10. December 2018

Marcel Tanner appointed Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS)

The president of the R. Geigy-Foundation has been appointed a Fellow of the African Academy of the Sciences (AAS)

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07. December 2018

Peruvian scientist Stella Hartinger-Peña receives 10th "R. Geigy Award"
The R. Geigy Foundation honours Stella Hartinger-Peña for adressing childhood diseases in rural Peru

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12. März 2018

Call for Submission: 10th R. Geigy Award 2018
The R. Geigy Foundation is looking for candidates elegible for the 10th R. Geigy Award.

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31. August 2071

No roots, no fruits! Final Lecture of Prof. Dr. Marcel Tanner
On Friday, 15 December 2017 Marcel Tanner, President of the R. Geigy Foundation will deliver his final lecture at the University of Basel

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06. November 2017

Invitation - Preview of the Documentary "Why Rudolf Geigy left for Africa"
It's with great pleasure that we invite you to the preview of the documentary "Why Rudolf Geigy left for Africa" by Stéphane Kleeb

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11. September 2017

Start of an implementation research course in Bukavu
On Monday, 11 September 2017 the RGS founded project "Connecting the Dots" will embark on an implementation research course in the Democratic Republic of Congo

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August 2017

Documentary "At night, the soul flies further" shortlisted at the International Film Festival on Disability in Cannes
The R. Geigy-Foundation supported documentary "At night, the soul flies further" by Peter Jaeggi shown in full length in Cannes.

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July 2017

Manuel Hetzel, epidemiologist at Swiss TPH, receives Venia Docendi of the University of Basel
Manuel Hetzel from Swiss TPH gets the Venia Docendi of the University of Basel. His career has been substantially supported by the R. Geigy Foundation.

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July 2015

R. Geigy-Award 2016 honours the fight against neglected diseases
Giovanna Raso and Jean Coulibaly are conferred the R. Geigy-Award 2016. The R. Geigy-Foundation honours their efforts to overcome neglected helminth infections in Côte d’Ivoire.

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Prof. Dr. Marcel Tanner

Secretary General
Dr. Lukas Meier


Bettina Schwind

Country: Germany, Date of birth: 1975
Researcher, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH)

Supported Project: “Women and Gynaecology in Evaluation"

“Female Gynaecologists make a Difference”

Up to the 1970s, almost all gynaecologists were men. Today, more than half or all gynaecologists are women. Recent studies indicate that female gynaecologists show a more patient-centred communication style than male gynaecologists. That is where Bettina Schwind’s PhD study started off. In her research, supported by the R. Geigy Foundation, she explored how and why such differences between female and male gynaecologists exist. She showed that female gynaecologists differ from their male colleagues in their diagnostic and treatment approaches. Rather than offering (bio)medical treatment or deciding over the best therapy, female gynaecologists understand the consultation as a more integrative and holistic process. Some of these differences can be explained by varying gendered professional identities. Whereas male doctors’ technical and diagnostic specialisations led them to become gynaecologists, women deliberately chose to specialise in gynaecology because they experienced the hospital environment during their medical training as detrimental to women’s health. For her qualitative study Schwind interviewed gynaecologists and female patients and participated in over thirty consultations in outpatient gynaecological practice settings in the wider Basel region.


Nicole Leonie Bertschi

Country: Switzerland, Date of birth: 1987
Researcher, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH)
Research Area: Gene Regulation

Supported Project: “Functional exploration of regulators of virulence gene expression in Plasmodium falciparum

“In malaria research, there is still much to discover”

Even after years of conducting intensive laboratory research, Nicole Bertschi is amazed at the versatility of Plasmodium falciparum, the malaria parasite that causes so much harm throughout Africa and Asia. While completing her PhD at Swiss TPH, she focused on a basic research question with a complex answer: how does the malaria parasite survive in humans? To discover the key, she looked at the parasite’s blood stage — the very moment in the disease’s life cycle that causes the typical symptoms of malaria, such as fever or anaemia. Once in the red blood cells, parasites are able to constantly change their shape so as to evade the immune response. They do so with the help of about 60 different PfEMP1-proteins. “Just one of these PFEMP1 proteins is activated at a time”, explains Bertschi. “By switching from one protein to another, the parasite is able to outsmart the immune system.”

