27.02.16 - Two collaboration agreements were signed in Tehran during the official visit to the country by Swiss president Johann Schneider-Ammann. The agreements forge ties with Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS) and Sharif University of Technology, two high-level educational institutions in the fields of medicine and engineering.

The Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) has signed academic collaboration agreements with Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS) and Sharif University of Technology. “EPFL sees in these two universities – Iran’s best in their respective fields – key partners in the pursuit of digital and personalized medicine of the future, which will require making smart and effective use of big data,” said Karl Aberer, the EPFL vice president who represented the school during the State visit to Iran by the Swiss president from 26 to 28 February 2016.

The partnerships will take shape as joint research projects are set up in the coming weeks and, in the longer term, through the expanded exchange of students and researchers. The idea is to capitalize on each partner’s respective specialization: personalized medicine at TUMS and big data processing at Sharif University, and, at EPFL, genetic sequencing, cancer research and bioinformatics, among others.

A long tradition
EPFL and Iranian universities have engaged in exchanges for many years. EPFL's student body currently includes 173 Iranian students; another 2,384 are signed up for EPFL’s MOOCs; and around 30 publications are co-authored every year by professors from EPFL and Iranian universities. And on 2 April 2015, it was at the Rolex Learning Center on EPFL’s campus that the preliminary framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear program was announced to the world by the lead diplomats of the Iranian, American and European governments. This event deepened the official relationship between EPFL and Iran, an ancient civilization known for its emphasis on education, science and technology – recent history notwithstanding.

In October 2015, the EPFL president Patrick Aebischer devoted a week to meetings with representatives of the main Iranian universities in Tehran – Shiraz, Isfahan and Yazd – and with the deputy ministers of science and health, EPFL alumni in Iran and representatives of the Iran-Switzerland Chamber of Commerce.

Strengthening ties
In January of this year, EPFL decided to create a program called Iranian Studies, slated to begin in 2017, that will expand the existing curriculum offered by the College of Humanities on Asia, Russia and global issues. The chancellor of TUMS subsequently visited Campus Biotech in Geneva and EPFL’s main campus in Lausanne. At the same time, talks began on deepening the relationship with Sharif University in Tehran. All these efforts culminated in the agreements announced today and signed by the EPFL vice president for information systems, Karl Aberer, and chancellors Ali Jafarian (TUMS) and Mahmoud Fotuhi (Sharif University).