Bern, Switzerland
Bern, Switzerland

The University of Bern is a university in the Swiss capital of Bern and was founded in 1834. It is regulated and financed by the Canton of Bern. It is a comprehensive university offering a broad choice of courses and programmes in eight faculties and some 160 institutes. With around 15,000 students, the University of Bern is a medium-sized Swiss university. Wikipedia.


Time filter

Source Type

Patent
Ortho Team AG and University of Bern | Date: 2016-09-08

An orthotic for pelvic stabilization has a belt unit, which is provided for surrounding the pelvis, and a pull device, which is provided for tightening the belt unit. The belt unit comprises an upper belt strap (1), which surrounds an upper pelvic region, and a lower belt strap (2), which surrounds a lower pelvic region. The pull device comprises a front pull unit with a fastening device, whereby the front pull unit is disposed on a front pelvic region of the belt unit and tightens the upper and the lower belt strap in a front pelvic region by pulling. The fastening device thereby connects together the opposite ends (3, 4, 5, 6) of the upper and of the lower belt strap in the front pelvic region and fastens them under tension. The pull device further comprises a rear pull unit (8, 9), which is disposed in a middle region (7) of the straps on the upper belt strap (1) and on the lower belt strap (2) and is provided for tightening of a rear pelvic region of the belt unit. The rear pull unit is fastened under tension by a fastening unit.


Hering J.G.,Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology | Hering J.G.,ETH Zurich | Hering J.G.,Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne | Ingold K.M.,Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology | Ingold K.M.,University of Bern
Science | Year: 2012

Appropriately bounded integration can be a basis for sustainable management of water resources.


Wagner C.E.,Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology | Wagner C.E.,University of Bern | Wagner C.E.,Cornell University | Harmon L.J.,University of Idaho | And 2 more authors.
Nature | Year: 2012

A fundamental challenge to our understanding of biodiversity is to explain why some groups of species undergo adaptive radiations, diversifying extensively into many and varied species, whereas others do not. Both extrinsic environmental factors (for example, resource availability, climate) and intrinsic lineage-specific traits (for example, behavioural or morphological traits, genetic architecture) influence diversification, but few studies have addressed how such factors interact. Radiations of cichlid fishes in the African Great Lakes provide some of the most dramatic cases of species diversification. However, most cichlid lineages in African lakes have not undergone adaptive radiations. Here we compile data on cichlid colonization and diversification in 46 African lakes, along with lake environmental features and information about the traits of colonizing cichlid lineages, to investigate why adaptive radiation does and does not occur. We find that extrinsic environmental factors related to ecological opportunity and intrinsic lineage-specific traits related to sexual selection both strongly influence whether cichlids radiate. Cichlids are more likely to radiate in deep lakes, in regions with more incident solar radiation and in lakes where there has been more time for diversification. Weak or negative associations between diversification and lake surface area indicate that cichlid speciation is not constrained by area, in contrast to diversification in many terrestrial taxa. Among the suite of intrinsic traits that we investigate, sexual dichromatism, a surrogate for the intensity of sexual selection, is consistently positively associated with diversification. Thus, for cichlids, it is the coincidence between ecological opportunity and sexual selection that best predicts whether adaptive radiation will occur. These findings suggest that adaptive radiation is predictable, but only when species traits and environmental factors are jointly considered. © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.


Soliveres S.,University of Bern | Smit C.,University of Groningen | Maestre F.T.,Rey Juan Carlos University
Biological Reviews | Year: 2014

Once seen as anomalous, facilitative interactions among plants and their importance for community structure and functioning are now widely recognized. The growing body of modelling, descriptive and experimental studies on facilitation covers a wide variety of terrestrial and aquatic systems throughout the globe. However, the lack of a general body of theory linking facilitation among different types of organisms and biomes and their responses to environmental changes prevents further advances in our knowledge regarding the evolutionary and ecological implications of facilitation in plant communities. Moreover, insights gathered from alternative lines of inquiry may substantially improve our understanding of facilitation, but these have been largely neglected thus far. Despite over 15years of research and debate on this topic, there is no consensus on the degree to which plant-plant interactions change predictably along environmental gradients (i.e. the stress-gradient hypothesis), and this hinders our ability to predict how plant-plant interactions may affect the response of plant communities to ongoing global environmental change. The existing controversies regarding the response of plant-plant interactions across environmental gradients can be reconciled when clearly considering and determining the species-specificity of the response, the functional or individual stress type, and the scale of interest (pairwise interactions or community-level response). Here, we introduce a theoretical framework to do this, supported by multiple lines of empirical evidence. We also discuss current gaps in our knowledge regarding how plant-plant interactions change along environmental gradients. These include the existence of thresholds in the amount of species-specific stress that a benefactor can alleviate, the linearity or non-linearity of the response of pairwise interactions across distance from the ecological optimum of the beneficiary, and the need to explore further how frequent interactions among multiple species are and how they change across different environments. We review the latest advances in these topics and provide new approaches to fill current gaps in our knowledge. We also apply our theoretical framework to advance our knowledge on the evolutionary aspects of plant facilitation, and the relative importance of facilitation, in comparison with other ecological processes, for maintaining ecosystem structure, functioning and dynamics. We build links between these topics and related fields, such as ecological restoration, woody encroachment, invasion ecology, ecological modelling and biodiversity-ecosystem-functioning relationships. By identifying commonalities and insights from alternative lines of research, we further advance our understanding of facilitation and provide testable hypotheses regarding the role of (positive) biotic interactions in the maintenance of biodiversity and the response of ecological communities to ongoing environmental changes. © 2014 Cambridge Philosophical Society.


Nicolussi K.,University of Innsbruck | Schluchter C.,University of Bern
Geology | Year: 2012

Evidence for an 8.2 ka event-related advance for an Alpine glacier was missing for a long time. In the light of dendrochronological analyses for tree remains found in front of the Mont Miné Glacier, Swiss Alps, we present evidence for such an advance related to the 8.2 ka event. Calendar dates established for dozens of tree remains place this glacier advance ∼8175 yr before A.D. 2000. Therefore, this 8.2 ka advance response of the Mont Miné Glacier terminated a nearly millennial-long retreat period with a glacier always shorter than today. © 2012 Geological Society of America.


Chun Y.J.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research | van Kleunen M.,University of Bern | Dawson W.,University of Bern
Ecology Letters | Year: 2010

An explanation for successful invasion is that invasive alien species sustain less pressure from natural enemies than co-occurring native species. Using meta-analysis, we examined whether invasive species: incur less damage, exhibit better performance in the presence of enemies, and tolerate damage more than native species. Invasive alien species did not incur less damage than native species overall. The performance of invasive alien species was reduced compared to natives in the presence of enemies, indicating the invasive alien species were less tolerant to damage than native species. However, there was no overall difference in performance of invasive alien and native species with enemies present. The damage and degree of reduction in performance of invasive alien relative to native species did not depend on relatedness to natives. Our results suggest aliens may not always experience enemy release, and enemy release may not always result in greater plant performance. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/CNRS.


Abriel H.,University of Bern
Gene | Year: 2013

Channelopathies are diseases caused by dysfunctional ion channels, due to either genetic or acquired pathological factors. Inherited cardiac arrhythmic syndromes are among the most studied human disorders involving ion channels. Since seminal observations made in 1995, thousands of mutations have been found in many of the different genes that code for cardiac ion channel subunits and proteins that regulate the cardiac ion channels. The main phenotypes observed in patients carrying these mutations are congenital long QT syndrome (LQTS), Brugada syndrome (BrS), catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT), short QT syndrome (SQTS) and variable types of conduction defects (CD). The goal of this review is to present an update of the main genetic and molecular mechanisms, as well as the associated phenotypes of cardiac channelopathies as of 2012. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.


Turler A.,University of Bern | Turler A.,Paul Scherrer Institute | Pershina V.,Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research
Chemical Reviews | Year: 2013

A study was conducted to report advancements in the production and chemistry of the heaviest elements. The study dealt with the latest advancements in the synthesis, chemical characterization, and theoretical studies of the heaviest elements. The heaviest stable known nucleus had been reached with 208Pb and all isotopes of heavier elements, including some elements such as Bi, Th, and U were found in nature as remnants of the last nucleosynthesis process. These isotopes of heavier elements were radioactive and decay preferentially by successive α-particle and β-particle emissions back to the last stable element Pb. Accurate calculations of properties of the heavier transactinide elements and their compounds were possible due to the latest developments in relativistic quantum theory, computational algorithms, and techniques.


Maan M.E.,University of Bern | Seehausen O.,University of Bern
Ecology Letters | Year: 2011

The spectacular diversity in sexually selected traits among animal taxa has inspired the hypothesis that divergent sexual selection can drive speciation. Unfortunately, speciation biologists often consider sexual selection in isolation from natural selection, even though sexually selected traits evolve in an ecological context: both preferences and traits are often subject to natural selection. Conversely, while behavioural ecologists may address ecological effects on sexual communication, they rarely measure the consequences for population divergence. Herein, we review the empirical literature addressing the mechanisms by which natural selection and sexual selection can interact during speciation. We find that convincing evidence for any of these scenarios is thin. However, the available data strongly support various diversifying effects that emerge from interactions between sexual selection and environmental heterogeneity. We suggest that evaluating the evolutionary consequences of these effects requires a better integration of behavioural, ecological and evolutionary research. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/CNRS.


Maan M.E.,University of Groningen | Maan M.E.,University of Bern | Cummings M.E.,University of Texas at Austin
American Naturalist | Year: 2012

Antipredator defenses and warning signals typically evolve in concert. However, the extensive variation across taxa in both these components of predator deterrence and the relationshipãbetween them are poorly understood. Here we test whether there isãa predictive relationship between visual conspicuousness and toxicityãlevels across 10 populations of the color-polymorphic strawberryãpoison frog, Dendrobates pumilio. Using a mouse-based toxicity assay,ãwe find extreme variation in toxicity between frog populations. Thisãvariation is significantly positively correlated with frog colorationãbrightness, a viewer-independent measure of visual conspicuousnessã(i.e., total reflectance flux). We also examine conspicuousness fromãthe view of three potential predator taxa, as well as conspecific frogs,ãusing taxon-specific visual detection models and three natural backgroundãsubstrates.We find very strong positive relationships betweenãfrog toxicity and conspicuousness for bird-specific perceptual models.ãWeaker but still positive correlations are found for crab and D. pumilioãconspecific visual perception, while frog coloration as viewed byãsnakes is not related to toxicity. These results suggest that poisonãfrog colors can be honest signals of prey unpalatability to predatorsãand that birds in particular may exert selection on aposematic signalãdesign. © 2011 by The University of Chicago.


Leifeld P.,Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology | Leifeld P.,University of Bern
Policy Studies Journal | Year: 2013

How does major policy change come about? This article identifies and rectifies weaknesses in the conceptualization of innovative policy change in the Advocacy Coalition Framework. In a case study of policy belief change preceding an innovative reform in the German subsystem of old-age security, important new aspects of major policy change are carved out. In particular, the analysis traces a transition from one single hegemonic advocacy coalition to another stable coalition, with a transition phase between the two equilibria. The transition phase is characterized (i) by a bipolarization of policy beliefs in the subsystem and (ii) by state actors with shifting coalition memberships due to policy learning across coalitions or due to executive turnover. Apparently, there are subsystems with specific characteristics (presumably redistributive rather than regulative subsystems) in which one hegemonic coalition is the default, or the "normal state." In these subsystems, polarization and shifting coalition memberships seem to interact to produce coalition turnover and major policy change. The case study is based on discourse network analysis, a combination of qualitative content analysis and social network analysis, which provides an intertemporal measurement of advocacy coalition realignment at the level of policy beliefs in a subsystem. © 2013 Policy Studies Organization.


Hediger M.A.,University of Bern | Clemencon B.,University of Bern | Burrier R.E.,University of Bern | Burrier R.E.,Stemina Biomarker Discovery, inc. | Bruford E.A.,HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee
Molecular Aspects of Medicine | Year: 2013

The field of transport biology has steadily grown over the past decade and is now recognized as playing an important role in manifestation and treatment of disease. The SLC (solute carrier) gene series has grown to now include 52 families and 395 transporter genes in the human genome. A list of these genes can be found at the HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC) website (see www.genenames.org/genefamilies/SLC). This special issue features mini-reviews for each of these SLC families written by the experts in each field. The existing online resource for solute carriers, the Bioparadigms SLC Tables (www.bioparadigms.org), has been updated and significantly extended with additional information and cross-links to other relevant databases, and the nomenclature used in this database has been validated and approved by the HGNC. In addition, the Bioparadigms SLC Tables functionality has been improved to allow easier access by the scientific community. This introduction includes: an overview of all known SLC and "non-SLC" transporter genes; a list of transporters of water soluble vitamins; a summary of recent progress in the structure determination of transporters (including GLUT1/SLC2A1); roles of transporters in human diseases and roles in drug approval and pharmaceutical perspectives. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Deuzeman A.,University of Bern | Lombardo M.P.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | Nunes da Silva T.,University of Groningen | Pallante E.,University of Groningen
Physics Letters, Section B: Nuclear, Elementary Particle and High-Energy Physics | Year: 2013

We study the SU(3) gauge theory with Nf=12 flavors in the fundamental representation by use of lattice simulations with staggered fermions. With a non-improved action we observe a chiral zero-temperature (bulk) transition separating a region at weak coupling, where chiral symmetry is realized, from a region at strong coupling where chiral symmetry is broken. With improved actions, a more complicated pattern emerges, and in particular two first order transitions in the chiral limit appear. We observe that at sufficiently strong coupling the next-to-nearest neighbor terms of the improved lattice action are no longer irrelevant and can indeed modify the pattern observed without improvement. Baryon number conservation can be realized in an unusual way, allowing for an otherwise prohibited oscillating term in the pseudoscalar channel. We discuss the phenomenon by means of explicit examples borrowed from statistical mechanics. Finally, these observations can also be useful when simulating other strongly coupled systems on the lattice, such as graphene. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: SPA.2013.1.1-01 | Award Amount: 15.89M | Year: 2013

Production of an extended climate reanalysis of the 20th century, with consistent descriptions of the global atmosphere, ocean, land-surface, cryosphere, and the carbon cycle. Production of a new reanalysis of the satellite era with near-real time data updates for climate monitoring. Research and development in various aspects of coupled data assimilation to improve the use of observations in future fully coupled earth-system reanalysis productions. Preparation of input data sets required for reanalysis, including uncertainty assessments, homogenisation, data reprocessing. Data rescue activities aimed at improving climate reanalysis capabilities, including imaging and digitisation of historic in-situ observations as well as recovery and assessment of early satellite data records. Development of data services and visualisation tools for reanalysis output products, and for the observations used to create them.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: NMP.2011.1.4-4 | Award Amount: 4.91M | Year: 2012

Over 60 million of citizens in the EU suffer from hearing loss with its associated restrictions. In severe cases, hearing can only be restored by surgically implanting a neuroprosthesis called cochlear implant, which directly stimulates the auditory nerve. The bottleneck for optimal stimulation is caused by the anatomical gap between the electrode array and the auditory neurons in the inner ear. As a consequence, current devices are limited through (i) low frequency resolution, hence poor sound quality and (ii), strong signal amplification, hence high energy consumption responsible for significant battery costs and for impeding the development of fully implantable systems. Recent findings indicate that auditory nerve fibres can grow under neurotrophin stimulation towards the electrodes, which opens the door to address all issues simultaneously. NANOCI aims at developing a neuroprosthesis with a gapless interface to auditory nerve fibres. The neurites will be attracted and guided by an innovative, nanostructured gel matrix containing diffusible and surface-bound neurotrophic compounds towards the functionalized, neurotrophic electrode array surface. The long-lasting operation without interface degradation, reduced biofouling and improved conductivity will be achieved by nanostructuring the array surface using (i) various functional nanomaterials, including carbon nanotubes, combined with (ii) structuration methodologies such as ion implantation and sacrificial nanoparticle embedding in parylene, SOLID (solid on liquid deposition) encapsulation, and sonochemistry. Components will be validated using appropriate bioassays including human auditory neurons in vitro. In parallel, software models will be developed to exploit the bidirectional, gapless interface. Fusing all developments, an animal-grade, pilot nanoCI-device is manufactured and tested in vivo. This will allow to assess the feasibility of a future, cost-efficient, and fully implantable neuroprosthesis with substantially increased sound quality.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: HEALTH.2012.2.3.2-2 | Award Amount: 7.84M | Year: 2013

Extensive clinical and epidemiological data clearly shows that chronic periodontal disease (PD), the most prevalent infectious inflammatory disease of mankind, is strongly linked to systemic inflammatory diseases such as cardiovascular diseases (CVD) , rheumatoid arthritis (RA) , and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) . Taking into account that up to 30% of the adult population worldwide suffers from severe periodontitis , the impact of this disease on human health is immense and has been recognized by World Health Organization . Nevertheless, in many EU countries PD is a neglected disease, both by the population in general and health-care personnel. Often this negligence comes to the point that, like a hair-loss, the tooth-loss due to periodontitis is still considered as a normal inevitable event associated with aging. To combat this misconception and conceive novel approaches to prevent and/or treat CVD, RA, and COPD we will explore highly innovative ideas that these non-communicable diseases are at least aggravated, if not initiated, by periodontal infection. Results emanating from our project will: i) elucidate a relationship between the presence of specific periodontal pathogens and severity of systemic diseases; ii) show that extensive periodontal treatment improves clinical parameters of investigated systemic diseases; iii) reveal the impact of eradication of specific periodontal pathogen on the level of inflammatory markers; iv) develop novel, periodontal-pathogen specific bactericidal compounds based on periodontal glutaminyl cyclase (QC), the enzyme essential for these pathogens vitality. This will reduce mortality and ameliorated quality of life of CVD, RA, and COPD patients. All of these will be possible based on the knowledge of mechanisms beyond the causative links between specific pathogen driven periodontal disease and CVD, RA, and COPD revealed by research program outlined in this project.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-ITN-2008 | Award Amount: 5.18M | Year: 2009

New and recent developments have revolutionized the prostate cancer research and clinical arenas, requiring the next generation scientists to have comprehensive knowledge and expertise in basic, clinical and applied research. PRO-NEST offers young researchers a European integrated, multi-disciplinary training programme to become an independent and all-round scientist and team leader in (prostate) cancer research. This network is driven by recognised and experienced scientists from 17 academic and industrial partners. The joint PRO-NEST research programme focuses on the understanding of the molecular events responsible for the initiation and progression of prostate cancer as well as on the development of novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets, with the ultimate goal to improve the diagnosis, prognosis, treatment and prevention of this major European health problem. The fellows will strongly contribute to this programme by their individual research projects that will be carried out in a high standard and collaborative scientific infrastructure under the supervision of experts in the field. In this way, they will become technical specialists in a dedicated area of cancer research. The scientific and complementary skills of the fellows will be expanded and deepened by secondments and by theoretical and practical network-wide training courses on basic and clinical aspects of prostate cancer, biomarkers, technology, valorisation, scientific writing and presentation, project management, communication skills and job application skills. In an international conference entitled The European prostate cancer research floor on stage organised at the end of PRO-NEST, the fellows are given the opportunity to present themselves to potential coming academic and industrial employers. The expertise, state of the art tools and technological skills provided by each of the partners are competitive at the world scale, and form the comprehensive basis of top-level research and training in PRO-NEST. The available support from professional organizations and the existing collaborations in large research consortia ensures the successful realization of the PRO-NEST goals.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2013-ITN | Award Amount: 4.23M | Year: 2013

The MedPlant network will train young researchers in career enhancing approaches and techniques in biodiversity driven drug lead discovery, complimentary and entrepreneurial skills relevant for work in the pharmaceutical industry, regulatory bodies, NGOs and academia. The aim is to improve the students chances of employment and to strengthen Europes research base through a collaborative training network, whose capacities greatly exceed those of each individual partner institution. MedPlant will familiarise the students with a range of state-of-the-art methodologies in biodiversity driven lead discovery, and provide cross-disciplinary and intersectorial training through network-wide training activities, collaborations and secondments. Researchers will also learn to address scientific and non-scientific audiences by dissemination and outreach activities. The scientific aim of MedPlant is to develop new approaches and technologies for selection and sustainable use of biodiversity resources for lead discovery and to develop new plant derived leads. MedPlant consists of leading European research groups, private companies, and public and non-public organisations with complimentary knowledge in this area. Collectively the partners posess critical mass of expertise needed to provide excellent training in biodiversity driven lead discovery. The number of new drugs coming to the market is declining and interest in lead discovery from natural resources is seeing a revival. However, although methods for isolation and identification of natural products have advanced explosively in recent decades, methods for selection of potential leads have hardly developed. Hence, training of a new generation of researchers in the proposed innovative field of biodiversity driven lead discovery is both timely and relevant, as it will contribute directly to the economic development and future welfare of Europe and will significantly enhance the employment prospects of the participants.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2011.1.1 | Award Amount: 15.45M | Year: 2012

MobileCloud is Mobile Network \ Decentralized Computing \ Smart Storage offered as One Service On-Demand, Elastic and Pay-As-You-Go.The top-level objectives of the MobileCloud project are a) to develop a novel mobile network architecture and technologies, using proof-of-concept prototypes, to lead the way from current mobile networks to a fully cloud-based mobile communication system, b) to extend cloud computing to support on-demand and elastic provisioning of novel mobile services.MobileCloud will investigate, implement, and evaluate the technological foundations for that system to meet realtime performance, and support efficient and elastic use and sharing of radio access and mobile core network resources between operators. Mobile network functionalities such as baseband unit processing, mobility management and QoS control will run on the enhanced mobile cloud platform leveraging commodity hardware, which requires extensions towards higher decentralization and enhancing them to elastically scale up and down based on load.The end-to-end control and management orchestrates infrastructure and services across several technological domains: wireless, mobile core and data centers, providing guaranteed end-to-end SLAs and AAA as well as service mobility through the Follow-Me Cloud concept.Besides the technological aspects, MobileCloud will identify and evaluate overarching novel business models that support the exploitation of the mobile cloud in various multi-stakeholder scenarios. The MobileCloud architecture will be evaluated in realistic scenarios and with a set of concrete use-cases, based on applications such as mobile cloud enabled digital signage. The evaluation will be done from diverse viewpoints, exploiting the well-balanced and representative consortium including leading industry from the telecommunication as well as the cloud computing segments.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-EID | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2016 | Award Amount: 1.53M | Year: 2017

Cardiovascular (CV) disease is a main cause of death worldwide. During adulthood, ischemic heart disease leads to heart failure and perinatally, congenital heart defects are found in over 20% of deaths. Moreover, genetic or epigenetic factors altering development can have an impact much later in life. These facts underscore the need of a better understanding of the genetic and environmental factors that influence CV development. An important way to increase our knowledge is by visualizing cardiac development in vivo. Recent advance in microscopy allows monitoring CV development at a cellular level in organisms such as the zebrafish model. Particularly revolutionary has been the development of light sheet microscopy (LSM). We want to further exploit LSM for in vivo manipulation of cells in the embryonic zebrafish heart and measure with high precision biophysical parameters, by introducing novel features to LSM such as optical tweezers. High throughput cardiac imaging protocols for zebrafish larvae suitable for screenings will be set up. We will develop softwares to enhance resolution of acquisition, large dataset handling and image-processing. The aim is to generate a toolbox to be implemented into existing software packages allowing a complete modeling of zebrafish cardiac morphogenesis. We will adapt LSM for adult zebrafish hearts to study cardiac regeneration and mouse heart development at cellular resolution. Each Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) will develop their own technology to solve a biological problem at the frontier of knowledge. ESRs will receive multidisciplinary (CV development, physics, biocomputing) as well as intersectorial (academic research, SMEs, large companies) training and will achieve unique skills on Microscopy and Image analysis allowing them to interrogate questions on cardiac development and regeneration. Their profile will be at the interface of a bioengineer and a life science researcher filling a currently existing gap on the market.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: SGA-RIA | Phase: FETFLAGSHIP | Award Amount: 89.00M | Year: 2016

Understanding the human brain is one of the greatest scientific challenges of our time. Such an understanding can provide profound insights into our humanity, leading to fundamentally new computing technologies, and transforming the diagnosis and treatment of brain disorders. Modern ICT brings this prospect within reach. The HBP Flagship Initiative (HBP) thus proposes a unique strategy that uses ICT to integrate neuroscience data from around the world, to develop a unified multi-level understanding of the brain and diseases, and ultimately to emulate its computational capabilities. The goal is to catalyze a global collaborative effort. During the HBPs first Specific Grant Agreement (SGA1), the HBP Core Project will outline the basis for building and operating a tightly integrated Research Infrastructure, providing HBP researchers and the scientific Community with unique resources and capabilities. Partnering Projects will enable independent research groups to expand the capabilities of the HBP Platforms, in order to use them to address otherwise intractable problems in neuroscience, computing and medicine in the future. In addition, collaborations with other national, European and international initiatives will create synergies, maximizing returns on research investment. SGA1 covers the detailed steps that will be taken to move the HBP closer to achieving its ambitious Flagship Objectives.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2016 | Award Amount: 3.97M | Year: 2017

MMbio will bridge the classically separate disciplines of Chemistry and Biology by assembling leading experts from academia and non-academic partners (industry, technology transfer & science communication) to bring about systems designed to interfere therapeutically with gene expression in living cells. Expertise in nucleic acid synthesis, its molecular recognition and chemical reactivity is combined with drug delivery, cellular biology and experimental medicine. This project represents a concerted effort to make use of a basic and quantitative understanding of chemical interactions to develop and deliver oligonucleotide molecules of utility for therapy. Our chemical biology approach to this field is ambitious in its breadth and represents a unqiues opportunity to educate young scientists across sectorial and disciplinary barriers. Training will naturally encompass a wide range of skills, requiring a joint effort of chemists and biologists to introduce young researchers in a structured way to and array of research methodologies that no single research grouping could provide. The incorporation of early-stage and later stag ebiotechnology enterprises ensures that commercialisation of methodologies as well as the drug development process is covered in this ITN. We hope that MMBio will train scientists able to understand both the biological problem and the chemistry that holds the possible solution and develop original experimental approaches to stimulate European academic and commercial success in this area.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: PHC-24-2015 | Award Amount: 18.47M | Year: 2016

The management of febrile patients is one of the most common and important problems facing healthcare providers. Distinction between bacterial infections and trivial viral infection on clinical grounds is unreliable, and as a result innumerable patients worldwide undergo hospitalization, invasive investigation and are treated with antibiotics for presumed bacterial infection when, in fact, they are suffering from self-resolving viral infection. We aim to improve diagnosis and management of febrile patients, by application of sophisticated phenotypic, transcriptomic (genomic, proteomic) and bioinformatic approaches to well characterised large-scale, multi-national patient cohorts already recruited with EU funding. We will identify, and validate promising new discriminators of bacterial and viral infection including transcriptomic and clinical phenotypic markers. The most accurate markers distinguishing bacterial and viral infection will be evaluated in prospective cohorts of patients reflecting the different health care settings across European countries. By linking sophisticated new genomic and proteomic approaches to careful clinical phenotyping, and building on pilot data from our previous studies we will develop a comprehensive management plan for febrile patients which can be rolled out in healthcare systems across Europe.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: ICT-29-2016 | Award Amount: 5.11M | Year: 2017

X-ray mammography is the mainstay of breast cancer screening programs. It is estimated that between 20 - 50% of abnormal screening mammograms will prove to be negative. The paradigm in diagnosis is to establish whether a lesion is benign or malignant. All the imaging techniques conventionally used today diagnostic x-ray, ultrasonography and magnetic resonance imaging have many limitations, leading to multiple and/or repeat imaging and often unnecessary biopsy. This leads to physical, psychological and economic burdens felt at individual, familial and societal levels. With an aging population, high incidence of breast cancer and tightening health-care budgets, there is an urgent requirement for a non-invasive method for in-depth assessment of the screening-detected lesion. In PAMMOTH we will showcase such an imager, combining photoacoustic and ultrasound imaging. With the use of quantitative image reconstruction of multi-wavelength photoacoustic data, information is gained of the vascular and oxygen status of the lesion relating to tumor physiology and function. From the ultrasound part, we derive ultrasound reflection from the lesion in a manner superior to conventional breast ultrasonography, relating to anatomic features and extent of a tumor. This information will enable the radiologist to come to a diagnosis accurately and rapidly without the use of contrast agents, without pain and discomfort to the patient, while being cost-effective and not requiring complex infrastructure. Four excellent academic groups, three dynamic SMEs, and a hospital come together with support from key stakeholders in an Advisory group, to push beyond the state-of-the-art in science and technology to achieve the PAMMOTH imager. For the SMEs, in addition to tremendous improvements in individual product lines, the new integrated diagnostic imaging instrument opens up completely new market opportunities. We expect PAMMOTH to have a strong economic and clinical impact.


Keller I.,Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology | Seehausen O.,Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology | Seehausen O.,University of Bern
Molecular Ecology | Year: 2012

Ecological speciation is defined as the emergence of reproductive isolation as a direct or indirect consequence of divergent ecological adaptation. Several empirical examples of ecological speciation have been reported in the literature which very often involve adaptation to biotic resources. In this review, we investigate whether adaptation to different thermal habitats could also promote speciation and try to assess the importance of such processes in nature. Our survey of the literature identified 16 animal and plant systems where divergent thermal adaptation may underlie (partial) reproductive isolation between populations or may allow the stable coexistence of sibling taxa. In many of the systems, the differentially adapted populations have a parapatric distribution along an environmental gradient. Isolation often involves extrinsic selection against locally maladapted parental or hybrid genotypes, and additional pre- or postzygotic barriers may be important. Together, the identified examples strongly suggest that divergent selection between thermal environments is often strong enough to maintain a bimodal genotype distribution upon secondary contact. What is less clear from the available data is whether it can also be strong enough to allow ecological speciation in the face of gene flow through reinforcement-like processes. It is possible that intrinsic features of thermal gradients or the genetic basis of thermal adaptation make such reinforcement-like processes unlikely but it is equally possible that pertinent systems are understudied. Overall, our literature survey highlights (once again) the dearth of studies that investigate similar incipient species along the continuum from initial divergence to full reproductive isolation and studies that investigate all possible reproductive barriers in a given system. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: ENV.2007.1.1.5.2. | Award Amount: 8.54M | Year: 2008

As the evidence for human induced climate change becomes clearer, so too does the realization that its effects will have impacts on natural environment and socio-economic systems. Some regions are more vulnerable than others, both to physical changes and to the consequences for ways of life. The proposal will assess the impacts of a changing climate on the quantity and quality of water in mountain regions. Modeling techniques will be used to project the influence of climatic change on the major determinants of river discharge at various time and space scales. Regional climate models will provide the essential information on shifting precipitation and temperature patterns, and snow, ice, and biosphere models will feed into hydrological models in order to assess the changes in seasonality, amount, and incidence of extreme events in various catchment areas. Environmental and socio-economic responses to changes in hydrological regimes will be analyzed in terms of hazards, aquatic ecosystems, hydropower, tourism, agriculture, and the health implications of changing water quality. Attention will also be devoted to the interactions between land use/land cover changes, and changing or conflicting water resource demands. Adaptation and policy options will be elaborated on the basis of the model results. Specific environmental conditions of mountain regions will be particularly affected by rapidly rising temperatures, prolonged droughts and extreme precipitation. The methodological developments gained from a European mountain focus will be used to address water issues in regions whose economic conditions and political structures may compromise capacities to respond and adapt, such as the Andes and Central Asia where complex problems resulting from asymmetric power relations and less robust institutions arise. Methodologies developed to study European mountains and their institutional frameworks will identify vulnerabilities and be used to evaluate a range of policy options.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: ENV.2008.2.1.4.4. | Award Amount: 10.33M | Year: 2009

Our capacity to effectively sustain biodiversity across spatial and temporal scales is an essential component of European environmental sustainability. Anthropogenic and environmental pressures on biodiversity act differently at different scales. Consequently, effective conservation responses to these threats must explicitly consider the scale at which effects occur, and therefore it is crucial that administrative levels and planning scales match the relevant biological scales. The SCALES project will provide the scientific and policy research needed to guide scale-dependent management actions. It will assess and model the scaling properties of natural and anthropogenic processes and the resulting scale-dependencies of the impacts of these pressures on various levels of biodiversity from genes to ecosystem functions. To facilitate these assessment methods for upscaling and downscaling biodiversity data will be reviewed and improved. SCALES will further evaluate the effectiveness of management and policy responses to biodiversity loss in terms of their scale-relevance and will develop new tools for matching their scales to relevant biological scales. Finally, a resulting methodological and policy framework for enhancing the effectiveness of European biodiversity conservation across scales will be developed and tested. This framework focuses on networks of protected areas and regional connectivity. This framework will be disseminated to a wide range of relevant users via a web based support tool kit (SCALE-TOOL) and by means of further dissemination channels, such as conferences, publications, and the mass media.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CPCSA | Phase: ICT-2013.9.9 | Award Amount: 72.73M | Year: 2013

Understanding the human brain is one of the greatest challenges facing 21st century science. If we can rise to the challenge, we can gain profound insights into what makes us human, develop new treatments for brain diseases and build revolutionary new computing technologies. Today, for the first time, modern ICT has brought these goals within sight. The goal of the Human Brain Project, part of the FET Flagship Programme, is to translate this vision into reality, using ICT as a catalyst for a global collaborative effort to understand the human brain and its diseases and ultimately to emulate its computational capabilities. The Human Brain Project will last ten years and will consist of a ramp-up phase (from month 1 to month 36) and subsequent operational phases.\nThis Grant Agreement covers the ramp-up phase. During this phase the strategic goals of the project will be to design, develop and deploy the first versions of six ICT platforms dedicated to Neuroinformatics, Brain Simulation, High Performance Computing, Medical Informatics, Neuromorphic Computing and Neurorobotics, and create a user community of research groups from within and outside the HBP, set up a European Institute for Theoretical Neuroscience, complete a set of pilot projects providing a first demonstration of the scientific value of the platforms and the Institute, develop the scientific and technological capabilities required by future versions of the platforms, implement a policy of Responsible Innovation, and a programme of transdisciplinary education, and develop a framework for collaboration that links the partners under strong scientific leadership and professional project management, providing a coherent European approach and ensuring effective alignment of regional, national and European research and programmes. The project work plan is organized in the form of thirteen subprojects, each dedicated to a specific area of activity.\nA significant part of the budget will be used for competitive calls to complement the collective skills of the Consortium with additional expertise.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: ENV.2011.2.1.4-2 | Award Amount: 7.72M | Year: 2012

The aim of CASCADE is to obtain a better understanding of sudden ecosystem shifts that may lead to major losses in biodiversity and ecosystem services, and to define measures that can be used to prevent such shifts. The focus of CASCADE is explicitly on drylands as being one of the most fragile and threatened ecosystems in Europe. CASCADE will investigate the historical evolution of dryland ecosystems in six Mediterranean study sites, and improve understanding of the biogeochemical mechanisms underlying sudden and catastrophic shifts through a combination of experimentation and modeling. Experiments in laboratory and field will be used to assess the biogeochemical processes that are thought to underlie regime shifts in drylands, to study the interplay between competition and facilitation, and to assess the effects of biotic and abiotic processes on vegetation structure and composition. Field surveys will identify changes in ecosystem structure and functions that indicate approaching or crossing of tipping points, link these findings to experimental results, and assess potentials for restoration. Models will be developed to describe regime shifts in the studied drylands in terms of changes in vegetation composition, abundance and spatial patterning. Based on both experimentation and modelling, CASCADE will develop management schemes for sustainable resource use and conservation of ecosystem services. By combining physical with socio-economic modeling, measures will be defined that work from an ecological as well as a socio-economic perspective. The results of CASCADE will be made accessible to natural resource and biodiversity managers, policy makers, and other audiences, using a variety of dissemination methods such as reports, booklets, newsletters, meetings, videos, and TV. All project results and recommendations will be stored and made accessible to the public by developing a web-based harmonized CASCADE information system (CASCADIS).


