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Online psychotherapist wins top Swiss science awards

Thomas Berger has been involved in two major European research projects and has received several awards. He is this year's laureate of the Marcel Benoist Foundation. Daniel Rihs/13 Photo

The 2021 top science prizes are going to a psychologist for his contribution to Internet-based therapy and to a cancer researcher for his discoveries about tumor cells.

This content was published on September 13, 2021 - 11:15
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Psychologist Thomas Berger of the University of Bern will receive this year’s Marcel BenoistExternal link Swiss Science Prize, also considered the Swiss equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

Berger is being recognized for developing and producing digital therapeutic tools (via apps and websites) to prevent and treat mental disorders, including depression and anxiety, as well as sleep disorders and psychological distress after illnesses and separations.

“As a leading international expert in the area of psychotherapy research, he has explored and empirically confirmed the effectiveness of online treatment methods compared to purely conventional forms of psychotherapy,” the Marcel Benoist Foundation said on Monday.

Nicola Aceto

The LatsisExternal link prize for young researchers under the age of 40 was awarded to cancer researcher Nicola Aceto from the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

The Italian associate professor at the ETH Zurich made his discoveries researching circulating tumour cells (CTCs). He observed that CTCs tend to form metastases and are prevalent in prostate and breast cancer.

“He deduced the spread of cancer in the body can be reduced if it is possible to break down CTC clusters with drugs,” the Latsis Foundation said.

The awards, worth CHF250,000 ($272,000) and CHF100,000 respectively will be handed over to the laureates at a joint ceremony in the Swiss capital, Bern, in November.

The Marcel Benoist prize has been awarded annually since 1920, while the Latsis prize was launched in 1983. The nomination and selection process is handled by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

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