You exhale...
...we diagnose!

Zurich Exhalomics
A flagship project of Hochschulmedizin Zürich

Instantaneous Health Status from Exhaled Breath

Since 2015, we are striving for making breath analysis routine.

A New Approach in Medical Diagnosis

Medical diagnostics is often invasive, time-consuming or expensive - frequently all three of these factors together. Breath analysis is a promising alternative that can provide diagnosis or medical monitoring quickly, non-invasively and inexpensively. The consortium of Zurich Exhalomics is fully focused on making the exhalome - the entity of the exhaled molecules - interpretable and usable in everyday clinical practice. 

Tackling Global Health Challenges

The close, interinstitutional collaboration of researchers from ETH Zurich, the University of Zurich, the University Hospital Zurich, the University Children's Hospital Zurich, the University of Basel, the University Children's Hospital Basel, Empa, the Paul Scherrer Institute, and Agroscope enables all participants to benefit from each other's know-how and to work towards the vision of non-invasive medical diagnostics via breath analysis.

How It Works


We collect exhaled air either offline or directly at the inlet of the mass spectrometer.


We analyse the exhalome for specific volatile molecules, down to the ppq (parts per quadrillion) range.


If we find characteristic biomarkers in the exhalome, we can diagnose health or disease conditions.

Who We Are

Prof. Dr. Renato Zenobi, ETH Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry, and Prof. Dr. Emma Slack, ETH Laboratory for Mucosal Immunology, lead Zurich Exhalomics, working together with 11 interdisciplinary teams and their PIs.

Through the multitude of combined disciplines, we can conduct research in Zurich Exhalomics that is unique in the world and will have a high societal benefit in the longer term.

Principal Investigators

The research group leaders jointly develop projects, which they drive forward with their groups.

Prof. Dr. Adrian Egli
Institute for Medical Microbiology
Dr. Andreas Güntner
Particle Technology Laboratory
Prof. Dr. med. Alexander Möller
Department of Pediatric Pulmonology
Prof. Dr. Mutian Niu
Animal Nutrition
Dr. Felix Schmidt
USZ / Department of Pulmonology
Prof. Dr. Pablo Sinues
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Prof. Dr. med. Arnold von Eckardstein
Institute for Clinical Chemistry

Honorary Members

They have been members for many years and are now thankfully making their expertise available on an ad hoc basis.

Prof. Dr. Urs Baltensperger
Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry
Prof. Dr. Joachim M. Buhmann
Institute for Machine Learning
Prof. Dr. med. Malcolm Kohler
Medical Director USZ / Department of Pulmonology
Prof. Dr. Sotiris E. Pratsinis
Institute of Process Engineering
Prof. Dr. André Prévôt
Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry

Research Projects

14 research groups from fundamental sciences, to engineering, to clinical practice are closely working together for

Nutrition and Food
Wahl, Zenobi, Gerber, Slack, Niu, Vergères, Giannoukos

Understanding the impact of nutrition and food on human health, applying online-analytical tools, mice models and clinical studies.

Big Data Analysis
Zenobi, Sinues, Emmenegger, El Haddad

Establishing algorithms for big data analysis – searching for molecular patterns of relevance.

Medication Levels
Sinues, Kohler, von Eckadstein

Monitoring medication levels with narrow efficacy and safety range in children and adults (Example: antiepileptics and propofol).

Sensors for Biomarkers
Zenobi, Sinues, Emmenegger, El Hadad, Prévôt, Pratsinis, Günter

Increasing robustness and decreasing complexity of sensor, laser spectroscopy and high-resolution mass-spectrometry techniques, for the quantification of relevant biomarkers.

Globally Relevant Diseases
Kohler, Möller, Sinues, Gerber, Zenobi, Egli

Detecting and quantifying biomarkers for globally relevant diseases, such as COPD, obstructive sleep apnea, asthma, covid-19, lung cancer, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary infections.

Quantification Techniques
Zenobi, Emmenegger, El Hadad, Prévôt, Günter

Developing detection and quantification techniques for exhaled molecules down to the ppq concentration range (1 ppq = one per 1,000,000,000,000,000).

Clinical Validation
Kohler, Möller, Sinues, von Eckardstein, Gerber, Egli

Promising biomarkers for diseases, and medication and health status are being validated in clinical settings.

Diet and Circadian Rhythms
Zenobi, Slack, Gerber, Niu

Understanding how a specific diet and circadian rhythms influence our microbiome with subsequent detection of characteristic exhaled molecules.

Sleep Obstruction
Zenobi, Kohler, Slack

Understanding the interaction between microbiome and circadian clocks and its impact on sleep obstruction – all analyzed via exhaled molecules.

Interdisciplinarity at Its Best

Latest Blog Posts

June 7, 2024
Researchers from Zurich Exhalomics groups attended the Breath Summit 2024 in Indianapolis

Researchers from Zurich Exhalomics groups attended the Breath Summit 2024 in Indianapolis

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June 3, 2024
Lactobreath - A pilot study to diagnose lactose intolerance based on the exhaled breath metabolome

For a scientific study, the LactoBreath team seeks to recruit healthy adult men and women aged between 18 and 65 with or without the ability to digest lactose.

Read More
May 17, 2022
Exhalomics Circle: solving the puzzle together

by Dr. Raphael Brechbühler, Empa

Read More


Zurich Exhalomics is generously supported by the Uniscientia Foundation, the Lotte and Adolf Hotz-Sprenger Foundation, the Evi Diethelm-Winteler Foundation, the Heidi Ras Foundation, the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Ascher Trust, and other donors. The ETH Zurich Foundation, the UZH Foundation, and the USZ Foundation support the Zurich Exhalomics project in partnership building. Don't hesitate to contact us if you would like to  support Zurich Exhalomics on the journey to bring breath analysis into clinical routine.