Bertschi discovered that one single protein played an important role in regulating the other PfEMP1 proteins. Manipulating this single protein prevents the parasite from changing its shape and activates all 60 proteins at once, making the parasite more easily detectable by the immune system. These results could prove important for those developing new drugs and vaccines against malaria.

Henry Frempong Owusu

Henry Frempong Owusu

Country: Ghana, Date of birth: 1981
PhD Student Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH)
Research Area: Epidemiology, Vector Control

Supported Project: “Improving Experimental Procedures for Vector Control and Product Development”

“Vector control has been going on for years and there are still many unanswered questions.”

Originally he wanted to become a medical doctor but now, Henry Owusu sits in a laboratory in the basement of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), sucks mosquitoes from a cage and blows them gently into a tube. “Looking for answers to basic questions is fascinating”, says the scientist. One such question is how to measure increasing insecticide resistance within mosquito populations – the topic of his PhD research, supported by the R. Geigy Foundation. The measurement devices currently used are not adequate because they simply do not measure the same thing. The WHO’s tube assay requires one to expose the mosquitoes (to insecticides) for one hour, take them out and keep them for 24 hours and then check how many of them died. In contrast, the CDC’s bottle assay requires exposing mosquitoes for a maximum of two hours and then record how many mosquitoes dropped at the end of that period. In short, one test measures mortality whereas the other just reports knock-downs. “It is surprising”, says Owusu, “that the problem of insecticide resistance is huge but the methodology to monitor it is just inadequate.” Owusu hopes that his research will push WHO to introduce and promote a consistent methodology. “I really hope to wake them up so that they say: yes, we need a complete change.“

Mauro Bodio

Mauro Bodio

Country: Switzerland/Italy, born: 1961
Present occupation: Independent Biologist
Field of research: Zoology, toxinology

Supported project: Notfall-Handbuch Gifttiere. Diagnose, Therapie, Biologie (1996), Venomous and Poisonous Animals, Biology & Clinical Management (2011) (www.vapaguide.info, together with Thomas Junghanss)

"In sponsoring the project, the R. Geigy Foundation has continued the tradition of toxinology at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) that had somewhat fallen into oblivion."


When accidents with poisonous animals occur, a few minutes often makes the difference between life and death. An accurate knowledge of the source of the poisonous bite or poisonous sting is essential for specific treatment with antidotes. The emergency handbook was conceived as a list of measures enabling doctors to identify the source of the poison as quickly as possible and to institute the necessary treatment. The compendium is published online free of charge in German and in English.

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Daniel Maeusezahl

Daniel Mäusezahl

Country: Switzerland, born: 1963
Present occupation: Research Group Leader, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH)
Field of research: Epidemiology and Public Health

Supported project: Measuring the Health Impact of Improved Water Supplies and Sanitation Facilities in Rural Zimbabwe (1996)

"Research should not be guided by the experts' point of view but conducted on an equal footing and together with the local people."


In Zimbabwe during the 1970s and 1980s, improving water quality and hygiene in rural areas was a major concern. However, no scientifically valid methods were available to assess the impact of rural development projects on people's health. Supported by the R. Geigy-Foundation, Daniel Mäusezahl faced this tricky task. He developed an evaluation method that could be easily implemented and by which the impact of development projects on people's health could be measured.

Joanna Schellenberg

Joanna Schellenberg

Country: Great Britain, born: 1962
Present occupation: Reader in Epidemiology and Global Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Field of research: Epidemiology

Supported project: Socially Marketed Treated Nets and Child Survival in Southern Tanzania (2001)

"My PhD-study was on the impact of insecticide treated mosquito nets in Tanzania, carried out at a time when the only sustainable option was for local people to pay at least part of the cost of these nets. The well-documented uptake of these nets and the resulting improvement in child survival convinced me of the utility of malaria research in sub-Saharan Africa."


Insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) have proven to be a vital tool in the fight against malaria. The project, supported by the R. Geigy-Foundation, confirmed the positive impact of mosquito nets on child mortality in an area of high malaria transmission in rural Tanzania.

