actors of the Swiss microbiome landscape for a unique moment of exchange. Varied booths will showcase industry and startups working on devices and products in the microbiome field. By uncovering the most advanced applied technologies and research efforts, the Forum will offer the opportunity of invaluable networking in a fast-accelerating topic.

Registration to the event is free but mandatory.

[Update 12 January: unfortunately Camille Delavaux (ETH Zurich) had to cancel her participation in the microbiome conservation session, but we have found a fantastic replacement in Serina Robinson, group leader at EAWAG.]


Confirmed speakers

Alessandro Bergna – Syngenta

Natacha Bodenhausen – FiBL

Adrian Egli – University of Zurich

Virginia Franco – Yoni Solutions

Valesca Lindenberg – Gnubiotics

Grégory Resch – CHUV

Serina Robinson – EAWAG

Alex Sturm – Resistell


                 14:00 Check-in and Coffee
                 15:00 Welcome by WiNS and NCCR Microbiomes
                 15:15 Session 1: Microbiome Diagnostics
– Alex Sturm: Phenotypic analysis of bacteria using nanomotion measurements
  – Natacha Bodenhausen: Soil microbiome diagnostics for a successful inoculation with biofertilizer
  – Virginia Franco: Crucial aspects of vaginal microbiome in women’s health
                 16:00 Pitching competition
                 16:30 Coffee break and booths exhibition
                 17:15 Session 2: Microbiome Interventions
– Alessandro Bergna: The soil microbiome: an engine for agricultural innovation
– Valesca Lindenberg: Glycopeptide-mediated therapy: beyond the microbiome to targeting solid tumors
– Grégory Resch: Phage therapy: from selection to production of microbiome-sparing antibacterial agents
                 18:00 Session 3: Microbiome Conservation
– Serina Robinson: Aquatic biofilms: which pollutants are on the menu?
– Adrian Egli: The Microbiota Vault incentive: preserving biodiversity for the future
                 18:30 Roundtable ‘Starting-up in the microbiomes field’
                 19:00 Closing remarks followed by networking apéro and booths exhibition

