ECCO Country Member Profiles: Switzerland


Emanuel Burri 
© Emanuel Burri
Michel Maillard
© Michel Maillard

Name of group: IBDnet (www.ibdnet.ch)

The IBDnet is a Swiss interest group of medical doctors and scientists specialising in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. The aim is the promotion of research and communication on aetiology, diagnosis and therapy in order to improve patient outcomes.

Number of active members: 137

Switzerland has roughly 475 gastroenterologists and hepatologists, 350 of whom are located in the German-speaking part of Switzerland and 125 in the French- and Italian-speaking part.

The IBDnet has 122 members, with a steering committee of 15 IBD specialists.

Number of meetings per year: 

  • Steering committee meetings: four per year; one General Assembly per year.
  • Education:
    • Educational meetings with credits for HCPs: One or two major (2- or 3-day meetings, postgraduate course) and 10–12 minor (half-day meetings or webinars)
    • Educational meetings for IBD Nurses: Two 1-day meetings
  • Expert meetings: The IBDnet holds one or two expert meetings per year to develop Swiss expert opinions for peer-reviewed publication.
  • Patient Relations: The IBDnet broadly supports and organises four to six patient events or webinars per year in collaboration with the patient association CCS (Crohn Colitis Switzerland). Most speakers at these patient information events are IBDnet steering committee members. Furthermore, in collaboration with the patient association, IBDnet develops and releases patient information guidebooks.


Meetings in 2020: 17 accredited educational activities (11 webinars for HCPs, three webinars for patients, two 1-day nurse workshops, one 3-day postgraduate course)

President and Secretary: President: Stephan Vavricka, Zurich, Secretary: Nadine Zahnd-Straumann, Zurich

National Representatives: Emanuel Burri, Liestal and Michel H. Maillard, Lausanne

Joined ECCO in: Switzerland was among the founding members of ECCO.

Incidence of IBD in the country: No exact number available. IBD incidence is estimated to be 2 per 1000 persons per year.

What has changed since your society became an ECCO Country Member?

Being an ECCO Country Member has allowed us to establish closer links with other countries in Europe for several activities, including research initiatives and educational events.

The increasing number of conferences, the ECCO Congress and programmes for young fellows and nurses represent further benefits for ECCO Members.

What are the benefits to you of being an ECCO Country Member?

Since 2006, Switzerland has prospectively collected data to establish a cohort of IBD patients. We have collected not only clinical data but also bio-samples. We have benefitted from ECCO in various ways: First, we have been able to improve the visibility of our data through oral and poster presentations at the ECCO Congress. Second, we have been able to establish links with other countries in order to compare our data. Third, our network has enlarged significantly, allowing us to host high-profile speakers at our meetings.

Is your society making use of the ECCO Guidelines?

The ECCO Guidelines are widely used throughout Switzerland and are cited in most of our presentations.

Have you developed links with other countries through your ECCO Country Membership?

Yes, we have established links with most countries affiliated with ECCO. These include Germany, Austria, France and Belgium, but also Italy and Hungary.

  • Have you developed research projects with other countries through your ECCO Country Membership?

    Yes. For example, we have been developing projects with GETAID in France and also the German-speaking countries (IBD-DACH).

  • Have you developed educational activities with other countries through your ECCO Country Membership?

    Yes. Members of our group have been and are currently directly involved in educational events organised by ECCO. Several fellows have been able to attend those courses.

  • Has your country been involved in a fellow exchange through your ECCO Country Membership?

    Yes: Ramona Bruckner, Zürich

What are your main areas of research interest?

We are interested in the pathophysiology, natural history, epidemiology and management of IBD. Our recent initiatives have centred around the role of the microbiota and various environmental factors in IBD. We have also been working on several patient-reported outcomes.

Does your centre or country have a common IBD database or bio bank?

Yes, the Swiss IBD cohort includes a database and a national bio bank.

What are your most prestigious/interesting past and ongoing projects?

Below are some of the main papers from the Swiss IBD cohort. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, but it reflects the wide variety of aspects that have been addressed. Our work on the microbiota depicting microbial patterns predictive of biologic response was one of the highlights of last year.