Salim Abdulla

Salim Abdulla

Country: Tanzania, born: 1964
Present occupation: Director of the Ifakara Health Institute (IHI), Tanzania
Field of research: Clinical Epidemiology

Supported project: Malaria Control Strategies in the Kilombero Valley, Tanzania (2000)

"Science, for me, means the search for pragmatic solutions to social problems. Particularly in malaria research, new tools have been developed which may be the key to reducing the burden of disease in Africa and elsewhere."


Malaria cannot be contained by a single "magic bullet" solution. A series of strategies are needed, which complement each other. Supported by the R. Geigy-Foundation, Salim Abdulla has analysed different malaria control strategies in Tanzania and proposed changes to the health policy of the East African country. One of his propositions was to replace Chloroquine treatment with the combination therapy, Sulfadoxine-Pyrimethamine, because of the resistance that had developed against the former. A second proposition of his was to distribute insecticide-treated mosquito nets to every Tanzanian.

Susanne Hausmann-Muela

Susanne Hausmann-Muela

Country: Switzerland, born: 1966
Present occupation: Independent Research Worker at Pass-International (www.pass-international.org)
Field of research: Medical anthropology

Supported project: Community Understanding of Malaria and Treatment-Seeking Behaviour in a Holoendemic Area in Southeastern Tanzania (2000)

"Malaria cannot be reduced to purely biomedical explanatory models. If you look beyond your own cultural horizon, you become aware of the widely differing interpretations of the causes and course of the disease and possible measures for controlling it."


The understanding of what it means to be ill or healthy varies depending on the cultural context. The project showed that the population living in rural Tanzania had a different understanding about the causes of malaria and the kind of treatment needed than Western biomedical experts. This result is highly relevant in order to better adjust health interventions to the needs of local populations.

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Dissertation: Community understanding of malaria, and treatment-seeking behaviour, in a holoendemic area of southeastern Tanzania

Ingrid Felger

Ingrid Felger

Country: Germany/Switzerland, born: 1955
Present occupation: Research Group Leader, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH)
Field of research: Molecular epidemiology and diagnostics

Supported project: Genomics Approach to the Selection of New Antigens for Serological Diagnosis of Helminth Infections (2006)

"The foundation invested in an innovative branch of research that is developing exponentially and gives new impulses to diagnostic work by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute's (Swiss TPH's) outpatients department. New test systems were created that are now being developed for diagnostic laboratory routine."


The decoding of the hereditary information of the bilharziosis pathogen Schistosoma mansoni by an international research group in 2009 was an important step forward in control of the tropical disease and provided new approaches to medical diagnosis. The research project, sponsored by the R. Geigy Foundation, also contributed to developing the field of diagnostics in the new millennium. With the aid of bioinformatics, researchers defined new antigens in different helminthic diseases, which allows for a more exact diagnosis of the diseases than was formerly possible.

Hassan Mshinda

Hassan Mshinda

Country: Tanzania, born: 1959
Present occupation: Director General of the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH)
Field of research: Epidemiology

Supported project: The Challenge of Drug Resistance in Malaria: Studies in an Area of Intense Perennial Transmission, Kilombero District (2000)

"Basic research in the areas of health and agriculture are especially important for low-income countries. It is not least due to my insistence that the Tanzanian government is now spending 1% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on scientific research."


Malaria parasites are tenacious. Sooner or later they develop resistance against the conventional anti-malarial drugs. In his research project, Hassan Mshinda scrutinized two drugs: the conventional Chloroquine and the combination-therapy Sulfadoxine-Pyrimethamine. He was able to show that Chloroquine was a less effective weapon against the disease than was Sulfadoxine-Pyrimethamine, even though resistance against the latter was also detectable. These results had a high practical value as they formed the basis for new national guidelines for malaria treatment.

Supported projects

Since the 1970s, the R. Geigy Foundation (RGS) has supported innovative projects (training, infrastructure, research) in the field of global public health. Early research projects mainly focused on various parasites and disease transmission. Today, RGS supports research covering a broad range of topics across various scientific disciplines. Despite this diversity, the projects have one thing in common: they all innovatively combine field and laboratory research and find new solutions to pressing public health problems through cooperation with local partners. In so doing, they guarantee that the research results have a lasting and positive impact on the societies concerned.


Overview (1977–2017)

Various Strategic Projects