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Research on the causes of spine diseases

The interdisciplinary spine research is an interactive process involving the various professors and their research units. The scientific and analytical way of thinking and procedures based on existing evidence are put into practice at the University Spine Centre and are reflected in the evidence-based treatment of patients.

Key areas of expertise in spine research

Clinical research

There are several ongoing interdisciplinary clinical studies to test and optimise the correctness and usefulness of current treatment methods.

In addition, other studies are being carried out to develop diagnostic and therapeutic methods for the future. With a knowledge of the existing information, research generates new findings which ensure that our treating physicians are always at the cutting edge. In this way, our patients are assured of first-class treatment.

Computer-assisted planning and surgery

The research and development focus of computer-assisted planning and surgery lies in the predictability of therapeutic success through state-of-the-art technologies. The introduction of innovative surgical techniques is an important driver. It is based on the examination of patient-specific anatomy and pathology as well as kinematics.

A further focus is on patient-specific simulations and risk reduction of surgical procedures. This work is only possible thanks to the unique cooperation with engineers, biomechanical engineers, biologists, computer scientists and other disciplines.

Balgrist Campus

Spinal neurology

A close link between basic scientific research and clinical research gives us a global lead in neurorehabilitation, neuroimaging, neuro-urology and neurophysiology.

Basic scientific research carries out clinical studies (on stem cells, antibodies, etc.) with findings on the nerves and spinal cord injuries.

Research paraplegia


Key areas of expertise in the Orthopaedic Biomechanics Laboratory

  • Biomaterials
  • Constructive biomedical engineering
  • Cell and molecular biology
  • Clinical biomechanics
  • Biology of the collagen matrix
  • Imaging and signalling processes

Thanks to the integral infrastructure of the biomechanics laboratory, specialists in biomechanical spine research can address questions on the mechanical properties of spinal disease and surgical intervention. They are efficiently advancing scientific knowledge.

Research biomechanics

Muscle plasticity

Functions of the muscles of the spine are often underestimated, but not at the University Spine Centre: in case-orientated clinical studies and animal studies, we are addressing as yet unanswered questions on the maintenance and re-establishment of muscle function.

Research muscle plasticity

Tumour research

Thanks to the development of surgical techniques, local tumour control is steadily improving. Despite these improvements, however, the rate of metastasis has remained constant over the last decade or so.

The interdisciplinary research team is looking closely at the cytoskeleton and mechanical properties of tumour cells. This new area of cancer research allows us to perform liquid biopsies to quantify circulating tumour cells – in other words cancer cells that have become detached from the primary tumour and are to be found in the bloodstream – and analyse specific biological molecules (including DNA fragments, lipids, and proteins) in the blood.

In addition, the latest surgical materials (carbon) are being tested for the treatment of spine cancer.

Research cancer

University Spine Centre

Prof. Dr. Mazda Farshad

Prof. Dr. Armin Curt

Head of Research Laboratories
Prof. Jess Snedeker

Prof. Jess Snedeker
+41 44 510 73 31