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-TP | Phase: KBBE.2012.2.5-01 | Award Amount: 11.91M | Year: 2013

The AQUAVALENS consortium has brought together SMEs, Industries, Universities and Research Institutes with the mission of protecting the health of European Citizens from contaminated drinking water and water used in food processing. We will achieve this by developing sustainable technologies to enable water system managers whether in large or small water systems or within food growers or manufacturers to better control the safety of their water supplies. The work of the project is divided into four main clusters of work packages that sequentially lead to the development of appropriate technologies. These four clusters are: 1. Platform targets, 2. Platform development, 3. Field studies in European drinking water systems, and 4. Improving Public Health through safer water. In cluster 1 we shall generate new knowledge on the molecular genetics of viral, bacterial and parasitic waterborne pathogens. This will enable us to identify gene targets for the identification, and characterisation of these pathogens, that will also enable the determination of their virulence for humans. In cluster 2 we shall use the knowledge gained to develop new technologies that integrate sample preparation and detection into a single platform. These platforms will then be subject to a rigorous process of validation and standardisation. In cluster 3 we will use the validated platforms to undertake a series of field studies in large and small drinking water systems, and in food production. These field studies will generate new knowledge about the risk to public health from waterborne pathogens in Europe and also test the value of the technologies in the field. Finally in cluster 4 we test how these technologies can be used to protect human health, though improving the effectiveness of Water Safety Plans, adaptation to climate change, and control of outbreaks of infectious disease. We will also determine the sustainability and potential economic impacts of these technologies.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: HEALTH.2010.2.4.1-7 | Award Amount: 7.74M | Year: 2011

Over the last 40 years, treatment for childhood and adolescent cancer has improved greatly; 5- year survival after childhood cancer is now 80% in developed countries. Approximately 1 individual in 750 of young adults is now a childhood cancer survivor. Epidemiologic data on the number of European childhood cancer long-term survivors are not available, but estimates suggest a number between 300,000 and 500,000. However, significant differences in both survival and services for long-term follow-up exist across Europe. Recent research from North America has shown that the frequency of late complications continues to rise as the length of follow-up increases with, so far, no evidence of a plateau of incidence. Some late complications of treatment lead to chronic ill health or disability, and thereby constitute a significant burden both on individuals and families, and on health services and society. However, there is considerable opportunity for early identification and appropriate management of complications to improve the survivors health and quality of life, and to maximise efficient use of health services. PanCareSurFup proposes an integrated group of research and service projects to meet these needs. PanCareSurFup will, through cooperation with existing registries and databases, collect data on the risks of complications of cancer treatments to create a retrospective European cohort. Using this cohort research will centre on cardiac toxicity, second cancers and late mortality, with service projects based on a study of models of follow-up and transition to adult care. PanCareSurFup will describe risks of complications of treatment received. Risk prediction and guidelines for care and education will be based on our research and existing evidence, and tailored for each country. The expected benefit is to provide every European childhood cancer survivor with better access to care and better long-term health.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: ERC-SG | Phase: ERC-SG-LS1 | Award Amount: 970.10K | Year: 2008

During initial stages a cell accumulating tumor-promoting mutations is usually surrounded by normal cells. Current cancer models do not incorporate this transition from a single cell to a field of cells, although it is probably critical, since the behavior of an individual tumor cell within the cell community has to be dictated by the hard-wired genetic program that controls its aberrant cell biology and modulated by the plastic interactions with neighboring normal cells. Study of model organisms, such as yeast, C. elegans, or Drosophila, has historically pioneered crucial contributions to processes with important implications in neoplasia. Recent work in Drosophila has proposed a role for cell-competition and super-competition in early stages of cancer formation. Cell competition is a type of cell-cell interaction in which more competitive cells replace less competitive cells (Morata and Ripoll, 1975; Moreno et al. 2002). During the last year, my laboratory has performed the first microarrays to find genes involved in cell competition, as well as developed an in vitro system for cell competition. The genes identified in the microarrays are not downstream dMyc but are rather induced at the boundaries where cell competition takes place and seem to be upstream apoptosis induction. The new genes will be studied in vivo in Drosophila and in vitro with RNAi. We will also perform other microarray settings to subdivide the genes in different categories. Thanks to the complete genome sequences of both Drosophila and humans, those genes could be used to find human homologues that could serve as novel markers and targets for the detection and/or treatment of cancer at earlier stages. The possible use of cell competition as a tool for cell replacement will also be pursued. We expect to patent at least two or three of the novel uncharacterized genes with human homologs.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: HEALTH.2010.2.4.1-6 | Award Amount: 4.07M | Year: 2011

Lung cancer is the most common cancer fatality in Europe (335000 deaths/yr). Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) consists 85% of the cases, with 5 yr survival <15%. Hence, this proposal focuses on the urgent need for better NSCLC therapies. This is a European problem at societal and scientific level: better therapies are needed to keep the spiralling costs of European health systems under control, and the required expertise (basic science, clinical, biotech, experimental therapeutics) is scattered over the EU. Because of the diversity of the NSCLC problem (and the small/medium size of the project) we are focusing on two particular problems: 1) to find solutions for the currently clinically observed resistance problems with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) targeting therapies (10% of NSCLC patients), and 2) to find a solution for the clinically unmet need for NSCLC patients with KRAS mutations (30% of NSCLC), for whom there virtually is no cure (besides very modest effects of platinum based therapies). Based on this focus, we assembled an EU wide consortium which joins excellent expertise at both the basic science (EGFR family, KRAS), clinical (involvement of several clinical study leaders) and biotech level (involvement of academic and SME biotech component). We aim: 1) To identify novel drug targets for the improvement of EGFR targeting therapies and for the development of therapies for K-Ras mutant patients (via genome wide RNAi screening and kinome/secretome profiling). 2) To validate these targets in innovative mouse models that replicate the clinical problem, and in patient materials (tissue and serum) 3) To develop novel therapeutics based on the unique expertise of our partners: anti-receptor DARPins (designed ankyrin repeat proteins), monoclonals or soluble receptors targeting the BROADER EGFR family (to block compensatory signalling), and protein kinase inhibitors The results will have important basic scientific, clinical and economic impact


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: ERC-SG | Phase: ERC-SG-LS4 | Award Amount: 1.50M | Year: 2014

Myocardial infarction (MI) leads to cardiomyocyte death and accumulation of myofibroblasts (MFs) at the site of injury, which produce large amounts of extracellular matrix (ECM), generating a scar. Initially, cardiac fibrosis protects from ventricular wall rupture, but subsequent myocardial remodelling causes heart failure, representing a leading cause of death in Europe. While MFs play a central role in cardiac fibrosis, there is confusion on their origin, a lack of specific markers and the existence of a unique MF type is debatable. Different MF might reveal distinct characteristics regarding ECM production, contractility, and autophagy, making them more or less pernicious. While in humans cardiac fibrosis is irreversible, other vertebrates have a remarkable capacity to regenerate damaged tissue. We recently established a zebrafish MI model and found that cardiac fibrosis is reversible and occurs as an intermediate step during regeneration. Here, the endogenous mechanisms of MFs and ECM regression will be explored. In addition, MF origin, types and fate will be characterized and manipulated to improve regeneration. As in mammals, cardiac injury elicits an inflammatory response in the zebrafish. The regenerative capacity of a species has been directly linked to features of its immune system, but surprisingly little is known on zebrafish leukocyte subtypes. We will study the role of macrophages and particularly analyse a subtype, which accumulates in the outer mesothelial layer of the heart, the epicardium. Epicardial derived cells play a key role as a trophic factor and progenitor cell source, and a first step towards regeneration includes the reestablishment of the epicardial layer. The zebrafish will offer a screening platform for small molecules triggering its activation. In sum, the project will increase the knowledge on the molecular and cellular basis of fibrosis regression, provide novel MF markers and identify new drugs to enhance cardiac regeneration.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-CSA-Infra | Phase: INFRA-2007-2.2-01 | Award Amount: 8.06M | Year: 2008

European clinical research needs an integrated and distributed infrastructure able to provide efficient support to multinational clinical trials, taking advantage of the European population and competencies, unlocking latent expertise and patients scattered across the EU member states. ECRIN (European Clinical Research Infrastructures Network) is designed to bridge the fragmentation of clinical research in Europe through the connection of national networks of clinical research centres and clinical trial units. Participants are currently Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the EORTC. It will provide integrated, one-stop shop services to investigators and sponsors in multinational studies (patient recruitment and investigation, data management, GMP manufacturing of biotherapy products, quality assurance, monitoring, ethics, regulatory affairs and adverse event reporting). With this objective, the preparation phase will consist of - WP2: selection of a legal status and of the governance structure - WP3: agreement on a financial plan leading to a long-term sustainability during the construction step and the operation phase - WP4: survey on needs in terms of GMP facilities for biopharmaceuticals and biotherapy, and their design. - WP5: education programme for multinational clinical studies - WP6: extension to other EU member states - WP7: capacity building to help national networks fulfil the sponsors tasks - WP8: update and upgrade of the quality assurance system - WP9: internal and external communication - WP10: accreditation of data centres - WP11: support to pilot projects Users will be investigators and sponsors in the academic and SME sector. Participants will be the national coordination of clinical research infrastructures, and national ministries and funding agencies in order to reach an agreement ensuring the long-term sustainability of the infrastructure.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2015-ETN | Award Amount: 3.07M | Year: 2015

The brain barriers function to protect the central nervous system (CNS) from neurotoxic compounds. By the same traits they unfortunately block delivery of drugs to the CNS thus hindering proper diagnosis and effective treatment of neurological disorders including Alzheimers disease and multiple sclerosis. The unusual complexity of the brain barriers has severely hampered progress in the market of CNS targeting therapeutics. BtRAIN bridges this gap by creating particular knowledge on vertebrate brain barrier signature genes and their specific roles in regulating brain barrier function in development, health, ageing and disease. Brain barrier signature genes will be identified by combining cross-species and cross-system brain barrier transcriptome analysis with dedicated bioinformatics. These data will be made available for brain barrier datamining in the userfriendly online platform BBBHub. Within BtRAIN, the side-by-side comparison of a unique and broad armamentarium of different vertebrate in vitro and in vivo brain barrier models will allow to develop and validate particular in vitro brain barrier models that are suited to reliably predict brain barrier function in vivo. Combined with an accompanying in depth analysis of the pathological alterations of the brain barriers during neurological disorders BtRAIN will create unique knowledge to overcome the unmet need for the development of diagnostic and therapeutic tools able to breach the brain barriers. In BtRAIN 12 academic, 6 non-academic partners and 1 European network will jointly train young researchers at unique interfaces of brain barrier research, bioinformatics, business development and science communication for an international research or entrepreneur career. To create this expert pool is the motivation for the involved partners as it will advance the Euopean capacity to bring innovative approaches to the untapped potential of the CNS therapeutic market.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: COMPET-05-2015 | Award Amount: 1.69M | Year: 2016

The MiARD project will use a wide range of data sets from the Rosetta mission (including the Philae lander) to refine the 3D topography of specific areas of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, to study the activity and changes caused by subliming volatiles as the comet nears the Sun, to make inferences about the nature of the top 10 cm of the surface of the comet, to assess whether the landing site on the comet is representative of the entire comet, and to create an improved outgassing model. The new knowledge will be used to improve models of cometary orbits and dust generation in order to allow better hazard assessment. A strong emphasis will be placed upon public communication activities, making full use of the visual nature of the data products to be produced by the project.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: REV-INEQUAL-07-2016 | Award Amount: 5.00M | Year: 2017

IMAJINE aims to formulate new integrative policy mechanisms to enable European, national and regional government agencies to more effectively address territorial inequalities within the European Union. It responds to evidence that spatial inequalities within the EU are increasing, contrary to the principle of territorial cohesion embedded as a third dimension of the European Social Model in the Treaty of Lisbon, and is particularly timely in examining the geographically differentiated impacts of the post-2008 economic crisis and the adoption of austerity policies. IMAJINE uniquely proposes to address the problem of territorial inequalities through an inter-disciplinary and multi-scalar approach that integrates perspectives from economics, human geography, political science and sociology and combines macro-scale econometric analysis and the generation and analysis of new quantitative survey data with regionally-focused qualitative empirical case study research in 11 EU member states; delivered by a multi-disciplinary and multi-national consortium. As such the research builds on the conceptual and methodological state of the art in several disciplines and advances conceptual understanding and the empirical knowledge base by producing new primary data, applying new analytical tests to secondary data and integrating the results along with insights from relational geographical theory and the concept of spatial justice. In particular, the centrality of spatial justice emphasizes the political as well as economic dimensions of territorial inequalities, and IMAJINE will move beyond existing knowledge by considering relationships between measured and perceived inequalities, models of multi-level policy-making and public service delivery, and support for territorial autonomy movements. IMAJINE will further translate these scientific insights into policy applications through participatory scenario building exercises with governance and civil society stakeholders.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2011-ITN | Award Amount: 3.94M | Year: 2012

Novel statistical methodology promises to greatly facilitate development of approaches for personalised medicine. While state-of-the-art statistical techniques have already advanced clinical trials and diagnostic/prognostic studies as the major source of evidence in clinical medicine, increasing availability of molecular techniques holds an even greater promise. However, for leveraging such information for individualised diagnosis/prognosis, and treatment, the corresponding complex structures have to be adequately modelled and results have to be aggregated by corresponding advanced meta-analytic approaches. The main goal of the project is to establish a joint research-training programme by an interdisciplinary and intersectorial network for providing early-stage researchers with deep insight into cutting-edge statistical methodology. The research area of statistical methodology for diagnostic/prognostic and therapeutic studies and systematic reviews is well suited for early-stage training purposes, as it comprises a wide range of theoretical and applied biostatistical tools that need to be mastered, further developed, and translated into clinical research and practice. Europe-wide exchanges will also be ensured to meet the need for mobility in todays globalised society. Further career relevant knowledge and skills will be provided through a structured design of education. The early-stage researchers will be trained according to an individually supervised, comprehensive and complementary programme. The structure of these activities is based on the training-through-research approach of the network. The collaboration of leading biostatistical experts will stimulate the discovery of promising statistical methodology useful for the design and analysis of clinical research. The integration of full industry partners and clinical advisors in the network enables optimal conditions for research driven by application, which will ensure tangible benefits of the programme.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: HEALTH.2011.2.2.2-1 | Award Amount: 7.76M | Year: 2011

Subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH) is a common condition (8-18%) among European older men and women. Although by definition SCH comprises biochemically mild thyroid hormone deficiency without overt symptoms, it is a likely contributor to multiple problems in older age. Thyroid hormone has multiple pleiotropic effects on numerous physiological systems, including the vascular tree, heart, skeletal muscle and brain. Therefore, thyroxine substitution to overcome thyroid hormone deficiency has the potential to give multi-system benefits to older people with SCH. Small studies have reported reduced atherosclerosis and improved cardiac function with thyroxine replacement, but no large clinical trials have been performed. Therefore the available evidence is limited, leading to major variations in guidelines and clinical practice, with uncertainty regarding the indications for screening and treatment. We propose a multicentre randomised placebo-controlled trial to assess the impact of thyroxine replacement in 3,000 older adults with persisting SCH (excluding those in whom it is a temporary phenomenon who are less likely to benefit). We will include older men and women with a wide age range and of varying health status. Outcomes include cardiovascular events, health-related quality of life, muscle strength and executive cognitive function over 3-years of follow-up. We have the support of patient advocacy groups and a consortium with the wide range of expertise and experience required to conduct large-scale multicentre clinical trials. The proposal fits with the call, exploring the multi-system and quality-of-life benefits to older people of a tailored approach to management of SCH. This clinical trial should definitively clarify whether thyroxine treatment for SCH provides benefits that are relevant for patients. This trial will provide strong evidence with the potential to improve clinical practice, reduce healthcare costs and promote healthy ageing of European older adults.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: NMP-2008-1.1-1 | Award Amount: 3.88M | Year: 2009

The aim of the project is to develop a new paradigm for the simultaneous cogeneration of energy and bioremediation using electro-active bacteria. A new nano-structured transducer that efficiently connects to these bacteria will be developed, aiming to the production of devices with superior performance across a range of applications including microbial fuel cells, whole cell biosensors and bioreactors. Elucidation of mechanisms by which bacteria transport electrons to solid electrodes is crucial. In this way, well-defined surfaces of single crystals and multilayered gold deposits on quartz elements will be used to resolve the interfacial electrochemistry of both, bacteria and isolated bacterial surface redox molecules. The spatial distribution of cytochromes in the cell surface will be determined by AFM and those involved in the electric connection to electrodes will be studied in detail. Nanoparticle-containing molecular bridges will be designed and constructed to connect electro-active bacteria to the electrode. Afterwards, tethered bacterial biofilms will be used in the development of technological application including reactors for the simultaneous cleaning of wastewater and the generation of clean energy.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2012-ITN | Award Amount: 3.45M | Year: 2013

In vivo Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy and Spectroscopic Imaging (MRS(I)) are unique, indispensable techniques for non-invasive metabolic imaging. Important areas where MRS(I) can make a difference are oncology and neurology, where metabolic changes due to, e.g., tumour formation, can be detected earlier and more sensitively than with morphological imaging modalities alone. Despite its huge proven potential, MRS(I) is not yet a routine clinical tool operated solely by clinicians. This requires reliable automation of complex procedures, strengthening standardisation and quality control. This in turn requires significant research progress and training of a new generation of scientists. Specifically, TRANSACT aims at: - Training 13 young scientists as future leaders in the field of MRS(I), capable of contributing with essential new developments such as spectral quality assurance criteria and standards, and optimal exploitation of complementarities between multi-modal magnetic resonance imaging modalities. - Pursuing research advances in theoretical and practical aspects of MRS, in particular experimental design by quantum mechanical simulation, data acquisition, data processing, data fusion and biomedical applications in oncology and neurology. - Establishing Europe as leader in the field within three sectors: academia, industry, clinic. TRANSACT links 10 academic and 4 industrial partners with complementary expertise in basic science, clinical research and information technology. Through a detailed training programme consisting of individual research projects, well-targeted secondments, scientific network-wide workshops, transferable skills courses, and individualized progress follow-up, TRANSACT will ensure a successful outcome in terms of career perspectives for the recruited researchers, continued collaboration between the partners and a more structured doctoral training in this field.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: SSH.2013.4.3-3 | Award Amount: 3.35M | Year: 2014

The latter half of the 20th century saw a successful international effort to reduce tariffs. These achievements, however, were undone by the subsequent proliferation of non-tariff measures (NTMs) to limit international trade and investment. These measures take a variety of forms and include safety regulations, environmental standards, and corporate tax incentives, all of which influence both trade and investment. This proposal brings together a team of world-class researchers from academia, policy organizations, and the private sector to offer a comprehensive and unified approach to describing and measuring these NTMs and their impact on a variety of social outcomes. The first goal of the project is to extend the state of the art of NTM measurement by collecting existing NTM measures, identifying key NTMs not yet measured, and filling those gaps. A key aspect of this is recognition of the ways in which NTMs interact with one another. The second goal is to use these improved measures to estimate the effects of NTMs on a variety of social and economic outcomes, including their impact on income and inequality in the EU, their role in promoting sustainable growth in developing countries, the effects they have on technological growth, and the frictions they create in the global supply chain. This phase also includes an impact analysis of the likely effects of NTM liberalization. Thus, the project will produce both improved understanding of NTMs and their effects, allow for more meaningful policy recommendations, and provide an innovative data set ideal for continued work on international trade and investment policy. The proposed medium-scale focused research project Productivity, Non-Tariff Measures and Openness (PRONTO) promises new and better data, better methodologies, and better understanding of the impact of NTMs on international investment and trade. Emphasis is placed on policy relevance and data availability.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: ENV.2010.2.1.4-1 | Award Amount: 9.23M | Year: 2010

FunDivEUROPE (FUNctional significance of forest bioDIVersity in EUROPE) proposes to quantify the effects of forest biodiversity on ecosystem function and services in major European forest types in the main bioclimatic regions of Europe. FunDivEUROPE will be based on four scientific platforms and seven cross-cutting Work Packages. The project will combine a global network of tree diversity experiments (Experimental Platform) with a newly designed network of observational plots in six focal regions within Europe (Exploratory Platform). Additionally, the project will integrate an in-depth analysis of inventory-based datasets of existing forest monitoring networks to extend the scope to larger spatial and temporal scales (Inventory Platform). FunDivEUROPE will thus combine the strengths of various scientific approaches to explore and quantify the significance of forest biodiversity for a very large range of ecosystem processes and ecosystem services. Using modeling and state-of-the-art techniques for quantitative synthesis, the project will integrate information gained from the different platforms to assess the performance of pure and mixed species stands under changing climate. In addition to the three research platforms, FunDivEUROPE will set up a Knowledge Transfer Platform in order to foster communication, aggregation and synthesis of individual findings in the Work Packages and communication with stakeholders, policy makers and the wider public. The information gained should thus enable forest owners, forest managers and forest policy makers to adapt policies and management for sustainable use of forest ecosystems in a changing environment, capitalizing on the potential effects of biodiversity for ecosystem functioning. The experiences gained within FunDivEUROPE will finally allow contributing to the development of the European Long-Term Ecosystem Research Network, complementing existing forest observation and monitoring networks.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-CA | Phase: NMP-2007-1.3-5 | Award Amount: 3.22M | Year: 2008

Recent technological advances allow the targeted production of objects and materials in the nanoscale (smaller than 100 nm). Nanomaterials have chemical, physical and bioactive characteristics, which are different from those of larger entities of the same materials. Nanoparticles can pass through body barriers. This is interesting for medical applications, but it raises concerns about their health and environmental impact. The objective of the NanoImpactNet is to create a scientific basis to ensure the safe and responsible development of engineered nanoparticles and nanotechnology-based materials and products, and to support the definition of regulatory measures and implementation of legislation in Europe. It includes a strong two-way communication to ensure efficient dissemination of information to stakeholders and the European Commission, while at the same time obtaining input from the stakeholders about their needs and concerns. The work plan shows six work packages (WPs: Human hazards and exposures, Hazards and fate of nanomaterials in the environment, Impact assessment, Communication, Integration and nomenclature, and Coordination and management). The work plan will be implemented over four years. Discussions about strategies and methodologies will be initiated through well-prepared workshops covering the WP topics. External researchers and stakeholders will be invited to participate. After these workshops, the researchers will collaborate to produce thorough reports and sets of guidelines reflecting the consensus reached. All of the leading European research groups with activities in nanosafety, nanorisk assessment, and nanotoxicology are represented in NanoImpactNet. All exposure routes, major disease classes and impact assessment approaches are represented within the network. It will coordinate activities within Europe. It will help implement the EU Actionplan for Nanotechnology and support a responsible and safe development of nanotechnologies in Europe.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: HEALTH.2013.1.2-1 | Award Amount: 7.83M | Year: 2014

Background: Hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia (HH) is a potentially lethal disease caused by over functioning beta cells derived from the pancreatic islets of Langerhans. Lethal HH and brain damage is a problem especially in infants with congenital HH. Current therapeutic approaches are associated with severe side effects/morbidity (diabetes, exocrine pancreas insufficiency etc.) considered acceptable in relation to the lethal outcome of HH although massively reducing quality of life and also life expectancy. Aims and objectives: In order to significantly improve therapy of this awful disorder, we propose to develop a simultaneous imaging/therapy platform allowing diagnostic imaging as well as image guided surgical, photodynamic or radiopeptide therapy to selectively resect/destroy diseased beta cells. This platform will enable delivery of patient-individual tailored therapy, increasing cure rate while significantly reducing or even avoiding side effects. The platform will integrate information from pre-clinical imaging for optimal therapy planning with intra-operative imaging for image guided surgery. By implementation of extended field optical coherence tomography, information on a histopathological level will allow increased precision of therapy. Highly innovative photodynamic therapy will enable selective (endoscopic) destruction of diseased beta cells without resection of pancreatic tissue. Outcome: Our highly-innovative integrated imaging/therapy (theranostic) platform will allow diagnosis and monitoring of disease, support and guide therapeutic intervention, predict outcome of intervention and individual prognosis. This technology will massively improve therapy, especially in infants, by improving cure rates while significantly reducing morbidity for improved quality of life and increased life expectancy. We will contribute to the goals of the International Rare Diseases Research Consortium (IRDiRC): 200 new therapies.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-IRSES | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2009-IRSES | Award Amount: 64.80K | Year: 2010

The core of this project can be shortly (and roughly) described as project in Geometric Metric Theory and curvature equations in non-Euclidean structures. It is worthwhile from the very beginning to state clearly that, when we mention non-Euclidean structures, we refer to metric structures that are not Euclidean at any scale. Thus, the model we have in mind are not Riemannian manifolds, but better the so-called sub-Riemannian manifolds and fractals, or even fractals in sub-Riemannian spaces. In the last few years, sub-Riemannian structures have been largely studied in several respects, such as differential geometry, geometric measure theory, subelliptic differential equations, complex variables, optimal control theory, mathematical models in neurosciences, non-holonomic mechanics, robotics. Among all sub-Riemannian structures, a prominent position is taken by the so-called Carnot groups (simply connected Lie groups G with stratified nilpotent algebra), which play versus sub Riemannian spaces the role played by Euclidean spaces (considered as tangent spaces) versus Riemannian manifolds. The notion of dimension is crucial in our approach: the non-Euclidean character of the structures we are interested to study hides in the gap between the topological dimension of a group G and its metric dimension. Isoperimetric inequalities, analysis on fractal sets, quasiconformal and quasiregular maps are a typical manifestations of the metric dimension versus the topological dimension. In addition, dimension phenomena appear in a crucial way when dealing with intrinsic curvature in submanifolds of Carnot groups and in the curvature equations.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SFS-01b-2014 | Award Amount: 10.52M | Year: 2015

SAPHIR aims to develop vaccine strategies effective against endemic pathogens responsible for high economic losses in livestock in order to strengthen the profitability of food animal systems, improve animal welfare and reduce xenobiotic usage in farming with a One Health perspective. SAPHIR will bring novel vaccine strategies to the market i) at short term, with several promising vaccines brought to demonstration (RTL6), ii) at long term, with cutting edge strategies brought at proof of concept (RTL3) and iii) in line with socio-economic requirements. SAPHIR has selected two representative pathogens of pigs (Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus and Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae), chickens (Eimeria and Clostridium perfringens) and cattle (Bovine Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Mycoplasma bovis) to develop generic vaccine approaches applicable to other pathogens. SAPHIR will issue i) knowledge of immune mechanisms of protection, ii) affordable, safe and multivalent vaccines with DIVA properties, iii) efficient adjuvants targeting dendritic cells, optimal formulations, new mucosal and skin delivery systems, a new generation of DNA vectors and viral replicon platforms for fostering an earlier and longer duration of immunity including the perinatal period, and iv) basal biomarkers of individual immuno-competence for future breeding strategies. The SAPHIR dissemination and training programme includes creation of an integrated health management website, launch of a Global Alliance for Veterinary Vaccines and organization of workshops directed at food animal system stakeholders. This will ensure optimal research translation of SAPHIR outputs to market and field applications. SAPHIR brings together interdisciplinary expertise from fourteen academic institutes including a Chinese partner, five SMEs and two pharmaceutical companies.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: HEALTH-2009-2.2.1-4 | Award Amount: 4.06M | Year: 2009

To maintain homeostasis of the central nervous system (CNS) the blood-brain barrier (BBB) prevents the free transcellular passage of hydrophilic molecules from the blood into the CNS. Because of this, the BBB is now recognised as the major obstacle to the treatment of most neurological disorders, as it hinders the delivery of many potentially important therapeutic and diagnostic substances to the CNS. Previous approaches in improving drug delivery across the BBB, which have primarily aimed at highjacking the transcellular transport machinery that is dedicated to the selective transport of specific molecules across the BBB, have had limited success, especially with regard to large molecular weight drugs. Lack of knowledge on the molecular composition and function of cerebrovascular cell-to-cell junctions has hampered the development of safe strategies for paracellular drug delivery across the BBB until recently. Members of the JUSTBRAIN consortium have accumulated knowledge on the structure and function of BBB cell-to-cell junctions, identified endothelial signals controlling the expression of individual junctional proteins and have begun to develop approaches, which may either open or close BBB junctions. Using in vitro and in vivo BBB models and animal models of neurological disorders, where BBB opening may be therapeutic, JUSTBRAIN is dedicated to translate this basic knowledge into identifying an entire novel platform of drugable molecular targets that could be functionally modulated thus allowing to bypass the BBB via the paracellular route. By these means JUSTBRAIN expects to improve efficient delivery of large molecules into the CNS and thus to expand on diagnostic and therapeutic possibilities for neurological disorders.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: SSH.2013.1.2-1 | Award Amount: 6.38M | Year: 2014

The multi-disciplinary CUPESSE project carries out a comparative analysis of both the demand and supply side of youth unemployment in ten Member States of the EU and Associated Countries (i.e. Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom). These ten countries represent the main empirical scope of the project, but whenever possible, the analysis is extended to include all European countries. CUPESSE has five main objectives. The first objective is to obtain a more refined understanding of the supply side of young adults employment by concentrating on how the inter-generational accumulation of social capital and cultural capital in the context of family organisation influences the economic self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship of young people in Europe. The second objective is to examine how supply-side factors and demand-side factors affect the unemployment of young adults. In this context we are particularly interested in the degree to which the attitudes and skills of young adults match with employers demands. The third objective is to understand the implications of young adults unemployment in the longer term, including the effects on the unemployed individuals and on society as a whole. The fourth objective is to investigate the degree to which flexicurity policies, policies supporting business start-ups and self-employment, and policies promoting education and training platforms are embraced by the European states and to assess their impacts on young adults unemployment. The fifth objective of the CUPESSE project is to present ideas for new policy measures and formulate strategy for overcoming youth unemployment in Europe. To attain this goal, the project brings together theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches from four academic disciplines, namely economics, political science, psychology, and sociology.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: NoE | Phase: HEALTH-2009-2.3.2-1 | Award Amount: 16.97M | Year: 2009

This is a proposal from 55 partners from 36 institutes to form a NoE that will seek to integrate European malaria research that is directed towards a better understanding of the basic biology of the parasite, its vector and of the biology of the interactions between the parasite and both its mammalian host and vectors. All the member institutes and researchers have demonstrated both their excellence and their ability to contribute to a successful network. The structure of the proposed network significantly evolves prior concepts of network structure introducing new modes of research that have recently emerged. Comprising of 4 research clusters the core activities will include molecular cell biology of the parasite, host immunity, vector biology, population biology and systems biology. One arm of the network activities will be concerned with the timely and effective translation of research respecting the IP rights of partner institutes. The network will also contribute significantly to the production of the next generation of malaria researchers through the operation of an expanded European PhD School for malaria research based at EMBL, students enjoying two supervisors based in different member states. Bespoke training courses for PhD students and network personnel will be offered throughout the duration of the network to maximise individual potential. To create a long term benefit from network activities a limited programme of post-doctoral fellowships within the network will be established. Furthermore, individual career mentoring facilities and an alumni association will continue to guide and engage network graduates. New members will be affiliated annually on a competitive basis with an emphasis on young, emerging Principle Investigators. Through the establishment of an umbrella Foundation and active lobbying of government and non-government funding agencies as well as the establishment of a charitable profile the network will strive to become self-determining.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: PHC-17-2014 | Award Amount: 6.65M | Year: 2015

Most older adults have multiple chronic diseases (multimorbidity) and multiple medications (polypharmacy). However, multimorbid patients are often excluded from clinical trials and most guidelines address diseases in isolation. Inappropriate drug prescription and poor drug compliance are common and contribute to up to 30% of hospital admissions. OPERAM investigators developed STOPP/START criteria to detect inappropriate drug use, both over- and underuse. Applying these criteria limits unnecessary polypharmacy and reduces underuse of indicated medications, but it remains uncertain whether systematic pharmacotherapy optimisation can improve clinical outcomes and reduce costs.We propose a multicentre randomised controlled trial to assess the impact of a userfriendly software-assisted intervention to optimise pharmacotherapy and to enhance compliance in 1900 multimorbid patients aged 75 years. Outcomes will include drug-related hospital admissions, health care utilisation, quality of life, patient preferences and cost-effectiveness. We will also perform several network meta-analyses (NMA) to provide new comparative evidence on the most effective and safest pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions to reduce common causes of preventable hospital admissions (e.g. falls, fractures, bleeding). Therapy optimisation in the multimorbid elderly, enhanced compliance and discontinuation of less effective interventions have the potential to improve clinical, quality of life and safety outcomes, while reducing costs. We will provide a structured method with practical software solutions for optimal prescribing and new comparative evidence from NMAs for addressing multimorbidity and polypharmacy by means of customised, patient-centred guidelines. OPERAM ultimately aims at better healthcare delivery in primary and hospital care, based on effective, safe, personalised and cost-effective interventions that can be applied to the rapidly growing older population in Europe.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SFS-04-2014 | Award Amount: 6.88M | Year: 2015

Knowledge regarding the complex interplay between agricultural land use and management and soil quality and function is fragmented and incomplete, in particular with regard to underlying principles and regulating mechanisms. The main aim of iSQAPER is to develop an interactive soil quality assessment tool (SQAPP) for agricultural land users that integrates newly derived process understanding and accounts for the impact of agricultural land use and management on soil properties and functions, and related ecosystem services. For this purpose, >30 long-term experimental field trials in the EU and China will be analysed to derive regulating principles for integration in SQAPP. SQAPP will be developed using a multi-actor approach aiming at facilitating social innovation and providing options to land users for cost-effective agricultural management activities to enhance soil quality and crop productivity. SQAPP will be tested extensively in 14 dedicated Case Study Sites in the EU and China covering a wide spectrum of farming systems and pedo-climatic zones, and rolled-out across the continents thereafter. Within the Case Study sites a range of alternative agricultural practices will be selected, implemented and evaluated with regard to effects on improving soil quality and crop productivity. Proven practices will be evaluated for their potential applicability at EU and China levels, and to assess the related soil environmental footprint under current and future agricultural trends and various agricultural policy scenarios. How the soil quality tool can be utilized for different policy purposes, e.g. in cross compliance and agro-environmental measures, will also be investigated and demonstrated. A comprehensive dissemination and communication strategy, including a web-based information portal, will ensure that project results are available to a variety of stakeholders at the right time and in appropriate formats to enhance soil quality and productivity in the EU and China.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: INFRA-2011-2.1.1. | Award Amount: 10.17M | Year: 2011