Yilmaz B, Juillerat P, Øyås O, Ramon C, Bravo FD, Franc Y, Fournier N, Michetti P, Mueller C, Geuking M, Pittet VEH, Maillard MH, Rogler G; Swiss IBD Cohort Investigators, Wiest R, Stelling J, Macpherson AJ. Microbial network disturbances in relapsing refractory Crohn's disease. Nat Med. 2019;25:323–36.

Pillai N, Dusheiko M, Maillard MH, Rogler G, Brüngger B, Bähler C, Pittet VEH. The evolution of health care utilisation and costs for inflammatory bowel disease over ten years. J Crohn Colitis. 2019;13:744–54.

Spalinger MR, Lang S, Weber A, Frei P, Fried M, Rogler G, Scharl M. Loss of protein tyrosine phosphatase non-receptor type 22 regulates interferon-γ-induced signaling in human monocytes. Gastroenterology. 2013;144:978–88.

Vavricka SR, Spigaglia SM, Rogler G, Pittet V, Michetti P, Fel ley C, Mottet C, Braegger CP, Rogler D, Straumann A, Bauerfeind P, Fried M, Schoepfer AM; Swiss IBD Cohort Study Group. Systematic evaluation of risk factors for diagnostic delay in inflammatory bowel disease. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2012;18:496–505.

Vavricka SR, Brun L, Ball abeni P, Pittet V, Prinz Vavricka BM, Zeitz J, Rogler G, Schoepfer AM. Frequency and risk factors for extraintestinal manifestations in the Swiss inflammatory bowel disease cohort. Am J Gastroenterol. 2011;106:110–9.

Juillerat P, Pittet V, Bulliard JL, Guessous I, Antonino AT, Mottet C, Felley C, Vader JP, Michetti P. Prevalence of inflammatory bowel disease in the canton of Vaud (Switzerland). A population-based cohort study. J Crohns Colitis. 2008;2:131–41.

Which ECCO Projects/Activities is the group currently involved in?

Swiss representatives have been involved in the various educational events by EduCom as well as EpiCom Initiatives.

Many Swiss colleagues have been actively involved in ECCO over many years. Pierre Michetti has been Scientific Officer and a member of the Governing Board and is now an honorary member of ECCO. Gerhard Rogler has served on SciCom for many years and has been its head; he was also Scientific Officer on the Governing Board for many years. He is now involved in the UR-CARE project. Michael Scharl is a current SciCom Member and has been awarded the ECCO Pioneer Grant, which is currently being implemented. Stephan Vavricka has served on EduCom and GuiCom for many years. Michel Adamina is currently an S-ECCO Member. Valerie Pittet and Sophie Restellini are both EpiCom Members. Pascal Juillerat has served on EduCom for many years.

The Swiss IBD cohort study is starting to contribute to the UR-CARE platform.

In recent years we have conducted ECCO-endorsed educational events in Switzerland and contributed to ECCO Workshops worldwide.

What are your aims for the future?

We aim to develop precision and personalised medicine in IBD as well as to improve some specific aspects of IBD management, such as paediatric–adult transitioning and the position of IBD Nurses. We further want to improve IBD knowledge on a national level with the help of local educational events. The IBDnet also places strong emphasis on IBD Nurse education and we shall aim to exploit opportunities provided by the ECCO IBD Nurse Education Programme.

How do you see ECCO helping you to fulfil these aims?

Our links with other countries will certainly be of great help in the various ongoing translational research initiatives. We will also benefit from links with other cohorts for epidemiological studies. Finally, IBD Nurse programmes are well established in several countries. ECCO might help us in setting up such a programme more precisely in Switzerland.

What do you use ECCO for? Network? Congress? How do you use the things/services that ECCO has to offer?

We use everything ECCO offers us! The ECCO Guidelines, the Congress and, of course, the ECCO Network. ECCO is instrumental in helping us to connect with other countries for the purpose of clinical, educational or research initiatives.

Posted in ECCO News, ECCO Country Member Profiles, Volume 15, Issue 3