Advancing drug discovery for rare diseases

AcceleRare, a Swiss answer to the challenges of rare diseases

AcceleRare is the collaborative response of the Swiss research community to the National Rare Disease Policy. Our common goal is to use cutting-edge academic science and a unique project management structure to develop new drugs and therapies, while addressing related societal challenges.

Who are we?

AcceleRare is a Swiss academic research consortium of 28 research groups from 12 institutions, led by the University of Zurich, ETH Zurich, and the University of Geneva. Read more about our partner network on the consortium page.

Why this collaboration?

Rare diseases, which affect around half a million people (mostly children and young adults) in Switzerland, pose an underestimated threat to human health. The challenge is to investigate these diseases, understand their mechanisms, and develop individual therapies. We apply state-of-the-art expertise and technologies to advance rare disease research in harmony with those affected.

AcceleRare’s mission

In December 2018, AcceleRare applied to the Swiss National Science Foundation for funding as a National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR). Upon initial evaluation by external experts, we received excellent reviews and made it to the final stage of the selection procedure. From over 50 proposals, AcceleRare was one of 11 shortlisted projects. Unfortunately, the State Secretariat for Research and Innovation (SERI) did not prioritize AcceleRare for funding.

However, our mission remains valid. If AcceleRare gets funded by other sources, it will create a knowledge platform for rare disease research while strengthening (inter)national collaboration between researchers, pharmaceutical industry, and patient advocacy groups. We aim to:

  • Investigate disease mechanisms, develop new innovative treatments;
  • Accelerate clinical translation and technology transfer, including ethical, legal, and organisational aspects of rare disease research;
  • Stimulate knowledge exchange between multi-disciplinary academic research teams, pharmaceutical industry, and patient advocacy groups;
  • Provide cutting-edge education and training in a restructured research field


AcceleRare will capitalize on recent developments in personalized medicine, digitization, translational research, and health economics to address societal challenges resulting from rare diseases. Implementation of AcceleRare would provide:

  • Novel insights in disease mechanisms, potentially relevant to common diseases;
  • Innovative drugs and treatments for rare disease patients;
  • Policy and decision-making concepts for societal challenges of rare diseases;
  • Effective knowledge transfer between academia, industry, and society;
  • Experts prepared for a career in academia, industry, or public service;
  • A world-leading position for Switzerland in rare disease research.

The AcceleRare network stimulates structural measures, translational & entrepreneurial initiatives, an education and training portfolio, integration into competence centres, and exchanges with patients and society. Together, this will ensure a long-lasting impact and turn Switzerland into a lighthouse for translational rare disease research.

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