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Exploring Science in Davos: EP2 Studying bones at the AO Research Institute Davos

Before 1960, broken bones were treated simply by using plaster casts or traction. Then 13 Swiss surgeons began rethinking fracture treatment: they standardised instruments, screws and nails, scientifically evaluated every operation, and started training surgeons. On their tour of Davos’s scientific communities, Sara and Michele go behind the scenes to see what new technologies are currently being developed.

The AO Foundation in Davos has been a leader in research into the healing of bone fractures for decades. Today, more than 100 scientists and PhD students from all over the globe work at the AO Research Institute Davos (ARI), which is focused on pre-clinical research. They study biomechanics and the biology of bones, discs and cartilage, and work on new surgical techniques, tools and devices, such as "smart" implants that measure bone healing in patients.

Some of ARI’s work depends on tests with live animals to ensure that studies are not affected by any hidden issues that would prevent the translation of a concept or implant to patient treatments. ARI recently set up a barn for so-called “specific-pathogen-free” (SPF) sheep. For sheep to be deemed SPF, they are separated from conventional sheep and kept in a purpose-built stable. However, the goal is to gradually reduce the dependence on, and even someday completely forgo, animal tests. Several projects at the ARI are aimed at achieving this.

This podcast is an audio version of the SWI video series with the same title.  Find out more about science research in Switzerland on (

Hosted by: Jo Fahy
Journalist: Sara Ibrahim (
Journalist/Sound: Michele Andina (

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SWI – the international service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). Since 1999, has fulfilled the federal government’s mandate to distribute information about Switzerland internationally, supplementing the online offerings of the radio and television stations of the SBC. Today, the international service is directed above all at an international audience interested in Switzerland, as well as at Swiss citizens living abroad.
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