The new Faculty of Biomedical Sciences establishes a framework for the future

Institutional Communication Service

Prof. Mario Bianchetti, Dean of the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences

USI’s latest project, the Faculty of Biomedical Science, is first and foremost an attempt, begun in 2009, to address the significant lack of trained doctors in Switzerland. With support from the universities of Basel and Zurich, and especially from ETH Zurich, the project has become more concrete: in 2020 a group of about seventy students who will have begun their three-year Bachelor degree in 2017 in one of the three aforementioned universities will move to the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland to start their Master’s degree. In 2023, the first USI students will sit for the official "state examination", to obtain a Swiss Federal Diploma in Medicine.

Experience shows that a Faculty of Biomedicine is not limited to training young doctors. We have identified seven good reasons that explain the added value and framework that this new Faculty will create for the Italian speaking part of Switzerland.

1. The students and teachers of the Faculty will live in Ticino and contribute to the local economy.

2. Students, once they graduate, tend to stay in the region where they studied after obtaining their degree. For example, I studied in Bern where I remained as a paediatrician and then as a university professor for over 20 years.

3. Modern medical schools are known to secure major economic resources not only for their own faculty, but also for the whole University. I am sure that in Lugano the Faculty of Biomedical Science will interact constructively with many departments of USI, as well as with the Department of Business Administration, Health and Social Care at SUPSI.

4. Related industries, such as pharmaceutical, biomedical and biotechnology, often set up operations close to medical schools, relying on its resources (especially human resources).

5. It has been difficult to find highly qualified medical specialists who are willing to move to Ticino. A School of Biomedical Science will make the Italian speaking part of Switzerland attractive for professionals also in teaching and research, which, in turn, will be an advantage in terms of overall quality of care.

6. Clinical research conducted in Ticino was recently quantified. The study concluded that the scientific literature generated by Cardiocentro, the Cantonal Institute of Pathology, the Institute of Oncology, and the various clinical departments in the Cantonal Hospitals, both qualitatively and quantitatively, was of a similar quality to that produced by the cantons of Lucerne and St. Gallen. Having students working on their Master's thesis – a research project that each student achieves before graduating – and especially, conducting PhD work, will only be a further stimulus to progress.

7. Last but not least, the interaction with other fields of basic research in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland will be a further positive contribution of this new faculty. With the renowned Institute for Research in Biomedicine in Bellinzona, already affiliated with the Università della Svizzera italiana, the dialogue will only intensify: students will be offered the opportunity to attend laboratory sessions which will provide job opportunities to some. The Institute of Oncology Research in Bellinzona will soon become affiliated as well. Finally, there are two young and noteworthy research institutions in the Lugano area: the Swiss Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the Laboratory of Biomedical Neuroscience. These laboratories will also interact positively with the new Faculty of Biomedical Science.

A final observation. Two prestigious rankings, the QS World University Rankings and the Academic Ranking of World Universities, evaluate the top 300 universities in the world. In these rankings, Switzerland is present with the two federal polytechnic schools and five universities with medical schools: Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Bern and Lausanne. Not present, however, are the University of Fribourg, Lucerne, Neuchâtel, St. Gallen and the Università della Svizzera italiana. These rankings clearly indicate that the creation of the Faculty of Biomedical Science could transport the still young Università della Svizzera italiana from the "Challenge League" of the academic world to the more prestigious “Super League.”

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