At UNIL, the Department includes numerous fundamental and translational research groups. It is also home to the Lausanne Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. Lausanne is one of four branches of the Ludwig Institute, a distinction it shares with Oxford (UK), San Diego (USA) and Princeton (USA).
The breadth of its expertise and its highly integrated structure make the Department of oncology an exceptional environment for scientific discovery and clinical innovation.
Created in 2012, the Department of oncology has a long tradition in scientific and clinical excellence.
Its founding organizations are the Lausanne Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, founded in 1973, and the Pluridisciplinary Oncology Centre (CePO), founded in 1978. Its history can be traced as far back as 1924, to the Centre anti-cancéreux romand, founded by the pioneer surgeon Dr César Roux, in Lausanne.
The Lausanne Branch of the Ludwig Institute has made groundbreaking contributions to fundamental and translational immunology as well as cancer immunotherapy. Investigators at the Lausanne Branch and CePO worked together for decades to bring innovation to cancer patients, testing the first cancer vaccines and developing novel immune assays to advance clinical discovery. Investigators from CePO developed innovative cancer treatments such as the isolated limb perfusion and internationally adopted chemo-radiotherapy combinations for head-ad neck cancer and brain tumors.
The Department's scientific mission is to carry out state-of the art research in tumor microenvironment and onco-immunology and to further therapeutic development in the fields of T-cell engineering, cancer immunotherapy, radiation therapy, and precision oncology. Its ultimate goal is to drive discovery to develop transformative care for cancer patients.
Twenty individual research laboratories make up the Department's research community. These include fifteen independent but collaborating laboratories, each led by a principal investigator, and the Human Integrated Tumour Immunology Discovery Engine (Hi-TIDe), an innovative discovery and development structure of six research groups within the Ludwig Lausanne Branch.
The community also includes groups dedicated to the clinical development of cell therapies, and the Center for Experimental Therapeutics, its clinical research engine. The Center for Precision Oncology at the Lausanne University Hospital, and several affiliated research laboratories at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), the University of Geneva and the Lausanne University Hospital, complete our science team.
The Department's research community is made up of over 250 researchers from thirty nine countries, including thirty Master’s and over fifty PhD students (2020).
Committed to promoting the careers of female resarchers, women make up 54% of the Department's research staff, and 50% of professor positions are occupied by women faculty. Many of our researchers feature in the Web of Science highly cited researchers listing and our community is regularly honoured with prestigious national and international awards.
The Department of oncology is a founding member of the Swiss Cancer Center Léman, a comprehensive partnership against cancer in the Lac Léman (Lake Geneva) region, which unites the University of Lausanne, the University of Geneva, The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), and Lake Geneva's two university hospitals, CHUV and HUG.
A recent partnership completed with CERN to co-develop FLASH, a breakthrough approach to cancer radiation therapy, complements its innovation task force.
The Department is a founding member of the Oncology Network of Western Switzerland, (Réseau Romand d’oncologie), an alliance of clinical oncologists from five of the French-speaking Swiss cantons dedicated to the care of patients through clinical trials and precision oncology.
The Department is also a founding member of important clinical and translational research networks including the Cell Therapy Group of the Swiss Group for Clinical Cancer Research (SAKK), the European Thoracic Oncology Platform (eTOP), and the Head-and-Neck Oncology and Radiation Therapy Group (GORTEC). In addition, the department is part of academic pharma networks such as the Global Expert Centers Initiative (GECI, Bristol Myers Squibb) and the Immunotherapy Centers of Research Excellence (ImCORE, Roche).
The outstanding expertise in cancer immune biology, immunotherapy and tumor microenvironment that the Department offers, and its specific collaborations with bioengineers, computational scientists and cancer biologists from its partner institutions, create a formidable platform from which to drive scientific advances and clinical impact.
Such a highly collaborative and integrated environment is unique worldwide and it creates unparalleled opportunities for an exceptional translational cancer research program.
Pr George COUKOS MD PhD
Head of the Department of oncology UNIL CHUV
Chief, Service of immuno-oncology CHUV
Director, Ludwig Lausanne Branch
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