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The SCTO is an independent organisation and is based on a joint initiative of the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences.

As of 2017, the SCTO is a research infrastructure of national importance funded by the State Secretariat of Education, Research and Innovation and the Swiss National Science Foundation.


Research related to COVID-19

All Clinical Trial Units (CTUs) at our member institutions are currently working at full speed to support research activities related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Some of the CTUs are involved in supporting international COVID-related research projects. All other research activities have been put on hold as far as possible.

Patient care comes first

CTUs may have to prioritise and reallocate resources in order to help researchers who are addressing this urgent situation. Furthermore, CTUs may have to redirect staff in order to support other activities in the hospitals, e.g. clinical care or administrative work.

Questions about ongoing research projects

CTU staff are available to answer questions about how to manage your ongoing projects. Additionally, Swissmedic and swissethics have prepared a joint document describing the most important recommendations for the treatment of patients in clinical trials of medicinal products. This document is available at Joint Guidance of Swissmedic and swissethics on the management of clinical trials with medicinal drug products in Switzerland during the COVID-19 pandemic (Version 2.1, 07.04.2020).

Researchers interested in conducting studies on COVID-19 can contact their local CTU.

How are the individual CTUs involved?

CTU Basel

The Department of Clinical Research (DKF) offers coordinative and practical support. In addition, local research activities are registered at the DKF. If you would like to learn more about collaborating partners, please contact the DKF; specific information can be found at COVID-19 research. As of 14 April 2020, 21 trials related to COVID-19 have been registered via this link.

Furthermore, the DKF initiated a joint project with the Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford (USA) and other international partners to create COVID-evidence, a non-profit database with the evidence available worldwide on interventions for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. This expanded database is continuously updated and freely available at

CTU Bern

Inselspital and the University of Bern collaborate closely with the universities of Basel, Zurich, Lausanne, and ETH Zurich. The CTU Bern is currently setting up a trial with patients with progressing COVID-19.

The CTU Bern also actively supports the WHO’s global SOLIDARITY trial and supports the CTU Lausanne in coordinating Swiss trial sites. Furthermore, the unit is involved in several local observational studies and a spatial epidemiology project that aims to map the distribution of COVID-19 cases in Switzerland.


The CTU EOC is highly involved in coordinating and supporting COVID-19 trials. It is currently participating in two international and one national multicentre COVID-19 trials.

Furthermore, the CTU EOC is promoting, coordinating, and supporting seroprevalence and database studies related to COVID-19. A scientific committee, chaired by the CTU’s director, has been established to coordinate, evaluate, and prioritise research projects related to COVID-19.

CTU Geneva

The CTU Geneva is actively applying its expertise in the fight against COVID-19. The CTU supports international, national, and local COVID-19 trials and is involved in 16 trials related to COVID-19.

All of the CTU's resources are allocated to therapeutic clinical trials, cohort studies, or retrospective studies. The whole team, including nurses, physicians, pharmacists, clinical research associates, monitors, biostatisticians, data managers, and administrative staff, is collaborating with scientists to investigate COVID-19 infections and test the safety and efficacy of innovative treatments.

CTU Lausanne

A task force for research projects related to COVID-19 was set up to coordinate studies involving patients hospitalised at Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV), to ensure the practical feasibility of studies and investigations, and to avoid duplication. This internal institutional workgroup receives all proposals to involve COVID-19 patients at CHUV through the generic email address gt-recherche-covid@chuv.notexisting@nodomain.comch. In addition, the workgroup receives requests from the local ethics committee CER-VD to evaluate research projects.

The SOLIDARITY consortium in Switzerland now brings together 17 investigation sites. With the help of the CTU Bern, the CTU Lausanne ensures a centralised coordination in Switzerland.

CTU St.Gallen

The CTU St.Gallen is currently supporting a prospective cohort study about the incidence, spectrum of symptoms, and risk factors for COVID-19 among healthcare workers.

CTU Zurich

The University Hospital Zurich, in close collaboration with the EOC, started one of the first drug trials against COVID-19. In addition, the CTU Zurich is working closely with the Infectiology Department to track and coordinate all COVID projects, clinical and other, to minimise the burden on patients.

Furthermore, the University Hospital Zurich partnered closely with Zurich’s blood donation centre BSZ and the Institute of Medical Virology (IMV) to start the first clinical trial to evaluate passive immunisation of high-risk patients with SARS-CoV-2 using plasma from recovered donors. The Angiology Department initiated the first multicentre clinical trial to validate the use of anti-coagulation in non-hospitalised patients with COVID in an outpatient setting across all five Swiss university hospitals.

Members of the research community across all universities on the University of Zurich’s campus, including the ETH, UZH, and USZ, are combining their efforts to rapidly gain insight into mechanism and cell communication as the basis for future treatment and vaccine development. For this purpose, the CTU Zurich has recently established a biobank with COVID-2 samples and materials and is coordinating the informed consent process for COVID patients. This growing sample collection serves as a bio resource for both the current and future needs of COVID researchers in the medical and scientific communities.

What is the role of the SCTO?

  • We regularly share the following information: updates relevant to the conduct of all clinical trials during the COVID-19 crisis, information on clinical research projects related to COVID-19, and other relevant news resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. Being part of the European Clinical Research Infrastructure Network (ECRIN) gives us access early on to pertinent information.

  • We support swissethics in their information activities by providing feedback from our network and giving practical input on their guidance documents.

  • We assist CTUs with COVID-19 applications in order to find national solutions for all activities.

  • We support adequate funding for COVID-19 initiatives, because especially services and preparatory work for large multinational trials have not been funded adequately – or at all – so far.

  • On a network level, we plan to use available cohort data to see how COVID-19 influences or has influenced other pathologies.

Join existing initiatives instead of starting new activities!

Hundreds of trials on COVID-19 have already been registered. Instead of adding more, we support the coordination of ongoing projects and the pooling of resources. In addition, we encourage researchers to join existing clinical research projects proposed by the WHO or the EMA, for example:




Please do not hesitate to send us further relevant information that you would like to share with others. We will make it available on our website or via Twitter. Together we can enable the best minds to collaborate on treating and preventing COVID-19 while optimising clinical research.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash