Lausanne University Hospital
  • Lausanne, Switzerland

Tandem: Aude Fauvel and Patrick Bodenmann

17th Jan, 2018

At first glance, from a professional standpoint, it’s hard to see the similarities between Doctor Patrick Bodenmann and Aude Fauvel, a historian – other than their shared sense of intellectual rigour. However, since the end of 2016, the two have presided over the Health and Societal Dialogue Commission through the University Department of Community Health and Medicine at Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV).

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The purpose of the commission is to organise events that allow representatives of society as a whole to carry out in-depth discussions with health professionals. Participants are encouraged to engage in an exhaustive discussion and not take any shortcuts.

“In the public arena, quotes from specialists are often exaggerated or even exploited,” says Patrick Bodenmann, senior physician at the Policlinic Medical University (PMU) in Lausanne and chair of Medicine for Vulnerable Populations in Switzerland at UNIL. “There aren’t many opportunities where you can discuss nuances and a wide range of viewpoints regarding the body or healthcare,” says Aude Fauvel, specialist in medical humanities and senior lecturer at the Faculty of Biology and Medicine at UNIL. “However, there is a significant demand for this kind of dialogue among professionals and in the general public, and that is the need we are humbly trying to address.”

Their collaboration is a concrete example of how much health-related topics can benefit from this type of insight and a multi-disciplinary approach that includes input from physicians, other healthcare providers, social scientists, patients and specific populations.

“Patrick makes me consider what aspects of the past can be used to shed light on the future, says Aude Fauvel. When we’re studying to become historians, we’re taught to steer clear of anachronisms. Working with Patrick, I’m learning that anachronisms aren’t necessarily taboo. Quite the opposite, actually – if medical history can be of use in the present, that’s a good thing.”

As a specialist in healthcare aimed at vulnerable populations, Patrick Bodenmann pays special attention to the social and cultural dynamics that influence health: “Working with Aude helps me appreciate the weight of history. Our patients are often trapped within cycles that began long ago. We have to be aware of these patterns to provide effective treatment.”

Both insist on the need to look beyond the opinions of “experts” and one-sided viewpoints. The challenges posed by changes in medicine must be understood as the complex issues they are.


✍️ William Türler / 📷 Eric Déroze

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The history of medicine and healthcare is one of ever-denser networks and partnerships. Landmark discoveries of important new treatments owe a great deal to the breaking-down of boundaries between previously compartmentalised professions. It is IN VIVO’s ambition to offer you an insight into the extraordinary richness of Lake Geneva’s “Health Valley”, where the Lausanne University Hospital plays a prominent role, but also to bring to the attention of a lay audience the advances made by the world-leading universities and research institutions with which our hospital works.

If you subscribe to IN VIVO, you will receive not only the three issues of the magazine published each year, but also our In Extenso infographic supplements, exclusively reserved for subscribers to the paper edition. With all this information at your fingertips, you will be sure to keep up-to-date with the latest developments in medical innovation. The magazine is provided free-of-charge. All we ask of you is a contribution to postage and packing costs.
Posted 17th Jan, 2018
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17th Jan, 2018

Understanding complex diseases through gene networks

Genetic variants, or the “letters” that make up our DNA and vary from person to person, influence our likelihood of developing a complex disease like diabetes, cancer and depression.
In Lausanne, research out of the Computational Biology Department (DBC) at the University of Lausanne’s (UNIL) Faculty of Biology and Medicine, shows how the genetic variants can disrupt gene networks in our bodies’ various tissues.
“The challenge is that over 90% of genetic variants are located outside of genes in regions of the genome we don’t yet understand,” says Daniel Marbach, a researcher at the DBC. In response, scientists in Lausanne have created specific “maps” of the regulation networks that control the activity of genes within a cell or type of tissue.
They were able to map out around 400 different types of human cells and tissues, which is the largest collection of this kind to date. Each of these networks includes hundreds of thousands of regulatory interactions between over 19,000 genes, providing our first-ever overview of the “control system” that manages these cells and tissues.
“For example, we were able to show that patients with schizophrenia have genetic variants that disrupt the genes in cerebral tissue, while variants associated with obesity interfere with genes that interact with intestinal tissues.”
Headed up by Professor Sven Bergmann, director of the DBC, this research will provide a better understanding of how complex diseases are triggered and progress, which in turn will lead to more effective and targeted treatments with fewer side effects.
✍️ William Türler / 📷 DR
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The history of medicine and healthcare is one of ever-denser networks and partnerships. Landmark discoveries of important new treatments owe a great deal to the breaking-down of boundaries between previously compartmentalised professions. It is IN VIVO’s ambition to offer you an insight into the extraordinary richness of Lake Geneva’s “Health Valley”, where the Lausanne University Hospital plays a prominent role, but also to bring to the attention of a lay audience the advances made by the world-leading universities and research institutions with which our hospital works.
If you subscribe to IN VIVO, you will receive not only the three issues of the magazine published each year, but also our In Extenso infographic supplements, exclusively reserved for subscribers to the paper edition. With all this information at your fingertips, you will be sure to keep up-to-date with the latest developments in medical innovation. The magazine is provided free-of-charge. All we ask of you is a contribution to postage and packing costs.