Key questions in physics can be answered only by constructing a giant underground observatory to search for rare events and study terrestrial and astrophysical neutrinos. The Astroparticle Roadmap of ApPEC/ASPERA strongly supports this, recommending that: a new large European infrastructure of 100000-500000 ton for proton decay and low-energy neutrinos be evaluated as a common design study together with the underground infrastructure and eventual detection of accelerator neutrino beams. The latest CERN roadmap also states: a range of very important non-accelerator experiments takes place at the overlap of particle and astroparticle physics exploring otherwise inaccessible phenomena; Council will seek with ApPEC a coordinated strategy in these areas of mutual interest. Reacting to this, uniting scientists across Europe with industrial support to produce a very strong collaboration, the LAGUNA FP7 design study has had a very positive effect. It enabled, via study of seven pre-selected locations (Finland, France, Italy, Poland, Romania, Spain and UK), a detailed geo-technical assessment of the giant underground cavern needed, concluding finally that no geo-technical show-stoppers to cavern construction exist. Building on this, the present design study will address two challenges vital to making a final detector and site choice: (i) to determine the full cost of construction underground, commissioning and long-term operation of the infrastructure, and (ii) to determine the full impact of including long baseline neutrino physics with beams from CERN.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-CA | Phase: SiS-2009-1.1.2.2;SiS-2009-1.2.1.1 | Award Amount: 906.08K | Year: 2011

EURECNET is a network that brings together national REC associations, networks or comparable initiatives but also other bodies relevant in the field of research involving human participants like National Ethics Councils and the European Commissions ethical review system. Such a network forms the infrastructural basis to promote awareness of specific working practices of RECs across Europe, to enhance the shared knowledge base of European RECs, to support coherent reviews and opinions and to meet new challenges and emerging ethical issues. The central objective of EURECNET as a Coordinating Action is to foster the already existing network of European REC networks (in short EUREC). In particular, the contribution of EURECNET aims at five different levels: - fostering a sustainable infrastructure for European RECs (including a statute and a secretariat) to promote exchange and cooperation and to allow for international cooperation; - gathering information on RECs in Europe to build a basis for mutual exchange - collecting and evaluating training materials for REC members to enhance the quality of review; - conducting capacity building to facilitate the development of national REC networks (as future partners of EUREC); - identifying emerging ethical issues to develop common solutions for challenges posed by new technologies and scientific methodologies.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: PHC-17-2014 | Award Amount: 6.43M | Year: 2015

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) cause over 4 million deaths in Europe each year and mass disability: within the coming decades the disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) estimate is expected to rise from a loss of 85 million DALYs in 1990 to a loss of 150 million DALYs globally in 2020. Moreover, patient numbers are expected to rise rapidly in the next decades, due to an ageing society such that the burden of CVD for both patients and the healthcare sector will further rise. Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) is recognised as an effective approach for risk reduction and long term care of patients facing cardiovascular diseases (CVD). However, knowledge on CR in the elderly is limited, while tailoring of CR programmes to the elderly is needed. The reasons for this relates to the following aspects: 1) the elderly account for the majority of cardiac admissions and procedures, yet studies on cardiac rehabilitation have traditionally focused on younger patients, 2) many older patients who would derive benefit from CR interventions, do not participate, 3) there is a lack of commitment and adherence to CR within in the older population with only a minority completing the full programme and 4) a cardiovascular event in elderly patients could be a trigger for disability and dependence. Knowledge is lacking on effective approaches for this specific target group and moreover the specific challenges related to the target group must be addressed. With the ambition to achieve a breakthrough in cardiac care, the main objective of EU-CaRE is thus to obtain the evidence base to improve, tailor and optimise CR programmes regarding sustainable effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and participation level in the elderly. This is achieved through an comparative effectiveness analysis of current conventional cardiac rehabilitation programmes (CR), as well as new innovative mobile telemonitoring guided cardiac rehabilitation (mCR). As such, the project addresses the objectives of call PHC 17.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: HEALTH.2011.2.1.1-3 | Award Amount: 17.32M | Year: 2011

Bacterial infection is the major cause of disability and death in children worldwide. We will use meningococcal disease (MD) as a model to understand genetic factors underlying susceptibility and severity of childhood bacterial infection which will then be applied to other childhood infections. We have established cohorts of patients with MD in Central and Southern Europe (CE,SE), UK and Africa as well as cohorts with other bacterial infections. We have established an inter-disciplinary team with expertise in Infectious Diseases, Immunogenetics, Bio-informatics, Microbiology, Public Health and Vaccinology including SME and industrial partners. We have already undertaken a genome wide study (GWAS) to identify genes causing susceptibility to meningococcal disease in a UK cohort. We identified complement factor H (fH) and fH-related (fHr) genes controlling MD susceptibility. This finding is fundamental to prevention as vaccines containing the MD fH receptor are undergoing trials. We will undertake GWAS on the CE, and SE MD cohorts, allowing meta analysis, and cross validation, and undertake GWAS on 2,500 Meningococcal Vaccine recipients. We will use next generation sequencing to identify the causal variants within the fH/fHr region and other regions implicated by pathway and severity analyses of the three MD GWAS and vaccine GWAS. We will match bacterial and host genetic variation and identify mechanisms of action of fH variants and other genes controlling susceptibility and severity using RNA expression, functional analyses and animal models. We will identify Mendelian defects and rare mutations as well as copy number variation and epi-genetic effects using next generation sequencing and RNA sequencing in extreme phenotype cohorts with MD , pneumococcal ,staphylococcal and salmonella disease. The study will identify mechanisms underlying susceptibility, provide new targets for treatment and prevention, and identify those at risk of disease or poor outcome.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: ENV.2009.2.1.4.1 | Award Amount: 4.79M | Year: 2010

Pollinators form a key component of European biodiversity, and provide vital ecosystem services to crops and wild plants. There is growing evidence of declines in both wild and domesticated pollinators, and parallel declines in plants relying upon them. STEP will document the nature and extent of these declines, examine functional traits associated with particular risk, develop a Red List of some European pollinator groups, in particular bees and lay the groundwork for future pollinator monitoring programmes. We will also assess the relative importance of potential drivers of such change, including climate change, habitat loss and fragmentation, agrichemicals, pathogens, alien species, light pollution, and their interactions. We will measure the ecological and economic impacts of declining pollinator services and floral resources, including effects on wild plant populations, crop production and human nutrition. STEP will review existing and potential mitigation options, providing novel tests of their effectiveness across Europe. Our work will build upon existing datasets and models, complemented by spatially-replicated campaigns of field research to fill gaps in current knowledge. We will integrate our findings in a policy-relevant framework, creating Evidence-based Decision Support tools. We will also establish communication links to a wide range of stakeholders across Europe and beyond, including policy makers, beekeepers, farmers, academics and the general public. Taken together, our research programme will make great steps towards improving our understanding of the nature, causes, consequences and potential mitigation of declines in pollinator services at local, national, continental and global scales.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: HEALTH.2010.2.1.2-1 | Award Amount: 16.16M | Year: 2010

Cancer is hallmarked by multiple genetic aberrations that lead to a functional derangement of cellular signalling networks. Embryonal tumours (ETs) comprising neuroblastoma, medulloblastoma and Ewing sarcoma, occur early in life, and thus may reveal pathogenetically relevant lesions clearer than adulthood tumours which carry passenger mutations accumulated during life. ASSET will exploit this fact by focussing on unravelling the signalling networks and their alterations in ETs. The basic hypothesis is that ETs share common pathogenetic principles that can be captured and made accessible to rational analysis by combining high-throughput and high content analysis of the genome, transcriptome and proteome with mathematical modelling. ASSET builds on a previous FP6 consortium, the European Embryonal Tumour Pipeline (EEPT), which generated high-throughput genomic and transcriptomic data on ETs. ASSET is the next logical step to add crucial functional information that will allow us to generate (i) defined in vitro and in vivo tumour systems; (ii) combined analysis of genomic mutations, transcriptome, miRNA expression and dynamic proteome changes; (iii) systematic perturbations; (iv) mathematical modelling to elucidate pathogenetic networks and their emergent behaviour; (v) the virtuous cycle of model validation in relevant biological model systems and clinical samples towards a major goal. This goal is to identify mechanistically understood network vulnerabilities that can be exploited for new approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of major paediatric tumours. Elucidating such core mechanisms will (i) improve understanding of and therapeutic options for these devastating childhood malignancies and (ii) enable a rational approach to deal with the complexity of the pathogenesis of adulthood cancers.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ENV.2013.6.2-2 | Award Amount: 16.30M | Year: 2013

SOLUTIONS will deliver a conceptual framework for the evidence-based development of environmental and water policies. This will integrate innovative chemical and effect-based monitoring tools with a full set of exposure, effect and risk models and assessment options. Uniquely, SOLUTIONS taps (i) expertise of leading European scientists of major FP6/FP7 projects on chemicals in the water cycle, (ii) access to the infrastructure necessary to investigate the large basins of Danube and Rhine as well as relevant Mediterranean basins as case studies, and (iii) innovative approaches for stakeholder dialogue and support. In particular, International River Commissions, EC working groups and water works associations will be directly supported with consistent guidance for the early detection, identification, prioritization, and abatement of chemicals in the water cycle. A user-friendly tool providing access to a set of predictive models will support stakeholders to improve management decisions, benefiting from the wealth of data generated from monitoring and chemical registration. SOLUTIONS will give a specific focus on concepts and tools for the impact and risk assessment of complex mixtures of emerging pollutants, their metabolites and transformation products. Analytical and effect-based screening tools will be applied together with ecological assessment tools for the identification of toxicants and their impacts. Beyond state-of-the-art monitoring and management tools will be elaborated allowing risk identification for aquatic ecosystems and human health. The SOLUTIONS approach will provide transparent and evidence-based lists of River Basin Specific Pollutants for the case study basins and support the review of the list of WFD priority pollutants.


Astronomers have found a system of seven Earth-sized planets just 40 light-years away. Using ground and space telescopes, including ESO's Very Large Telescope, the planets were all detected as they passed in front of their parent star, the ultracool dwarf star known as TRAPPIST-1. According to the paper appearing today in the journal Nature, three of the planets lie in the habitable zone and could harbour oceans of water on their surfaces, increasing the possibility that the star system could play host to life. This system has both the largest number of Earth-sized planets yet found and the largest number of worlds that could support liquid water on their surfaces. Astronomers using the TRAPPIST-South telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory, the Very Large Telescope at Paranal and the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope, as well as other telescopes around the world [1], have now confirmed the existence of at least seven small planets orbiting the cool red dwarf star TRAPPIST-1) [2]. All the planets, labeled TRAPPIST-1b, c, d, e, f, g and h in order of increasing distance from their parent star, have sizes similar to Earth [3]. Dips in the star's light output caused by each of the seven planets passing in front of it -- events known as transits -- allowed the astronomers to infer information about their sizes, compositions and orbits [4]. They found that at least the inner six planets are comparable in both size and temperature to the Earth. Lead author Michaël Gillon of the STAR Institute at the University of Liège in Belgium is delighted by the findings: "This is an amazing planetary system -- not only because we have found so many planets, but because they are all surprisingly similar in size to the Earth!" With just 8% the mass of the Sun, TRAPPIST-1 is very small in stellar terms -- only marginally bigger than the planet Jupiter -- and though nearby in the constellation Aquarius (The Water Carrier), it appears very dim. Astronomers expected that such dwarf stars might host many Earth-sized planets in tight orbits, making them promising targets in the hunt for extraterrestrial life, but TRAPPIST-1 is the first such system to be found. Co-author Amaury Triaud expands: "The energy output from dwarf stars like TRAPPIST-1 is much weaker than that of our Sun. Planets would need to be in far closer orbits than we see in the solar system if there is to be surface water. Fortunately, it seems that this kind of compact configuration is just what we see around TRAPPIST-1!" The team determined that all the planets in the system are similar in size to Earth and Venus in the solar system, or slightly smaller. The density measurements suggest that at least the innermost six are probably rocky in composition. The planetary orbits are not much larger than that of Jupiter's Galilean moon system , and much smaller than the orbit of Mercury in the solar system. However, TRAPPIST-1's small size and low temperature mean that the energy input to its planets is similar to that received by the inner planets in our solar system; TRAPPIST-1c, d and f receive similar amounts of energy to Venus, Earth and Mars, respectively. All seven planets discovered in the system could potentially have liquid water on their surfaces, though their orbital distances make some of them more likely candidates than others. Climate models suggest the innermost planets, TRAPPIST-1b, c and d, are probably too hot to support liquid water, except maybe on a small fraction of their surfaces. The orbital distance of the system's outermost planet, TRAPPIST-1h, is unconfirmed, though it is likely to be too distant and cold to harbour liquid water -- assuming no alternative heating processes are occurring [5]. TRAPPIST-1e, f, and g, however, represent the holy grail for planet-hunting astronomers, as they orbit in the star's habitable zone and could host oceans of surface water [6]. These new discoveries make the TRAPPIST-1 system a very important target for future study. The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is already being used to search for atmospheres around the planets and team member Emmanuël Jehin is excited about the future possibilities: "With the upcoming generation of telescopes, such as ESO's European Extremely Large Telescope and the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope , we will soon be able to search for water and perhaps even evidence of life on these worlds." [1] As well as the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope , the team used many ground-based facilities: TRAPPIST-South at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile, HAWK-I on ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile, TRAPPIST-North in Morocco, the 3.8-metre UKIRT in Hawaii, the 2-metre Liverpool and 4-metre William Herschel telescopes at La Palma in the Canary Islands, and the 1-metre SAAO telescope in South Africa. [2] TRAPPIST-South (the TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope-South) is a Belgian 0.6-metre robotic telescope operated from the University of Liège and based at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile. It spends much of its time monitoring the light from around 60 of the nearest ultracool dwarf stars and brown dwarfs ("stars" which are not quite massive enough to initiate sustained nuclear fusion in their cores), looking for evidence of planetary transits. TRAPPIST-South, along with its twin TRAPPIST-North, are the forerunners to the SPECULOOS system, which is currently being installed at ESO's Paranal Observatory. [3] In early 2016, a team of astronomers, also led by Michaël Gillon announced the discovery of three planets orbiting TRAPPIST-1. They intensified their follow-up observations of the system mainly because of a remarkable triple transit that they observed with the HAWK-I instrument on the VLT. This transit showed clearly that at least one other unknown planet was orbiting the star. And that historic light curve shows for the first time three temperate Earth-sized planets, two of them in the habitable zone, passing in front of their star at the same time! [4] This is one of the main methods that astronomers use to identify the presence of a planet around a star. They look at the light coming from the star to see if some of the light is blocked as the planet passes in front of its host star on the line of sight to Earth -- it transits the star, as astronomers say. As the planet orbits around its star, we expect to see regular small dips in the light coming from the star as the planet moves in front of it. [5] Such processes could include tidal heating , whereby the gravitational pull of TRAPPIST-1 causes the planet to repeatedly deform, leading to inner frictional forces and the generation of heat. This process drives the active volcanism on Jupiter's moon Io. If TRAPPIST-1h has also retained a primordial hydrogen-rich atmosphere, the rate of heat loss could be very low. [6] This discovery also represents the largest known chain of exoplanets orbiting in near-resonance with each other. The astronomers carefully measured how long it takes for each planet in the system to complete one orbit around TRAPPIST-1 -- known as the revolution period -- and then calculated the ratio of each planet's period and that of its next more distant neighbour. The innermost six TRAPPIST-1 planets have period ratios with their neighbours that are very close to simple ratios, such as 5:3 or 3:2. This means that the planets most likely formed together further from their star, and have since moved inwards into their current configuration. If so, they could be low-density and volatile-rich worlds, suggesting an icy surface and/or an atmosphere. "Seven Temperate Terrestrial Planets Around the Nearby Ultracool Dwarf Star TRAPPIST-1," M. Gillon et al., 2017 Feb. 23, Nature [http://www.nature.com, preprint (PDF): http://www.eso.org/public/archives/releases/sciencepapers/eso1706/eso1706a.pdf]. The team is composed of M. Gillon (Université de Liège, Liège, Belgium), A. H. M. J. Triaud (Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge, UK), B.-O. Demory (University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland; Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, UK), E. Jehin (Université de Liège, Liège, Belgium), E. Agol (University of Washington, Seattle, USA; NASA Astrobiology Institute's Virtual Planetary Laboratory, Seattle, USA), K. M. Deck (California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA), S. M. Lederer (NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, USA), J. de Wit (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA), A. Burdanov (Université de Liège, Liège, Belgium), J. G. Ingalls (California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA), E. Bolmont (University of Namur, Namur, Belgium; Laboratoire AIM Paris-Saclay, CEA/DRF -- CNRS -- Univ. Paris Diderot -- IRFU/SAp, Centre de Saclay, France), J. Leconte (Univ. Bordeaux, Pessac, France), S. N. Raymond (Univ. Bordeaux, Pessac, France), F. Selsis (Univ. Bordeaux, Pessac, France), M. Turbet (Sorbonne Universités, Paris, France), K. Barkaoui (Oukaimeden Observatory, Marrakesh, Morocco), A. Burgasser (University of California, San Diego, California, USA), M. R. Burleigh (University of Leicester, Leicester, UK), S. J. Carey (California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA), A. Chaushev (University of Leicester, UK), C. M. Copperwheat (Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK), L. Delrez (Université de Liège, Liège, Belgium; Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, UK), C. S. Fernandes (Université de Liège, Liège, Belgium), D. L. Holdsworth (University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK), E. J. Kotze (South African Astronomical Observatory, Cape Town, South Africa), V. Van Grootel (Université de Liège, Liège, Belgium), Y. Almleaky (King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; King Abdullah Centre for Crescent Observations and Astronomy, Makkah Clock, Saudi Arabia), Z. Benkhaldoun (Oukaimeden Observatory, Marrakesh, Morocco), P. Magain (Université de Liège, Liège, Belgium), and D. Queloz (Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, UK; Astronomy Department, Geneva University, Switzerland). ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world's most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world's most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world's largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become "the world's biggest eye on the sky." Please follow SpaceRef on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.


News Article | October 26, 2016
Site: astrobiology.com

Computer simulations by astrophysicists at the University of Bern of the formation of planets orbiting in the habitable zone of low mass stars such as Proxima Centauri show that these planets are most likely to be roughly the size of the Earth and to contain large amounts of water. In August 2016, the announcement of the discovery of a terrestrial exoplanet orbiting in the habitable zone of Proxima Centauri stimulated the imagination of the experts and the general public. After all this star is the nearest star to our sun even though it is ten times less massive and 500 times less luminous. This discovery together with the one in May 2016 of a similar planet orbiting an even lower mass star (Trappist-1) convinced astronomers that such red dwarfs (as these low mass stars are called) might be hosts to a large population of Earth-like planets. How could these objects look like? What could they be made of? Yann Alibert and Willy Benz at the Swiss NCCR PlanetS and the Center of Space and Habitability (CSH) at the University of Bern carried out the first computer simulations of the formation of the population of planets expected to orbit stars ten times less massive than the sun. "Our models succeed in reproducing planets that are similar in terms of mass and period to the ones observed recently," Yann Alibert explains the result of the study that has been accepted for publication as a Letter in the journal "Astronomy and Astrophysics". "Interestingly, we find that planets in close-in orbits around these type of stars are of small sizes. Typically, they range between 0.5 and 1.5 Earth radii with a peak at about 1.0 Earth radius. Future discoveries will tell if we are correct!" the researcher adds. Ice at the bottom of the global ocean In addition, the astrophysicists determined the water content of the planets orbiting their small host star in the habitable zone. They found that considering all the cases, around 90% of the planets are harbouring more than 10% of water. For comparison: The Earth has a fraction of water of only about 0,02%. So most of these alien planets are literally water worlds in comparison! The situation could be even more extreme if the protoplanetary disks in which these planets form live longer than assumed in the models. In any case, these planets would be covered by very deep oceans at the bottom of which, owing to the huge pressure, water would be in form of ice. Water is required for life as we know it. So could these planets be habitable indeed? "While liquid water is generally thought to be an essential ingredient, too much of a good thing may be bad," says Willy Benz. In previous studies the scientists in Bern showed that too much water may prevent the regulation of the surface temperature and destabilizes the climate. "But this is the case for the Earth, here we deal with considerably more exotic planets which might be subjected to a much harsher radiation environment, and/or be in synchronous " he adds. Following the growth of planetary embryos To start their calculations, the scientists considered a series of a few hundreds to thousands of identical, low mass stars and around each of them a protoplanetary disk of dust and gas. Planets are formed by accretion of this material. Alibert and Benz assumed that at the beginning, in each disk there were 10 planetary embryos with an initial mass equal to the mass of the Moon. In a few day's computer time for each system the model calculated how these randomly located embryos grew and migrated. What kind of planets are formed depends on the structure and evolution of the protoplanetary disks. "Habitable or not, the study of planets orbiting very low mass stars will likely bring exciting new results, improving our knowledge of planet formation, evolution, and potential habitability," summarizes Willy Benz. Because these stars are considerably less luminous than the sun, planets can be much closer to their star before their surface temperature becomes too high for liquid water to exist. If one considers that these type of stars also represent the overwhelming majority of stars in the solar neighbourhood and that close-in planets are presently easier to detect and study, one understands why the existence of this population of Earth-like planets is really of importance. Publication: Y. Alibert and W. Benz: Formation and composition of planets around very low mass stars, A&A October 2016, https://arxiv.org/abs/1610.03460


News Article | April 20, 2016
Site: motherboard.vice.com

I stood there, staring at my outstretched hands on Sunset Boulevard. I was checking to make sure they weren’t glowing. If they were, anything was possible. I could become a giant. I could throw the winning pass in the Super Bowl. I could fly with angel wings while wailing on a flaming guitar, which is actually a dream I once had. But, no. Sadly, my hands looked normal and I was awake. Ever since I started using apps like Dream:On, DreamZ, and Lucid Dreamer, which are designed to induce lucid dreams, in which people are aware that they are dreaming, I had been doing “reality checks” every so often to make sure I wasn’t asleep. The idea is to make a habit of doing so during your waking life so that it would be automatic while dreaming. The goal is to create little cues that tell the brain, “Hey, I’m dreaming!” and then pretty much anything goes. While the apps might be different, they all perform the same basic function: give a signal, whether auditory or visual, that seem out of sync with the dream world. “These concepts work,” Deirdre Barrett, an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, told Motherboard. But she had caveats: Sometimes the apps wake people up. They don’t always go off at the right time. And they can’t induce lucid dreams in people who don’t have a natural affinity for it. I don’t remember having many lucid dreams in the past. I did once suffer an episode of sleep paralysis, a terrifying waking nightmare during which I couldn’t move or speak as I saw a witch slowly extend a claw toward my head. It was similar to a lucid dream, but Barrett assured me pursuing one wouldn’t necessarily bring the other. So I decided to take the plunge into the world of lucid dreaming. I downloaded four apps on my iPhone and tested them out for two weeks straight. During the very first night, I was jolted awake in the dark by the sound of the Dream:ON app, leaving me with a sense of bleary-eyed failure. Maybe I was one of those people who couldn’t do it? Plenty of people seem to think they can lucid dream. There is a large community of active and aspiring lucid dreamers online, looking for an escape from the mundane, insight into their lives and, yes, sex. Lucid dream researcher Beverly D’Urso, hooked up to electrodes and vaginal probes at the Stanford Sleep Lab, recorded what she claimed was the first recorded female orgasm in a dream in 1983. More than two decades later, speaking at a conference at UC Berkeley, D’Urso described a wide range of sexual encounters: “In dreams, I have been the woman, the man, half woman/half man, divided by upper and lower body, left and right sides, and with both a penis and a vagina … In one lucid dream, I had sex with the earth, as I flew at its edge, one leg dragging into the dirt. I can barely think of some sexual situation that I have not experienced.” On Reddit’s /r/LucidDreaming thread, getting some dream action is a common goal. Understandable, of course, especially for lonely men looking for something beyond internet porn. But the appeal of lucid dreaming goes beyond no-holds-barred sex. True believers also swear it can help solve a host of emotional and psychological problems. Lucid dreaming evangelist and author Robert Waggoner claims on his website that the practice can quell anxiety, increase creativity, reduce nightmares for people with PTSD, and “lead to a powerful sense of joy, wholeness and freedom from waking limitations.” There are also those who claim you can practice skills in a dream. In a 2010 study, Daniel Erlacher, a professor at University of Bern’s Institute for Sport Science, had three groups flip coins into a cup two meters away. The people who had practiced the motion in their lucid dreams were better at it than those who hadn’t practiced at all. (The group who practiced while awake did the best.) It’s easy to see how all of this would appeal to Malcolm Gladwell acolytes eager to embrace the so-called 10,000 Hour Rule. They would get an extra 2,482 hours a year (based on 6.8 hours of sleep per night) to do things like perfect their golf swing or learn a new language. And then there is the prospect of flying around like a superhero or becoming a giant or anything else you can imagine. Sounds pretty ideal. But is lucid dreaming really that powerful? It’s hard to tell. The problem is that studies rely on people to self-report their dreams, which can be difficult to remember. Erlacher’s study with the coins involved only 20 volunteers. Other studies have also used small sample sizes. That lucid dreaming is often lumped together with New Age phenomena like out-of-body experiences and mutual dreaming certainly doesn’t help its credibility either. There has also been a stigma around lucid dream research, according to Patrick Bourke, senior lecturer at the UK’s Lincoln School of Psychology. “By and large, experimental psychologists have been trying to stay away from dreams to dissociate themselves from Freud and all that rubbish,” Bourke told Motherboard. “Lucid dreaming has reemerged largely due to interest from the general public.” Even if not every study holds water, however, the existence of lucid dreaming is impossible to deny, Barrett said. The proof comes in the form of early studies in which participants agreed to perform a predetermined pattern of eye movements in their dreams that could be detected from the outside world, she said. “There have been enough of those eye studies that nobody believes that lucid dreaming doesn’t exist,” Barrett said. The challenge now is figuring out how to induce lucid states. Technology could be the answer. Luckily, at least 64 percent of Americans, according to the Pew Research Center for Internet, Science and Tech, own powerful computers called smartphones that can be tucked next to them as they drift off to sleep. Stephen LaBerge has probably done more than anyone on Earth to promote lucid dreaming. In the 1980s, he conducted a number of influential studies on the topic and eventually founded the Lucidity Institute in 1987. The organization was the first to release a commercially available (if expensive) piece of technology meant to aid lucid dreaming. Called the NovaDreamer, it used simple LEDs to send a signal to the sleeping user. Imagine sitting on top of the Eiffel Tower and then seeing three red lights blinking in front of your face. That would tell you that you were dreaming, the thinking went, allowing you to float off to London or whatever else you wanted. While the NovaDreamer mask was discontinued in 2004, other brands took its place. Adam Siton used the technology as inspiration for DreamZ, which he released in 2012. It was the first lucid dreaming app at the time, Siton told Motherboard from his home city of Tel Aviv. Before he released the app, he said he hadn’t experienced many lucid dreams. “Every time I would have one, I woke up and thought, ‘Oh my god, this is amazing,’” he recalled. “But I didn’t have anything to help me actively lucid dream more.” That changed when Siton, who now works for the productivity app Any.do, saw lucid dreaming masks for sale. He thought the same principle could be achieved with audio cues. Instead of seeing a light, a user might hear strange music or a cow mooing. Siton said that verbal messages are the most effective, especially ones that prompt users to perform a reality check. One of the cues in DreamZ asks, “Are you dreaming? Look in the mirror. Is that really you?” Ideally, you would then stare into a mirror, notice the distorted image and then realize the truth. There are other messages as well. Prompts to read a book out loud, hover above the ground, and solve simple math problems are supposed to trigger the realization that you’re fast asleep. Thanks to the iPhone’s sensors, which can detect movement in your bed, DreamZ claims it can tell when you’re in REM sleep. That is primarily when dreams occur. Another app, Dream:ON, has the same capability, although it’s important to note that sleep-tracking devices and apps have been criticized for being inaccurate by researchers in the past. Developed by University of Hertfordshire professor Richard Wiseman, Dream:ON has a slicker interface than DreamZ and the ability to graph your night’s sleep, much like Sleep Cycle or apps from FitBit and Jawbone. It even includes a few detailed themes for your dreams, such as “deadly dungeon,” “wild west” and “a trip to Tokyo.” Think of them as holodeck programs, but for your sleeping brain. Sadly, the “space shuttle” soundscape didn’t transport me to a rocket blasting off toward the cosmos. It didn’t even wake me up. I had the opposite problem with other apps. Lucid Dreamer pairs an audio signal with a simple timer. It also lets you record your own message. Apparently, hearing someone call your name is the worst way to enter a lucid dream, according to Barrett, because you instinctively perk up—hence why hearing, “Hey Keith, dream cool stuff!” failed to cause the intended response. Those aren’t the only lucid dreaming apps out there. Awoken for Android reminds users throughout the day to perform a reality check like reading text or looking at a clock, each paired with a “totem sound” that also goes off at night. The brain, theoretically, associates the sound with the action even when asleep, prompting an automatic reality check. For Android, there is also Lucid Dreaming and 10 Steps to Lucid Dreams, which pretty much explains itself. Most lucid dreaming apps include some kind of space for jotting down or reciting your dreams when you wake up. Ideally, forcing yourself to remember dreams on a regular basis helps you recall the ones that happen to be lucid. Notes taken at 5 AM after Dream:ON woke me up early one morning: “Carefully examining moon rocks. Includes amethyst. One in the shape of a face. Am wearing synthetic pants.” Taking the lucid dreaming app one step further is the Aurora from iWinks. Due for release later this year, it pairs your iPhone with an electroencephalography (EEG) headband that records brain activity as you sleep. The goal is to find the ideal time during REM to trigger a light or sound. In the future, lucid dreaming technology could go beyond visual and auditory cues. Several researchers are working on ways to skip the senses and directly stimulate the brain. A 2014 study by psychologist Ursula Voss of J.W. Goethe-University in Frankfurt, Germany, successfully induced lucid dreams in 27 test subjects with electrodes attached to their scalps. Apparently, this is something that is easier to do in a lab than at home. Motherboard’s Kaleigh Rogers tested a device called foc.us last year with little success. Bourke said that while it “seems possible” to induce lucid dreaming with electrodes, he would like to see it replicated in more experiments, simply because it “seems so unlikely” that an untargeted current could have such dramatic results. Also, as Barrett noted, if you sense “an electrical tingling on your scalp, you’re going to wake up.” Perhaps more practical, she said, would be pairing more accurate sleep-tracking technology, maybe with the help of iPhone-connected electromyography (EMG) sensors to measure eye movement, to deliver cues at the perfect point of REM sleep. Nothing like that exists right now. Using just an iPhone, I was beginning to doubt I was able to lucid dream. After a week of lackluster results, I wondered if it was even worth the effort. Some people, it turns out, just don’t have it in them. “Technology can help give people who have never had a lucid dream one,” Barrett said. “And it can give people who do have lucid dreams more of them. But people’s base level of lucid dreaming and dream recall vary.” Feeling a little reassured by that fact, on night 12 I set my DreamZ app again and put my head down on my pillow. In my dream, I remember hearing a voice. “Are you dreaming?” it asked. “Look at your hands. How come they look different?” I looked down at my hands. They were shimmering, metallic, ghostlike. I became excited. Finally, I could fly through the cosmos in a fantasy world of my own devising! Then I woke up. My lucid dream had lasted just a few seconds. I closed the app, shut my eyes, and fell back asleep.


News Article | December 2, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

The "reproducibility crisis" in biomedical research has led to questions about the scientific rigor in animal research, and thus the ethical justification of animal experiments. In research publishing in the Open Access journals PLOS Biology and PLOS ONE on December 2nd, 2016, researchers from the University of Bern have assessed scientific rigor in animal experimentation in Switzerland. The study, commissioned by the Swiss Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO), found widespread deficiencies in the reporting of experimental methodology. In a first step, PhD student Lucile Vogt and postdoc Thomas Reichlin from the Division of Animal Welfare at the Vetsuisse Faculty in Bern screened all 1,277 approved applications for animal experiments in Switzerland in 2008, 2010 and 2012, as well as a random sample of 50 scientific publications resulting from studies described in the applications. The materials were assessed to determine whether seven basic methods that can help combat experimental bias were reported (including randomization, blinding, and sample size calculation). Appropriate use and understanding of these methods is a prerequisite for unbiased, scientifically valid results, says lead author Prof. Hanno Würbel, director of the Division of Animal Welfare. As published in their PLOS Biology study, explicit evidence that these methods were used either in the applications for animal experiments or in the subsequent publications was scarce. For example, fewer than 20% of applications and publications mentioned whether a sample size calculation had been performed (8% in applications, 0% in publications), whether the animals had been assigned randomly to treatment groups (13% in applications, 17% in publications), and whether outcome assessment had been conducted blind to treatment (3% in applications, 11% in publications). Animal experiments are authorized based on the explicit understanding that they will provide significant new knowledge and that animals will suffer no unnecessary harm. Thus, scientific rigor is a fundamental prerequisite for the ethical justification of animal experiments. Based on this study, the current practice of authorizing animal experiments appears to rest on an assumption of scientific rigor, rather than on evidence that it is applied. The authors of this study recommend more education and training in good research practice and scientific integrity for all those involved in this process. Although the initial results found that fewer than 20 percent of applications and publications used methods to control for bias, that didn't necessarily mean that more than 80 percent of animal studies failed to include methods to combat bias, and therefore use animals for potentially inconclusive research. "It is possible that the researchers did use these methods but did not mention them in their applications and publications," says study director Hanno Würbel. "So we decided to ask the researchers." The researchers used an online survey for all 1,891 animal researchers registered in the central online information system of the FSVO who were involved with ongoing experiments. Among other questions, researchers were asked what bias-reducing methods they normally use when conducting animal experiments and which of these they had explicitly reported in their latest scientific publication. According to the researchers' responses, as published in their PLOS ONE study, the use of methods against bias is considerably higher than reported in the animal research applications and publications. 86% of the participants claimed to assign animals randomly to treatment groups, but only 44% answered that they had reported this in their latest publication. The same applies to the other measures, for example, for sample size calculation (69% claimed to be doing this, but only 18% say they reported it in their latest publication) and for blinded outcome assessment (47% vs. 27%). Taken together, the researchers draw two conclusions from these results: on the one hand, reporting in animal research applications or publications may underestimate the use of bias-reducing methods. On the other hand, the researchers may overestimate their use of appropriate methods. "We found considerably fewer publications with explicit evidence of the use of measures against risks of bias than claimed by the researchers", says Würbel. For example, 44% of the participants claimed to have reported randomization in their latest publication, but Würbel's team found evidence of randomization in only 17% of publications. In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS Biology: http://journals. and this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS ONE: http://journals. Citations: Vogt L, Reichlin TS, Nathues C, Würbel H (2016) Authorization of Animal Experiments Is Based on Confidence Rather than Evidence of Scientific Rigor. PLoS Biol 14(12): e2000598. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.2000598 Reichlin TS, Vogt L, Würbel H (2016) The Researchers' View of Scientific Rigor--Survey on the Conduct and Reporting of In Vivo Research. PLoS ONE 11(12): e0165999. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0165999 Funding: Swiss Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) https:/ (grant number 2.13.01). LV and TSR were fully funded through this grant. The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


News Article | March 23, 2016
Site: www.nature.com

In a decision hailed by animal-rights groups, the US marine-park company SeaWorld Entertainment announced last week that it will no longer breed killer whales. But whether captivity harms the planet’s biggest predator is an area of active scientific debate. The latest arguments centre on two 2015 studies that drew dramatically different conclusions about the lifespans of captive killer whales (Orcinus orca), relative to those of wild populations. Although many factors affect well-being, an apparent discrepancy between the survival of captive and wild animals has long been cited by activists as evidence of the poor welfare of captive killer whales. One of the studies1 is authored by a team largely made up of researchers at SeaWorld, which is headquartered in Orlando, Florida, and owns several animal parks that keep killer whales; the other2 is by two former killer-whale trainers at the company who feature in the 2013 documentary film Blackfish, which is critical of SeaWorld. In letters published last week3, 4, authors from each paper accuse the others of cherry-picking data to support positions on whether the animals should be captive — charges that each team in turn rejects. Although SeaWorld’s captive-killer-whale programme now has an expiration date, the company’s existing 23 animals will remain in parks for the rest of their lives, and its pregnant female Takara will give birth in captivity. Another 33 animals are held in other marine parks around the world. Robust studies of killer whales’ longevity are needed to improve the well-being of the remaining captive animals, says Douglas DeMaster, science director at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, Washington. But the annals of research on captive killer whales are slim. Before 2015, the last major published study5 dates to 1995, when US government scientists calculated that the annual survival rate of captive killer whales was several per cent lower than that of a wild population off the coast of Washington state called southern resident killer whales. In one of the 2015 studies2, the former trainers — John Jett, a biologist at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, and Jeffrey Ventre, a physician at Lakeview Campus Medical Facility in Yakima, Washington — attempted to measure how captive whales have fared since conditions were improved in the 1980s. They pooled data from between 1961 and 2013 on 201 captive killer whales in institutions around the world, including SeaWorld. They concluded that survival rates in captivity have improved since 1985, but that even the most recent survival rates are below those of animals in the wild. In the other 2015 study1, researchers led by SeaWorld veterinary surgeon Todd Robeck came to a very different conclusion: that animals now in captivity at SeaWorld’s US parks live just as long as wild populations. The researchers looked only at animals held at those parks after 2000, and produced a survival rate that is higher than a rate that they calculated for southern resident killer whales — and equivalent to that of another wild population that lives in the waters off British Columbia, Canada. Now, each lead author has taken aim at the work of the other. In a letter published in Marine Mammal Science3, Robeck and three colleagues note that Jett and Ventre included in their 2015 study stranded animals, which might have arrived in captivity in poor health, and newborns, which are at particularly high risk of death. This pushes down the apparent survival rate of captive animals, say the researchers. In the same journal, Jett responds4 to that critique, and accuses Robeck’s 2015 study of bias because, for instance, it compares captive whales to the southern resident population, which is endangered and exposed to pollutants and shipping traffic, and whose numbers have waxed and waned over the past four decades. Jett says that his and Ventre’s study was intended to take a wide look at captive-killer-whale survival, so they included as many data as possible. But Robeck stands by his critique. “They can include all the animals they want,” he says. “The conclusions they made were not based on the evidence they showed.” DeMaster notes that the comparison that Robeck and his colleagues made between captive killer whales and a disturbed wild population is not useful. He adds that it is also difficult to compare the approaches taken by the two teams, because they analyse different animals over different periods. On 8 March, a further group of researchers entered the fray, criticizing the 2015 Robeck study on another front. In the Journal of Mammalogy6, the group charges that Robeck’s study implied that evidence for a long post-reproductive life­span in killer whales is an artefact stemming from over­estimated ages of adults in the early days of research on captive killer whales. “People started looking at killer whales in the early 1970s and they weren’t immediately experts,” says Robeck, who has also published a response7 to that critique. The authors of the critique say that the evidence for the post-reproductive lifespan, a rare evolutionary adaptation otherwise seen only in humans and in pilot whales, is robust. “There are whales still alive now that were around in the 70s that haven’t had a calf,” says one of the authors, Darren Croft, a behavioural ecologist at the University of Exeter, UK. It will take more observation time to put firm numbers on the post-reproductive lifespan of killer whales, says Andrew Foote, an evolutionary ecologist at the University of Bern and another of the co-authors. The only way to resolve the dispute over the longevity of captive killer whales is for different teams to analyse the same data in the same manner, says DeMaster. Such studies could improve the well-being of captive animals by, for instance, identifying the facilities and husbandry practices that most benefit them.


