Welcome to LIFE, the Lucerne Initiative for Functioning, Health, and Well-being - a global initiative driven by the University of Lucerne. At LIFE, we embrace one of the greatest societal challenges of the 21st century: optimizing functioning, health , and well-being in the face of acute or chronic diseases, injuries, and aging. Our mission at LIFE is to promote a new understanding of health as functioning within society and to implement this understanding in healthcare systems, research, education, and practice.

The 21st century challenge: optimizing Functioning

In the 19th century, monumental advancements in public health, such as clean water, improved sanitation, nutrition, and remarkable progress in curative medicine during the 20th century, led to a doubling of life expectancy in developed countries.

Today, our challenge is to experience the gained years of life in the best possible health and with a high quality of life. Our well-being is closely intertwined with our health, shaping how we live our lives and contribute to society. We aspire to lead lives that align with our visions and enable us to actively participate in all aspects of society. This comprehensive perspective on health is what the World Health Organization (WHO) named ‘functioning’ in the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (2021).

Functioning a new understanding of health

At the core of LIFE is the new concept of functioning developed by the World Health Organization. Functioning comprises all of the abilities and physical and mental assets that people need to do what they wish to do, become what they aspire to be, and flourish in the human community. Functioning, indeed, is the bridge linking health and well-being.

Our focus on this powerful notion of functioning gives us the basis for the understanding of what is needed to redesign the health system in order to address what ultimately matters to people about their health – namely their ability to live their fullest and best life. It opens the door to a fundamentally new approach to researching the full 360 degrees of a person's life, extending beyond biomedical to the psychological and social dimension of human life.

Utilizing functioning as a keystone concept entails the revolutionary move from the current healthcare system and research that focuses on mortality and morbidity, to one that also includes the person's own perspective on their complete lived experience of health – that is, their functioning. 

LIFE strategic projects

LIFE aims to achieve its goal of embedding a new understanding of health in society and implementing it in healthcare systems, research, education, and practice through two strategic projects.


Foto Sara Rubinelli

Prof. Dr. Sara Rubinelli

Professor of Health Sciences with a focus in Health Communication

Foto Gerold Stucki

Prof. Dr. Gerold Stucki MD

Professor of Health Sciences and Health Policy
Lead Strategic Council Swiss Learning Health System
Director Center for Rehabilitation in Global Health Systems


The pursuit of optimizing functioning carries wide-ranging implications for all aspects of society. The challenge lies in integrating this new understanding of health and well-being into our lives. This means implementing the paradigm shift within healthcare systems, research, education, and practice. This is precisely where the University of Lucerne's LIFE initiative steps in.

Since 2001, a dedicated scientific team, initially at Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU) in Munich and later at the University of Lucerne, has been committed to translating the paradigm shift into action.


Join us at LIFE and become a catalyst for transformation, empowering individuals, communities, and societies to embrace life to the fullest.

Experience the revolution in education through our distinctive degree programs that place functioning as the cornerstone of health.

Witness the groundbreaking research conducted at the University of Lucerne and our esteemed partner, Swiss Paraplegic Research, as we redefine the measurement and understanding of health outcomes.

In collaboration with the World Health Organization, we are developing the LIFE-Ruler—an innovative standard for reporting functioning data that will revolutionize healthcare decision-making. Join us on this transformative journey as we strive to enhance the health and well-being of individuals worldwide.

Together, let's create a world where health transcends the absence of disease, embracing optimal functioning that empowers individuals to lead fulfilling and purposeful lives.

Embrace the LIFE initiative at the University of Lucerne and become part of a movement that is reshaping the landscape of healthcare and well-being for generations to come.