Clinical Paleopathology

Summary of Research

Our multidisciplinary research unit deals with clinical perspectives of historic human remains. A major goal of the project is to gain a better understanding of ongoing processes of development in modern clinically relevant disorders, e.g. trauma or degenerative musculoskeletal diseases. For this purpose, state-of-the-art diagnostic and analytic methods are used, including the evaluation of bone microarchitecture, the assessment of biomechanical parameters or the reconstruction of injury-mechanisms. Furthermore, reliable guidelines are developed for use when assessing findings in diagnostic imaging of skeletal human remains in the context of palopathology.

Project Collaboration

  • Diagnostic Imaging (CT, MRI) at the Institute of Forensic Medicine, UZH and the Orthopedic University Clinic Balgrist

  • Histology at the Institute of Diagnostic Pathology, University Hospital Zurich

  • Radiocarbon Dating at the Institute of Particle Physics and Astrophysics, ETHZ

    Micro-CT and Breast-CT, Institute of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, University Hospital of Zurich

  • Radiologie Balgrist

Selected Published Articles

  • van Schaik K, Eisenberg R, Bekvalac J, Rühli F. Evaluating the relationship between lesion burden and aging among the skeletons of an 18th-19th century London cemetery using osteological and radiological analysis. PLoS One. 2018, 13(4):e0196448.

  • Rühli FJ, Galassi FM, Häusler, M. Palaeopathology: current challenges and medical impact. Clin Anat 2016 Oct; 29(7): 816-22.

  • Van Schaik K, Rühli F. Health is not always written in bone: using a modern comorbidity index to assess disease load in paleopathology. Am J Physical Anthropol, 2014; 154:215-221.

  • Gruber P, Böni T, Rühli F. History of Paleopathology in Switzerland. In: Buikstra JE, Roberts CA, Schreiner SM (eds): The Global History of Palaeopathology: Pioneers and Prospects. New York/Oxford, Oxford University Press: 559-568, 2012.

  • Schiess R, Böni T, Rühli F, Haeusler M. Revisiting Scoliosis in the KNM-WT 15000 Homo erectus skeleton. J Hum Evol 2014; 67:48-59.


Mäxi Foundation