The western corn rootworm was first classified as a corn pest in 1867. Its green relative, the northern corn rootworm, was classified as a corn pest in Illinois and Missouri by the late 1870s Credit: Joseph Spencer, Illinois Natural History Survey. According to estimates, the current global population is more than 7.4 billion people and is growing at a rate of 88 million people per year. Developing corn varieties that are resistant to pests is vital to sustain the estimated 9 billion global population by 2050. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri, using advanced nuclear methods, have determined the mechanisms corn plants use to combat the western corn rootworm, a major pest threatening the growth of the vital food source. Scientists believe that using the knowledge gained from these cutting-edge studies could help crop breeders in developing new resistant lines of corn and make significant strides toward solving global food shortages. "The western corn rootworm is a voracious pest," said Richard Ferrieri, a research professor in the MU Interdisciplinary Plant Group, and an investigator at the MU Research Reactor (MURR). "Rootworm larvae hatch in the soil during late spring and immediately begin feeding on the crop's root system. Mild damage to the root system can hinder water and nutrient uptake, threatening plant fitness, while more severe damage can result in the plant falling over." Breeding corn that can fight these pests is a promising alternative. Ferrieri, and his international team of researchers, including scientists from the University of Bern in Switzerland, Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, used radioisotopes to trace essential nutrients and hormones as they moved through live corn plants. In a series of tests, the team injected radioisotope tracers in healthy and rootworm-infested corn plants. "For some time, we've known that auxin, a powerful plant hormone, is involved in stimulating new root growth," Ferrieri said. "Our target was to follow auxin's biosynthesis and movement in both healthy and stressed plants and determine how it contributes to this process." By tagging auxin with a radioactive tracer, the researchers were able to use a medical diagnostic imaging tool call positron emission tomography, or PET imaging, to "watch" the movement of auxin in living plant roots in real time. Similarly, they attached a radioactive tracer to an amino acid called glutamine that is important in controlling auxin chemistry, and observed the pathways the corn plants used to transport glutamine and how it influenced auxin biosynthesis. The researchers found that auxin is tightly regulated at the root tissue level where rootworms are feeding. The study also revealed that auxin biosynthesis is vital to root regrowth and involves highly specific biochemical pathways that are influenced by the rootworm and triggered by glutamine metabolism. "This work has revealed several new insights about root regrowth in crops that can fend off a rootworm attack," Ferrieri said. "Our observations suggest that improving glutamine utilization could be a good place to start for crop breeding programs or for engineering rootworm-resistant corn for a growing global population." Ferrieri's work highlights the capabilities of the MURR, a crucial component to research at the university for more than 40 years. Operating 6.5 days a week, 52 weeks a year, scientists from across the campus use the 10-megawatt facility to not only provide crucial radioisotopes for clinical settings globally, but also to carbon date artifacts, improve medical diagnostic tools and prevent illness. MURR also is home to a PETrace cyclotron that is used to produced other radioisotopes for medical diagnostic imaging. The study, "Dynamic Precision Phenotyping Reveals Mechanism of Crop Tolerance to Root Herbivory," was published in Plant Physiology. Explore further: Benefits of Bt corn go beyond rootworm resistance More information: Dynamic Precision Phenotyping Reveals Mechanism of Crop Tolerance to Root Herbivory, dx.doi.org/10.1104/pp.16.00735


News Article | April 7, 2016
Site: www.techtimes.com

Planet nine may exist on the far reaches of the solar system, frigid and dark, as it orbits well beyond the rounded path of Neptune. Although the world has not yet been observed, astronomers are starting to theorize what conditions may be like on the mysterious planet. Gravitational forces from the distant planet could explain some observations made of objects in the depths of the solar system. Researchers speculate the world would have a diameter roughly 3.7 times that of our own home world, and a mass equal to 10 times here on Earth. The planet should, theoretically, orbit in an egg-shaped orbit, between 200 and 1,200 times further away from the sun than does our home world. Planet nine would likely be a smaller version of a gas giant, looking much like Uranus or Neptune. This model would suggest an icy core, surrounded by a thick atmosphere containing the two most abundant elements in the Universe, hydrogen and helium. If planet nine exists, temperatures on the world could dive down to 375 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. This is significantly warmer than would be expected if the main energy released by the planet were reflected from the distant sun. "This means that the planet's emission is dominated by the cooling of its core, otherwise the temperature would only be 10 Kelvin. Its intrinsic power is about 1000 times bigger than its absorbed power," said Esther Linder of the University of Bern. Calculations seem to suggest the mystery world may be at its apogee, or greatest distance from the sun, making it particularly hard to find at this time. However, there have been a few tantalizing clues from various observatories which seem to show some bizarre objects beyond Neptune. The Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer may have found a body possessing 50 times the mass of Earth at the outskirts of the solar system. In January 2016, a pair of astronomers from Caltech, Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin, reported their discovery that some Kuiper Belt objects (KBO's) were following strange orbits that could be explained by the presence of an unseen world beyond Neptune. In 1846, the eighth planet, Neptune, was discovered after astronomers found gravitational evidence of its existence. Today, astronomers are even studying the movement of the New Horizons spacecraft, traveling beyond the orbit of Pluto, to see if the distant world might exist. Analysis of the potential physical properties of a planet nine are due to be published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. © 2016 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | December 7, 2015
Site: phys.org

A number of remarkable observations such as an enormous kidney, grooved three-pointed teeth and a huge seasonally present penis are reported in the recent study, conducted by Adrienne Jochum, Naturhistorisches Museum der Burgergemeinde Bern, Switzerland, and her international team of researchers from University of Bern, Switzerland; Shinshu University, Japan; Universitaetsklinikum Giessen und Marburg GmbH, Germany; Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Germany; University of Ljubljana, Slovenia; University of Bern Goethe-University Frankfurt, Germany; Ruhr University Bochum, Germany; Croatian Biospeleological Society, Croatia and University Duisburg-Essen, Germany. The scientists describe these characteristics as adaptations the miniature creatures have acquired in order to survive austerity in the subterranean realm. Usually, adaptations to cave life can include blindness or lack of eyes, loss of pigmentation, sensitivity to changes in temperature and humidity, a high starvation tolerance, or anatomical compromises such as small size and transparent shells. The present study shows that miniscule carychiid subterranean snails have developed huge organs to tolerate the unique conditions of cave life. "Studying adaptations in extreme environments such as those found in snails of subterranean habitats can help us to understand mechanisms driving evolution in these unique habitats," explains the first author. Glassy cave-dwelling snails known only from Northern Spain, the southern Eastern Alpine Arc and the Dinarides might have tiny hearts, but their enormous kidney extends from one to two thirds of the total length of their minute shells. This phenomenon could be explained as an effective mechanism used to flush out large amounts of excess water during flooding seasons in caves. The same impressive creatures have also developed elaborate muscular plates, forming the girdle that surrounds the gastric mill (gizzard) in their digestive tract. The muscular gizzard grinds the grainy stew of microorganisms and fungi the snails find in moist cave mud. These mysterious creatures graze stealthily using an elastic ribbon (radula), aligned with seemingly endless rows of three-pointed, centrally-grooved teeth, as they glide through the depths of karst caves while searching for food and partners. Deprived from the hospitable aspects of life we have grown used to, some of the snails discussed in the present paper have evolved their reproductive system in order to be able to reproduce in the harshest of environments, even when they fail to find a partner for an extended period of time. As a result, not only are these snails protandric hermaphrodites, meaning that they possess male sexual features initially, which later disappear so that the female phase is present, but they have a large retractable, pinecone-shaped penis for instantaneous mating in the summer when mating is most probable. To guarantee offspring, a round sac, known as the receptaculum seminis, stocks sperm received from a partner during a previous mating and allows them to self-inseminate if necessary. Teeth in these cave snails are also described using histology for the first time. They bear a median groove on the characteristic cusps known for the Carychiidae. Sketchy, past dissections provide the current knowledge upon which the findings from this investigation are based. Otherwise, historical descriptions of these tiny snails are only known from empty shells found in samples of cave sediment. The genus Zospeum can only be found alive by inspecting cave walls using a magnifying glass. "Knowledge of their subterranean ecology as well as a "gut feeling" of where they might be gliding about in their glassy shells is necessary to find them," comments Adrienne Jochum. The authors also emphasize that this groundbreaking work is important for biodiversity studies, for biogeographical investigations and for conservation management strategies. Adrienne Jochum and her team investigated the insides of the shells using nanoCT to differentiate species in synchronization with molecular approaches for genetic delimitation. Four well-defined genetic lineages were determined from a total of sixteen Zospeum specimens found in the type locality region of the most common representative, Zospeum isselianum. This investigation is the first integrative study of live-collected Zospeum cave snails using multiple lines of data (molecular analyses, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), nano-computer tomography (nanoCT), and histology. This work is dedicated to the industrious Slovenian malacologist Joze Bole, whose work greatly inspired the present research. Explore further: Life deep down: A new beautiful translucent snail from the deepest cave in Croatia More information: Jochum A, Slapnik R, Klussmann-Kolb A, Páll-Gergely B, Kampschulte M, Martels G, Vrabec M, Nesselhauf C, Weigand AM (2015) Groping through the black box of variability: An integrative taxonomic and nomenclatural re-evaluation of Zospeum isselianum Pollonera, 1887 and allied species using new imaging technology (Nano-CT, SEM), conchological, histological and molecular data (Ellobioidea, Carychiidae). Subterranean Biology 16: 123-165. DOI: 10.3897/subtbiol.16.5758


News Article | December 12, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

COLUMBIA, Mo. - According to estimates, the current global population is more than 7.4 billion people and is growing at a rate of 88 million people per year. Developing corn varieties that are resistant to pests is vital to sustain the estimated 9 billion global population by 2050. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri, using advanced nuclear methods, have determined the mechanisms corn plants use to combat the western corn rootworm, a major pest threatening the growth of the vital food source. Scientists believe that using the knowledge gained from these cutting-edge studies could help crop breeders in developing new resistant lines of corn and make significant strides toward solving global food shortages. "The western corn rootworm is a voracious pest," said Richard Ferrieri, a research professor in the MU Interdisciplinary Plant Group, and an investigator at the MU Research Reactor (MURR). "Rootworm larvae hatch in the soil during late spring and immediately begin feeding on the crop's root system. Mild damage to the root system can hinder water and nutrient uptake, threatening plant fitness, while more severe damage can result in the plant falling over." Breeding corn that can fight these pests is a promising alternative. Ferrieri, and his international team of researchers, including scientists from the University of Bern in Switzerland, Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, used radioisotopes to trace essential nutrients and hormones as they moved through live corn plants. In a series of tests, the team injected radioisotope tracers in healthy and rootworm-infested corn plants. "For some time, we've known that auxin, a powerful plant hormone, is involved in stimulating new root growth," Ferrieri said. "Our target was to follow auxin's biosynthesis and movement in both healthy and stressed plants and determine how it contributes to this process." By tagging auxin with a radioactive tracer, the researchers were able to use a medical diagnostic imaging tool call positron emission tomography, or PET imaging, to "watch" the movement of auxin in living plant roots in real time. Similarly, they attached a radioactive tracer to an amino acid called glutamine that is important in controlling auxin chemistry, and observed the pathways the corn plants used to transport glutamine and how it influenced auxin biosynthesis. The researchers found that auxin is tightly regulated at the root tissue level where rootworms are feeding. The study also revealed that auxin biosynthesis is vital to root regrowth and involves highly specific biochemical pathways that are influenced by the rootworm and triggered by glutamine metabolism. "This work has revealed several new insights about root regrowth in crops that can fend off a rootworm attack," Ferrieri said. "Our observations suggest that improving glutamine utilization could be a good place to start for crop breeding programs or for engineering rootworm-resistant corn for a growing global population." Ferrieri's work highlights the capabilities of the MURR, a crucial component to research at the university for more than 40 years. Operating 6.5 days a week, 52 weeks a year, scientists from across the campus use the 10-megawatt facility to not only provide crucial radioisotopes for clinical settings globally, but also to carbon date artifacts, improve medical diagnostic tools and prevent illness. MURR also is home to a PETrace cyclotron that is used to produced other radioisotopes for medical diagnostic imaging. The study, "Dynamic Precision Phenotyping Reveals Mechanism of Crop Tolerance to Root Herbivory," was published in Plant Physiology. The article was authored by Brookhaven Science Associates, LLC, under contract number DE-AC02-98CH10886. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agency.


News Article | October 16, 2015
Site: news.yahoo.com

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Two scientists won the Nobel Prize in physics Tuesday for key discoveries about a cosmic particle that whizzes through space at nearly the speed of light, passing easily through Earth and even your body. Takaaki Kajita of Japan and Arthur McDonald of Canada were honored for showing that these tiny particles, called neutrinos, have mass. That's the quality we typically experience as weight. "The discovery has changed our understanding of the innermost workings of matter and can prove crucial to our view of the universe," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in awarding the prize. The work dispelled the long-held notion that neutrinos had no mass. Neutrinos come in three types, or "flavors," and what the scientists actually showed is that neutrinos spontaneously shift between types. That in turn means they must have mass. Kajita, 56, is director of the Institute for Cosmic Ray Research and professor at the University of Tokyo. McDonald, 72, is a professor emeritus at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. McDonald told reporters in Stockholm by phone that the discovery helped scientists fit neutrinos into theories of fundamental physics. Kajita, who initially told a news conference at his university that "my mind has gone completely blank. I don't know what to say," went on to stress that many people had contributed to his work. "The universe where we live in is still full of unknowns," he said. "A major discovery cannot be achieved in a day or two. It takes a lot of people and a long time." The existence of neutrinos was first proven in 1956. They come from a variety of sources in the cosmos, on Earth and in Earth's atmosphere. Most that reach Earth were created by nuclear reactions inside the sun. Trillions pass through your body every second. Kajita showed in 1998 that neutrinos created in Earth's atmosphere and captured at the Super-Kamiokande detector in Japan had changed "flavors." Three years later, while working at Canada's Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, McDonald found that neutrinos coming from the sun also switched identities. "It changes our understanding of the fundamentals of particle physics, and particles make up everything in the universe," said Robert G.W. Brown, chief executive officer of the American Institute of Physics. Antonio Ereditato, director of the Albert Einstein Center for Fundamental Physics at the University of Bern, Switzerland, declared, "This is really one of the milestones in our understanding of nature." The findings "really inspired a whole global community of scientists to drop what they were doing and try to understand the neutrino," said Joseph Lykken, deputy director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois. Still unknown: Just how much do neutrinos weigh? "Neutrinos are a million times lighter than an electron, which is a charged version of a neutrino," said Guido Drexlin, a neutrino expert at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany. Determining their weight is something his team hopes to start working on next year. The Nobel winners will split the 8 million Swedish kronor (about $960,000) prize money. Each winner also gets a diploma and a gold medal at the prize ceremony on Dec. 10. On Monday, the Nobel Prize in medicine went to scientists from Japan, the U.S. and China who discovered drugs that are now used to fight malaria and other tropical diseases. The prize announcements continue with chemistry on Wednesday, literature on Thursday, the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday and the economics award next Monday. Malcolm Ritter reported from New York. Malin Rising in Stockholm, Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo and Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to this report.


News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Astronomers using the TRAPPIST-South telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory, the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at Paranal and the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope, as well as other telescopes around the world [1], have now confirmed the existence of at least seven small planets orbiting the cool red dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 [2]. All the planets, labelled TRAPPIST-1b, c, d, e, f, g and h in order of increasing distance from their parent star, have sizes similar to Earth [3]. Dips in the star's light output caused by each of the seven planets passing in front of it (astronomy) -- events known as transits -- allowed the astronomers to infer information about their sizes, compositions and orbits [4]. They found that at least the inner six planets are comparable in both size and temperature to the Earth. Lead author Michaël Gillon of the STAR Institute at the University of Liège in Belgium is delighted by the findings: "This is an amazing planetary system -- not only because we have found so many planets, but because they are all surprisingly similar in size to the Earth!" With just 8% the mass of the Sun, TRAPPIST-1 is very small in stellar terms -- only marginally bigger than the planet Jupiter -- and though nearby in the constellation Aquarius (constellation) ) (The Water Carrier), it appears very dim. Astronomers expected that such dwarf stars might host many Earth-sized planets in tight orbits, making them promising targets in the hunt for extraterrestrial life, but TRAPPIST-1 is the first such system to be found. Co-author Amaury Triaud expands: "The energy output from dwarf stars like TRAPPIST-1 is much weaker than that of our Sun. Planets would need to be in far closer orbits than we see in the Solar System if there is to be surface water. Fortunately, it seems that this kind of compact configuration is just what we see around TRAPPIST-1!" The team determined that all the planets in the system are similar in size to Earth and Venus in the Solar System, or slightly smaller. The density measurements suggest that at least the innermost six are probably rocky in composition. The planetary orbits are not much larger than that of Jupiter's Galilean moon system, and much smaller than the orbit of Mercury in the Solar System. However, TRAPPIST-1's small size and low temperature mean that the energy input to its planets is similar to that received by the inner planets in our Solar System; TRAPPIST-1c, d and f receive similar amounts of energy to Venus, Earth and Mars, respectively. All seven planets discovered in the system could potentially have liquid water on their surfaces, though their orbital distances make some of them more likely candidates than others. Climate models suggest the innermost planets, TRAPPIST-1b, c and d, are probably too hot to support liquid water, except maybe on a small fraction of their surfaces. The orbital distance of the system's outermost planet, TRAPPIST-1h, is unconfirmed, though it is likely to be too distant and cold to harbour liquid water -- assuming no alternative heating processes are occurring [5]. TRAPPIST-1e, f, and g, however, represent the holy grail for planet-hunting astronomers, as they orbit in the star's habitable zone[6]. These new discoveries make the TRAPPIST-1 system a very important target for future study. The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is already being used to search for atmospheres around the planets and team member Emmanuël Jehin is excited about the future possibilities: "With the upcoming generation of telescopes, such as ESO's European Extremely Large Telescope and the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope , we will soon be able to search for water and perhaps even evidence of life on these worlds." [1] As well as the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope , the team used many ground-based facilities: TRAPPIST-South at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile, HAWK-I on ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile, TRAPPIST-North in Morocco, the 3.8-metre UKIRT in Hawaii, the 2-metre Liverpool and 4-metre William Herschel telescopes at La Palma in the Canary Islands, and the 1-metre SAAO telescope in South Africa. [2] TRAPPIST-South (the TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope-South) is a Belgian 0.6-metre robotic telescope operated from the University of Liège and based at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile. It spends much of its time monitoring the light from around 60 of the nearest ultracool dwarf stars and brown dwarfs ("stars" which are not quite massive enough to initiate sustained nuclear fusion in their cores), looking for evidence of planetary transits. TRAPPIST-South, along with its twin TRAPPIST-North, are the forerunners to the SPECULOOS system, which is currently being installed at ESO's Paranal Observatory. [3] In early 2016, a team of astronomers, also led by Michaël Gillon announced the discovery of three planets orbiting TRAPPIST-1. They intensified their follow-up observations of the system mainly because of a remarkable triple transit that they observed with the HAWK-I instrument on the VLT. This transit showed clearly that at least one other unknown planet was orbiting the star. And that historic light curve shows for the first time three temperate Earth-sized planets, two of them in the habitable zone, passing in front of their star at the same time! [4] This is one of the main methods that astronomers use to identify the presence of a planet around a star. They look at the light coming from the star to see if some of the light is blocked as the planet passes in front of its host star on the line of sight to Earth -- it transits (astronomy) the star, as astronomers say. As the planet orbits around its star, we expect to see regular small dips in the light coming from the star as the planet moves in front of it. [5] Such processes could include tidal heating, whereby the gravitational pull of TRAPPIST-1 causes the planet to repeatedly deform, leading to inner frictional forces and the generation of heat. This process drives the active volcanism on Jupiter's moon Io. If TRAPPIST-1h has also retained a primordial hydrogen-rich atmosphere, the rate of heat loss could be very low. [6] This discovery also represents the largest known chain of exoplanets orbiting in near-resonance with each other. The astronomers carefully measured how long it takes for each planet in the system to complete one orbit around TRAPPIST-1 -- known as the revolution period -- and then calculated the ratio of each planet's period and that of its next more distant neighbour. The innermost six TRAPPIST-1 planets have period ratios with their neighbours that are very close to simple ratios, such as 5:3 or 3:2. This means that the planets most likely formed together further from their star, and have since moved inwards into their current configuration. If so, they could be low-density and volatile-rich worlds, suggesting an icy surface and/or an atmosphere. This research was presented in a paper entitled "Seven temperate terrestrial planets around the nearby ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1", by M. Gillon et al., to appear in the journal Nature. The team is composed of M. Gillon (Université de Liège, Liège, Belgium), A. H. M. J. Triaud (Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge, UK), B.-O. Demory (University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland; Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, UK), E. Jehin (Université de Liège, Liège, Belgium), E. Agol (University of Washington, Seattle, USA; NASA Astrobiology Institute's Virtual Planetary Laboratory, Seattle, USA), K. M. Deck (California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA), S. M. Lederer (NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, USA), J. de Wit (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA), A. Burdanov (Université de Liège, Liège, Belgium), J. G. Ingalls (California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA), E. Bolmont (University of Namur, Namur, Belgium; Laboratoire AIM Paris-Saclay, CEA/DRF - CNRS - Univ. Paris Diderot - IRFU/SAp, Centre de Saclay, France), J. Leconte (Univ. Bordeaux, Pessac, France), S. N. Raymond (Univ. Bordeaux, Pessac, France), F. Selsis (Univ. Bordeaux, Pessac, France), M. Turbet (Sorbonne Universités, Paris, France), K. Barkaoui (Oukaimeden Observatory, Marrakesh, Morocco), A. Burgasser (University of California, San Diego, California, USA), M. R. Burleigh (University of Leicester, Leicester, UK), S. J. Carey (California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA), A. Chaushev (University of Leicester, UK), C. M. Copperwheat (Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK), L. Delrez (Université de Liège, Liège, Belgium; Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, UK), C. S. Fernandes (Université de Liège, Liège, Belgium), D. L. Holdsworth (University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK), E. J. Kotze (South African Astronomical Observatory, Cape Town, South Africa), V. Van Grootel (Université de Liège, Liège, Belgium), Y. Almleaky (King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; King Abdullah Centre for Crescent Observations and Astronomy, Makkah Clock, Saudi Arabia), Z. Benkhaldoun (Oukaimeden Observatory, Marrakesh, Morocco), P. Magain (Université de Liège, Liège, Belgium), and D. Queloz (Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, UK; Astronomy Department, Geneva University, Switzerland). ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world's most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world's most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world's largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become "the world's biggest eye on the sky".


Computer simulations of the formation of planets orbiting in the habitable zones of low mass stars such as Proxima Centauri by astrophysicists at the University of Bern show that these planets are most likely to be roughly the size of the Earth and to contain large amounts of water.


News Article | November 29, 2016
Site: motherboard.vice.com

The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) sent back its first images and data from Mars, captured during the orbiter's close pass with the planet on November 22. The European Space Agency (ESA) released a video highlight reel of the new visual data on Tuesday, which includes timelapses taken at a distant 5,300 kilometers (3,293 miles) and sharp close-ups snapped at altitudes of 235 kilometers (146 miles) with high resolutions of 2.8 meters per pixel. These initial images were taken primarily to test out and calibrate the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) onboard the orbiter. The camera not only performed properly, it also produced stunning surface observations, according to CaSSIS mission lead Nicolas Thomas, who is based at the University of Bern. "The first images we received are absolutely spectacular—and it was only meant to be a test," Thomas told Universe Today. "We saw Hebes Chasma at 2.8 metres per pixel. That's a bit like flying over Bern at 15,000 kilometers per hour and simultaneously getting sharp pictures of cars in Zurich." The TGO's successful insertion into Mars orbit on October 19 was overshadowed somewhat by the crash-landing of its partner spacecraft, the Schiaparelli lander, which was destroyed on impact due to a software glitch. But as emphasized by mission leads, the orbiter is the real MVP of the ExoMars project, both in terms of cost and scientific potential. Schiaparelli was primarily a test platform, designed to operate on the Martian surface for a brief week-long lifespan. In contrast, the TGO is expected to study Mars from orbit until 2022, with a special focus on detecting gases that make up less than one percent of its atmospheric volume, such as methane, water vapour, nitrogen dioxide, and acetylene. These trace gases have the potential to reveal biosignatures, or signs of life, on the planet. READ MORE: The First Time Humans Crashed a Probe on Mars The orbiter's freshly released images confirm that its camera is functioning properly, which is some much-needed good news for ESA and Roscosmos, its Russian partner on ExoMars. "We are extremely happy and proud to see that all the instruments are working so well in the Mars environment, and this first impression gives a fantastic preview of what's to come when we start collecting data for real at the end of next year," said Håkan Svedhem, ESA's TGO Project Scientist, in a statement. "We have identified areas that can be fine-tuned well in advance of the main science mission, and we look forward to seeing what this amazing science orbiter will do in the future." Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter.


News Article | February 8, 2017
Site: www.sciencenews.org

Genetic methods for counting new species may be a little too good at their jobs, a new study suggests. Computer programs that rely on genetic data alone split populations of organisms into five to 13 times as many species as actually exist, researchers report online January 30 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. These overestimates may muddy researchers’ views of how species evolve and undermine conservation efforts by claiming protections for species that don’t really exist, say computational evolutionary biologist Jeet Sukumaran and evolutionary biologist L. Lacey Knowles. The lesson, says Knowles, “is that we shouldn’t use genetic data alone” to draw lines between species. Scientists have historically used data about organisms’ ecological distribution, appearance and behavior to classify species. But the number of experts in taxonomy is dwindling, and researchers have turned increasingly to genetics to help them draw distinctions. Large genetic datasets and powerful computer programs can quickly sort out groups that have become or are in the process of becoming different species. That’s especially important in analyzing organisms for which scientists don’t have much ecological data, such as insects in remote locations or recently extinct organisms. Knowles and Sukumaran, both of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, examined a commonly used computer analysis method, called multispecies coalescent, which picks out genetic differences among individuals that have arisen recently in evolutionary time. Such differences could indicate that a population of organisms is becoming a separate species. The researchers used a set of known species and tested the program’s ability to correctly predict the right number of species given certain variables. The program is good — maybe too good — at detecting the differences, Knowles says. If scientists don’t take other factors, such as geographical separation, into account, they may call genetically different groups separate species when they are merely subgroups of the same species. Then again, it depends on what you mean by a “species,” says Rampal Etienne, an evolutionary community ecologist at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. He developed the method that Knowles and Sukumaran analyzed. By one definition, a species is a genetically distinct lineage. “If that’s your species concept then, no, it’s not true that there are more species discovered by this method than there actually are,” Etienne says. Biologists have long defined species primarily based on mating behavior and physical traits, not genetic similarity. Species are said to be reproductively isolated when they don’t mate either because they can’t or because they don’t for some reason (such as female fish choosing to mate with only red or blue males). Reproductive isolation doesn’t exclude two species from mating once in a while, says evolutionary biologist Ole Seehausen of the University of Bern in Switzerland. What’s important is that species that breed in the same area remain distinct. What’s more, “speciation is not a one-way road,” Seehausen says. When ecological conditions change, groups that had been going their separate ways may breed with each other again. For instance, female fish that choose mates based on color may breed with males of the non-preferred color when water becomes murky and obscures their vision. Computer programs can predict when speciation has started but can never forecast whether the groups will remain separate or will come back together, Seehausen says. Using the biological criteria, the genetic method may seem to fall short, but genetic analyses simply aren’t designed to address such questions, Seehausen says. He agrees with Knowles and Sukumaran that genetic data should be used in combination with ecological and other studies to identify species. Characterizing species based on their genes could still be a useful conservation tool, Etienne says, helping to preserve genetic diversity. A diverse set of genes can help a species adapt to changing environments, and a lack of diversity can doom it to extinction. Identifying diverse groups within a population could help researchers decide where to focus conservation efforts, Etienne says. “Whether they are two species or not is less important,” he says. Estimates of global biodiversity are not affected by any shortcomings with the genetic analysis programs, Knowles says. Scientists use many types of data to determine the total number of species in a region or on Earth.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A University of Wyoming researcher is part of an international team that has discovered how more than 700 species of fish have evolved in East Africa's Lake Victoria region over the past 150,000 years. Catherine Wagner, a UW assistant professor in the Department of Botany and the UW Biodiversity Institute, describes the phenomenon -- unparalleled in the animal and plant world -- as "one of the most spectacular examples of the evolution of modern biodiversity." She and fellow researchers from Switzerland's University of Bern and the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology have demonstrated for the first time that the rapid evolution of Lake Victoria cichlids -- brightly colored, perch-like fish -- was facilitated by earlier hybridization between two distantly related cichlid species from the Upper Nile and Congo drainage systems. The research is published today (Friday) in the journal Nature Communications. The first author on the paper, Joana Meier, is a Ph.D. student Wagner co-supervised at the University of Bern. Wagner, along with Meier's other supervisors -- Laurent Excoffier and Ole Seehausen -- are senior authors of the paper. Wagner says the rapid evolution of the East African cichlids had puzzled researchers, who didn't understand how a single common ancestor could divide into 700 species so quickly. The discovery that the ancestor of these fish species was actually a mixture of two different ancestors from different parts of Africa makes it "much easier to understand how the immense variety of fishes in this region have evolved," she says. "An analogy is: If you combined the pieces from two very different Lego sets -- say, a tractor and an airplane -- you could get a much wider variety of possible structures," Wagner says. The species that evolved exhibit many combinations of colors and are adapted to different habitats, such as sandy bottoms, rocky shores or open waters -- ranging from the clear shallows to the permanent darkness of the turbid depths, according to a media release from the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology. Depending on the species, cichlids may scrape algae from rocks, feed on plankton, crack open snail shells, forage for insect larvae or prey on other fish, including their eggs or scales. The hybridization event probably took place around 150,000 years ago, when -- during a wet period -- a Congolese lineage colonized the Lake Victoria region and encountered representatives of the Upper Nile lineage. Across the large lakes of this region, the hybrid population then diversified in a process known as adaptive radiation, or evolution of multiple new species adapted to different ecological niches. While the precise course of events in ancestral Lake Victoria has yet to be reconstructed, it is clear that, after a dry period, it filled up again about 15,000 years ago. Descendants of the genetically diverse hybrid population colonized the lake and, within the evolutionarily short period of several thousand years, diverged to form at least 500 new cichlid species, with a wide variety of ecological specializations. The particular genetic diversity and adaptive capacity of Lake Victoria's cichlids is demonstrated by the fact that more than 40 other fish species -- which colonized the lake at the same time -- have barely changed since then. The study involved sequencing over 3 million sites in the genome of 100 cichlid species -- a task which, until recently, would not have been feasible. Wagner's study of evolutionary adaptive radiation earned her the 2015 Theodosius Dobzhansky Prize as an outstanding young evolutionary biologist from the Society for the Study of Evolution. Wagner has published a range of papers in top-tier journals, including Nature, Nature Reviews Genetics, Evolution and Molecular Ecology. At UW, she and her lab focus on using genetic and ecological data to study the evolution of biodiversity, primarily in freshwater fish. Her research uses population genetic, genomic, phylogenetic and comparative methods to study diversification, from speciation processes to macro-evolutionary patterns of biodiversity. Wagner received her Ph.D. from Cornell University in 2011, and she was a postdoctoral research associate at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology before starting as an assistant professor at UW in 2015. She received her bachelor's degree in biology and geology from Whitman College.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: ISIB-03-2015 | Award Amount: 5.94M | Year: 2016

SIMRA seeks to advance understanding of social innovation (SI) and innovative governance in agriculture, forestry and rural development (RD), and how to boost them, particularly in marginalised rural areas across Europe, with a focus on the Mediterranean region (including non-EU) where there is limited evidence of outcomes and supporting conditions. These objectives will be achieved by: 1. Developing systematic frameworks: a) theoretical - for improved knowledge of the complexity of SIs and its dimensions, and its impact on unfolding territorial capital; b) operational - based on a trans-disciplinary coalition (researchers and practitioners) to advance understanding of preconditions and success factors (e.g. instruments, incentives etc.) for implementing/operationalizing SI. 2. Creating a categorisation of SIs which encompasses the specificities in terms of social priorities, relationships/collaborations etc. and serves as an instrument to explore reasons why regions with similar conditions display diverging paths and to turn diversity into strength. 3. Creating an integrated set of methods to evaluate SI and its impacts on economic, social, environmental, institutional and policy dimensions of territorial capital. 4. Co-constructed evaluation of SIs in case studies across the spatial variation of European rural areas, considering which components of territorial capital foster and, or mainstream RD. 5. Synthesis and dissemination of new or improved knowledge of SIs and novel governance mechanisms to promote social capital and institutional capacity building and inform effective options/solutions for shaping sustainable development trajectories. 6. Creating collaborative learning and networking opportunities and launching innovative actions at different/multiple scales, with continuous interactions among researchers, knowledge brokers and stakeholders to foster and mainstream SI, leaving a durable legacy.


