A Swiss collaboration has been designated a member of the WHO's CoViNet network (March 28th, 2024)

CoViNet - CoronaVirus Network - is an international research network for the early detection, analysis and monitoring of coronaviruses worldwide. Set up by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and already operating in 20 countries, it now includes the Centre for Emerging Viral Diseases at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG), as well as the Swiss Federal Institute of Virology and Immunology (IVI), which is collaborating with the Vetsuisse Faculty of the University of Bern (UNIBE).
Media relesae      Coronavirus Expertise at IVI

The Egon Naef Foundation awards its 2023 prize to PD Dr Marco Alves (January 21st, 2023)

The Egon Naef Foundation for in vitro research has presented its 2023 prize to PD Dr Marco Alves of the IVI and the University of Bern. The researcher and his team have developed an in vitro model that demonstrates the infection of the human placenta by SARS-CoV-2, thereby enabling a significant reduction in animal experimentation.
Immunology at the IVI

Newly discovered properties of Omicron BA.1 (October 11th, 2022)

Omicron has undergone an evolutionary leap compared to previous variants of the virus: it replicates more in the nose and less in the bronchial tubes. This is shown by a study conducted by the Institute of Virology and Immunology (IVI) and the University of Bern, in collaboration with the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (FLI) in Germany. These new findings contribute to a better understanding of the virus and enable progress in the development of more effective vaccines.
PubMed     Artikel

RocketVax AG announces new advances in the development of second-generation COVID-19 vaccines (September 23rd, 2022)

The SARS-CoV-2 virus is here to stay and will continue to mutate, so research and development of effective vaccines must be pursued as a top priority. The research group led by Professor Volker Thiel at the Institute of Virology and Immunology and the University of Bern is developing vaccines using an attenuated SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Media release      Coronavirus expertise at the IVI

African swine fever (ASF): the hygienic status of pigs plays an important role in the development of the disease (August 26th, 2022)

Recent research conducted at our institute has revealed that the hygienic status of pigs plays an important role in the development of the disease caused by the African swine fever virus. These very important results have just been published in the journal PLoS Pathogens and will contribute eventually to vaccine development.
Article      Media release      ASF expertise at the IVI

Improved COVID-19 vector vaccine candidate (August 2nd, 2022)

In response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, numerous research projects have been launched to develop vaccines against this emerging pathogen. In a recent publication in the Nature portfolio journal “npj vaccines”, scientists at the Institute of Virology and Immunology (IVI) and the University of Bern report on a Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV)-vectored COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Their work shows that intramuscular immunization of mice with VSV-vectored COVID-19 vaccines is inducing strong antibody responses against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein only if the vector has been complemented with the VSV glycoprotein G.
Article      Media release      Coronavirus expertise at the IVI

Novel in vitro model: an alternative method to animal testing in research on the human placenta as a target of SARS-CoV-2 (April 12th, 2022)

As part of the research on the human placenta as a target of SARS-CoV-2, the research team of PD Dr. Marco Alves has developed an in vitro model of the human placenta. By publishing the exact method in the scientific journal STAR Protocols, other research teams will be able to reproduce this technique – which ultimately may help to reduce the use of animals whenever possible, in accordance with the 3R Principle that aims to replace, reduce, and refine animal experimentation.

SARS-CoV-2: A nasal spray vaccine in the pipeline (March 16th, 2022)

As part of the National Research Programme "Covid-19" (NRP 78) of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), researchers from Bern, Geneva, Berlin (GER) and Riems (GER) are developing two vaccine candidates against SARS-CoV-2. Thanks to a collaboration agreement just signed with the Basel-based biotech company RocketVax AG, they can now be prepped for phase I of the clinical trials required for regulatory approval.
Media release SNSF    Media release RocketVax

The battle of the SARS-CoV-2 variants (Dec 22nd, 2021)

In order to fight the pandemic in the long term, it is crucial to understand why one variant prevails over another. An international study conducted by the Institute of Virology and Immunology and the University of Bern, in collaboration with the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute in Germany, has provided important answers by comparing the spread and transmission of different emerging variants in parallel. This approach is now applicable to the comparison of new variants, such as delta and omicron. This unique study has just been published in the scientific journal Nature.
Article     Media release

Innovative research into new vaccines against Covid-19 (Dec 2nd 2021)

