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. 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.

Project duration and funds:

Two- or three-year projects, between 100k – 200k CHF per year per project.

Place of work:




Submission deadline : 01.03.2023