Breda, the Netherlands / Ghent, Belgium - argenx (Euronext Brussels: ARGX), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on creating and developing differentiated therapeutic antibodies for the treatment of cancer and severe autoimmune diseases, today announced the initiation of a Phase I/II clinical trial of ARGX-110 in combination with azacitidine in newly diagnosed, elderly acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients. ARGX-110 is the Company's SIMPLE Antibody(TM) targeting CD70. Azacitidine is a hypomethylating agent that upregulates CD70 expression on AML blasts, and is currently the standard of care treatment for elderly AML patients. "AML blasts and leukemic stem cells of newly diagnosed AML patients strongly overexpress CD70, regardless genetic factors or risk class. Targeting CD70 has proven to be a very promising therapeutic approach in various preclinical models of AML. The idea of combining ARGX-110 with the current standard of care azacitidine, which seems to sensitize cancer cells to a CD70 treatment, is an exciting one since it allows us to go into the first-line therapy setting," commented Tim Van Hauwermeiren, CEO of argenx. "This trial marks the first combination study for ARGX-110. We believe that combination therapies for cancer will be a mainstay approach to enhance synergistic mechanisms and we are eager to see how ARGX-110 and azacitidine may support this hypothesis in newly diagnosed AML patients." The Phase I/II trial is an open-label, dose-escalating study (Phase I) with a proof-of-concept cohort (Phase II). In this Phase I study safety and tolerability will be determined whilst for the Phase II efficacy will be assessed in up to 42 newly diagnosed AML patients in total. Top-line data from the dose escalation are expected in about 18 months. About ARGX-110 ARGX-110 is a SIMPLE Antibody(TM) targeting CD70, an immune checkpoint target involved in hematological malignancies, several solid tumors and severe autoimmune diseases. ARGX-110 works in three ways: i) blocks growth of tumor cells, ii) kills cancer cells and iii) restores immune surveillance against tumors (Silence K. et al. mAbs 2014; 6 (2):523-532). ARGX-110 is currently being evaluated in hematological and solid tumors.  Preclinical work on ARGX-110 in AML was done in collaboration with the Tumor Immunology Lab of Prof. A. F. Ochsenbein at the University of Bern, who won together with Prof Manz from the University Hospital of Zürich, the prestigious 2016 Otto Naegeli Prize for his breakthrough research on CD70/CD27 signaling with therapeutic potential for cancer patients. About AML AML develops from immature blood cells produced in the bone marrow that become myeloblasts (also termed blasts or leukaemia cells). All these types of leukaemia cells rapidly multiply in the bone marrow resulting in limited room for healthy blood cells. AML has the lowest 5-year survival rate of all blood malignancies (~5-20%) and primarily affects the eldery. Patients above 65 years old are unfit for stem cell transplantation and are often put on palliative treatment. Around 40% of these patients receive azacitidine, as it has been shown to improve the overall survival rate. -Azacitidine (Vidaza®, Celgene)- About argenx argenx combines the diversity of the llama immune system with antibody engineering to advance a clinical pipeline to treat patients with cancer and autoimmune diseases. Our platforms allow us to unlock novel and complex targets and develop antibody-based drugs designed for longer duration of effect and greater efficacy. The strength of our team, our deep understanding of the biology, and our committed collaborations with industry leaders contribute to the success of our journey. For further information, please contact: Forward-looking Statements The contents of this announcement include statements that are, or may be deemed to be, "forward-looking statements". These forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology, including the terms "believes", "estimates", "anticipates", "expects", "intends", "may", "will", or "should", and include statements argenx makes concerning the intended results of its strategy. By their nature, forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties and readers are cautioned that any such forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance. argenx's actual results may differ materially from those predicted by the forward-looking statements. argenx undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise forward-looking statements, except as may be required by law.


Breda, the Netherlands / Ghent, Belgium - argenx (Euronext Brussels: ARGX), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on creating and developing differentiated therapeutic antibodies for the treatment of cancer and severe autoimmune diseases, today announced the initiation of a Phase I/II clinical trial of ARGX-110 in combination with azacitidine in newly diagnosed, elderly acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients. ARGX-110 is the Company's SIMPLE Antibody(TM) targeting CD70. Azacitidine is a hypomethylating agent that upregulates CD70 expression on AML blasts, and is currently the standard of care treatment for elderly AML patients. "AML blasts and leukemic stem cells of newly diagnosed AML patients strongly overexpress CD70, regardless genetic factors or risk class. Targeting CD70 has proven to be a very promising therapeutic approach in various preclinical models of AML. The idea of combining ARGX-110 with the current standard of care azacitidine, which seems to sensitize cancer cells to a CD70 treatment, is an exciting one since it allows us to go into the first-line therapy setting," commented Tim Van Hauwermeiren, CEO of argenx. "This trial marks the first combination study for ARGX-110. We believe that combination therapies for cancer will be a mainstay approach to enhance synergistic mechanisms and we are eager to see how ARGX-110 and azacitidine may support this hypothesis in newly diagnosed AML patients." The Phase I/II trial is an open-label, dose-escalating study (Phase I) with a proof-of-concept cohort (Phase II). In this Phase I study safety and tolerability will be determined whilst for the Phase II efficacy will be assessed in up to 42 newly diagnosed AML patients in total. Top-line data from the dose escalation are expected in about 18 months. About ARGX-110 ARGX-110 is a SIMPLE Antibody(TM) targeting CD70, an immune checkpoint target involved in hematological malignancies, several solid tumors and severe autoimmune diseases. ARGX-110 works in three ways: i) blocks growth of tumor cells, ii) kills cancer cells and iii) restores immune surveillance against tumors (Silence K. et al. mAbs 2014; 6 (2):523-532). ARGX-110 is currently being evaluated in hematological and solid tumors.  Preclinical work on ARGX-110 in AML was done in collaboration with the Tumor Immunology Lab of Prof. A. F. Ochsenbein at the University of Bern, who won together with Prof Manz from the University Hospital of Zürich, the prestigious 2016 Otto Naegeli Prize for his breakthrough research on CD70/CD27 signaling with therapeutic potential for cancer patients. About AML AML develops from immature blood cells produced in the bone marrow that become myeloblasts (also termed blasts or leukaemia cells). All these types of leukaemia cells rapidly multiply in the bone marrow resulting in limited room for healthy blood cells. AML has the lowest 5-year survival rate of all blood malignancies (~5-20%) and primarily affects the eldery. Patients above 65 years old are unfit for stem cell transplantation and are often put on palliative treatment. Around 40% of these patients receive azacitidine, as it has been shown to improve the overall survival rate. -Azacitidine (Vidaza®, Celgene)- About argenx argenx combines the diversity of the llama immune system with antibody engineering to advance a clinical pipeline to treat patients with cancer and autoimmune diseases. Our platforms allow us to unlock novel and complex targets and develop antibody-based drugs designed for longer duration of effect and greater efficacy. The strength of our team, our deep understanding of the biology, and our committed collaborations with industry leaders contribute to the success of our journey. For further information, please contact: Forward-looking Statements The contents of this announcement include statements that are, or may be deemed to be, "forward-looking statements". These forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology, including the terms "believes", "estimates", "anticipates", "expects", "intends", "may", "will", or "should", and include statements argenx makes concerning the intended results of its strategy. By their nature, forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties and readers are cautioned that any such forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance. argenx's actual results may differ materially from those predicted by the forward-looking statements. argenx undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise forward-looking statements, except as may be required by law.


Breda, the Netherlands / Ghent, Belgium - argenx (Euronext Brussels: ARGX), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on creating and developing differentiated therapeutic antibodies for the treatment of cancer and severe autoimmune diseases, today announced the initiation of a Phase I/II clinical trial of ARGX-110 in combination with azacitidine in newly diagnosed, elderly acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients. ARGX-110 is the Company's SIMPLE Antibody(TM) targeting CD70. Azacitidine is a hypomethylating agent that upregulates CD70 expression on AML blasts, and is currently the standard of care treatment for elderly AML patients. "AML blasts and leukemic stem cells of newly diagnosed AML patients strongly overexpress CD70, regardless genetic factors or risk class. Targeting CD70 has proven to be a very promising therapeutic approach in various preclinical models of AML. The idea of combining ARGX-110 with the current standard of care azacitidine, which seems to sensitize cancer cells to a CD70 treatment, is an exciting one since it allows us to go into the first-line therapy setting," commented Tim Van Hauwermeiren, CEO of argenx. "This trial marks the first combination study for ARGX-110. We believe that combination therapies for cancer will be a mainstay approach to enhance synergistic mechanisms and we are eager to see how ARGX-110 and azacitidine may support this hypothesis in newly diagnosed AML patients." The Phase I/II trial is an open-label, dose-escalating study (Phase I) with a proof-of-concept cohort (Phase II). In this Phase I study safety and tolerability will be determined whilst for the Phase II efficacy will be assessed in up to 42 newly diagnosed AML patients in total. Top-line data from the dose escalation are expected in about 18 months. About ARGX-110 ARGX-110 is a SIMPLE Antibody(TM) targeting CD70, an immune checkpoint target involved in hematological malignancies, several solid tumors and severe autoimmune diseases. ARGX-110 works in three ways: i) blocks growth of tumor cells, ii) kills cancer cells and iii) restores immune surveillance against tumors (Silence K. et al. mAbs 2014; 6 (2):523-532). ARGX-110 is currently being evaluated in hematological and solid tumors.  Preclinical work on ARGX-110 in AML was done in collaboration with the Tumor Immunology Lab of Prof. A. F. Ochsenbein at the University of Bern, who won together with Prof Manz from the University Hospital of Zürich, the prestigious 2016 Otto Naegeli Prize for his breakthrough research on CD70/CD27 signaling with therapeutic potential for cancer patients. About AML AML develops from immature blood cells produced in the bone marrow that become myeloblasts (also termed blasts or leukaemia cells). All these types of leukaemia cells rapidly multiply in the bone marrow resulting in limited room for healthy blood cells. AML has the lowest 5-year survival rate of all blood malignancies (~5-20%) and primarily affects the eldery. Patients above 65 years old are unfit for stem cell transplantation and are often put on palliative treatment. Around 40% of these patients receive azacitidine, as it has been shown to improve the overall survival rate. -Azacitidine (Vidaza®, Celgene)- About argenx argenx combines the diversity of the llama immune system with antibody engineering to advance a clinical pipeline to treat patients with cancer and autoimmune diseases. Our platforms allow us to unlock novel and complex targets and develop antibody-based drugs designed for longer duration of effect and greater efficacy. The strength of our team, our deep understanding of the biology, and our committed collaborations with industry leaders contribute to the success of our journey. For further information, please contact: Forward-looking Statements The contents of this announcement include statements that are, or may be deemed to be, "forward-looking statements". These forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology, including the terms "believes", "estimates", "anticipates", "expects", "intends", "may", "will", or "should", and include statements argenx makes concerning the intended results of its strategy. By their nature, forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties and readers are cautioned that any such forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance. argenx's actual results may differ materially from those predicted by the forward-looking statements. argenx undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise forward-looking statements, except as may be required by law.


News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: www.csmonitor.com

An artist's conception of what the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system may look like, based on available data about their diameters, masses, and distances from the host star. Color and other details about appearance are completely speculative. —“The universe is a pretty big place. If it's just us, seems like an awful waste of space,” Carl Sagan once said. We still don’t know if we’re alone or not, but a new discovery suggests that at least one nearby solar system makes good use of its space indeed. Seven Earth-sized planets densely populate the area around a nearby dwarf star, circling it in tight, fast ellipses, announced an international team of scientists on Wednesday. An unprecedented three of those seven planets could support oceans, making them prime candidates in the search for life, and upcoming space telescopes promise to reveal more about the fascinating system in the near future – including how much potentially deadly radiation the star TRAPPIST-1 could be unleashing on its planets. “This is an amazing planetary system – not only because we have found so many planets, but because they are all surprisingly similar in size to the Earth!” lead author Michaël Gillon, of the STAR Institute at the University of Liège in Belgium, said in a press release. Sitting at a Millennium Falcon-friendly 12 parsecs (39 light years) away, ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 is relatively close to Earth, but don’t bother trying to find it in the sky tonight. It's just a little larger than Jupiter and burns about 2,000 times more dimly than our sun. Despite its unassuming stature, this mini-star is home to seven planets, all about the same mass as Earth, give or take a third. They zoom around their host at dizzying speeds, with orbits ranging from about two days to two weeks. If dropped into our solar system, the whole bunch would fit comfortably inside the orbit of Mercury. An observer on any one planet’s surface would be treated to a view of several planets hanging in the sky, each looking larger than our moon appears to us, say scientists. Inter-planetary trips would take days, rather than months or years. But what’s really turning heads is where the planets orbit relative to their host. Astronomers are especially interested in the area around a star where surface temperatures are not too hot and not too cold for liquid water to exist. Nicknamed “the Goldilocks zone,” this habitable band is just right for liquid water to support life as we know it. The TRAPPIST-1 system is much more compact than our solar system, but because dwarf stars emit so much less energy than our sun, that turns out to be just right for three of the seven planets. "What is significant about this system is the number of rocky, Earth-sized planets, and the number of planets in the habitable zone, both of which are unprecedented," Chris Copperwheat, one of the paper's co-authors and the head astronomer at the Astrophysics Research Institute of Liverpool, tells The Christian Science Monitor in an email. In this respect, the newly discovered system may be even more habitable than our own. "TRAPPIST-1 now holds the record for the most rocky planets in the habitable zone," says Lisa Kaltenegger, the director of the Carl Sagan Institute at Cornell University, who was not part of the study. "Our solar system only has two (Earth and Mars)," she writes in an email to the Monitor. "We have other systems with up to seven planets, but we don't have a system with seven rocky ones." Even the outliers could support at least some water, depending on the amount of heat produced internally by the gravitational stretching of the worlds, a process known as tidal heating. A cosmic accident of geometry made the discovery possible. The solar system spins in such a way that, as viewed from Earth, the seven observed planets pass directly between TRAPPIST-1 and our telescopes. When these transits take place, the star dims just a little, its brightness dropping about 1 percent. Gillon’s team had already known that TRAPPIST-1 was home to exoplanets, observing three crossing simultaneously in 2015. But uncovering the rest of the family was a team effort involving data from telescopes in Chile, Morocco, Hawaii, the Canary Islands, South Africa, and NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, which observed the system continuously for 20 days straight. Now the question on everyone’s lips is, what about life? Scientists are a long way from answering the question conclusively, but excitement is high. "Looking for life elsewhere, this system is probably our best bet as of today," co-author Brice-Olivier Demory, a professor at the University of Bern’s Center for Space and Habitability, said in a press release. Dr. Copperwheat agrees that initial signs are promising, if scant. "I think this is a very significant discovery – certainly one of the most exciting I have been involved with in my career," he says. "This is a very interesting and complex system which will be a key future target for the search for Earth-like conditions and life." The most tantalizing targets are the three middle planets. In their paper, published in Nature on Wednesday, the researchers speculate that they might be home to a familiar feature: liquid-water oceans. "Using a one-dimensional cloud-free climate model that accounts for the low-temperature spectrum of the host star, we deduce that planets e, f and g could harbor water oceans on their surfaces, assuming Earth-like atmospheres," they wrote. In addition to their Goldilocks real estate, the planets are all less dense than the Earth, says Copperwheat, which implies dynamic compositions potentially featuring liquid water, plentiful ice, or extended atmospheres. But everything hinges on that assumption of Earth-like atmospheres, which are far from a sure bet. Remember that Mars falls in the sun’s habitable zone, too, but surface water doesn’t hang around too long, even on a nice day, before the ultra-thin atmosphere lets it boil off into space. Just how life-friendly this kind of dwarf star might be is a hot topic, since the long-lived, slow-burning stars are paradoxically much more active than our sun, constantly shooting off solar flares that may bathe these super-close planets in high levels of harsh ultraviolet and X-ray radiation. A recent paper from NASA considered just this effect, concluding that our neighboring dwarf star Proxima Centauri would likely erode any atmosphere that may exist around orbiting planet Proxima b over the course of about a hundred million years. The same process could spell trouble for anything orbiting around TRAPPIST-1. The dwarf star's X-ray emission is roughly the same as our sun's, says Copperwheat, but "these planets are a lot closer so will suffer a greater degree of irradiation." That's not necessarily a deal-breaker for life, he cautions. "The short answer is that we don't know what the long-term consequences of high-energy radiation are to the habitability of Earth-type planets," he writes. "It may strip off the atmospheres, rendering the planets inhospitable to life, but on the other hand it could actually help by just stripping off the hydrogen and helium," he explains: atmospheric ingredients that, some scientists have argued, are not conducive to life. Dr. Kaltenegger, currently in the process of publishing papers modeling atmospheric erosion of both Proxima b and the TRAPPIST-1 planets, sees plenty of potential even for environments bathed in UV radiation. She points out that planets in either system could keep their atmospheres if they have Earth-like features like a magnetic field or an ozone layer. "I would not worry too much about a complete erosion of the atmosphere, but a thinner atmosphere is definitely possible, although that would still be able to shelter an ocean," she explains. "Life is a definite possibility on these worlds... but it might look different." Kaltenegger published a paper last summer outlining one UV survival strategy, based on Earth's bioluminescent corals. Organisms on planets around a dwarf star could protect themselves from the damaging rays by absorbing the UV radiation, and then releasing it at a longer, safer wavelength, she theorized. Such an ecosystem could react to solar flares by literally lighting up the planet, a sign she proposes could be observed from Earth. With so many theories flying around, astronomers’ next task is clear: Observe the TRAPPIST-1 system and gather as much data as possible to answer some of these questions. “At the moment, theoretical work on these questions is I think somewhat inconclusive, so it's up to observers like myself to actually try and detect the atmospheres to better inform the models,” Copperwheat explains. Fortunately, they might not have to wait long. A number of next-gen planet finders will come online next year, including the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and the James Webb Space Telescope. Scientists have high hopes in particular for the James Webb Space Telescope, which should be able to take direct measurements of the planets as they cross in front of TRAPPIST-1, revealing tell-tale signs of composition, atmosphere, and potential biosignatures like ozone. “The James Webb Space Telescope, Hubble’s successor, will have the possibility to detect the signature of ozone if this molecule is present in the atmosphere of one of these planets,” explained Dr. Demory in a press release. “This could be an indicator for biological activity on the planet.” And the signal shouldn’t be hard to pick up. Unlike our planet, which transits the sun only once every 365 days, the near-daily frequency with which these seven planets transit TRAPPIST-1 basically guarantees good chances for observation. Kaltenegger says that finding biosignatures requires a clear view of the planet and “roughly 70 to 100 hours (of observation) as a rule of thumb.” Copperwheat is also looking forward to the data collection bonanza to come, saying the system “is going to be intensively studied for many years to come” to help determine its habitability. Even if all seven worlds turn out to be solar flare-roasted wastelands, Copperwheat suggests we’ve still learned an important lesson about our place in the cosmos: "It seems Earth-sized planets may be very common in the Universe!"


News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: www.csmonitor.com

An artist's conception of what the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system may look like, based on available data about their diameters, masses, and distances from the host star. Color and other details about appearance are completely speculative. —“The universe is a pretty big place. If it's just us, seems like an awful waste of space,” Carl Sagan once said. We still don’t know if we’re alone or not, but a new discovery suggests that at least one nearby solar system makes good use of its space indeed. Seven Earth-sized planets densely populate the area around a nearby dwarf star, circling it in tight, fast ellipses, announced an international team of scientists on Wednesday. An unprecedented three of those seven planets could support oceans, making them prime candidates in the search for life, and upcoming space telescopes promise to reveal more about the fascinating system in the near future – including how much potentially deadly radiation the star TRAPPIST-1 could be unleashing on its planets. “This is an amazing planetary system – not only because we have found so many planets, but because they are all surprisingly similar in size to the Earth!” lead author Michaël Gillon, of the STAR Institute at the University of Liège in Belgium, said in a press release. Sitting at a Millennium Falcon-friendly 12 parsecs (39 light years) away, ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 is relatively close to Earth, but don’t bother trying to find it in the sky tonight. It's just a little larger than Jupiter and burns about 2,000 times more dimly than our sun. Despite its unassuming stature, this mini-star is home to seven planets, all about the same mass as Earth, give or take a third. They zoom around their host at dizzying speeds, with orbits ranging from about two days to two weeks. If dropped into our solar system, the whole bunch would fit comfortably inside the orbit of Mercury. An observer on any one planet’s surface would be treated to a view of several planets hanging in the sky, each looking larger than our moon appears to us, say scientists. Inter-planetary trips would take days, rather than months or years. But what’s really turning heads is where the planets orbit relative to their host. Astronomers are especially interested in the area around a star where surface temperatures are not too hot and not too cold for liquid water to exist. Nicknamed “the Goldilocks zone,” this habitable band is just right for liquid water to support life as we know it. The TRAPPIST-1 system is much more compact than our solar system, but because dwarf stars emit so much less energy than our sun, that turns out to be just right for three of the seven planets. "What is significant about this system is the number of rocky, Earth-sized planets, and the number of planets in the habitable zone, both of which are unprecedented," Chris Copperwheat, one of the paper's co-authors and the head astronomer at the Astrophysics Research Institute of Liverpool, tells The Christian Science Monitor in an email. In this respect, the newly discovered system may be even more habitable than our own. "TRAPPIST-1 now holds the record for the most rocky planets in the habitable zone," says Lisa Kaltenegger, the director of the Carl Sagan Institute at Cornell University, who was not part of the study. "Our solar system only has two (Earth and Mars)," she writes in an email to the Monitor. "We have other systems with up to seven planets, but we don't have a system with seven rocky ones." Even the outliers could support at least some water, depending on the amount of heat produced internally by the gravitational stretching of the worlds, a process known as tidal heating. A cosmic accident of geometry made the discovery possible. The solar system spins in such a way that, as viewed from Earth, the seven observed planets pass directly between TRAPPIST-1 and our telescopes. When these transits take place, the star dims just a little, its brightness dropping about 1 percent. Gillon’s team had already known that TRAPPIST-1 was home to exoplanets, observing three crossing simultaneously in 2015. But uncovering the rest of the family was a team effort involving data from telescopes in Chile, Morocco, Hawaii, the Canary Islands, South Africa, and NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, which observed the system continuously for 20 days straight. Now the question on everyone’s lips is, what about life? Scientists are a long way from answering the question conclusively, but excitement is high. "Looking for life elsewhere, this system is probably our best bet as of today," co-author Brice-Olivier Demory, a professor at the University of Bern’s Center for Space and Habitability, said in a press release. Dr. Copperwheat agrees that initial signs are promising, if scant. "I think this is a very significant discovery – certainly one of the most exciting I have been involved with in my career," he says. "This is a very interesting and complex system which will be a key future target for the search for Earth-like conditions and life." The most tantalizing targets are the three middle planets. In their paper, published in Nature on Wednesday, the researchers speculate that they might be home to a familiar feature: liquid-water oceans. "Using a one-dimensional cloud-free climate model that accounts for the low-temperature spectrum of the host star, we deduce that planets e, f and g could harbor water oceans on their surfaces, assuming Earth-like atmospheres," they wrote. In addition to their Goldilocks real estate, the planets are all less dense than the Earth, says Copperwheat, which implies dynamic compositions potentially featuring liquid water, plentiful ice, or extended atmospheres. But everything hinges on that assumption of Earth-like atmospheres, which are far from a sure bet. Remember that Mars falls in the sun’s habitable zone, too, but surface water doesn’t hang around too long, even on a nice day, before the ultra-thin atmosphere lets it boil off into space. Just how life-friendly this kind of dwarf star might be is a hot topic, since the long-lived, slow-burning stars are paradoxically much more active than our sun, constantly shooting off solar flares that may bathe these super-close planets in high levels of harsh ultraviolet and X-ray radiation. A recent paper from NASA considered just this effect, concluding that our neighboring dwarf star Proxima Centauri would likely erode any atmosphere that may exist around orbiting planet Proxima b over the course of about a hundred million years. The same process could spell trouble for anything orbiting around TRAPPIST-1. The dwarf star's X-ray emission is roughly the same as our sun's, says Copperwheat, but "these planets are a lot closer so will suffer a greater degree of irradiation." That's not necessarily a deal-breaker for life, he cautions. "The short answer is that we don't know what the long-term consequences of high-energy radiation are to the habitability of Earth-type planets," he writes. "It may strip off the atmospheres, rendering the planets inhospitable to life, but on the other hand it could actually help by just stripping off the hydrogen and helium," he explains: atmospheric ingredients that, some scientists have argued, are not conducive to life. Dr. Kaltenegger, currently in the process of publishing papers modeling atmospheric erosion of both Proxima b and the TRAPPIST-1 planets, sees plenty of potential even for environments bathed in UV radiation. She points out that planets in either system could keep their atmospheres if they have Earth-like features like a magnetic field or an ozone layer. "I would not worry too much about a complete erosion of the atmosphere, but a thinner atmosphere is definitely possible, although that would still be able to shelter an ocean," she explains. "Life is a definite possibility on these worlds... but it might look different." Kaltenegger published a paper last summer outlining one UV survival strategy, based on Earth's bioluminescent corals. Organisms on planets around a dwarf star could protect themselves from the damaging rays by absorbing the UV radiation, and then releasing it at a longer, safer wavelength, she theorized. Such an ecosystem could react to solar flares by literally lighting up the planet, a sign she proposes could be observed from Earth. With so many theories flying around, astronomers’ next task is clear: Observe the TRAPPIST-1 system and gather as much data as possible to answer some of these questions. “At the moment, theoretical work on these questions is I think somewhat inconclusive, so it's up to observers like myself to actually try and detect the atmospheres to better inform the models,” Copperwheat explains. Fortunately, they might not have to wait long. A number of next-gen planet finders will come online next year, including the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and the James Webb Space Telescope. Scientists have high hopes in particular for the James Webb Space Telescope, which should be able to take direct measurements of the planets as they cross in front of TRAPPIST-1, revealing tell-tale signs of composition, atmosphere, and potential biosignatures like ozone. “The James Webb Space Telescope, Hubble’s successor, will have the possibility to detect the signature of ozone if this molecule is present in the atmosphere of one of these planets,” explained Dr. Demory in a press release. “This could be an indicator for biological activity on the planet.” And the signal shouldn’t be hard to pick up. Unlike our planet, which transits the sun only once every 365 days, the near-daily frequency with which these seven planets transit TRAPPIST-1 basically guarantees good chances for observation. Kaltenegger says that finding biosignatures requires a clear view of the planet and “roughly 70 to 100 hours (of observation) as a rule of thumb.” Copperwheat is also looking forward to the data collection bonanza to come, saying the system “is going to be intensively studied for many years to come” to help determine its habitability. Even if all seven worlds turn out to be solar flare-roasted wastelands, Copperwheat suggests we’ve still learned an important lesson about our place in the cosmos: "It seems Earth-sized planets may be very common in the Universe!"


News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: www.bbc.co.uk

The researchers say that all seven could potentially support liquid water on the surface, depending on the other properties of those planets. But only three are within the conventional "habitable" zone where life is considered a possibility. The compact system of exoplanets orbits Trappist-1, a low-mass, cool star located 40 light-years away from Earth. The planets, detected using Nasa's Spitzer Space Telescope and several ground-based observatories, are described in the journal Nature. Where should we look for alien life? Lead author Michaël Gillon, from Belgium's University of Liège, said: "The planets are all close to each other and very close to the star, which is very reminiscent of the moons around Jupiter." "Still, the star is so small and cold that the seven planets are temperate, which means that they could have some liquid water - and maybe life, by extension - on the surface." Co-author Amaury Triaud, from the University of Cambridge, UK, said the team had introduced the "temperate" definition to broaden perceptions about habitability. Are Earth-like planets actually like Earth? Three of the Trappist-1 planets fall within the traditional habitable zone definition, where surface temperatures could support the presence of liquid water - given sufficient atmospheric pressure. But Dr Triaud said that if the planet furthest from the parent star, Trappist-1h, had an atmosphere that efficiently trapped heat - a bit more like Venus's atmosphere than Earth's - it might be habitable. "It would be disappointing if Earth represents the only template for habitability in the Universe," he told the BBC News website. So many planets have been discovered in planetary systems beyond our own that it's easy to become inured to their potential significance. Nasa's latest tally is an impressive 3,449 and there's a danger of hype with each new announcement. But the excitement around this latest discovery is not only because of its unusual scale or the fact that so many of the planets are Earth-sized. It is also because the star Trappist-1 is conveniently small and dim. This means that telescopes studying the planets are not dazzled as they would be when aiming at far brighter stars. In turn that opens up a fascinating avenue of research into these distant worlds and, above all, their atmospheres. The next phase of research has already started to hunt for key gases like oxygen and methane which could provide evidence about whatever is happening on the surface. Coverage of exoplanets can far too easily leap to conclusions about alien life. But this remote planetary system does provide a good chance to look for clues about it. The six inner planets have orbital periods that are organised in a "near-resonant chain". This means that in the time that it takes for the innermost planet to make eight orbits, the second, third and fourth planets revolve five, three and two times around the star, respectively. This appears to be an outcome of interactions early in the evolution of the planetary system. The astronomers say it should be possible to study the planets' atmospheric properties with telescopes. "The James Webb Space Telescope, Hubble's successor, will have the possibility to detect the signature of ozone if this molecule is present in the atmosphere of one of these planets," said co-author Prof Brice-Olivier Demory, from the University of Bern in Switzerland. "This could be an indicator for biological activity on the planet." But the astrophysicist also warns that we must remain extremely careful about inferring biological activity from afar. Some of the properties of cool, low mass stars could make life a more challenging prospect. For example, some are known to emit large amounts of radiation in the form of flares, which has the potential to sterilise the surfaces of nearby planets. In addition, the habitable zone is located closer to the star so that planets receive the heating necessary for liquid water to persist. But this causes a phenomenon called tidal locking, so that planets always show the same face to their star. This might have the effect of making one side of the planet hot, and the other cold. But Amaury Triaud said UV light might be vital for producing the chemical compounds that can later be assembled into biological systems. Similarly, if life emerges on the permanent night side of a tidally locked planet, it might be sheltered from any flares. But he said the Trappist-1 star was not particularly active, something it has in common with other "ultra cool dwarfs" the team has surveyed. "It is fair to say there is much we don't know. Where I am hopeful is that we will know if flares are important, we will know if tidal locking is relevant to habitability and maybe to the emergence of biology," he explained. "Many of the arguments in favour or disfavour of habitability can be flipped in that way. First and foremost we need observations." In addition to the Spitzer observations, astronomers gathered data using Very Large Telescope in Chile, the Liverpool Telescope in La Palma, Spain, and others.