Projects taking part in the National Research Programme “Covid-19” (NRP 78) of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) are pursuing highly promising approaches in a drive to develop new vaccines. Three research groups have adopted interesting approaches to the highly topical issue of vaccines. The team led by Steve Pascolo (University Hospital Zurich) is investigating ways of improving functionality and stability of mRNA vaccines, Cornel Fraefel (Vetsuisse Faculty University of Zurich) and his researchers are aiming to produce a bacterial spore-based oral vaccine, and Volker Thiel’s team at our IVI (Vetsuisse Faculty University of Bern) are developing a vaccine that can be administered as a nasal spray.
Article      Media release SNSF

The human placenta, a target of SARS-CoV-2 (Nov 5th 2021)

What happens in the human placenta after SARS-CoV-2 infection? Research teams led by PD Dr. Marco Alves (IVI) and Prof. Dr. David Baud (Lausanne University Hospital, CHUV) found that SARS-CoV-2 can infect the cells of human placenta and that the virus proliferates and infects neighbouring placental cells. "The fact that the virus can infect and proliferate in the placenta demonstrates the need for women to be vaccinated”, say the researchers.
Article      Media release

What is the risk of epizootic diseases in Switzerland? (Nov 3rd 2021)

How well is Switzerland prepared for an outbreak of African swine fever? Currently, federal and cantonal authorities are simulating a nationwide outbreak of this highly infectious disease. The role of the Institute of Virology and Immunology (IVI) in this process is explained in an interview with our director Barbara Wieland in the "Tagesgespräch" (topic talk of the day) at the radio station SRF1.
Podcast [in German]

A non-contagious model of SARS-CoV-2 for more efficient research (Oct 15th 2021)

Research with the SARS-CoV-2 virus needs to be performed in high biosafety laboratories, which is time consuming and even precludes certain types of experiments. Researchers led by the Nobel Laureate Charles Rice of The Rockefeller University and Volker Thiel of the University of Bern and Institute of Virology and Immunology have developed a non-contagious model of SARS-CoV-2 that makes it easier, faster and safer to study the virus and new variants. In addition, the realistic model can be used to better test drugs.
PubMed     Article      Media release

World Rabies Day 2021 (Sept 28th, 2021)

Rabies is fatal for both humans and animals and causes an estimated 59,000 human deaths each year, mostly in children in developing countries. Around 99 percent of human cases are due to bites by infected dogs. Switzerland has made major efforts to combat this disease and with great success, as it has been officially rabies-free since 1999. Maintaining this status is a daily challenge. If a case of rabies is suspected, prompt action is vital to protect potentially exposed humans against this deadly zoonosis
Swiss Rabies Center     World Rabies Day     Rabies in Switzerland

BVD eradication - One final effort needed (Sept 20th, 2021)

The eradication of bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) is progressing, but the virus has not yet completely disappeared in Switzerland. The IVI, the FSVO, the Veterinary Office of Solothurn Canton and the Veterinary Office of the Original Cantons recently published the current body of knowledge on BVD virus and its control. The last infection chains must now be detected as quickly as possible and BVD-free herds protected against reinfection.
Review     Release for professional media (BVD)     IVI media releases

Blog - Young researchers from the IVI (Sept 13th, 2021)

The Institute of Virology and Immunology (IVI) is launching a blog dedicated to its young researchers: their committed and cutting-edge work contributes to progress in the fields of virology, immunology and diagnosis. It seems essential to us to give them a voice.
Interview with Melanie Brügger     IVI Blog

"Sooner or later, anyone who is not vaccinated will get infected" (Sept 9th, 2021)

«uniaktuell» – the online-magazine of the University of Bern: How safe are RNA vaccines? Who will be hit by the fourth wave? Volker Thiel, head of the Division Virology of the IVI and world renowned virologist from Bern, answers urgent questions on the corona vaccinations in a video interview (in German, with captions in English and French).
Interview in the online magazine "uniaktuell"

In vitro zoo helps in understanding SARS-CoV-2 (July 19th, 2021)

A team of researchers from the Institute for Infectious Diseases (IFIK) at the University of Bern and the Institute of Virology and Immunology (IVI) have used a unique collection of advanced cell culture models of cells lining the airways from various domesticated and wildlife animals to determine which animals are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection. The team found that SARS-CoV-2 efficiently infected respiratory cells from monkey and cats, and proposes that SARS-CoV-2 surveillance in these animals and its close relatives is necessary.
PubMed     Article      Media release

