Tandem: A call for translational cancer research projects co-led by one clinician and one scientist engaged in basic research

It is widely agreed that creativity and innovation take place at the interface of disciplines, when two mind-sets meet to solve a common problem. Inter- or multi-disciplinary teams are motivated by the challenge of sharing a common goal, and by coming at it from different angles – forming a cooperative, not competitive collaboration. The AGORA cancer research center was built by the ISREC Foundation to bring together researchers from different institutions with a common goal – that of developing innovative therapies and diagnostics for cancer patients. Engineers from EPFL, academic researchers from UNIL and UNIGE, and clinician scientists from the CHUV in Lausanne and the HUG in Geneva work under one roof. Now the ISREC Foundation would like to launch a call for projects that are submitted by pairs of clinicians and research scientists (one each) who have jointly designed a translational research project that they will co-lead. The Tandem program will fund 2- or 3-year grants for the salaries of postdocs or research assistants who will be co-supervised by a team of equals – one clinician and one research scientist/engineer.

The transfer of the understanding of disease mechanisms into clinical application – whether from cellular and molecular biology, genetics, genomics, bioinformatics or proteomics - requires a stable and well-trained cadre of ‘translational’ investigators who are well versed in the latest scientific techniques. Just as important for translational research is an accurate understanding of the medical challenges that doctors and patients face in their battle against cancer. We hope to foster a “bedside-and-bench” rather than a “bench-to-bedside” approach to translational research, in which younger investigators are guided jointly by both a clinician and a specialized scientist who have made the effort to define a common project. Bridging the “language barrier” between the clinic and basic research is often half of the challenge in creating an effective translational research team. We seek the pairing of scientists and clinicians on jointly defined projects that address problems of immediate need in cancer therapy or diagnostics.

The end result will be a number of postdocs and research assistants conversant in both the language of basic research and that of the clinic, based on their exposure to both worlds. Specific training can be covered, when necessary, to make up for lack of experience or familiarity with a field. Work at the interface between basic and clinical research requires partnerships between bench scientists and translational clinical investigators. Thus, the Tandem projects will not only foster translation but will also allow young researchers to bridge the gap between forefront scientific advances and clinical application.


Call for competitive projects based on a clinical/basic research collaboration:

Applicants are invited to apply for funds for translational research positions and research running costs at the intersection of basic and clinical cancer research. The fellows recruited for Tandem funding will work towards translating basic research findings into improved cancer therapies or biomarker development. The application should be co-submitted by a clinical scientist paired up with a scientist engaged in basic research. Where justified, more than one clinician can be involved. Proof of an appropriate research environment will be required, and the applicants should hold a Ph.D. or equivalent degree in medical, biomedical, engineering or natural sciences. Effective communication and organizational skills will enable the cooperative effort and ensure a smooth transfer of knowledge and skills. The projects to be funded will be reviewed and selected by the ISREC Foundation’s Scientific Board.



Please submit a letter of intent (non-binding) by December 15, 2023, containing the names of principal applicants, the topic or title, a brief abstract (150 word maximum) and keywords.


Application conditions:

  • Only projects developed and co-directed by a clinician and a basic scientist will be accepted.
  • Applicants must be attached to a Swiss academic institution or research lab.
  • Teams consisting of more than two scientists are an option, but trainees should not be co-applicants.
  • A team consisting of a basic scientist and one or more clinicians is acceptable upon justification.


Details and contents of the application:

The application must contain the following information:

  • Strategic aim of the project (1 page, including a short 3- to 4-line description)
  • Research plan, including the following:
    • Specific goals
    • Conceptual experimental work plan for the achievement of these goals
    • Milestones, results and timelines
    • Translational goal
  • Detailed budget (salaries, expenses, including material)
  • Curricula Vitae of the two project leaders, including publications of the last 5 years (or optionally the 10 most relevant publications) 

Strategic Aim, Research Plan and Budget should not exceed 10 pages, references not included.  Short CVs (no more than 2 pages each) should be added, and the top 5 to 10 most relevant publications listed.

A link to pubmed or google scholar for the full publication list may be included.

Please send your application in the PDF-format to info(at)isrec.ch

We do not ask for a specific font size, but please ensure that the text is readily legible.

Applications must be submitted in English.


Budget and project duration:

  • The highest possible budget for each project is CHF 550’000 over 3 years.
  • Other funding sources must be disclosed.
  • Funds can be used for salaries and laboratory supplies, but preferably not the salaries of the applicants. 
  • If multiple institutions are involved, one must take the financial lead for the management of the funds.
  • Funds ca be requested for “protected time” i.e., time freed from clinical obligation to allow a medically trained person to work on the project in the laboratory.



Letter of intent: December 15, 2023

Applications: March 1, 2024

Projects submitted beyond these deadlines will be considered for the next call (2025).


Final decision:

End of June 2024


Place of work:



Letter of intent: 15.12.2023

Applications: 01.03.2024