News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: www.csmonitor.com

An artist's conception of what the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system may look like, based on available data about their diameters, masses, and distances from the host star. Color and other details about appearance are completely speculative. —“The universe is a pretty big place. If it's just us, seems like an awful waste of space,” Carl Sagan once said. We still don’t know if we’re alone or not, but a new discovery suggests that at least one nearby solar system makes good use of its space indeed. Seven Earth-sized planets densely populate the area around a nearby dwarf star, circling it in tight, fast ellipses, announced an international team of scientists on Wednesday. An unprecedented three of those seven planets could support oceans, making them prime candidates in the search for life, and upcoming space telescopes promise to reveal more about the fascinating system in the near future – including how much potentially deadly radiation the star TRAPPIST-1 could be unleashing on its planets. “This is an amazing planetary system – not only because we have found so many planets, but because they are all surprisingly similar in size to the Earth!” lead author Michaël Gillon, of the STAR Institute at the University of Liège in Belgium, said in a press release. Sitting at a Millennium Falcon-friendly 12 parsecs (39 light years) away, ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 is relatively close to Earth, but don’t bother trying to find it in the sky tonight. It's just a little larger than Jupiter and burns about 2,000 times more dimly than our sun. Despite its unassuming stature, this mini-star is home to seven planets, all about the same mass as Earth, give or take a third. They zoom around their host at dizzying speeds, with orbits ranging from about two days to two weeks. If dropped into our solar system, the whole bunch would fit comfortably inside the orbit of Mercury. An observer on any one planet’s surface would be treated to a view of several planets hanging in the sky, each looking larger than our moon appears to us, say scientists. Inter-planetary trips would take days, rather than months or years. But what’s really turning heads is where the planets orbit relative to their host. Astronomers are especially interested in the area around a star where surface temperatures are not too hot and not too cold for liquid water to exist. Nicknamed “the Goldilocks zone,” this habitable band is just right for liquid water to support life as we know it. The TRAPPIST-1 system is much more compact than our solar system, but because dwarf stars emit so much less energy than our sun, that turns out to be just right for three of the seven planets. "What is significant about this system is the number of rocky, Earth-sized planets, and the number of planets in the habitable zone, both of which are unprecedented," Chris Copperwheat, one of the paper's co-authors and the head astronomer at the Astrophysics Research Institute of Liverpool, tells The Christian Science Monitor in an email. In this respect, the newly discovered system may be even more habitable than our own. "TRAPPIST-1 now holds the record for the most rocky planets in the habitable zone," says Lisa Kaltenegger, the director of the Carl Sagan Institute at Cornell University, who was not part of the study. "Our solar system only has two (Earth and Mars)," she writes in an email to the Monitor. "We have other systems with up to seven planets, but we don't have a system with seven rocky ones." Even the outliers could support at least some water, depending on the amount of heat produced internally by the gravitational stretching of the worlds, a process known as tidal heating. A cosmic accident of geometry made the discovery possible. The solar system spins in such a way that, as viewed from Earth, the seven observed planets pass directly between TRAPPIST-1 and our telescopes. When these transits take place, the star dims just a little, its brightness dropping about 1 percent. Gillon’s team had already known that TRAPPIST-1 was home to exoplanets, observing three crossing simultaneously in 2015. But uncovering the rest of the family was a team effort involving data from telescopes in Chile, Morocco, Hawaii, the Canary Islands, South Africa, and NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, which observed the system continuously for 20 days straight. Now the question on everyone’s lips is, what about life? Scientists are a long way from answering the question conclusively, but excitement is high. "Looking for life elsewhere, this system is probably our best bet as of today," co-author Brice-Olivier Demory, a professor at the University of Bern’s Center for Space and Habitability, said in a press release. Dr. Copperwheat agrees that initial signs are promising, if scant. "I think this is a very significant discovery – certainly one of the most exciting I have been involved with in my career," he says. "This is a very interesting and complex system which will be a key future target for the search for Earth-like conditions and life." The most tantalizing targets are the three middle planets. In their paper, published in Nature on Wednesday, the researchers speculate that they might be home to a familiar feature: liquid-water oceans. "Using a one-dimensional cloud-free climate model that accounts for the low-temperature spectrum of the host star, we deduce that planets e, f and g could harbor water oceans on their surfaces, assuming Earth-like atmospheres," they wrote. In addition to their Goldilocks real estate, the planets are all less dense than the Earth, says Copperwheat, which implies dynamic compositions potentially featuring liquid water, plentiful ice, or extended atmospheres. But everything hinges on that assumption of Earth-like atmospheres, which are far from a sure bet. Remember that Mars falls in the sun’s habitable zone, too, but surface water doesn’t hang around too long, even on a nice day, before the ultra-thin atmosphere lets it boil off into space. Just how life-friendly this kind of dwarf star might be is a hot topic, since the long-lived, slow-burning stars are paradoxically much more active than our sun, constantly shooting off solar flares that may bathe these super-close planets in high levels of harsh ultraviolet and X-ray radiation. A recent paper from NASA considered just this effect, concluding that our neighboring dwarf star Proxima Centauri would likely erode any atmosphere that may exist around orbiting planet Proxima b over the course of about a hundred million years. The same process could spell trouble for anything orbiting around TRAPPIST-1. The dwarf star's X-ray emission is roughly the same as our sun's, says Copperwheat, but "these planets are a lot closer so will suffer a greater degree of irradiation." That's not necessarily a deal-breaker for life, he cautions. "The short answer is that we don't know what the long-term consequences of high-energy radiation are to the habitability of Earth-type planets," he writes. "It may strip off the atmospheres, rendering the planets inhospitable to life, but on the other hand it could actually help by just stripping off the hydrogen and helium," he explains: atmospheric ingredients that, some scientists have argued, are not conducive to life. Dr. Kaltenegger, currently in the process of publishing papers modeling atmospheric erosion of both Proxima b and the TRAPPIST-1 planets, sees plenty of potential even for environments bathed in UV radiation. She points out that planets in either system could keep their atmospheres if they have Earth-like features like a magnetic field or an ozone layer. "I would not worry too much about a complete erosion of the atmosphere, but a thinner atmosphere is definitely possible, although that would still be able to shelter an ocean," she explains. "Life is a definite possibility on these worlds... but it might look different." Kaltenegger published a paper last summer outlining one UV survival strategy, based on Earth's bioluminescent corals. Organisms on planets around a dwarf star could protect themselves from the damaging rays by absorbing the UV radiation, and then releasing it at a longer, safer wavelength, she theorized. Such an ecosystem could react to solar flares by literally lighting up the planet, a sign she proposes could be observed from Earth. With so many theories flying around, astronomers’ next task is clear: Observe the TRAPPIST-1 system and gather as much data as possible to answer some of these questions. “At the moment, theoretical work on these questions is I think somewhat inconclusive, so it's up to observers like myself to actually try and detect the atmospheres to better inform the models,” Copperwheat explains. Fortunately, they might not have to wait long. A number of next-gen planet finders will come online next year, including the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and the James Webb Space Telescope. Scientists have high hopes in particular for the James Webb Space Telescope, which should be able to take direct measurements of the planets as they cross in front of TRAPPIST-1, revealing tell-tale signs of composition, atmosphere, and potential biosignatures like ozone. “The James Webb Space Telescope, Hubble’s successor, will have the possibility to detect the signature of ozone if this molecule is present in the atmosphere of one of these planets,” explained Dr. Demory in a press release. “This could be an indicator for biological activity on the planet.” And the signal shouldn’t be hard to pick up. Unlike our planet, which transits the sun only once every 365 days, the near-daily frequency with which these seven planets transit TRAPPIST-1 basically guarantees good chances for observation. Kaltenegger says that finding biosignatures requires a clear view of the planet and “roughly 70 to 100 hours (of observation) as a rule of thumb.” Copperwheat is also looking forward to the data collection bonanza to come, saying the system “is going to be intensively studied for many years to come” to help determine its habitability. Even if all seven worlds turn out to be solar flare-roasted wastelands, Copperwheat suggests we’ve still learned an important lesson about our place in the cosmos: "It seems Earth-sized planets may be very common in the Universe!"


News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: www.csmonitor.com

An artist's conception of what the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system may look like, based on available data about their diameters, masses, and distances from the host star. Color and other details about appearance are completely speculative. —“The universe is a pretty big place. If it's just us, seems like an awful waste of space,” Carl Sagan once said. We still don’t know if we’re alone or not, but a new discovery suggests that at least one nearby solar system makes good use of its space indeed. Seven Earth-sized planets densely populate the area around a nearby dwarf star, circling it in tight, fast ellipses, announced an international team of scientists on Wednesday. An unprecedented three of those seven planets could support oceans, making them prime candidates in the search for life, and upcoming space telescopes promise to reveal more about the fascinating system in the near future – including how much potentially deadly radiation the star TRAPPIST-1 could be unleashing on its planets. “This is an amazing planetary system – not only because we have found so many planets, but because they are all surprisingly similar in size to the Earth!” lead author Michaël Gillon, of the STAR Institute at the University of Liège in Belgium, said in a press release. Sitting at a Millennium Falcon-friendly 12 parsecs (39 light years) away, ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 is relatively close to Earth, but don’t bother trying to find it in the sky tonight. It's just a little larger than Jupiter and burns about 2,000 times more dimly than our sun. Despite its unassuming stature, this mini-star is home to seven planets, all about the same mass as Earth, give or take a third. They zoom around their host at dizzying speeds, with orbits ranging from about two days to two weeks. If dropped into our solar system, the whole bunch would fit comfortably inside the orbit of Mercury. An observer on any one planet’s surface would be treated to a view of several planets hanging in the sky, each looking larger than our moon appears to us, say scientists. Inter-planetary trips would take days, rather than months or years. But what’s really turning heads is where the planets orbit relative to their host. Astronomers are especially interested in the area around a star where surface temperatures are not too hot and not too cold for liquid water to exist. Nicknamed “the Goldilocks zone,” this habitable band is just right for liquid water to support life as we know it. The TRAPPIST-1 system is much more compact than our solar system, but because dwarf stars emit so much less energy than our sun, that turns out to be just right for three of the seven planets. "What is significant about this system is the number of rocky, Earth-sized planets, and the number of planets in the habitable zone, both of which are unprecedented," Chris Copperwheat, one of the paper's co-authors and the head astronomer at the Astrophysics Research Institute of Liverpool, tells The Christian Science Monitor in an email. In this respect, the newly discovered system may be even more habitable than our own. "TRAPPIST-1 now holds the record for the most rocky planets in the habitable zone," says Lisa Kaltenegger, the director of the Carl Sagan Institute at Cornell University, who was not part of the study. "Our solar system only has two (Earth and Mars)," she writes in an email to the Monitor. "We have other systems with up to seven planets, but we don't have a system with seven rocky ones." Even the outliers could support at least some water, depending on the amount of heat produced internally by the gravitational stretching of the worlds, a process known as tidal heating. A cosmic accident of geometry made the discovery possible. The solar system spins in such a way that, as viewed from Earth, the seven observed planets pass directly between TRAPPIST-1 and our telescopes. When these transits take place, the star dims just a little, its brightness dropping about 1 percent. Gillon’s team had already known that TRAPPIST-1 was home to exoplanets, observing three crossing simultaneously in 2015. But uncovering the rest of the family was a team effort involving data from telescopes in Chile, Morocco, Hawaii, the Canary Islands, South Africa, and NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, which observed the system continuously for 20 days straight. Now the question on everyone’s lips is, what about life? Scientists are a long way from answering the question conclusively, but excitement is high. "Looking for life elsewhere, this system is probably our best bet as of today," co-author Brice-Olivier Demory, a professor at the University of Bern’s Center for Space and Habitability, said in a press release. Dr. Copperwheat agrees that initial signs are promising, if scant. "I think this is a very significant discovery – certainly one of the most exciting I have been involved with in my career," he says. "This is a very interesting and complex system which will be a key future target for the search for Earth-like conditions and life." The most tantalizing targets are the three middle planets. In their paper, published in Nature on Wednesday, the researchers speculate that they might be home to a familiar feature: liquid-water oceans. "Using a one-dimensional cloud-free climate model that accounts for the low-temperature spectrum of the host star, we deduce that planets e, f and g could harbor water oceans on their surfaces, assuming Earth-like atmospheres," they wrote. In addition to their Goldilocks real estate, the planets are all less dense than the Earth, says Copperwheat, which implies dynamic compositions potentially featuring liquid water, plentiful ice, or extended atmospheres. But everything hinges on that assumption of Earth-like atmospheres, which are far from a sure bet. Remember that Mars falls in the sun’s habitable zone, too, but surface water doesn’t hang around too long, even on a nice day, before the ultra-thin atmosphere lets it boil off into space. Just how life-friendly this kind of dwarf star might be is a hot topic, since the long-lived, slow-burning stars are paradoxically much more active than our sun, constantly shooting off solar flares that may bathe these super-close planets in high levels of harsh ultraviolet and X-ray radiation. A recent paper from NASA considered just this effect, concluding that our neighboring dwarf star Proxima Centauri would likely erode any atmosphere that may exist around orbiting planet Proxima b over the course of about a hundred million years. The same process could spell trouble for anything orbiting around TRAPPIST-1. The dwarf star's X-ray emission is roughly the same as our sun's, says Copperwheat, but "these planets are a lot closer so will suffer a greater degree of irradiation." That's not necessarily a deal-breaker for life, he cautions. "The short answer is that we don't know what the long-term consequences of high-energy radiation are to the habitability of Earth-type planets," he writes. "It may strip off the atmospheres, rendering the planets inhospitable to life, but on the other hand it could actually help by just stripping off the hydrogen and helium," he explains: atmospheric ingredients that, some scientists have argued, are not conducive to life. Dr. Kaltenegger, currently in the process of publishing papers modeling atmospheric erosion of both Proxima b and the TRAPPIST-1 planets, sees plenty of potential even for environments bathed in UV radiation. She points out that planets in either system could keep their atmospheres if they have Earth-like features like a magnetic field or an ozone layer. "I would not worry too much about a complete erosion of the atmosphere, but a thinner atmosphere is definitely possible, although that would still be able to shelter an ocean," she explains. "Life is a definite possibility on these worlds... but it might look different." Kaltenegger published a paper last summer outlining one UV survival strategy, based on Earth's bioluminescent corals. Organisms on planets around a dwarf star could protect themselves from the damaging rays by absorbing the UV radiation, and then releasing it at a longer, safer wavelength, she theorized. Such an ecosystem could react to solar flares by literally lighting up the planet, a sign she proposes could be observed from Earth. With so many theories flying around, astronomers’ next task is clear: Observe the TRAPPIST-1 system and gather as much data as possible to answer some of these questions. “At the moment, theoretical work on these questions is I think somewhat inconclusive, so it's up to observers like myself to actually try and detect the atmospheres to better inform the models,” Copperwheat explains. Fortunately, they might not have to wait long. A number of next-gen planet finders will come online next year, including the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and the James Webb Space Telescope. Scientists have high hopes in particular for the James Webb Space Telescope, which should be able to take direct measurements of the planets as they cross in front of TRAPPIST-1, revealing tell-tale signs of composition, atmosphere, and potential biosignatures like ozone. “The James Webb Space Telescope, Hubble’s successor, will have the possibility to detect the signature of ozone if this molecule is present in the atmosphere of one of these planets,” explained Dr. Demory in a press release. “This could be an indicator for biological activity on the planet.” And the signal shouldn’t be hard to pick up. Unlike our planet, which transits the sun only once every 365 days, the near-daily frequency with which these seven planets transit TRAPPIST-1 basically guarantees good chances for observation. Kaltenegger says that finding biosignatures requires a clear view of the planet and “roughly 70 to 100 hours (of observation) as a rule of thumb.” Copperwheat is also looking forward to the data collection bonanza to come, saying the system “is going to be intensively studied for many years to come” to help determine its habitability. Even if all seven worlds turn out to be solar flare-roasted wastelands, Copperwheat suggests we’ve still learned an important lesson about our place in the cosmos: "It seems Earth-sized planets may be very common in the Universe!"


Simon H.-U.,University of Bern | Klion A.,National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Seminars in Hematology | Year: 2012

Hypereosinophilic syndromes (HES) are a heterogeneous group of disorders that range from asymptomatic eosinophilia >1,500/mL to aggressive disease complicated by life-threatening end organ involvement, including endomyocardial fibrosis and thromboembolism. To complicate matters further, similar clinical manifestations can occur in the setting of marked eosinophilia due to helminth infection, drug hypersensitivity, and other causes. In the past, therapy was guided only by the exclusion of these secondary causes of eosinophilia and the severity of the clinical manifestations. More recently, the availability of novel targeted therapies and a better understanding of the etiologies of some subtypes of HES have necessitated a more structured approach. © 2012.


Sfetsos K.,National and Kapodistrian University of Athens | Sfetsos K.,University of Bern | Siampos K.,University of Bern | Thompson D.C.,Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Nuclear Physics B | Year: 2015

We construct two-parameter families of integrable λ-deformations of two-dimensional field theories. These interpolate between a CFT (a WZW/gauged WZW model) and the non-Abelian T-dual of a principal chiral model on a group/symmetric coset space. In examples based on the SU(2) WZW model and the SU(2)/. U(1) exact coset CFT, we show that these deformations are related to bi-Yang-Baxter generalisations of η-deformations via Poisson-Lie T-duality and analytic continuation. We illustrate the quantum behaviour of our models under RG flow. As a byproduct we demonstrate that the bi-Yang-Baxter σ-model for a general group is one-loop renormalisable. © 2015 The Authors.


Sfetsos K.,National and Kapodistrian University of Athens | Siampos K.,University of Bern
Physics Letters, Section B: Nuclear, Elementary Particle and High-Energy Physics | Year: 2015

The all-loop anisotropic Thirring model interpolates between the WZW model and the non-Abelian T-dual of the anisotropic principal chiral model. We focus on the SU(2) case and we prove that it is classically integrable by providing its Lax pair formulation. We derive its underlying symmetry current algebra and use it to show that the Poisson brackets of the spatial part of the Lax pair, assume the Maillet form. In this way we procure the corresponding r and s matrices which provide non-trivial solutions to the modified Yang-Baxter equation. © 2015 The Authors.


Fleming P.S.,Queen Mary, University of London | Koletsi D.,National and Kapodistrian University of Athens | Seehra J.,GKT Dental Institute | Pandis N.,University of Bern
Journal of Clinical Epidemiology | Year: 2014

Objectives To compare the methodological quality of systematic reviews (SRs) published in high- and low-impact factor (IF) Core Clinical Journals. In addition, we aimed to record the implementation of aspects of reporting, including Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) flow diagram, reasons for study exclusion, and use of recommendations for interventions such as Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE). Study Design and Setting We searched PubMed for systematic reviews published in Core Clinical Journals between July 1 and December 31, 2012. We evaluated the methodological quality using the Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews (AMSTAR) tool. Results Over the 6-month period, 327 interventional systematic reviews were identified with a mean AMSTAR score of 63.3% (standard deviation, 17.1%), when converted to a percentage scale. We identified deficiencies in relation to a number of quality criteria including delineation of excluded studies and assessment of publication bias. We found that SRs published in higher impact journals were undertaken more rigorously with higher percentage AMSTAR scores (per IF unit: β = 0.68%; 95% confidence interval: 0.32, 1.04; P < 0.001), a discrepancy likely to be particularly relevant when differences in IF are large. Conclusion Methodological quality of SRs appears to be better in higher impact journals. The overall quality of SRs published in many Core Clinical Journals remains suboptimal. © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Windecker S.,University of Bern | Bax J.J.,Leiden University | Myat A.,King's College London | Stone G.W.,Columbia University Medical Center | Marber M.S.,King's College London
The Lancet | Year: 2013

Over the past five decades, management of acute ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) has evolved substantially. Current treatment encompasses a systematic chain of network activation, antithrombotic drugs, and rapid instigation of mechanical reperfusion, although pharmacoinvasive strategies remain relevant. Secondary prevention with drugs and lifestyle modifications completes the contemporary management package. Despite a tangible improvement in outcomes, STEMI remains a frequent cause of morbidity and mortality, justifying the quest to find new therapeutic avenues. Ways to reduce delays in doing coronary angioplasty after STEMI onset include early recognition of symptoms by patients and prehospital diagnosis by paramedics so that the emergency room can be bypassed in favour of direct admission to the catheterisation laboratory. Mechanical reperfusion can be optimised by improvements to stent design, whereas visualisation of infarct size has been improved by developments in cardiac MRI. Novel treatments to modulate the inflammatory component of atherosclerosis and the vulnerable plaque include use of bioresorbable vascular scaffolds and anti-proliferative drugs. Translational efforts to improve patients' outcomes after STEMI in relation to cardioprotection, cardiac remodelling, and regeneration are also being realised.


Faye P.,University of Bern | Faye P.,University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign
Forest Policy and Economics | Year: 2015

This paper examines the contest for power over forest resources between the Forest Department and elected local government in the context of decentralized forestry in Senegal. Based on ethnographic work with a forestry management intervention purporting to implement decentralization, the paper shows that power struggles center on the formation of local authorities (institutional choice) and the technical framing of forest management. It also illuminates the ways that technical claims and politico-legal counterclaims and their supporting discourses shape these struggles. The project engendered awareness among local governments about the economic and political stakes involved in forest management, which sparked resistance to the project's technically oriented institutional choices. The paper demonstrates the effects of institutional choice legitimated by discourses that privilege technical requirements and outside expertise. Importantly, the research also indicates that power struggles over resources are dynamic. Technical discourses can be countered by arguments that evoke the need for broad-based political participation, lawfulness and democracy. © 2014 Elsevier B.V..


Radonjic-Hoesli S.,University of Bern | Valent P.,Medical University of Vienna | Klion A.D.,National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases | Wechsler M.E.,National Jewish Health | Simon H.-U.,University of Bern
Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology | Year: 2015

Eosinophil-associated diseases often present with life-threatening manifestations and/or chronic organ damage. Currently available therapeutic options are limited to a few drugs that often have to be prescribed on a lifelong basis to keep eosinophil counts under control. In the past 10 years, treatment options and outcomes in patients with clonal eosinophilic and other eosinophilic disorders have improved substantially. Several new targeted therapies have emerged, addressing different aspects of eosinophil expansion and inflammation. In this review, we discuss available and currently tested agents as well as new strategies and drug targets relevant to both primary and secondary eosinophilic diseases, including allergic disorders. ©2015 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.


Gottlieb S.L.,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | Berman S.M.,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | Low N.,University of Bern
Journal of Infectious Diseases | Year: 2010

Background. An important question for chlamydia control programs is the extent to which finding and treating prevalent, asymptomatic Chlamydia trachomatis genital infection reduces reproductive sequelae in infected women. Methods. We reviewed the literature to critically evaluate evidence on the effect of chlamydia screening on development of sequelae in infected women. Results. Two randomized controlled trials of 1-time screening for chlamydial infection-in a Seattle-area health maintenance organization and a Danish school district-revealed that screening was associated with an ∼50% reduction in the incidence of pelvic inflammatory disease over the following year. However, both of these trials had methodological issues that may have affected the magnitude of observed screening benefits and might limit generalizability to other populations. A large, nonrandomized cohort of chlamydia screening among US Army recruits, although limited by lack of outpatient data, did not find a benefit of similar magnitude to the randomized trials. Methodological limitations restrict valid conclusions about individual benefits of screening using data from historical cohorts and ecological studies. We identified no trials directly evaluating the effect of chlamydia screening on subclinical tubal inflammation or damage, ectopic pregnancy, or tubal factor infertility and no studies addressing the effects of >1 round of screening, the optimal frequency of screening, or the benefits of screening for repeat infections. Conclusions. Additional studies of the effectiveness of chlamydia screening would be valuable; feasible study designs may depend on the degree to which screening programs are already established. In addition, better natural history data on the timing of tubal inflammation and damage after C. trachomatis infection and development of more accurate, noninvasive tools to assess chlamydial sequelae are essential to informing chlamydia control efforts. © 2010 by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. All rights reserved.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: HEALTH-2007-2.1.1-7 | Award Amount: 15.68M | Year: 2008

Despite major efforts, identifying susceptibility genes for common human diseases - cancer, cardiovascular, inflammatory and neurological disorders - is difficult due to the complexity of the underlying causes. The dog population is composed of ~ 400 purebred breeds; each one is a genetic isolate with unique characteristics resulting from persistent selection for desired attributes or from genetic drift / inbreeding. Dogs tend to suffer from the same range of diseases than human but the genetic complexity of these diseases within a breed is reduced as a consequence of the genetic drift and due to long-range linkage disequilibrium the number of SNP markers needed to perform whole genome scans is divided by at least ten. Here, we propose a European effort gathering experts in genomics to take advantage of this extraordinary genetic model. Veterinary clinics from 12 European countries will collect DNA samples from large cohorts of dogs suffering from a range of thoroughly defined diseases of relevance to human health. Once these different cohorts will be built, DNA samples will be sent to a centralized, high-throughput SNP genotyping facility. The SNP genotypes will be stored in central database and made available to participating collaborating centres, who will analyze the data with the support of dedicated statistical genetics platforms. Following genome wide association and fine-mapping candidate genes will be followed up at the molecular level by expert animal and human genomics centers. This innovative approach using the dog model will ultimately provide insights into the pathogenesis of common human diseases its primary goal.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: INFRA-2007-2.1-01 | Award Amount: 2.46M | Year: 2008

Key questions in particle and astroparticle physics can be answered only by construction of new giant underground observatories to search for rare events and to study sources of terrestrial and extra-terrestrial neutrinos. In this context, the European Astroparticle Roadmap of 03/07, via ApPEC and ASPERA, states: We recommend a new large European infrastructure, an international multi-purpose facility of 105-106 ton scale for improved studies of proton decay and low-energy neutrinos. Water-Cherenkov, Liq. Scintillator & Liq. Argon should be evaluated as a common design study together with the underground infrastructure and eventual detection of accelerator neutrino beams. This study should take into account worldwide efforts and converge by 2010... Furthermore, the latest particle physics roadmap from CERN of 11/06 states:A range of very important non-accelerator experiments takes place at the overlap of particle and astroparticle physics exploring otherwise inaccessible phenomena; Council will seek with ApPEC a coordinated strategy in these areas of mutual interest. Reacting to this, uniting scientists across Europe, we propose here a design study, LAGUNA, to produce by 2010 a full conceptual design sufficient to provide policy makers and funding agencies with enough information for a construction decision. Has Europe the technical and human capability to lead future underground science by hosting the next generation underground neutrino and rare event observatory? We aim to answer this question. Certainly construction will exceed the capacity of any single European nation - to compete with the US and Asia unification of our scattered efforts is essential. Failure to plan now risks not only that our picture of Natures laws remain fundamentally incomplete but also that leadership in the field enjoyed by Europe for 20 years falls away. EU FP7 input now is timely and will have major strategic impact, guaranteeing coherence and stimulating national funding.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: ENV.2007.1.1.3.1. | Award Amount: 9.77M | Year: 2008

The overall goal of the European Project on Ocean Acidification (EPOCA) is to fill the numerous gaps in our understanding of the effects and implications of ocean acidification. EPOCA aims to document the changes in ocean chemistry and biogeography across space and time. Paleo-reconstruction methods will be used on several archives, including foraminifera and deep-sea corals, to determine past variability in ocean chemistry and to tie these to present-day chemical and biological observations. EPOCA will determine the sensitivity of marine organisms, communities and ecosystems to ocean acidification. Molecular to biochemical, physiological and ecological approaches will be combined with laboratory and field-based perturbation experiments to quantify biological responses to ocean acidification, assess the potential for adaptation, and determine the consequences for biogeochemical cycling. Laboratory experiments will focus on key organisms selected on the basis of their ecological, biogeochemical or socio-economic importance. Field studies will be carried out in systems deemed most sensitive to ocean acidification. Results on the chemical, biological and biogeochemical impacts of ocean acidification will be integrated in biogeochemical, sediment and coupled ocean-climate models to better understand and predict the responses of the Earth system to ocean acidification. Special special attention will be paid to the potential feedbacks of the physiological changes in the carbon, nitrogen, sulfur and iron cycles. EPOCA will assess uncertainties, risks and thresholds (tipping points) related to ocean acidification at scales ranging from sub-cellular, to ecosystem and from local to global. It will also assess pathways of CO2 emissions required to avoid these thresholds and describe the state change and the subsequent risk to the marine environment and Earth system should these emissions be exceeded.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2013-ITN | Award Amount: 3.99M | Year: 2014

The MOLESCO network will create a unique training and research environment to develop a pool of young researchers capable of achieving breakthroughs aimed at realising the immense potential of molecular electronics. In part this will involve the major challenges of design and fabrication of molecular-scale devices. To deliver this step-change in capability, MOLESCO will coordinate the activities of internationally-leading scientists from six different countries. MOLESCO has secured the participation of nine private sector partners, including one of Europes leading industrial electronics-research laboratories (IBM ResearchZurich) as a full partner. A highly-integrated approach to the experimental and theoretical aspects of molecular-scale electronics will deliver the fundamental knowledge and new fabrication strategies needed to underpin future nanotechnologies targeted for electronics applications. MOLESCO represents a highly interdisciplinary and intersectoral collaboration between teams with an extensive portfolio of skills, including molecular synthesis, fabrication of molecular junctions, imaging of molecular junctions with atomic resolution, measurements of charge transport, and electronic structure and transport calculations. Training will be delivered in a series of high-priority actions primarily aimed at providing the researchers with an outstanding career development platform. The network has a strong focus on interdisciplinary training; it is built on several well-established and fruitful collaborations between the partners and seeks to bridge an existing educational gap in the European Research Arena. The development of complementary skills (presentation, management, technology transfer, IP protection, outreach and intersectoral training) will be implemented throughout the lifetime of the project. Specialist professional training in dissemination and outreach will be delivered by our Associate Partner BLP, a professional media production company.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2011.3.5 | Award Amount: 11.38M | Year: 2012

Healthcare at affordable cost is a major challenge with the aging population and the prevalence of chronic disease, supporting the need for early diagnosis and optimal treatment monitoring already at the level of the General Practitioner. Within this context, research on diagnostic imaging has recently gone hand in hand with the notion that the combination of various modalities is the key step towards improved diagnostic accuracy.Ultrasound (US) is promising for point-of-care imaging because, of its real-time display, high temporal and spatial resolution, low cost and safe of use. However, it falls short in terms of functional imaging. On the other hand optical techniques provide high contrast by the pronounced optical absorption variations in tissue and functional imaging when probing spectral features, but optical scattering limits the resolution of purely optical methods. Photoacoustic imaging (PA) shows optical absorption at ultrasound resolution via thermo-elastically generated ultrasound.The objective of FULLPHASE is the transition of PA imaging from a lab-based technique to a low-cost portable multi wavelength combined PA and US system. In order to reach that goal, the FULLPHASE partners offer specific expertise over complementary backgrounds in diode laser technology, laser beam shaping, ultrasound imaging technology, and system integration. The impact of the FULLPHASE system will be shown in oncology, rheumatology and cardio vascular disease.The ultrasound technology market is currently dominated by few large companies mainly located in the US, Europe and Asia. The FULLPHASE low cost portable PA and US medical system for early disease detection that will be commercialised by ESAOTE Europe will give the involved research institutes and the industrial partners access to new know-how and new markets. It will stimulate the implementation of a new imaging concept that will create a change in health care delivery.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2013-ITN | Award Amount: 3.66M | Year: 2014

The scientific objective of the project is to develop new and highly sophisticated instruments of metric analysis with applications to the large spectrum of emergent technological fields from human to computer vision, to traffic dynamics. New European Doctoral Programme will be devoted to the training of young researchers on this new frontier of mathematics and its applications. Metric analysis, allows to reconsider differential problems, in rich geometrical setting, non isotropic or non regular. Totally non isotropic geometrical settings, arise while describing the motion of a system in which some directions are not allowed by a constraint, as models of the visual cortex, robotics, and will be studied with instruments of differential subriemannian analysis. They non regular counter part, as rectifiable objects can be studied with instruments of metric measure, mass transportation, and singular integrals. Long standing open problems in mathematics, which cannot be solved a single instrument of differential, metric or of measure theory, will be afforded with this unitary theory. At the same time these results will open the possibility of affording challenging technological problems. Geometric analysis in Lie groups provides an elegant tool for modelling the modular structure of the visual cortex. New Brain-inspired models of computer vision allow to efficiently handle medical images and MRI data. A mathematical theory can model with the same instruments transport of the visual signal and in a road net. Hence we propose a new training through research programme within a consrtium of 9 Academic partners and 3 private. The aspects of the program are Individual Research program with structured courses Network-wide multidisciplinary training events with private sector participation, Secondments through other research centres or private companies, The training program can open a large spectrum of opportunities of career development, in academic and private world


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: PHC-09-2015 | Award Amount: 28.14M | Year: 2016

Many HIV vaccine concepts and several efficacy trials have been conducted in the prophylactic and therapeutic fields with limited success. There is an urgent need to develop better vaccines and tools predictive of immunogenicity and of correlates of protection at early stage of vaccine development to mitigate the risks of failure. To address these complex and challenging scientific issues, the European HIV Vaccine Alliance (EHVA) program will develop a Multidisciplinary Vaccine Platform (MVP) in the fields of prophylactic and therapeutic HIV vaccines. The Specific Objectives of the MVP are to build up: 1.Discovery Platform with the goal of generating novel vaccine candidates inducing potent neutralizing and non-neutralizing antibody responses and T-cell responses, 2. Immune Profiling Platform with the goal of ranking novel and existing (benchmark) vaccine candidates on the basis of the immune profile, 3. Data Management/Integration/Down-Selection Platform, with the goal of providing statistical tools for the analysis and interpretation of complex data and algorithms for the efficient selection of vaccines, and 4. Clinical Trials Platform with the goal of accelerating the clinical development of novel vaccines and the early prediction of vaccine failure. EHVA project has developed a global and innovative strategy which includes: a) the multidisciplinary expertise involving immunologists, virologists, structural biology experts, statisticians and computational scientists and clinicians; b) the most innovative technologies to profile immune response and virus reservoir; c) the access to large cohort studies bringing together top European clinical scientists/centres in the fields of prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines, d) the access to a panel of experimental HIV vaccines under clinical development that will be used as benchmark, and e) the liaison to a number of African leading scientists/programs which will foster the testing of future EHVA vaccines through EDCTP


Patent
Association Institute Of Myologie, University of Bern, University Pierre, Marie Curie, Institute National Of La Snate Et Of La Recherche Medicale and French National Center for Scientific Research | Date: 2012-10-12

The present invention relates to a nucleic acid molecule containing a sequence of tricyclo nucleosides joined by internucleoside phosphorothioate linkage. The invention also relates to synthetic antisense oligonucleotides and to methods employing the same.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: NMP-2009-1.2-1 | Award Amount: 3.99M | Year: 2010

To continue the path of cost reduction in photovoltaics the efficiency of silicon solar cells must be increased. With higher efficiencies more kWh can be produced from the same amount of silicon, which is the dominating cost factor at present. Fundamental loss mechanisms limit the maximum achievable efficiency: around 20% of the incident power is lost, because photons with energies below the band-gap are transmitted. Upconversion of two low energy photons into one usable photon reduces these losses. In this project we will realize upconversion with the help of nanostructures and nanotechnoloy-based materials and show a significant improvement in solar cell efficiency. The combination of upconverting Er-based phosphors with PbSe/PbS core shell quantum dots increases the spectral range of light that is upconverted. The quantum dots will be incorporated into a fluorescent concentrator to achieve concentration within the upconverting device. Both the increased photon flux due to a wider spectral collection and the additional geometric concentration will increase upconversion efficiency because of its nonlinear characteristic. Optical nanostructures shall serve as selectively reflective structures that avoid unwanted parasitic absorption. The development of very efficient quantum dots and suitable host materials, the optimization of the upconverter and the fabrication of photonic structures are main objectives. Additionally, solar cells and system designs will be optimized, to make the best use of upconverted photons. A thorough understanding of the underlying principles is critical for the success, so gaining knowledge about nanostructures and materials is a major goal. The big advantage of this concept is that the solar cells remain fairly unchanged. The proposed concept opens a technology path for an evolutionary development of silicon solar cell technology to efficiencies towards 30%, starting from the solid base of todays established silicon technology.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: ICT-29-2016 | Award Amount: 4.70M | Year: 2016

Cardiovascular disease (CVD), more specifically, vulnerable plaque rupture, remains the major cause of death for people at middle age. The CVENT consortium will revolutionize screening, diagnosis and monitoring of CVD by means of a compact photoacoustic imaging (PAI) system for vulnerable plaque imaging. In the carotid arteries feeding the brain, vulnerable plaque rupture initiates cerebrovascular ischemic attacks. The state-of-the-art decision-making approach for a high-risk surgical intervention to avoid plaque rupture is based on stenosis severity alone, measured with ultrasound (US) imaging. However, this does not distinguish between vulnerable (rupture-prone) and stable (harmless) plaques, leading to severe overtreatment. Consequently, there is a worldwide unmet and urgent clinical need for functional information to enable in-depth diagnosis of carotid plaque vulnerability, avoiding cardiovascular events (CVENT) and reducing overtreatment risk. The objective of the CVENT consortium is the development of a portable multimodal and multiwavelength PAI system with a 3 cm imaging depth, for diagnosis and monitoring of carotid plaque vulnerability. The combination of high optical contrast of PAI and the high resolution of US will be used to identify plaque vulnerability markers, typically lipid pools and intra-plaque haemorrhage. Improved diagnosis of carotid plaque vulnerability will lead to a significant reduction in CVD-related disability and mortality. Simultaneously, by stratifying patients into high and low risk groups, overtreatment is reduced, leading to better allocation of healthcare funds. The CVENT consortium unites leading research groups, clinicians, industrial partners, and their expertise on R&D and a focus on exploitation, creating a breakthrough in carotid plaque vulnerability diagnosis. CVENT will bring together leading experts in the field of CVD, functional US imaging and PAI, introducing clinically applied PAI into the vascular medical arena.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: PEOPLE-2007-1-1-ITN | Award Amount: 2.80M | Year: 2008