One Health: How does research on a porcine coronavirus help us to understand SARS-CoV-2? (June 9th, 2021)

Volker Thiel, researcher at the Institute of Virology and Immunology (IVI) and professor at the University of Bern, performs research on coronaviruses in the veterinary field for several years. In the video interview, he explains how findings from his research on the porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus can help in the fight against SARS-CoV-2.
Coronaviruses in the veterinary field and COVID-19

Change in leadership at the IVI (May 3rd, 2021)

Barbara Wieland will lead the Institute of Virology and Immunology (IVI) from 3 May 2021. She is a veterinarian with 20 years’ experience in research, development cooperation and veterinary epidemiology. She has vast experience in combatting epizootic disease and zoonoses, as well as in-depth knowledge of One Health approaches. After completing her PhD in Veterinary Medicine at the University of Bern, Barbara joined the Royal Veterinary College and Pirbright Institute in London, where she worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the field of Molecular Epidemiology. Following this, Barbara lectured in Veterinary Epidemiology at the Royal Veterinary College for several years where, amongst other things, she was course director for the College’s Masters programme in Control of Infectious Diseases in Animals, while also taking part in several international research projects. From 2015, she led the herd health team at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Ethiopia, from where she co-ordinated projects in East Africa, West Africa and Asia. Prior to this, Barbara spent three years in Mongolia, where she worked as project manager for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
Interview with Barbara Wieland

Why SARS-CoV-2 replicates better in the upper respiratory tract (March 31st, 2021)

A team of researchers from the Institute for Infectious Diseases (IFIK) at the University of Bern and from our institute (IVI) have assessed virus growth and activation of the cellular defense mechanisms in the respiratory tract. They have shown that natural temperature differences that exist in the upper and lower respiratory tract have a profound influence on SARS-CoV-2 replication and subsequent innate immune activation in human cells. The findings can help to develop antiviral drugs and preventive measures.
PubMed     Article      Media release

Afrikanische Schweinepest (ASP): Erforschung eines Impfstoffes und Entwicklung neuer diagnostischer Methoden (March 30th, 2021)

BioCopy Holding AG and the Institute of Virology and Immunology (IVI) have announced to collaborate in researching a vaccine and developing new diagnostic methods in the fight against African swine fever (ASF). Fatal to pigs and wild boar, the ASF virus reached Eastern Germany in 2020 after circulating in Eastern Europe for many years. The virus has since continued to spread in the wild boar population and it is only a matter of time before it passes to domestic pigs. Aside from the suffering the animals must endure, ASF has an enormous potential for economic damage.
Media release [ASFV - Collaboration IVI - BioCopy (En) (PDF, 101KB)]

Insights of a Master student in Veterinary Medicine at the University of Bern (Feb 4th, 2021)

In the magazine BioFokus of the association «Research for Life», Kimberly Schmied reports on her master thesis at our institute, and how she was immediately involved in the research on a pandemic virus and a mandate of the WHO.
Article [in German]

Multidisciplinary Center for Infectious Diseases (MCID) (Jan 1st, 2021)

Starting January 1st 2021, the University of Bern and the "Stiftung Vinetum" establish a multidisciplinary institute to investigate future epidemics and pandemics using an interdisciplinary approach. Based on the concept of «One Health», the MCIDI will be affiliated at the Vetsuisse Faculty, and will be headed in a first phase by Prof. Volker Thiel, head Virology at our institute.
Media release     MCID

Dr. Sabrina Burgener receives the "Dr. Lutz Zwillenberg-Preis" (Dec 5th, 2020)

Dr. Sabrina Sofia Burgener, 2017-2019 post-doc at the IVI in der group of Prof. Charaf Benarafa, receives on the occasion of the Dies Academicus 2020 of the University of Bern the prestigious "Dr. Lutz Zwillenberg-Preis" (Dr. Lutz Zwillenberg-Award). The research performed in the group of Prof. Benarafa reveals a mechanism to prevent inflammation by inhibitors of cathepsin G, that in addition promote the survival of certain immune cells. We heartily congratulate!
PubMed     Article      Media release [in German]

New director of the Institute of Virology and Immunology (Dec. 3rd, 2020)

Starting May 1st 2021, Barbara Wieland will take the direction of the Institute of Virology und Immunology (IVI) in Bern.
Media release [in French]

Promotion as Full Professor ("Ordinarius") for Veterinary Immunology (August 1st, 2020)

The Vetsuisse Council and the University of Bern promoted Prof. Dr. Artur Summerfield, head of the Division Immunology at our Institute of Virology and Immunology of the Vetsuisse Faculty, as full professor ("Ordinarius") of Veterinary Immunology at the location in Bern. We heartily congratulate!

