Annual Report 2010


Dear SMPA members, dear friends of the SMPA,


The 7th year since the initial foundation of the SMPA is well on its way: “the seven year itch” – or “das verflixte 7. Jahr” as it is known in German?

Not at all! Whilst our members have perhaps not (yet) seen the fruits of our intense work during the past months, it has been a very busy and intense year for all of us.

Following the retirement of David Winkler, Luc Otten and Sebastien Viatte from the board last year, we were initially occupied with taking up our new posts and responsibilities within the SMPA and felt much like our members of parliament, the “Bundesrat” or “Conseil fédéral” must have following the elections and redistribution of offices on the 22nd of November.

Following the very successful meeting and general assembly in Zurich in 2009, a scientific meeting focusing on “hot topics in immunology”, with excellent speakers and an impressive attendance, we know it will be difficult to follow suit with the upcoming meeting in Geneva. It is the first time the SMPA will be holding its meeting in this most western corner of the country and we greatly look forward to the opportunity to meet up with our French-speaking colleagues of the region. Pierre Mégevand, who joined the board last year, has set up what will surely prove to be an exciting meeting. Once again we have been able to motivate some very interesting speakers to discuss with us the outcome and possible consequences of the Bologna reform for MD-PhDs and biomedical research in general in Switzerland. In a second part of the meeting an outlook into possible career options for physician scientists born out of this reform will be presented.

2010 also saw the “6th Scientific Meeting of the Swiss national MD-PhD Program” take part in Thun from the 14th-16th of March. This biannual meeting organized by the SAMW, and traditionally held as the “Leuenberg Meeting”, once again proved an interesting and highly motivating setting for MD-PhD students for the exchange of scientific data and non-scientific interests in general. The SMPA was grateful to have been given the opportunity to once again present itself. Another opportunity for some publicity, which, judging by the feedback we received, was met with general interest, was an article published in the “Schweizerische Ärztezeitung (SAEZ 2010;91: 11) giving a short overview of our organization and the work we do.

The SMPA has grown to an impressive size in the past few years. We now boast more than 100 members! Although we continue to recruit and hope that many more will join our association, the management of memberships has become something of a challenge. Whilst we initially had been able to keep in personal contact with most of our members, this is becoming increasingly difficult. This has indeed been one of the reasons why we have decided to launch a complete re-vamping of our website, specifically as regards the future of membership management. Reaching out to and keeping in contact with our members and being able to offer help and advice where needed, is one of the continued most important jobs of the SMPA in the coming years. Whilst we are still limited by the fact that all of us have 100% jobs in clinics and research in addition to our work for the association, we are confident that the coming year will see some clear changes and offer not only us in the board, but particularly our members the opportunity to more easily stay in contact with us and actively engage with other members of the SMPA.

We have therefore engaged Hannes Bärtschi, a close friend of the SMPA, to help us design and set up our new webpage, which will be available at the same address as currently ( Following completion of the set up, we will contact our members, who will now receive an individual login and access to their membership details and will in future therefore be much more flexible and autonomous in managing their details online. We hope that through these modifications we will be able to reactivate our “dormant” contacts / members and ensure we reach every members with important information we may want to share.

It is also at this point that we, as David Winkler last year, would once more like to thank David Andel, previously a board member, for all the years of work and support he invested into the SMPA website. Without his continued support and expertise, the SMPA could never have grown to its current size and reached the media presence that it has.


The SMPA has plenty of work to do in the coming year. Apart from our website and the topic of memberships and recruitment, it is also time once again to look outwards at the situation of accreditation of one year of (MD-PhD) research in the various FMH curricula and the current stand point herein as well as the future of MD-PhD curricula and the title “MD-PhD” itself in the light of the Bologna reform – just to name a few of the activities planned for the following year.


It is with the importance of communication and exchange of ideas in mind that I hope that we will be able to encourage anyone interested in taking an active role in the SMPA to come forward and contact us. Although currently the five board positions are occupied, we welcome anyone interested in doing something hands-on – helping with the organization of a general assembly or proposing a topic for the yearly meeting, to name just two examples. Your opinions count, yours are the problems we may be able to tackle with the backbone of a growing association and you are the future of the SMPA.


In the name of the SMPA,

Yara Banz

Bern, October 2010

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