Nicole Probst-Hensch Wins Science Award of the City of Basel

The public health expert is honoured for her pioneering achievements in research

The public health expert is honoured for her pioneering achievements in research on chronic diseases. Photo: Joachim Pelikan / Swiss TPH

Nicole Probst-Hensch, Head of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Swiss TPH, has been awarded this year’s Science Award by the City of Basel. She received this prize for her pioneering research on the effects of air pollution on human health and her achievements in establishing biobanks and longterm cohort studies.

The government of Basel-Stadt is honouring Nicole Probst-Hensch, Head of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Swiss TPH and Professor at the University of Basel, with this year’s Science Award. She received the award, which is endowed with CHF 20,000, for "pioneering achievements in research into chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases or diabetes, as well as the effects of air pollution on human health", as the Government Council of Basel-Stadt wrote in their media release. In the course of her national and international scientific career, she has also acquired and implemented extensive expertise in relevant health areas such as nutrition and sport as well as genetic and molecular epidemiology.

-I am incredibly pleased about this recognition for Swiss TPH-s long-standing commitment to long-term studies," said Probst-Hensch. "It is time for Switzerland to build a biobank with 100,000 participants - to strengthen research, to improve the health of the population and to support evidence-based decision-making," said Probst-Hensch.

Establishing important cohort studies

Nicole Probst-Hensch recognised the importance of epidemiological long-term studies and cohorts as well as biobanks early on. Biobanks store human samples over a long period of time, and they allow studying the effects of environmental factors on human health. Probst-Hensch further developed biobanks over decades in the context of the most important and oldest long-term study in Switzerland, " SAPALDIA " ("Swiss Cohort Study on Air Pollution and Lung and Heart Diseases in Adults"), and contributed significantly to a better understanding of the health status of the Swiss population and the main risk factors, including in particular air pollution and its influence on chronic diseases.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Probst-Hensch also played a leading role in setting up new cohorts such as the " COVCO Basel study ". Thanks to her, the long-term effects of the pandemic on mental health or questions of long Covid can be explained. In international research projects in Cte d’Ivoire, Kosovo and Palestine, she is also investigating the interplay between infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases.

International reach

"It is simply outstanding that my colleague, head of the largest research department at Swiss TPH and member of the Managing Board, has received the prestigious Science Award of the City of Basel," said Jrg Utzinger, Director of Swiss TPH. "For her visionary and interconnected thinking, her tireless commitment to Basel as a hub for research and innovation, and for cultivating our unique network worldwide, I thank Nicole from the bottom of my heart!"

The research of Nicole Probst-Hensch and her team helps to understand the prerequisites of health in societies and to determine the foundations for maintaining it. It extends far beyond Basel and enjoys the highest recognition both in science and in the public health sector at a local, national and international level.

About the award

The Science Award of the City of Basel, endowed with CHF 20,000, recognises the importance of scientific research for society and culture. It is awarded annually and on a rotating basis by the seven faculties to researchers who have a connection with the University of Basel and have distinguished themselves through outstanding scientific achievements.

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