Immunoprotein impairs SARS-CoV-2 (July 28th, 2020)

An international team with researchers of our Institute of Virology and Immunology (IVI) of the University of Bern and the Swiss Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) showed that an endogenous protein prevents the virus from fusing with host cells.
PubMed     Article      Media Release

Rapid test for the determination of neutralising antibodies against Sars-CoV-2 (July 15th, 2020)

A German-Swiss team, with researchers of our Institute of Virology and Immunology (IVI) of the University of Bern and the Swiss Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) and the Ruhr-University Bochum, presents a test that determines the amount of neutralising antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 within a short period of time without high biosafety requirements.
PubMed     Article      Media Release

Bern coronavirus clone goes "viral": How SARS-CoV-2 was cloned (May 4th, 2020)

Researchers in virology at the IVI and veterinary bacteriology at the University of Bern have cloned the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). The synthetic clones are being used by research groups worldwide to test corona samples, find antiviral drugs and develop vaccines as quickly as possible. The method developed in Bern can also be used in future to combat other highly infectious viruses.
PubMed     Article      Media Release

Fight against coronaviruses - A visit in the high security laboratory (March 2nd, 2020)

The IVI in the broadcast "Puls" of the Swiss Television SRF [in german]: "Von der Arbeit im bernischen Mittelhäusern profitieren Labors weltweit. Ein exklusiver Einblick."
SRF broadcast "Puls"/p>

Appointment as Associate Professor (February 1st, 2020)

At the request of the Vetsuisse Faculty, PD Dr. Giuseppe Bertoni of our Institute of Virology and Immunology (IVI) was appointed as Associate Professor by the Executive Board of the University of Bern by February 1st, 2020. We heartily congratulate!

Earliest report worlwide of atpyical porcine pestivirus (APPV) in Switzerland (July 17th, 2019)

Using a newly developed RT-PCR assay, we showed that APPV, first described in the US in 2015, is widely present in Switzerland at least since 1986, currently the earliest report worldwide. With approx. 10%, the virus prevalence is surprisingly high in young animals at slaughter. Sequencing of a number of virus samples obtained revealed that the virus strains circulating in Switzerland differ considerably from isolates described worlwide. Obviously, APPV has been circulating within the Swiss pig population for many decades without any entry of virus strains from abroad
PubMed     Article

Appointment as Associate Professor (March 1st, 2019)

At the request of the Vetsuisse Faculty, PD Dr. Charaf Benarafa of our Institute of Virology and Immunology (IVI) was appointed as Associate Professor by the Executive Board of the University of Bern by March 1st, 2019. We heartily congratulate!

Bat influenza viruses differ from conventional influenza viruses in the way they enter the host (February 22nd, 2019)

Bat influenza A viruses have only recently been isolated in South American fruit-eating bats. It became rapidly evident that these viruses differ from conventional influenza A viruses in many aspects. For example, they do not bind to sialic acid residues, the canonical influenza A virus receptor, and they do not encode a sialidase, the characteristic receptor-destroying enzyme of influenza A viruses. An international consortium of scientists from Switzerland (Zürich, Bern), Germany (Freiburg, Greifswald), and the United States of America (New York City) have now identified the MHC class II protein complex as essential entry factor for bat influenza A viruses in multiple species.
PubMed      Article      Nature News & Views      TWiV 537

Interaction of host proteins with the replication complex of coronaviruses (January 19th, 2019)

V’kovski et al. developed a way to tag any host protein that came near the virus factories. These new results provide clues about which proteins viruses actually need from their host cells. These findings could help researchers to understand more generally about how viruses multiply. In the future, this knowledge could lead to new ways to combat virus infections.
PubMed      Article

A virus that displays Swiss history (December 19th, 2018)