The FUNMOLS network will tackle major challenges in the field of molecular electronics. Ten internationally-leading European research groups from five different countries [including one of Europes leading industrial electronics-research groups (IBM Zurich)] have joined forces as full participants, combining expertise in synthetic chemistry, nanoscale physics and device engineering, surface electrochemistry and electronic structure calculations. Our highly-integrated approach involves a convergence of experiments including syntheses and theory in electron transport through single molecules, which will represent a major step towards the realisation of future scalable molecular electronics technologies and processes. In the longer term, the insights gained will contribute to the fabrication of functional nanoscopic architectures and their integration into a higher hierarchical level. System parameters like electric field, light, temperature or chemical reactivity are envisaged as possible triggers of future nanoelectronic devices. This European consortium is committed to promote breakthroughs at the frontier of science. The training dimension of the FUNMOLS network is reflected in the high priority we will give to a series of actions specifically aimed at early stage researchers (ESRs). These include: education and knowledge dissemination through the organisation of Workshops, Tutorial Courses, Annual Network Meetings, Training Schools, International Conferences and Mobility Programmes. The network as a whole builds on several fruitful collaborations between the PIs and seeks to close an existing educational gap in the European Research Arena. The development of complementary skills (presentation, management, technology transfer, IP protection) will be implemented actively throughout the lifetime of the project. A constant interaction beyond those involved primarily in research will provide the wider scientific community with information on our new technology.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2013-ITN | Award Amount: 3.45M | Year: 2013

Neuroinflammation is a hallmark of multiple sclerosis and ischemic stroke. Investigating neuroinflammation as a common theme in neurological disorders, this ITN will focus in particular on myeloid cells, microglia, and endothelial cells. Sixteen partners from the academic and private sector with complementary scientific background join forces to train 13 ESRs in neuroinflammatory concepts and technologies that are valid across specific disease entities. Using an interdisciplinary and intersectorial approach the training will promote technical expertise, insight into entrepreneurship, as well as leadership and communication skills and lay the foundation for a successful career of ESRs either in the academic or private sector.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2012-ITN | Award Amount: 3.64M | Year: 2012

Luminescent materials have entered our every day life. They can be found in lamps, traffic lights, computer screens, cell phones, in labels for goods, are used in medical applications, airport security check devices and many more. Indeed, they have become indispensable and much of societies convenience and welfare depend on them. No wonder that the development and use of luminescent materials has truly exploded in the past decade stimulated by the challenging requirements of technological applications spanning domains from solid-state lighting, optics and photonics, energy conversion and storage to well as labelling, detection and imaging in biomedicine. The production of luminescent materials and related devices also is the basis for a large industrial sector with the most key stake holders situated in Europe. There is and there will be a strong demand for skilled scientists in the area of luminescent materials which demands the definition of a precise human resource policy to attract young and highly motivated students that can be well qualified to address the exigent technological requirements of the field and help to strengthen the European technology and research area and allow European companies to keep their status as world market leaders. At the same time sustainable employment opportunities can be guaranteed with high quality jobs. To address theses topics, LUMINET intends, through a rigorous training programme, to strategically position the EU with respect to new and improved possibilities and educated young scientists. It aims at educating a number of well-educated and talented young researchers with a broad, interdisciplinary knowledge in chemistry, physics, materials science and engineering but also in soft-skills like problem-solving and project management that are able to meet the challenges of the future.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SFS-02b-2015 | Award Amount: 7.63M | Year: 2016

European crop production is to remain competitive while reducing environmental impacts, requiring development and uptake of effective soil improving cropping systems. The overall aim of SOILCARE is to identify and evaluate promising soil-improving cropping systems and agronomic techniques increasing profitability and sustainability across scales in Europe. A trans-disciplinary approach will be used to evaluate benefits and drawbacks of a new generation of soil improving cropping systems, incorporating all relevant bio-physical, socio-economic and political aspects. Existing information from literature and long term experiments will be analysed to develop a comprehensive methodology for assessing performance of cropping systems at multiple levels. A multi-actor approach will be used to select promising soil-improving cropping systems for scientific evaluation in 16 study sites across Europe covering different pedo-climatic and socio-economic conditions. Implemented cropping systems will be monitored with stakeholder involvement, and will be assessed jointly with scientists. Specific attention will be paid to adoption of soil-improving cropping systems and agronomic techniques within and beyond the study sites. Results from study sites will be up-scaled to the European level to draw general lessons about applicability potentials of soil-improving cropping systems and related profitability and sustainability impacts, including assessing barriers for adoption at that scale. An interactive tool will be developed for end-users to identify and prioritize suitable soil-improving cropping systems anywhere in Europe. Current policies and incentives will be assessed and targeted policy recommendations will be provided. SOILCARE will take an active dissemination approach to achieve impact from local to European level, addressing multiple audiences, to enhance crop production in Europe to remain competitive and sustainable through dedicated soil care.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: ENV.2009.1.1.1.1 | Award Amount: 9.23M | Year: 2010

Past4Future will combine multidisciplinary paleoclimate records from ice cores, marine cores, speleothems, pollen and other records, concentrating on a global distribution of the records, to reconstruct climate change and variability during the present interglacial (the Holocene) and the last interglacial (known as the Eemian in northwestern Europe and as marine isotope stage 5e in the marine sediment records). The records will be combined in integrated analyses aided by proxy modeling and assimilation, to gain understanding of the climate processes involved in the dynamics of interglacial climates. Earth system models (ESM) including physical and biogeochemical processes will be applied to simulate the past and present interglacial climate, and to confront and intercompare the simulations with climate changes as observed from the palaeodata; this will both advance the models and our understanding of the dynamics and predictability of the climate system. Focus will be on the most recent two interglacial periods, as these provide the highest-resolved most comprehensive data records. Moreover the last interglacial represents a situation where the mean state was warmer than at present in large regions due to orbital forcing, thereby allowing tests of climate system sensitivity to constrain projections of potential future ice sheet, sea-level, circulation and biogeochemical changes. The data and Earth system model results will be used improve our capabilities to project future global and regional warming from a better understanding of relevant paleoclimates, especially in relation to sea level changes, sea ice changes and thermohaline circulation changes. The Past4Future program will draw together a world leading team of European and international partners in a concerted effort to advance our knowledge on the causes, processes and risks of abrupt changes in warm periods, such as those projected for the current and the next century. The program will inform the international debate on climate system stability and the dissemination of results will be targeted to both citizens and governmental and non-governmental stakeholders. It will leave a legacy of improved understanding of past drivers of sea level changes, changes of sea ice, and of greenhouse gas concentrations, and it will train a new generation of young climate researchers to further advance research and improved future predictions for the benefit of society and our capacity to mitigate and adapt to climate changes.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ENV.2013.6.2-4 | Award Amount: 10.92M | Year: 2013

Although there is a large body of knowledge available on soil threats in Europe, this knowledge is fragmented and incomplete, in particular regarding the complexity and functioning of soil systems and their interaction with human activities. The main aim of RECARE is to develop effective prevention, remediation and restoration measures using an innovative trans-disciplinary approach, actively integrating and advancing knowledge of stakeholders and scientists in 17 Case Studies, covering a range of soil threats in different bio-physical and socio-economic environments across Europe. Within these Case Study sites, i) the current state of degradation and conservation will be assessed using a new methodology, based on the WOCAT mapping procedure, ii) impacts of degradation and conservation on soil functions and ecosystem services will be quantified in a harmonized, spatially explicit way, accounting for costs and benefits, and possible trade-offs, iii) prevention, remediation and restoration measures selected and implemented by stakeholders in a participatory process will be evaluated regarding efficacy, and iv) the applicability and impact of these measures at the European level will be assessed using a new integrated bio-physical and socio-economic model, accounting for land use dynamics as a result of for instance economic development and policies. Existing national and EU policies will be reviewed and compared to identify potential incoherence, contradictions and synergies. Policy messages will be formulated based on the Case Study results and their integration at European level. A comprehensive dissemination and communication strategy, including the development of a web-based Dissemination and Communication Hub, will accompany the other activities to ensure that project results are disseminated to a variety of stakeholders at the right time and in the appropriate formats to stimulate renewed care for European soils.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: HEALTH-2007-2.4.5-2 | Award Amount: 4.12M | Year: 2008

IBDase addresses the etiology and pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) with a multidisciplinary plan for innovative diagnosis and therapy focused on mucosal proteases and their inhibitors (P/PIs). The incidence of IBD, a multifactorial disease influenced by environmental factors in a background of complex genetic susceptibility, is rising, particularly among European children. Current therapies lack efficacy and specificity. The gut microflora plays a crucial role in IBD but the cause for this is still poorly understood. Research implicating P/PIs in gut mucosal inflammation requires further mechanistic insight and the P/PIs relevant in human IBD need to be identified. To this end we will identify human mucosal P/PI polymorphisms affecting expression levels and/or activity of P/PIs and analyse their genotype/phenotype associations in IBD patient cohorts across Europe. IBD-associated P/PIs will be characterised by biochemical properties, expression in human clinical samples and manipulation of experimental models. Their interaction with microflora will be examined in animal models with controlled colonisation of the gut and in vitro co-culture models of intestinal mucosa and bacteria. In vivo studies will use targeted, well-established and new mouse models and evaluate zebrafish as an IBD model. Molecular mechanisms for involvement of IBD specific P/PI gene variants in the inflammatory response will be proposed. Therapeutics development will focus on specific inhibition or promotion of proteolysis in the intestinal mucosa, and select at least three validated P/PI of the intestinal mucosa for follow-up in clinical trials. Embracing the concept of tailoring treatment to individual patient characteristics to increase efficacy and reduce side-effects, IBDase strengthens international visibility of IBD related research, policies and industry and fosters IBD related research to the benefit of European society in both patient care and economic interest.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: PHC-23-2014 | Award Amount: 6.15M | Year: 2015

The evidence base of Internet-based interventions in the prevention and treatment of mental health conditions has rapidly grown in the past decade. Yet many European countries (e.g., Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Spain) have not implemented these promising approaches into health systems. Individuals with risk conditions or distinct mental health problems interested in using online interventions are often unable to access appropriate and evidence-based online interventions. The aim of this proposal is to establish a comprehensive model of health promotion, risk detection, disease prevention, and treatment facilitation for the most prevalent mental health problems and disorders (depression, anxiety, adjustment disorders, eating disorders/weight management and substance abuse) that assists individuals and mental health professionals in selecting and using evidence-based, online interventions. To reach this aim, the project partners bring together over 30 evidence-based, online interventions spanning the mental health intervention spectrum from universal and targeted prevention, self-help to treatment for the respective conditions applicable to children, adolescents and adults. Following a stakeholder needs survey, the model will be integrated into existing health care and other settings in Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland, Austria, The Netherlands, and Spain by 1. developing valid and economic, online screenings to allocate individuals to interventions, 2. developing technology for a common e-Health intervention platform, 3. developing implementation plans, 4. implementing evidence-based interventions into health care, and 5. evaluating and comparing their feasibility, acceptability, reach, efficacy and (cost)-effectiveness, adoption, and dissemination including moderators of interventions. Our proposal aims at the sustained implementation of the ICare model into health services and collaborations with health care providers across different EU countries.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: HEALTH.2012.2.4.4-2 | Award Amount: 3.85M | Year: 2012

Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia (PCD) is a rare genetically heterogeneous disorder which results from dysfunction of motile hair-like organelles (cilia) that results in severe, chronic airways disease. Due to other cilia-related disease mechanisms several other organ systems like the heart can be affected. The complexity of the disease phenotype, late diagnosis, as well as lack of evidence based management guidelines contribute to a high burden of disease and cause high health care costs. Therefore, there is a great need for observational trials as well as well-designed randomised controlled trials to put evidence-based diagnostic and treatment approaches into effect. The main objective of our project is to improve diagnosis and treatment of PCD patients. To accomplish this, we propose to: 1) Establish widespread, early diagnosis by introduction of nasal Nitric Oxide measurement as screening tool, and by introduction of high-speed videomicroscopy as diagnostic tool; 2) Develop new outcome criteria, especially a PCD-specific quality of life questionnaire, as a prerequisite for controlled PCD trials; 3) Establish a PCD registry for both cross-sectional analysis of current disease status and longitudinal observational analysis of disease progression under different regimens; 4) Generate evidence-based treatment guidelines by conducting two prospective randomized trials on the inhalation of hypertonic saline and long term azithromycin therapy. To achieve these goals members of the European Respiratory Societys PCD task force will join forces with members of the NIH-funded US-PCD-network. In our multi-national project, we will for the first time establish evidence-based guidelines for diagnosis, clinical management and therapy. We expect that in a high proportion of children the diagnosis will be established before irreversible lung damage has occurred. In later diagnosed individuals the disease burden will be reduced and chronic respiratory failure retarded.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: PROTEC-1-2014 | Award Amount: 1.21M | Year: 2015

HESPERIA will produce two novel operational forecasting tools based upon proven concepts (UMASEP, REleASE). At the same time it will advance our understanding of the physical mechanisms that result into high-energy solar particle events (SEPs) exploiting novel datasets (FERMI/LAT/GBM; PAMELA; AMS) and it will explore the possibility to incorporate the derived results into future innovative space weather services. In order to achieve these goals HESPERIA will exploit already available large datasets stored into databases such as the neutron monitor database (NMDB) and SEPServer that have been developed under FP7 projects from 2008 to 2013. The objectives of HESPERIA are: 1) To develop two novel SEP forecasting systems based upon proven concepts. 2) To develop SEP forecasting tools searching for electromagnetic proxies of the gamma-ray emission in order to predict large SEP events. 3) To perform systematic exploitation of the novel high-energy gamma-ray observations of the FERMI mission together with in situ SEP measurements near 1 AU. 4) To provide for the first time publicly available software to invert neutron monitor observations of relativistic SEPs to physical parameters that can be compared with the space-borne measurements at lower energies. 5) To perform examination of currently unexploited tools (radio emission) 6) To design recommendations for future SEP forecasting systems. The results will be openly accessible to the public through the dedicated web interface of HESPERIA and will further be posted in related servers such as NMDB and SEPServer. The HESPERIA consortium consists of 9 partners with complementary expertise covering all aspects of the project. HESPERIA will also collaborate with a number of institutes and individuals from US and Russia, ensuring both the in depth analysis of the novel datasets to be utilized within the project and the efficient dissemination of the results to the whole space physics/space weather community.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CPCSA | Phase: INFRA-2007-1.2-01 | Award Amount: 669.89K | Year: 2008

We propose to set up a European digital repository for cosmic ray data\nby pooling existing data archives and by developing a real-time database\nwith the data of as many European neutron monitor stations as possible.\nThe data will be available through internet. Cosmic rays provide a\ndiagnostic tool to analyze processes in interplanetary space and at the\nSun. Cosmic rays also directly affect the terrestrial environment and\nserve as indicators of solar variability and non-anthropogenic climate\nchanges on Earth. In the fifties of the last century a worldwide network\nof standardized neutron monitors was developed to examine temporal and\nspatial variations in our space environment. Despite decades of\ntradition, neutron monitors remain the state-of-the-art instrumentation\nfor measuring GeV cosmic rays that cannot be measured by space\nexperiments. Therefore the worldwide network, which presently consists\nof about 50 stations, ideally complements cosmic ray observations in\nspace. Since the beginning of the coordinated neutron monitor\nmeasurements the data have been collected in world data centers. A big\nshortcoming of these data centers for todays demands is the fact that\nthe data are not available in real-time and only with a time resolution\nof one hour. Cosmic ray applications, e.g. space weather warnings\n(geomagnetic storms, solar energetic particle events) need access to\nneutron monitor measurements in real-time and with high time resolution.\nReliable forecasts of geomagnetic storms are important in many technical\nareas (radio communication, electric power lines, etc.). Confident alert\nprediction of solar energetic particle events is highly important for\nmanned space missions and for airline crews and passengers. The proposal\nunifies for the first time the cosmic ray community of the European\nneutron monitor network in a coordinated effort to advance the use of\ncosmic ray data in cutting-edge applications, as e.g. space weather.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: SPA.2011.1.5-03 | Award Amount: 2.83M | Year: 2011

The principal objective of the NORS project is to improve the quality and validation of the products delivered by the GMES Atmospheric Service (GAS), using independent groundbased remote sensing data from the international Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change (NDACC). NDACC is a cross-border research network with a strong European contribution, providing high-quality reference observational data for understanding the physical / chemical state of the stratosphere and troposphere, and for assessing the impact of atmospheric composition changes on climate. NORS focuses on a selection of NDACC data that have high priority in the different domains of GAS, namely ozone and UV, air quality and climate. The research planned in NORS aims at tailoring these NDACC products to the needs of GAS. It includes a full characterisation of the products and an evaluation of the consistency between the ground-based data and the satellite data assimilated in the GAS production chain. As ground-based remote sensing data form the ideal link between in situ surface concentration and satellite column data, NORS will investigate how integrated tropospheric products and integrated ozone products can be developed. The project will demonstrate operational rapid delivery of NDACC data to GAS, including a comprehensive set of metadata and a user guide. It will also develop and implement a web-based server for providing consistent validation reports of the GAS products using the NORS data products, on an operational basis. In support of the re-analyses planned in GAS, NORS will deliver time-series of ground-based data back to 2003. The achievements of NORS will be made available to NDACC as a whole and especially to candidate NDACC stations filling gaps outside Western Europe. The project will be performed in close collaboration with relevant projects in the context of GAS, and it will liaise with NDACC, the European Environmental Agency, and major GMES/GEOSS actors.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2007.1.6 | Award Amount: 3.63M | Year: 2008

The aim of this project is to provide a multi-level infrastracture of interconnected testbeds of large-scale wireless sensor networks for research purposes, pursuing an interdisciplinary approach that integrates the aspects of hardware, software, algorithms, and data. This will demonstrate how heterogeneous small-scale devices and testbeds can be brought together to form well-organized, large-scale structures, rather than just some large network; it will allow research not only at a much larger scale, but also in different quality, due to heterogeneous structure and the ability to deal with dynamic scenarios, both in membership and location. For the interdisciplinary area of wireless sensor networks, establishing the foundations of distributed, interconnected testbeds for an integrated approach to hardware, software, algorithms, and data will allow a new quality of practical and theoretical collaboration, possibly marking a turning point from individual, hand-tailored solutions to large-scale, integrated ones. For this end, we will engage in implementing recent theoretical results on algorithms, mechanisms and protocols and transform them into software. We will apply the resulting code to the scrutiny of large-scale simulations and experiments, from which we expect to obtain valuable feedback and derive further requirements, orientations and inputs for the long-term research. We intend to make these distributed laboratories available to the European scientific community, so that other research groups will take advantage of the federated infrastructure. Overall, this means pushing the new paradigm of distributed, self-organizing structures to a different level.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: ENV.2010.1.1.3-1 | Award Amount: 9.56M | Year: 2011

CARBOCHANGE will provide the best possible process-based quantification of net ocean carbon uptake under changing climate conditions using past and present ocean carbon cycle changes for a better prediction of future ocean carbon uptake. We will improve the quantitative understanding of key biogeochemical and physical processes through a combination of observations and models. We will upscale new process understanding to large-scale integrative feedbacks of the ocean carbon cycle to climate change and rising carbon dioxide concentrations. We will quantify the vulnerability of the ocean carbon sources and sinks in a probabilistic sense using cutting edge coupled Earth system models under a spectrum of emission scenarios including climate stabilisation scenarios as required for the 5th IPCC assessment report. The drivers for the vulnerabilities will be identified. The most actual observations of the changing ocean carbon sink will be systematically integrated with the newest ocean carbon models, a coupled land-ocean model, an Earth system model of intermediate complexity, and fully fledged Earth system models through a spectrum of data assimilation methods as well as advanced performance assessment tools. Results will be optimal process descriptions and most realistic error margins for future ocean carbon uptake quantifications with models under the presently available observational evidence. The project will deliver calibrated future evolutions of ocean pH and carbonate saturation as required by the research community on ocean acidification in the EU project EPOCA and further projects in this field. The time history of atmosphere-ocean carbon fluxes past, present, and future will be synthesised globally as well as regionally for the transcontinental RECCAP project. Observations and model results will merge into GEOSS/GEO through links with the European coordination action COCOS and will prepare the marine branch of the European Research Infrastructure ICOS.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: HEALTH.2012.2.4.5-1 | Award Amount: 4.74M | Year: 2012

Cochlear implantation is a surgical procedure that aims to overcome hearing loss by direct electrical stimulation of the spiral ganglion cells in the cochlea of the inner ear. The surgical scenario of implantation surgery is very complex. It requires high clinical expertise in order to 1) efficiently access the surgical site, the cochlea, localize nearby critical structures (e.g. facial nerve) and 2) optimize the position of the implantable device (electrode array) inside the cochlea. Furthermore, there is a vast anatomical variability amongst patients. This makes individual optimal fitting an extremely difficult task and strongly influences the success of the surgery and subsequently hearing restoration. We hypothesize that a comprehensive understanding of the shape variability of the middle and inner ear among patients will enable the design improvement of hearing implants, and will be of assistance during surgical planning. Consequently, the aim of this project is: 1) to develop a novel high-resolution high-energy microCT device to obtain detailed images of the middle and inner ear, even in the presence of metallic implants, 2) to build a model of the shape variability of the middle and inner ear from high-resolution images, also incorporating functional information, 3) to build a computer-assisted patient-specific preoperative planning system, and 4) to improve the design of cochlear implant (CI) electrode arrays and associated insertion tools using a population-based optimization framework. All objectives revolve around the criteria of minimizing invasiveness, insertion-induced trauma and enhanced functional outcome through patient-specific frequency mapping. The consortium is composed of two research-intensive SMEs, one university hospital, two universities, and a large European enterprise. This project will lead to important strategic benefits for all partners, and very especially for the SMEs.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: HEALTH-2007-2.4.4-1 | Award Amount: 3.69M | Year: 2008

Pemphigus is a potentially lethal bullous disease of the skin and mucosa and may be considered as a paradigmatic organ-specific autoimmune disease due to 1) its well-defined autoantigens, 2) the knowledge of critical events of its immune pathogenesis and 3) the reproducibility of major clinical and pathogenic features in suitable animal models. Overall, understanding the etiopathogenesis of pemphigus may provide crucial additional insight into basic mechanisms leading from autoimmunity to autoimmune disease and may help to design more specific therapeutic strategies. Despite the enormous progress, no specific therapy is currently available in pemphigus. The present project arises as a joined effort of European Scientists and Clinicians to establish a Consortium of groups engaged in providing a critical mass of patients and research tools to address the following goals: 1) to better define the immune pathogenesis of pemphigus utilizing two in vivo models of pemphigus with emphasis on autoaggressive T cells and their collaboration with autoantibody (autoAb) secreting B cells. 2) analysis of the autoAb-driven effector phase frequently involving epitope spreading which ultimately leads to a more severe disease; 3) characterization of the molecular events following Ab binding to the target autoantigens by defining autoAb-induced signalling events in epidermal keratinocytes; 4) spectrum of the autoimmune B cell response and the impact of therapeutic strategies on the cellular and humoral autoimmune response in pemphigus utilizing human monoclonal Ab which will be analysed for their fine specificity and genetically and functionally characterized; and 5) clinical read-out parameters for prospective studies which are urgently needed as valid parameters for the extent and activity of disease and which will be compared to serological markers and life quality assessment in pemphigus.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: NFRP-06-2014 | Award Amount: 5.95M | Year: 2015

The HORIZON 2020 EURATOM Collaborative Project Cement-based materials, properties, evolution, barrier functions (Cebama) is developed with the overall objective to support implementation of geological disposal of nuclear waste by improving the knowledge base for the Safety Case. Cement-based materials are highly relevant in this context, being used as waste forms, liners and structural components or sealing materials in different types of host rocks and disposal concepts. Specific objectives of Cebama are (i) experimental studies of interface processes between cement based materials and host rocks or bentonite, and assessing the specific impact on transport properties, (ii) quantifying radionuclide retention under high pH cement conditions, and (iii) developing comprehensive modeling approaches. Modeling will support interpretation of results and prediction of the long-term evolution of key transport characteristics such as porosity, permeability and diffusion parameters especially in the interface between cement based materials and the engineered and natural barriers. Further objectives cover dissemination of results to scientific and non-scientific stakeholders as well as training and education of young professionals for carrying over the expertise into future implementation programms. To a large extent, the experimental and modelling work will be part of PhD theses, aiming at high scientific-technical impact and quality with respect to peer-reviewed publications. The 4 years project is implemented by a consortium of 27 partners consisting of large Research Institutions, Universities, one TSO and one SME from 9 EURATOM Signatory States, Switzerland and Japan. National Waste Management Organizations support Cebama by co-developing the work plan, participation in the End-User Group, granting co-funding to some beneficiaries, and providing for knowledge and information transfer.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: PEOPLE-2007-1-1-ITN | Award Amount: 2.60M | Year: 2008

Geological time is inextricably linked with Earth Sciences and the Geological Time Scale (GTS) is the yardstick to measure it. As such the GTS is the key to reconstruct Earth history. Recent developments in numerical dating now permit to build a much improved next generation GTS for the last 100 million years by integrating independent state-of-the-art techniques; this time scale will have an unprecedented accuracy, precision, resolution and stability. Within GTSnext a consortium of world leading European experts will be brought together for the first time to integrate their expertise and provide young scientists with a top training in all these methods. This training is the prime objective of GTSnext, and crucial to its success. Together this team of newly trained scientists is well equipped to construct the new GTS. GTSnext is part of a broader international initiative - EARTHTIME - a community-based scientific effort aimed at sequencing Earth history through an integrated geochronologic and stratigraphic approach. It is our ambition to broaden the Earthtime platform in Europe with GTSnext, which combined with an ESF funded Research Network run in parallel, will also serve as the basis for wider outreach towards the Earth Science community. The expected scientific contributions and breakthroughs are 1) a full integration and intercalibration of different numerical dating techniques, leading to 2) a significant improvement in the consistency of these same techniques; 3) progress towards a fully integrated and astronomical-tuned GTS over the last 100 million years; 4) an essentially stable time scale that is highly beneficial for both academia and industry, and 5) new insights in key geological processes including climate change, catastrophic impacts, and volcanic hazards. Finally, a more fundamental comprehension of geological time and the time scales at which key processes occur in Earth history is highly relevant in view of the impact we have on System Earth.


News Article | March 9, 2016
Site: phys.org

CaSSIS (Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System) has been developed by a team led by the University of Bern. It is scheduled to be launched on a PROTON rocket from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 10:31 (CET) on Monday 14 March 2016. It will be carried by the European Space Agency's ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO). The launch will send the spacecraft towards an encounter with Mars in October 2016. CaSSIS is a high resolution imaging system designed to complement the data acquired by the other payload on TGO and other Mars orbiters while also enhancing our knowledge of the surface of Mars. The camera is a cooperation between the University of Bern, the Astronomical Observatory of Padua, and the Space Research Center in Warsaw with the support of local industries and funded by the Swiss Space Office (SSO), the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the Polish Space Agency (POLSA). The instrument will obtain stereo images of the surface in colour at a resolution of better than 5 m. It is now known that Mars is more dynamic than previously thought. Of particular interest to the 25-strong science team from 9 countries (incl. US and Russia) is the chance CaSSIS offers to study changes that occur over the day and over the Martian seasons. Further studies of recently discovered liquid water on the surface will be one of the main aims. "CaSSIS is the best system we could build with the available resources," says the leader of the science team, Nicolas Thomas of the Center of Space and Habitability (CSH). "It was a real challenge completing the instrument in time. But we have done a lot of tests remotely from Bern, with CaSSIS on the spacecraft in Baikonur and it really seems to be good to go. The launcher now has to do its part." The first signals from the ExoMars spacecraft are expected 9 hours after launch at 19:28 CET. "That is going to be a long wait," says Thomas who will be a guest of ESA at the launch in Baikonur. "I will definitely need a drop of vodka at some point," he jokes. The first switch-on of CaSSIS is planned for mid-April when the Uni Bern team will see if their instrument performs as expected. "That will also be a nervous time," said Thomas. "But whatever happens, the Swiss engineering team did a fantastic job and showed how to build a high precision space instrument in an unbelievably short time."


News Article | February 17, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

LOGAN, UTAH, USA - At what point on the journey along the branches of the evolutionary tree does a population become its own, unique species? And is a species still distinct, if it mates with a different, but closely related species? Evolutionary biologist Zach Gompert of Utah State University explores these questions and more, using plant-eating stick insects of the Timema genus as a research model. With colleagues from ten universities in North America and Europe, Gompert published ecological and genomic insights into stick insect speciation in the Feb. 17, 2017, issue of Nature Ecology & Evolution. His research is supported by the National Science Foundation and the Division of Research Computing in USU's Office of Research and Graduate Studies. Timema, commonly known as "walking sticks," are cryptic, meaning they visually blend into their surroundings to hide from hungry predators. "Our work on these insects suggests speciation can be initiated by a few genetic changes associated with natural selection on cryptic color-patterns," says Gompert, assistant professor in USU's Department of Biology and the USU Ecology Center. "While speciation is much more complicated than these changes, Timema's color-patterns provide a window for studying the early phases of the formation of a species." For the study, the researchers combined field experiments with genomics. They sequenced more than 1,000 stick insect genomes - the genetic material of each organism. Gompert says the size of their study is a research scale rare outside of human population genetic studies. "Having sequenced the genomes of a thousand individuals, we were able to pick up signals and variations that might have been missed in a smaller sample," he says. The overall process of generating a new species involves mate choice and the accumulation of genetic differences across the genome in geographically isolated populations, Gompert says. Rapid reversals of speciation can occur when distinct species, long separated, once again cross paths and mate. "When you look at places where two populations co-occur, they are either quite distinct across the entire genome or only distinct in a few regions of the genome," he says. "This could be viewed as an evolutionary gap. However, when you look across space, where populations don't co-occur, you can span this gap because intermediate stages of genetic differentiation are observable." So, what makes a species its own species? "We still have a lot of unanswered questions," he says. "While color variations in organisms, such as stick insects, can be striking and inform us of phases of evolution, they're one small aspect of a multi-faceted speciation process." Additional authors on the paper are Rüdiger Riesch of the University of London; Moritz Muschick, University of Bern; Dorothea Lindtke, Romain Villoutreix, Kay Lucek, Elizabeth Hellen, Victor Soria-Carrasco, Clarissa de Carvalho and Patrick Nosil of the University of Sheffield; Aaron Comeault, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Timothy Farkas, University of Connecticut; Stuart Dennis, Eawag Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology; Rebecca Safran, University of Colorado; Cristina Sandoval, University of California, Santa Barbara; Jeff Feder, Notre Dame University; and Regine Gries, Bernard Crespi and Gerhard Gries of Canada's Simon Fraser University.


A plant-eating stick insect of the Timema genus blends with its surroundings to hide from hungry predators. The stout bug was used as a research model by Utah State University evolutionary biologist Zach Gompert and colleagues to explore how new species form. The researchers report insights on the multi-faceted evolutionary process in a Feb. 17, 2017 paper in Nature Ecology & Evolution. Credit: Moritz Muschick At what point on the journey along the branches of the evolutionary tree does a population become its own, unique species? And is a species still distinct, if it mates with a different, but closely related species? Evolutionary biologist Zach Gompert of Utah State University explores these questions and more, using plant-eating stick insects of the Timema genus as a research model. With colleagues from ten universities in North America and Europe, Gompert published ecological and genomic insights into stick insect speciation in the Feb. 17, 2017, issue of Nature Ecology & Evolution. His research is supported by the National Science Foundation and the Division of Research Computing in USU's Office of Research and Graduate Studies. Timema, commonly known as "walking sticks," are cryptic, meaning they visually blend into their surroundings to hide from hungry predators. "Our work on these insects suggests speciation can be initiated by a few genetic changes associated with natural selection on cryptic color-patterns," says Gompert, assistant professor in USU's Department of Biology and the USU Ecology Center. "While speciation is much more complicated than these changes, Timema's color-patterns provide a window for studying the early phases of the formation of a species." For the study, the researchers combined field experiments with genomics. They sequenced more than 1,000 stick insect genomes – the genetic material of each organism. Gompert says the size of their study is a research scale rare outside of human population genetic studies. "Having sequenced the genomes of a thousand individuals, we were able to pick up signals and variations that might have been missed in a smaller sample," he says. The overall process of generating a new species involves mate choice and the accumulation of genetic differences across the genome in geographically isolated populations, Gompert says. Rapid reversals of speciation can occur when distinct species, long separated, once again cross paths and mate. "When you look at places where two populations co-occur, they are either quite distinct across the entire genome or only distinct in a few regions of the genome," he says. "This could be viewed as an evolutionary gap. However, when you look across space, where populations don't co-occur, you can span this gap because intermediate stages of genetic differentiation are observable." So, what makes a species its own species? "We still have a lot of unanswered questions," he says. "While color variations in organisms, such as stick insects, can be striking and inform us of phases of evolution, they're one small aspect of a multi-faceted speciation process." Additional authors on the paper are Rüdiger Riesch of the University of London; Moritz Muschick, University of Bern; Dorothea Lindtke, Romain Villoutreix, Kay Lucek, Elizabeth Hellen, Victor Soria-Carrasco, Clarissa de Carvalho and Patrick Nosil of the University of Sheffield; Aaron Comeault, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Timothy Farkas, University of Connecticut; Stuart Dennis, Eawag Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology; Rebecca Safran, University of Colorado; Cristina Sandoval, University of California, Santa Barbara; Jeff Feder, Notre Dame University; and Regine Gries, Bernard Crespi and Gerhard Gries of Canada's Simon Fraser University. Explore further: Sticking around: Scientists explore parallel evolution in stick insects More information: Riesch, Rüdiger, et. Al. "Transitions between phases of genomic differentiation during stick-insect speciation," Nature Ecology & Evolution, 17 Feb 2017. DOI: 10.1038/s41559-017-0082


News Article | November 11, 2016
Site: www.24-7pressrelease.com

NEW YORK, NY, November 11, 2016-- Raoul Felder has been included in Marquis Who's Who. As in all Marquis Who's Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.Acclaimed divorce and family lawyer Raoul Felder has been named one of the New York Law Journal's 100 Most Powerful Lawyers in America and was dubbed "The Duke of Divorce" in US Magazine, "The Dean of Divorce" in the New York Daily News, and "Dr. Estranged Love" in GQ Magazine. He is also among the "Top Ten Best Paid Corporate Lawyers" according to Forbes Magazine and made a name for himself as the most fearsome divorce lawyer. Mr. Felder's notable clients include former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Larry Fortensky (Elizabeth Taylor's seventh husband), Mrs. Johnnie Cochran, Mrs. Martin Scorcese, and Mrs. Tom Clancy, among many others. He has also represented and been consulted by members of royalty and various religious leaders. He has been interviewed on a multitude of TV and radio stations regarding legal issues and has been profiled on major American and European TV shows including The Today Show, 20/20 and Nightline. Additionally, Mr. Felder sat on the original Board of Advisors for Court TV, was a weekly legal commentator on CNN, and was the host of the Felder Report on WLIW-TV.Mr. Felder has authored such books as "Divorce: The Way Things Are, Not the Way Things Should Be," "Lawyers Practical Handbook to the New Divorce Law," and "Raoul Felder's Encyclopedia of Matrimonial Clauses." He has also written for the New York Daily News and has published numerous articles related to matrimonial law, politics and social issues. His latest book, a work of fiction, is entitled "Dancers on a Dark Street."A native of Brooklyn, NY, Mr. Felder graduated from New York University with a B.A. in 1955, studied medicine at the University of Bern College of Medicine in Switzerland, and received a JD from New York University School of Law in 1959. Soon after, he passed the bar exam and opened a private practice which he operated until 1961 when he was named Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. In 1964, he returned to his practice, where he continues to fervently represent his clients.Over the years, Mr. Felder has been of counsel to Weiss & Handler, P.A., among others, and also utilized his knowledge to successfully fulfill numerous roles and appointments: he has been a faculty member at the Practicing Law Institute, Marymount College, and the Ethical Culture School; a moderator for the National Conference on Child Abuse; appointed to the New York City Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission, the State Commission on Child Abuse, and the Committee on Character and Fitness; been on the board of directors of The Kidney & Urology Foundation of America and the Economic Development Corporation; served as chairman of the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct; and been a member of the American Bar Association, the New York City Bar Association, and the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. Outside of the law field, Mr. Felder has been, among other positions, the chairman of the National Kidney Foundation Auction, an honorary police commissioner of the New York City Police Department, and a grand marshal of the Israel Day Parade.Mr. Felder has been included in the 26th through 28th, 30th, 32nd, and 33rd editions of Who's Who In Finance and Industry; the 51st through 70th editions of Who's Who in America; the fourth through 19th editions of Who's Who in American Law; the 21st through 30th and 32nd through 43rd editions of Who's Who in the East; and the eighth, 10th through 12th, 18th, 19th, and 23rd through 33rd editions of Who's Who in the World, in addition to being the recipient of the Defender of Jerusalem medal, the Crimebusters award, and the Child Abuse Prevention Service award. He was also an honorary fellow in jurisprudence at Oxford University.For more information about Mr. Felder as well as links to articles about him, visit http://www.raoulfelder.com About Marquis Who's Who :Since 1899, when A. N. Marquis printed the First Edition of Who's Who in America , Marquis Who's Who has chronicled the lives of the most accomplished individuals and innovators from every significant field of endeavor, including politics, business, medicine, law, education, art, religion and entertainment. Today, Who's Who in America remains an essential biographical source for thousands of researchers, journalists, librarians and executive search firms around the world. Marquis now publishes many Who's Who titles, including Who's Who in America , Who's Who in the World , Who's Who in American Law , Who's Who in Medicine and Healthcare , Who's Who in Science and Engineering , and Who's Who in Asia . Marquis publications may be visited at the official Marquis Who's Who website at www.marquiswhoswho.com


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: ENV.2007.3.1.2.1. | Award Amount: 4.64M | Year: 2008

As formulated in the Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection prepared by the European Commission soil degradation is a serious problem in Europe. The degradation is driven or exacerbated by human activity and has a direct impact on water and air quality, biodiversity, climate and human life-quality. High-resolution soil property maps are one major prerequisite for the specific protection of soil functions and restoration of degraded soils as well as sustainable land use, water and environmental management. However, the currently available techniques for (digital) soil mapping still have deficiencies in terms of reliability and precision, the feasibility of investigation of large areas (e.g. catchments and landscapes) and the assessment of soil degradation threats at this scale. A further quandary is the insufficient degree of dissemination of knowledge between the scientific community, relevant authorities and prospective users and deficiencies in standardisation. The focus of the iSOIL project is on improving fast and reliable mapping of soil properties, soil functions and soil degradation threats. This requires the improvement as well as integration of geophysical and spectroscopic measurement techniques in combination with advanced soil sampling approaches, pedometrical and pedophysical approaches. An important aspect of the project is the sustainable dissemination of the technologies and concepts developed. For this purpose guidelines will be written and published. Furthermore, the results will be implemented in national and European soil databases. The present state of technologies and future perspectives will also be transferred to authorities, providers of technologies (SMEs), and end users through workshops at regional level, international conferences and publications throughout the duration of the project.


