Marcel Salathé, professor of digital epidemiology at EPFL, based at Campus Biotech, will head the Steering Committee for Switzerland’s national research program on COVID-19. He was appointed this week by the National Research Council, which is part of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). Salathé’s main role will be to provide scientific oversight to researchers working on 28 international projects and advise them on knowledge and technology transfer.

Already a member of Switzerland’s COVID-19 scientific task force, Salathé will now spearhead the SNSF’s efforts to combat the pandemic. Under the research program (NRP 78), 28 COVID-related projects were selected in July to receive CHF 20 million in funding over two years.

Salathé is a pioneer in the field of digital epidemiology. His team studies methods for analyzing data sent by Twitter or smartphones, for example, to obtain epidemiological information. Since the start of the pandemic he has been focusing on digital contact tracing and served as the scientific lead in the development of the SwissCovid app. Salathé has been hard at work throughout this challenging time and has “an extensive network of partners both in academia and beyond,” according to the SNSF press release. In his new role, he will work with the rest of the steering committee – composed of Swiss and foreign experts – to advise researchers on knowledge and technology transfer and provide them with scientific support.

“From when the virus’s genes were first sequenced less than two weeks after the initial reports were published to the ongoing efforts to develop a treatment and vaccine, research has been – and will remain – at the core of the response to the pandemic,” says Salathé, who will retain his position at EPFL.

The other members of the steering committee are internationally renowned scientists from four research disciplines: for clinical research, Giacomo Grasselli from Università degli Studi di Milano in Italy; for immunology and virology, Olivier Terrier from the Centre International de Recherche en Infectiologie in Lyon, France; for drug and vaccine development and diagnostics, Barbara Rath from the Vienna Vaccine Safety Initiative in Austria and Université Bourgogne Franche Comté in France; and for epidemiology and public health, Annelies Wilder-Smith from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the UK and the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine in Singapore. Two innovation experts from Innosuisse will also work with the program to provide further support in the area of knowledge and technology transfer.