The two most common cattle breed in Switzerland are infected by different types of bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV). Their distribution dates back to a 'religious struggle for predominance' in the 15th century, as published by researchers of our institute in a recent article in PLoS ONE.
PubMed      Article      Press release (in German)

Sufficient energy is required to fight bacteria (July 27th, 2018)

To trap and destroy bacteria and fungi, white blood cells construct nets made out of DNA and toxic proteins. These "neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs)" are part of the immune system but they require additional energy sources to be built, as reported by researchers of the Univerisity of Bern.
PubMed      Article      Press release (in German)

"Risk-based reboot for global lab biosafety" (April 20th, 2018)

Article in Science (Issue April 20, 2018) on the 4th edition of the 'Laboratory Biosafety Manual (LBM)' of the World Health Organization (WHO).
PubMed      Article      Biosafety at the IVI

Appointment as Associate Professor (February 1st, 2018)

At the request of the Vetsuisse Faculty, PD Dr. sc. nat. Matthias Schweizer of our Institute of Virology and Immunology (IVI) was appointed as Associate Professor by the Executive Board of the University of Bern by February 1st, 2018. We heartily congratulate!

Appointment as Assistent Professor (March 28th, 2017)

On April 1st 2017, Dr. Ronald Dijkman (PhD) of our Institute of Virology and Immunology (IVI), starts his appointment as Assistent Professor (non tenure track) within the research priority focus 'host-pathogen-interaction' ("HoPa"). The Executive Board of the University of Bern approved the assistant professorship and the employment. We heartily congratulate!
Vetsuisse communication

New perspectives for research on hepatitis C virus (March 9th, 2017)

The hepatitis C virus (HCV) infects around 160 million people worldwide. Although there are new therapies, HCV infection is still one of the most common causes of liver transplantation. TWINCORE-scientists Prof. Eike Steinmann, Dr. Stephanie Walter, und Dr. Stephanie Pfänder (former scientist at the TWINCORE in Hannover, now at the Institute for Virology and Immunology (IVI) in Bern) are now investigating a very close relative of the hepatitis C virus: the "non-primate hepacivirus" (NPHV). This newly discovered viral pathogen infects horses and donkeys and raises many questions that will give new insights about the human hepatitis C virus.
Media release      Article

Viruses of the common cold might originate from camels – just like MERS (August 19th, 2016)

Four human coronaviruses are globally endemic respiratory pathogens that, together with the well-known rhinoviruses, are causing the common cold. Mostly, these infections take a innocuous course in humans. Virologists from Bern and Bonn now identified the source of one of these four human coronaviruses «HCoV-229E» – it originated from camels just as the much-feared MERS-virus.
Media release      Article

New virus transmission route discovered in pigs (February 23rd, 2016)

Japanese Encephalitis (JE) virus causes serious inflammation of the brain in people and fertility problems in pigs. Mosquitoes were previously the only known transmission route. However, the virus can also be spread from pig to pig by direct contact, and this could enable it to circulate in pigs during the mosquito-free winter season..
Media release      Article

World Rabies Day (September 28th, 2014; annually)

Each year on September 28, the "World Rabies Day" is celebrated. Various activities at that day shall increase the awareness of this disease, with the ultimate objective to stop the suffering caused by this disease. In 2014, the year's theme was "End Rabies Together", and 2016 marks the 10th World Rabies Day, a milestone in rabies prevention.
With regard to the 'World Rabies Day', the topic "Rabies in Switzerland?" was the headline on September 8th, 2014 at the radio station Radio Freiburg.

Inhibition of the new MERS-Coronavirus (May 30th, 2014)

The MERS-Virus (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Virus) belongs to the newly emerging coronaviruses similarly to SARS coronavirus. To date, there are no pharmaceuticals available to treat coronavirus infections. Now, an international research team including researchers from our new institute discovered a way to block MERS- as well as SARS coronaviruses.
Media release      Article


Bild von Institut für Virologie und Immunologie

New starting Januar 1st, 2014

Merger of the Institute for Veterinary Virology of the Vetsuisse Faculty (IVV) with the Institute for Virology and Immunology (IVI) of the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO). The new IVI, with facilities in Mittelhäusern (IVI) and Bern, continues to offer high quality research, teaching and services in virology and immunology in cooperation with the Vetsuisse Faculty Bern.