Speakers information

Alessandro Bergna Scientific Expert, Syngenta - Soil Health and Soil Microbial Ecology Dr. Alessandro Bergna is a biotechnologist and microbial ecologist specialised in plant-microbiome interactions. He obtained his PhD at the Graz University of Technology, focusing on the structure of the tomato plant microbiome and on the vertical transmission of beneficial endophytes to the offspring. In his role at Syngenta, Dr. Bergna is researching sustainable molecules and agronomical practices that can help farmers to improve Soil Health by promoting beneficial interactions between crops and the soil microbiome. LinkedIn page
Natacha Bodenhausen Senior scientist, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL Natacha Bodenhausen is an accomplished microbial ecologist and a fervent advocate for sustainable agricultural practices. She earned a PhD from the University of Lausanne in 2007. Funded by a fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation and then by a Marie-Heim Vögtlin grant, she studied the phyllosphere microbiome, first at the University of Chicago, and then at ETH Zurich. Since joining Agroscope in 2015, she specialized on belowground plant-microbe interactions. In 2017, Dr. Bodenhausen joined the Department of Soil Sciences at FiBL, where her research focuses on exploring the contributions of microorganisms to plant growth. She also coordinates interdisciplinary research in the theme Microbiome at FiBL. Personal page on fibl.org
Adrian Egli Professor, University of Zurich Adrian Egli, MD, PhD, is the Director of the Institute of Medical Microbiology at the University of Zurich. He earned his MD and PhD at the University of Basel and conducted a fellowship at the University of Alberta, Canada. He served as the Head of Department at the University Hospital of Basel from 2015 to 2022 and led the Applied Microbiology Research group at the University of Basel from 2014 to 2022. Currently, his research at the University of Zurich focuses on critical factors for pathogenicity and resistance development, including involvement in the Microbiota Vault project. Personal website
Virginia Franco CEO & Co-Founder, YONI Solutions Virginia Franco is a medical doctor, gynecologist, and obstetrician, specializing in women’s health in primary care. In 2021, she co-founded YONI Solutions, a company focused on the analysis of the vaginal microbiome. Using innovative technology, YONI Solutions offers vaginal microbiome Analysis to give new insights into preventive steps to keep vaginal microbiome balance and avoid recurrent genital problems and potentially increase success rates of fertility treatments, combined with personalized probiotic programs to improve women's health and quality of life. Dr. Franco participates actively in the vaginal microbiome studies and brings her expertise in the segment of women’s health as someone who understands the field. yonisolutions.com
Valesca Lindenberg Pipeline & Project Manager, Gnubiotics Sciences Valesca Lindenberg completed her PhD in Microbiology and Immunology at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf. After a postdoc in the Friedrich Loeffler Institut, she went on to pursue a career focused on Technology transfer, working with academic institutions and consulting firms. She recently joined Gnubiotics Sciences, which develops and supplies glycan-based products that emulate nature’s way of nourishing the microbiome to solve microbiome-related health conditions. In her current role, Valesca is leading solutions in the field of Oncology. gnubiotics.com
Grégory Resch Senior lecturer, CHUV Grégory Resch is Senior Lecturer (MER I) and Head of the Bacteriophages and Phage Therapy Laboratory at CHUV he founded in March 2021. He obtained his PhD in microbiology at the University of Basel and pursued postdoctoral research at Rockefeller University in New York, thanks to a Marie Curie fellowship. He then returned to Switzerland, first to the Department of Fundamental Microbiology at the University of Lausanne, then to the CHUV. All in all, he has been working for 25 years in the field of new antimicrobial development, with a particular interest in original pathogen-specific strategies, notably phage therapy and phage lysins therapy. These therapeutic approaches spare the patient's commensal microbiomes and represent promising complementary strategies for managing difficult-to-treat bacterial infectious diseases. Personal website
Serina Robinson Group Leader, EAWAG Serina Robinson is a tenure-track group leader in the Department of Environmental Microbiology at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (EAWAG) since September 2021. She earned her PhD in Microbiology and MSc in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology from the University of Minnesota. Previously, she conducted research as a U.S.– Norway Fulbright fellow and later as an ETH Zürich postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Dr. Jörn Piel, investigating the biosynthetic potential of aquatic microbiomes. Currently, her research group at EAWAG employs computational and experimental approaches to 'data mine' microbiomes, aiming to characterize enzymes and pathways involved in pollutant biotransformations. The overall goal of her research program is to harness the potential of new enzymes from the uncultivated microbial majority for environmental bioremediation and biotechnology applications. Personal page on eawag.ch
Alex Sturm Chief Scientific Officer, Resistell Alex Sturm serves as the Chief Scientific Officer at Resistell, having joined the team in Basel in late 2020. In his role, he oversees the preclinical and clinical development of the rapid antibiotic susceptibility testing (AST) using Resistell's Phenotech device. This innovative diagnostic tool, based on bacterial vibrations, delivers antibiotic resistance results faster than current methods, in only two hours, especially crucial for bacteremia and sepsis patients. Alex has worked for several years at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, MA, focusing on antibiotic-tolerant Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Prior to that, he conducted research at Columbia University, exploring the exit of dormancy in bacterial spores. Alex holds a Ph.D. in Microbiology, with a specialization in Salmonella virulence, from ETH Zurich. resistell.com

Event Organizers

Society for Women in Natural Sciences (WiNS)

WiNS was founded in 2014 to promote gender equality and to provide a networking platform to connect women in science. We want to shape a more inclusive and diverse community in the sciences at ETH by getting everyone involved and raising awareness of current issues in gender equality. Initially a female association within the ETH Zürich Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences (D-CHAB), WiNS has expanded to include the Department of Biology (D-BIOL), Physics (D-PHYS), and Materials (D-MATL). Our members take on leadership roles to organize events such as career series, panel discussions, and workshops. These events not only amplify female voices in science, they also raise awareness, promote networking, and offer career-building opportunities. To strengthen our efforts, WiNS is currently working towards building our links with industry.

NCCR Microbiomes

The National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) Microbiomes, was launched in 2020 to understand the unifying principles of microbiome functioning, to develop tools to diagnose microbiome status, and to devise strategies to intervene and restore imbalanced microbiomes.This research consortium gathers more than 100 scientists across Switzerland, from the University of Lausanne, ETH Zurich, EPFL, CHUV, the University of Bern, and the University of Zurich. NCCR Microbiomes is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation for a period of 12 years.


Event Sponsors

We are very grateful for our sponsors, which make the Swiss Microbiomes Forum 2024 possible!