News Article | February 21, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

The reason for the scientific interest in the eruption of the volcano Samalas is that it is considered the largest in the last thousand years throwing as much as 10 cubic miles of rock into the atmosphere, which lead to destroying Pamatan, the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Lombok. The ice cores in Greenland evidence this as the study of their chemical composition in the 1980s pointed out that there was one of the largest in history volcanic eruptions in the XIII century. The volcano itself has long remained unknown, and scientists have searched for it all over the world. After studying the writings on the palm leaves in Old Javanese, in 2003 Franck Lavigne found that this volcano could be Samalas located on the island of Lombok in Indonesia. Lake Segara Anak formed in the crater later and made it difficult to detect the volcano. One of the existing scientific theories in climatology over the impact of the eruption Samalas volcano on global climatic conditions in the XIII century says that this event may be the cause of the abnormal cold weather (chronicles describe the following year as the "year without a summer"), widespread crop failure, famine, and social upheavals in Europe after 1257. In January 2017 a paper under the title "Climate response to the Samalas volcanic eruption in 1257 revealed by proxy records" was published in the British scientific journal Nature Geoscience with high impact factor among the nature journals (12.508 for 2 years). The international writing team includes scientists from Switzerland, Russia, France, Britain, the United States, China and Canada. Vladimir Myglan (School of the Humanities of Siberian Federal University) and Olga Churakova (Sidorova) (University of Bern, Institute of Geological Sciences, V.N. Sukachev Institute of Forest, SB RAS) are the Krasnoyarsk scientists who took part in the research. In the scientific world, the leading hypothesis is that the eruption of the volcano Samalas in 1257 was the cause of the Little Ice Age, and more than a hundred years of social crisis in Europe. Based on the analysis of reliable sources the paper refutes this hypothesis. The international team of scientists base their studies on the chronicles of European cities (Speyer, Worms and others) and Siberia, chronicles of harvests and climate data of the annual rings of trees. During the interdisciplinary analysis of data sources, it was found that the impact of the volcanic eruption Samalas on the European climate and the severe cooling after 1257 is greatly exaggerated as the heterogeneity of climate change occurs in the places of distribution of volcanic sediments. Vladimir Myglan: "Western Europe, Siberia and Japan experienced the strongest cooling, which coincided with warmer than normal conditions in Alaska and Northern Canada. It is assumed that in North America volcanic radiation was modeled on the positive vibrations of the warm phase of the El Niño. Historical data confirm a severe famine in England and Japan, but it had started before the eruption. We believe that the eruption of the volcano Samalas only aggravated an existing crisis but it was not the cause".


News Article | October 28, 2015
Site: www.nature.com

Drilling through ice sheets is a tedious task. It takes years of fieldwork to retrieve long ice cores that keep a continuous record of the climate stretching back hundreds of thousands of years. Now there is a faster way to bore deep into Earth’s history. Anxious to get to ice as old as 1.5 million years, nearly double the age of the oldest existing core, climate researchers have developed a new generation of ‘rapid-access’ ice drills. Some of these rigs will face their first major tests during the Antarctic field season that begins this month. These speedy tools take roughly a week, rather than years, to penetrate several kilo­metres of ice. They blitz through the topmost layers of ice to reach the ancient freeze beneath, where tiny bubbles of trapped air serve as a time capsule of environments long vanished. One of the biggest and most ambitious machines, a US project known as the Rapid Access Ice Drill (RAID), is being shipped in November from its construction site in Salt Lake City, Utah, to McMurdo Station in Antarctica (see ‘Climate clues’). The British Antarctic Survey will test a much smaller drill, also named RAID (for Rapid Access Isotope Drill) in December at the Sky Blu station on the Antarctic peninsula. French and Swiss research teams are developing their own fast drill designs. The drills sacrifice detail for speed, however. They chip up or melt the ice as they go, so extracting an intact core is impossible. But these fast drills will be able to do quick surveys of places where researchers might return in future field seasons to extract a full ice core at a more leisurely pace. The US$10.5-million US RAID drill, for instance, is designed to plough through more than 3 kilometres of ice in about a week. That speed would allow it to hop around Antarctica and drill several exploratory holes per season — instead of one hole over several seasons. Even so, finding the planet’s most ancient ice will not be easy. “We’re looking for a very fortuitous set of circumstances that allow for the preservation of very old ice,” says Jeffrey Severinghaus, a palaeo­climatologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. Ideally, scientists would discover a thick sequence of ice layers, undisturbed by flowing glaciers, that has not been heated too much by the rock below. Possible locations include several of the high-elevation Antarctic ice domes, such as Dome A near to which China’s Kunlun research station sits, or Dome C, where European researchers took five years to extract a core that reached into 800,000-year-old ice layers (see ‘Deep freeze’). Now researchers want to push even further, to ice that is at least 1.2 million years old. That would provide data on an important shift in Earth’s climate, when the planet’s glacial cycles changed from being dominated by a 100,000-year pattern to 41,000-year cycles (H. Fischer et al. Clim. Past 9, 2489–2505; 2013). Knowing what controlled that switch — and whether rising carbon dioxide levels played a part, along with factors such as changes in Earth’s rotational tilt — would help scientists to better understand how ice sheets will behave as the world warms. “If we don’t understand this we really don’t understand the climate that we have today,” says Severinghaus. The US and UK drills take different approaches to reach deep into Antarctica’s past. Once the US RAID reaches the bottom of the ice sheet, it could drill up to 50 metres into the underlying rock. Analysing that rock could reveal when it was last exposed to cosmic rays — which, in turn, reveals the age of the overlying section of the Antarctic ice sheet. The first full-scale field trial for RAID is scheduled for 2016–17. The British RAID is a much more modest project that costs less than £500,000 (US$770,000) and uses a modified conventional ice-core drill. It will be able to penetrate only about 600 metres into the ice sheet, to ice that is 30,000 to 40,000 years old — but unlike the US RAID, it does not require drilling fluid, the weight of which adds considerably to the cost of moving a drill around. “You can’t dry-drill deeper than that,” says Julius Rix, an engineer who is leading the drill’s development. “But there are plenty of places of interest.” A third drill, on a similar scale to the US machine, is the SUBGLACIOR probe being developed at Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France. This €3.2-million (US$5.3-million) project aims to melt rather than chip its way through the ice sheet, measuring chemical isotopes of the melted water as it goes, to calculate the age of the ice. The drill would be able to penetrate several kilometres deep; full testing is slated for 2016–17 at the Concordia research station in Antarctica, says Olivier Alemany, a polar engineer at Joseph Fourier University. A fourth project, dubbed RADIX, would use a much narrower hole than the others — just 2 centimetres across — to bore up to 3 kilo­metres in a few days. RADIX has gone through limited testing in Greenland, says team leader Jakob Schwander, a climate scientist at the University of Bern. No one knows exactly what these drills might encounter when they hit bottom. They might penetrate into pristine lakes below the ice sheet, which microbiologists could explore. Or they might reveal heat radiating upwards from the bedrock, melting the ice in ways that scientists had not expected. “It’s very multidisciplinary,” says John Goodge, a geologist at the University of Minnesota Duluth and a project leader on US RAID. “There’s all kinds of stuff this fast technology allows that we were never able to have before.”


News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: www.cnet.com

A nearby, relatively dim little star nobody even noticed until about 20 years ago might be playing host to the most intriguing planetary party yet seen. On Wednesday, astronomers announced that the star, Trappist-1, is circled by at least seven Earth-sized planets, including three that could have oceans of liquid water to maybe, just maybe, support life. "Looking for life elsewhere, this system is probably our best bet as of today," said Brice-Olivier Demory, professor at the University of Bern's Center for Space and Habitability and one of the authors of a paper on the discovery published Wednesday in the journal Nature. The team first put Trappist-1 on the map last year with the announcement it hosted at least three planets, the first exoplanets to be spotted around an ultracool dwarf star, representing a whole new promising avenue in the search for life beyond the grasp of our own sun. Upon closer inspection and poring through data from telescopes around the world and NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, the scientists realized what first appeared to be three planets is really at least seven -- and all only 39 light-years away. "This is really the first time we have seven planets which can be called terrestrial which are in the temperate zone," astronomer Michael Gillon at the University of Liège in Belgium told reporters on a conference call. "So many is really, really surprising." The seven planets, named Trappist-1b, c, d, e, f, g and h in order of increasing distance from their parent star, orbit much closer than all planets in our solar system, even Mercury. In fact, the astronomers on Gillon's team say the system better resembles the handful of rocky moons orbiting Jupiter. But because Trappist-1 is much smaller and cooler than our sun, it provides its more closely orbiting temperate zone planets with about as much energy as Venus, Earth and Mars get from our star. "I think it's fantastic that Mother Nature has given us Proxima b and now the Trappist-seven as laboratories in our backyard," legendary alien hunter Jill Tarter said via email. According to computer climate models, the system's innermost and hottest planets, Trappist-1b, c and d, likely have little or no liquid water on their surfaces, depending on atmospheric conditions. Then there are the three potentially habitable worlds, followed by the seventh, Trappist-1h, which astronomers were only able to observe passing in front of its star once, leaving its orbital distance unconfirmed but likely to be far enough that the surface is too cold for liquid oceans. It's also possible that even more planets circle Trappist-1 but are too difficult to observe from our angle here at Earth. This news is particularly exciting for astrobiologists, astronomers and planetary scientists because a new generation of giant telescopes is about to start coming online in the next couple of years. The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, designed in the '80s, is already searching for atmospheres around the planets, and upcoming facilities like the ultra-high-powered James Webb Space Telescope will further boost astronomers abilities to search for water and evidence of life. With Trappist-1 being so nearby, that discovery could come years earlier than anticipated. "This means we might be in the business of looking for aliens in a decade, and not, as others have envisioned, on a much longer timescale," Harvard astronomy professor David Charbonneau said via e-mail. "This planet is an important step in the quest." Charbonneau cautions that the system isn't quite the perfect subject to probe for life as he'd like to see more evidence that the planets are rocky like Earth and he also notes Trappist-1 is a very faint star. "We need those stellar photons to probe the atmosphere in transit," he said, "and I wish the star was more luminous... although it is such a spectacular discovery it is hard to complain about anything." Charbonneau and others are excited about what's called the "M-dwarf opportunity" in the hunt for E.T. "There is an abundance of cosmic real estate that could support life," SETI Institute senior astronomer Seth Shostak said via email. "Our earlier assumptions -- that Sun-like stars were the preferred environments for habitable worlds -- might be a bit too egocentric." The SETI Institute's Allen Telescope Array is in the midst of observing a list of 20,000 red dwarf stars, including Trappist-1. "(It) continues its hunt for signals that could tell us that these dim bulbs of the conference might have enlightened inhabitants," Shostak said. While upcoming telescopes like NASA's James Webb Space Telescope and the European Extremely Large Telescope could tell us about the atmospheres of the Trappist-1 planets and perhaps a little about what's happening on their surfaces, it may be a while before we can take a direct image to see what they might look like to human eyes. Gillon's team told reporters the planets are likely too close to their star to get such an image. But study co-author Amaury Triaud from the University of Cambridge said if you could stand on the surface of one of the planets you would receive far less light from the star in the sky, perhaps comparable to the amount of light we receive just after the sun has set in the evening. However, the sun would probably never set on the daytime side of the Trappist-1 planets as they are likely tidally-locked, meaning they don't rotate on an axis and always face the same side toward their star, much like the moon does toward Earth. "The spectacle (from the surface of one of the planets) would be beautiful because every now and then you would see another planet, maybe twice as big as the moon in our sky," Triaud explained, adding that Trappist-1 might appear ten times as large in the sky as the sun does to us and be salmon-colored. That vision of what these newly discovered cousins to our planet might be like is largely just an educated guess at this point. Expect many telescopes to swing in the direction of Aquarius and Trappist-1 in the years to come to unlock its secrets. "People will get more and more news about this system in the coming months, "Gillon said. "The story is really just beginning." Solving for XX: The industry seeks to overcome outdated ideas about "women in tech."


News Article | December 12, 2016
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

According to estimates, the current global population is more than 7.4 billion people and is growing at a rate of 88 million people per year. Developing corn varieties that are resistant to pests is vital to sustain the estimated 9 billion global population by 2050. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri, using advanced nuclear methods, have determined the mechanisms corn plants use to combat the western corn rootworm, a major pest threatening the growth of the vital food source. Scientists believe that using the knowledge gained from these cutting-edge studies could help crop breeders in developing new resistant lines of corn and make significant strides toward solving global food shortages. "The western corn rootworm is a voracious pest," said Richard Ferrieri, a research professor in the MU Interdisciplinary Plant Group, and an investigator at the MU Research Reactor (MURR). "Rootworm larvae hatch in the soil during late spring and immediately begin feeding on the crop's root system. Mild damage to the root system can hinder water and nutrient uptake, threatening plant fitness, while more severe damage can result in the plant falling over." Breeding corn that can fight these pests is a promising alternative. Ferrieri, and his international team of researchers, including scientists from the University of Bern in Switzerland, Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, used radioisotopes to trace essential nutrients and hormones as they moved through live corn plants. In a series of tests, the team injected radioisotope tracers in healthy and rootworm-infested corn plants. "For some time, we've known that auxin, a powerful plant hormone, is involved in stimulating new root growth," Ferrieri said. "Our target was to follow auxin's biosynthesis and movement in both healthy and stressed plants and determine how it contributes to this process." By tagging auxin with a radioactive tracer, the researchers were able to use a medical diagnostic imaging tool call positron emission tomography, or PET imaging, to "watch" the movement of auxin in living plant roots in real time. Similarly, they attached a radioactive tracer to an amino acid called glutamine that is important in controlling auxin chemistry, and observed the pathways the corn plants used to transport glutamine and how it influenced auxin biosynthesis. The researchers found that auxin is tightly regulated at the root tissue level where rootworms are feeding. The study also revealed that auxin biosynthesis is vital to root regrowth and involves highly specific biochemical pathways that are influenced by the rootworm and triggered by glutamine metabolism. "This work has revealed several new insights about root regrowth in crops that can fend off a rootworm attack," Ferrieri said. "Our observations suggest that improving glutamine utilization could be a good place to start for crop breeding programs or for engineering rootworm-resistant corn for a growing global population." Ferrieri's work highlights the capabilities of the MURR, a crucial component to research at the university for more than 40 years. Operating 6.5 days a week, 52 weeks a year, scientists from across the campus use the 10-megawatt facility to not only provide crucial radioisotopes for clinical settings globally, but also to carbon date artifacts, improve medical diagnostic tools and prevent illness. MURR also is home to a PETrace cyclotron that is used to produced other radioisotopes for medical diagnostic imaging.


News Article | December 1, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

While searching through historical archives to find out more about the 15th-century climate of what is now Belgium, northern France, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, Chantal Camenisch noticed something odd. "I realised that there was something extraordinary going on regarding the climate during the 1430s," says the historian from the University of Bern in Switzerland. Compared with other decades of the last millennium, many of the 1430s' winters and some springs were extremely cold in the Low Countries, as well as in other parts of Europe. In the winter of 1432-33, people in Scotland had to use fire to melt wine in bottles before drinking it. In central Europe, many rivers and lakes froze over. In the usually mild regions of southern France, northern and central Italy, some winters lasted until April, often with late frosts. This affected food production and food prices in many parts of Europe. "For the people, it meant that they were suffering from hunger, they were sick and many of them died," says Camenisch. She joined forces with Kathrin Keller, a climate modeller at the Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research in Bern, and other researchers, to find out more about the 1430s climate and how it impacted societies in northwestern and central Europe. Their results are published today in Climate of the Past, a journal of the European Geosciences Union. They looked into climate archives, data such as tree rings, ice cores, lake sediments and historical documents, to reconstruct the climate of the time. "The reconstructions show that the climatic conditions during the 1430s were very special. With its very cold winters and normal to warm summers, this decade is a one of a kind in the 400 years of data we were investigating, from 1300 to 1700 CE," says Keller. "What cannot be answered by the reconstructions alone, however, is its origin - was the anomalous climate forced by external influences, such as volcanism or changes in solar activity, or was it simply the random result of natural variability inherent to the climate system?" There have been other cold periods in Europe's history. In 1815, the volcano Mount Tambora spewed large quantities of ash and particles into the atmosphere, blocking enough sunlight to significantly reduce temperatures in Europe and other parts of the world. But the 1430s were different, not only in what caused the cooling but also because they hadn't been studied in detail until now. The climate simulations ran by Keller and her team showed that, while there were some volcanic eruptions and changes in solar activity around that time, these could not explain the climate pattern of the 1430s. The climate models showed instead that these conditions were due to natural variations in the climate system, a combination of natural factors that occurred by chance and meant Europe had very cold winters and normal to warm summers. [See note] Regardless of the underlying causes of the odd climate, the 1430s were "a cruel period" for those who lived through those years, says Camenisch. "Due to this cluster of extremely cold winters with low temperatures lasting until April and May, the growing grain was damaged, as well as the vineyards and other agricultural production. Therefore, there were considerable harvest failures in many places in northwestern and central Europe. These harvest failures led to rising food prices and consequently subsistence crisis and famine. Furthermore, epidemic diseases raged in many places. Famine and epidemics led to an increase of the mortality rate." In the paper, the authors also mention other impacts: "In the context of the crisis, minorities were blamed for harsh climatic conditions, rising food prices, famine and plague." However, in some cities, such as Basel, Strasbourg, Cologne or London, societies adapted more constructively to the crisis by building communal granaries that made them more resilient to future food shortages. Keller says another decade of very cold winters could happen again. "However, such temperature variations have to be seen in the context of the state of the climate system. Compared to the 15th century we live in a distinctly warmer world. As a consequence, we are affected by climate extremes in a different way - cold extremes are less cold, hot extremes are even hotter." The team says their Climate of the Past study could help people today by showing how societies can be affected by extreme climate conditions, and how they should take precautions to make themselves less vulnerable to them. In the 1430s, people had not been exposed to such extreme conditions before and were unprepared to deal with the consequences. "Our example of a climate-induced challenge to society shows the need to prepare for extreme climate conditions that might be coming sooner or later," says Camenisch. "It also shows that, to avoid similar or even larger crises to that of the 1430s, societies today need to take measures to avoid dangerous anthropogenic climate interference." Please mention the name of the publication (Climate of the Past) if reporting on this story and, if reporting online, include a link to the paper (http://www. ) or to the journal website (http://www. ). Even without the influence of external factors, the climate can vary naturally because of the way the different components of the climate system (such as atmosphere, oceans or land) interact with each other. El Niño, a warming of the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, is an example of natural variability. This phenomenon happens every 2 to 7 years and causes changes in temperature and rainfall also in other parts of the world for months. The type of natural variability responsible for the 1430s climate conditions is another, much less common, example.


An experimental Ebola vaccine was highly protective against the deadly virus in a major trial in Guinea, according to results published today in The Lancet. The vaccine is the first to prevent infection from one of the most lethal known pathogens, and the findings add weight to early trial results published last year. [1] The vaccine, called rVSV-ZEBOV [2], was studied in a trial involving 11,841 people in Guinea during 2015. Among the 5,837 people who received the vaccine, no Ebola cases were recorded 10 days or more after vaccination [3]. In comparison, there were 23 cases 10 days or more after vaccination among those who did not receive the vaccine. The trial was led by the World Health Organization, together with Guinea's Ministry of Health and other international partners. "While these compelling results come too late for those who lost their lives during West Africa's Ebola epidemic, they show that when the next Ebola outbreak hits, we will not be defenceless," said Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO's Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation, and the study's lead author [4]. The vaccine's manufacturer, Merck, Sharpe & Dohme, this year received Breakthrough Therapy Designation from the United States Food and Drug Administration and PRIME status from the European Medicines Agency, enabling faster regulatory review of the vaccine once it is submitted. Since Ebola virus was first identified in 1976, sporadic outbreaks have been reported in Africa. But the 2013-2016 West African Ebola outbreak, which resulted in more than 11,300 deaths, highlighted the need for a vaccine. The trial took place in the coastal region of Basse-Guinée, the area of Guinea still experiencing new Ebola cases when the trial started in 2015. The trial used an innovative design, a so-called "ring vaccination" approach - the same method used to eradicate small pox. When a new Ebola case was diagnosed, the research team traced all people who may have been in contact with that case within the previous 3 weeks, such as people who lived in the same household, were visited by the patient, or were in close contact with the patient, their clothes or linen, as well as certain "contacts of contacts". A total of 117 clusters (or "rings") were identified, each made up of an average of 80 people. Initially, rings were randomised to receive the vaccine either immediately or after a 3-week delay, and only adults over 18 years were offered the vaccine. After interim results were published showing the vaccine's efficacy, all rings were offered the vaccine immediately and the trial was also opened to children older than 6 years. In addition to showing high efficacy among those vaccinated, the trial also shows that unvaccinated people in the rings were indirectly protected from Ebola virus through the ring vaccination approach (so-called "herd immunity"). However, the authors note that the trial was not designed to measure this effect, so more research will be needed. "Ebola left a devastating legacy in our country. We are proud that we have been able to contribute to developing a vaccine that will prevent other nations from enduring what we endured" said Dr KeÏta Sakoba, Coordinator of the Ebola Response and Director of the National Agency for Health Security in Guinea [4]. To assess safety, people who received the vaccine were observed for 30 minutes after vaccination, and at repeated home visits up to 12 weeks later. Approximately half reported mild symptoms soon after vaccination, including headache, fatigue and muscle pain but recovered within days without long-term effects. Two serious adverse events were judged to be related to vaccination (a febrile reaction and one anaphylaxis) and one was judged to be possibly related (influenza-like illness). All three recovered without any long term effects. It was not possible to collect biological samples from people who received the vaccine in order to analyse their immune response. Other studies are looking at the immune response to the vaccine including one conducted in parallel to the ring trial among frontline Ebola workers in Guinea. "This both historical and innovative trial was made possible thanks to exemplary international collaboration and coordination, the contribution of many experts worldwide, and strong local involvement," said Dr John-Arne Røttingen, Specialist Director at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, and the chairman of the study steering group [4]. In January, GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance provided US$5 million to Merck towards the future procurement of the vaccine once it is approved, prequalified and recommended by WHO. As part of this agreement, Merck committed to ensure that 300,000 doses of the vaccine are available for emergency use in the interim, and to submit the vaccine for licensure by the end of 2017. Merck has also submitted the vaccine to WHO's Emergency Use and Assessment Listing procedure, a mechanism through which experimental vaccines, medicines and diagnostics can be made available for use prior to formal licensure. Additional studies are ongoing to provide more data on the safety of the vaccine in children and other vulnerable populations such as people with HIV. In case of Ebola flare-ups prior to approval, access to the vaccine is being made available through a procedure called "compassionate use" that enables use of the vaccine after informed consent. Merck and WHO's partners are working to compile data to support license applications. The rapid development of rVSV-EBOV contributed to the development of WHO's R&D Blueprint, a global strategy to fast-track the development of effective tests, vaccines and medicines during epidemics. Also published in The Lancet (embargo as above), is a phase 2 trial of a different Ebola vaccine candidate, the recombinant adenovirus type-5 Ebola vaccine. The trial was led by the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology and was conducted in Sierra Leone in 2015. It involved 500 healthy participants, followed for 6 months - 250 were given a high dose vaccine, 125 a low-dose and 125 a placebo. The study found that the vaccine was safe and induced an immune response that peaked at 28 days, but decreased during the six months post injection. One serious adverse event was reported, in an individual with a history of asthma. Further research on this vaccine is needed in order to assess its efficacy. The rVSV-ZEBOV trial is funded by WHO, with support from the Wellcome Trust, the United Kingdom Department for International Development, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health through the Research Council of Norway, the Canadian Government through the Public Health Agency of Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, International Development Research Centre and Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development and Médecins Sans Frontières. The trial team includes experts from The University of Bern, the University of Florida, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Public Health England, the European Mobile Laboratories among others. The trial was designed by a group of experts including the late Professor Donald A. Henderson of John Hopkins University, who led the WHO smallpox eradication effort by using the ring vaccination strategy. [1] http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(15)61117-5/abstract [2] VSV-EBOV was developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada. The vaccine was licensed to NewLink Genetics, who in turn licensed it to Merck & Co. The vaccine works by replacing a gene from a harmless virus known as vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) with a gene encoding an Ebola virus surface protein. The vaccine does not contain any live Ebola virus. Earlier trials have shown the vaccine to be protective in animals, and be safe and produce an immune response in humans. [3] Analysis only included cases occurring 10 days after receiving the vaccine to account for the incubation period of the Ebola virus. [4] Quotes direct from authors and cannot be found in the text of the Article.


News Article | December 5, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

According to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, twelve million hectares of fertile, arable land is lost each and every year. Soils are suffering from aridization, salination and overuse. This means that the loss of soil fertility is one of the central challenges to society with regard to the management of natural resources. Solutions for more sustainable land use that not only takes into account the environment and existing ecosystems worldwide but also aspects of climate change are presented in the book "Making Sense of Research for Sustainable Land Management". It is published by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) of the University of Bern. This scientific volume will be presented today at the global Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 13) being held in Cancun (Mexico) in a dedicated session as part of the Landscape Day. The book outlines land management practices that have been tested by researchers in twelve projects around the world within the scope of the "Sustainable Land Management" research programme. The programme was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) over a seven-year period. The investigations involved related to the interaction between land use, climate change, loss of biodiversity, population growth, globalisation and urbanisation. The focus was placed on regions particularly exposed to global and local change such as climate change or fluctuations on the global market. These regions include steppes in Russia, tropical rainforests in Brazil, the landscape along the North and Baltic Sea coasts and forest and river landscapes in China and Vietnam. Some of the most serious effects are the loss of biodiversity, rapid deforestation with the associated soil erosion or flooding, and salination. The examples seen in practice are as diverse as they are specific to each individual place. They include ecological engineering in rice farming in the Philippines, more sustainable cotton production in China, the deployment of non-tillage farming on large-scale farms in Siberia, coastal area management in northern Germany, improved subsistence farming in Madagascar, integrated management of river catchment areas and reservoirs used for hydropower and irrigation in Brazil and Vietnam, and as integrated land and water management concepts in the Okavango catchment area in Africa. The book aspires to provide evidence-based research with a focus on implementation. This approach is intended to make it easier for scientific findings to find their way into practice. "Our objective is to acquire and pass on knowledge on the sustainable use of natural resources such as soil, vegetation and water within a changing climate and shifting political climate," explains Dr. Rima Mekdaschi Studer, one of the authors of the study and researcher at the CDE. As an example, one of the case studies shows how pastoralists in Madagascar are able to secure supplies of fodder for their grazing animals by using cuttings to reproduce a certain type of tree. In Brazil, on the other hand, researchers documented how organic material can be used to enrich the soil with carbon which increases fertility of the soil and helps to bind carbon dioxide. The methods and recommendations contained in the book are based on the expertise of some 600 researchers and other individuals involved in local land management. "These are the result base on an intensive research in the regions but - even more important - a considerable number of meetings, joint events and discussions to identify practical relevant knowledge," explains co-author Dr. Peter Moll of the Moll&Zander consultancy team. The target groups and potential users include local initiatives, land owners and users, regional and national institutions, government representatives, businesspeople and NGOs. "Convincing findings that can be put into practice only come about when researchers see themselves as part of cross-functional teams from the realms of science and practice and when all participants are involved from the very start, whenever possible," Moll explains. This is an ongoing challenge for research, he adds. The global WOCAT network (World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies) has dedicated itself to the task of documenting and disseminating practical knowledge for land users. The network is based at the University of Bern's CDE. "The book uses field measurements and modelling to illustrate the impact of specific forms of land use. In addition, various scenarios demonstrate the consequences of climate change and changes in land use - at a local and regional level," says co-author Dr. Hanspeter Liniger, responsible for WOCAT at the CDE. "This forms the basis for knowledge-based decisions," he continues. All in all, more than 30 implementation-focused examples have been compiled by the some 140 authors of the WOCAT book, which has been vividly illustrated with photos and diagrams. "The findings reflect the diversity of land use patterns, their benefits and disadvantages and the contribution from implementation-focused research," says Ute Zander of the Moll&Zander consultancy team. The research findings from the twelve regional projects under the BMBF programme are brought together in the accompanying project GLUES (Global Assessment of Land Use Dynamics, Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Ecosystem Services), which is coordinated at the UFZ. "Most of all, the book serves to ensure that the findings from the research programme can be applied, and resonates with practice" says Prof. Dr. Ralf Seppelt, head of the UFZ Department of Landscape Ecology and GLUES project manager. The book is supplemented by a database and videos that present selected practical examples. "This makes it possible to communicate and implement innovative land management measures throughout many regions all over the world," explains Prof. Dr. Seppelt. Liniger, HP., Mekdaschi Studer, R., Moll, P., Zander, U. 2017. Making sense of research for sustainable land management. Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of Bern, Switzerland and Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research GmbH - UFZ, Leipzig, Germany ISBN (print): 978-3-944280-99-8 More information on the GLUES project: http://modul-a. More information on the Sustainable Land Management funding programme: http://nachhaltiges-landmanagement. Prof. Dr. Ralf Seppelt Head of the UFZ Department of Landscape Ecology ralf.seppelt@ufz.de Rima Mekdaschi Studer Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of Bern, Switzerland rima.mekdaschi_studer@cde.unibe.ch


News Article | November 30, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

In places where humans use grasslands more intensively, it is not only the species diversity which decreases -- the landscape also becomes more monotonous, and ultimately only the same species remain everywhere. This results in nature no longer being able to provide its 'services', which range from soil formation for food production to pest control. Led by the Technical University of Munich (TUM), 300 scientists studied the consequences of land-use intensification across different species groups at the landscape level for the very first time. Normally, every meadow is different, and different species are able to find a suitable habitat somewhere. Intensified human land use leads to a smaller number of distinct plant communities on grasslands, which can therefore sustain fewer and fewer species: This is the catalyst for the increasing loss of species. In previous studies, only individual groups of species, such as birds, were studied within a particular habitat, and only over a specified area. But could the local loss of species not have a much greater effect if it were to be studied on a larger spatial scale and viewed in the context of the full diversity of life -- from single-celled organisms to vertebrates? For a study published in Nature, scientists analyzed and evaluated a unique data set with exactly this question in mind. For the very first time, it provided statistical evidence that intensified use led to all grasslands becoming homogeneous and only being able to provide habitats for a few species, and this proved to be the case across regions. "The data comes from the Biodiversity Exploratories, which are funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), and were collected from 150 grassland areas starting from 2008," according to Professor Wolfgang Weisser from Terrestrial Ecology Research Group at TUM, who is also one of the founders of this focus project. "These are probably the most comprehensiveecological field research sites in Europe," says Weisser. The research areas, whose data was used in the study, include the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Swabian Alb, the Hainich National Park and its surroundings, and the Biosphere Reserve Schorfheide-Chorin. All three regions differ in terms of climate, geology, and topography, but are cultivated by farmers in a manner typical for Europe. More than 4,000 species were analyzed using an innovative statistical procedure. This new method allows for nonlinear effects on the the dissimilarity of species communities between grassland areas to be tracked along a continuous land-use gradient (cutting of grass, fertilizing, and grazing). Data along the food chain ranged from single-celled soil organisms to birds What was unique in this case was that data from organisms in the ground such as from bacteria, fungi, and millipedes were also included. "For the first time, we investigated all groups of species along the food chain on grasslands with different forms of land use in a variety of regions," said Dr Martin M. Gossner, lead author of the study, who is now working at the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL. The species were subdivided into twelve groups according to their position on the food chain, and whether they live above- or belowground. For example, one group of aboveground species is that of the primary producers, which mainly comprises plants. Other groups include herbivores and plant pollinators, as well as their predators. Even moderate land use results in a decline in species The findings showed that it did not matter whether grassland areas were used moderately or intensively by humans. For example, a distinction was made between areas where grass was cut twice or four times a year. "According to our observations, the homogenization of species does not progress proportionally to the intensity of use. Instead, even a moderate management of grassland results in cross-regional communities being reduced to the same, less demanding all-rounders," said Gossner -- "a further increase in the intensity of use simply doesn't have a comparably large effect." An example for a high-maintenance species: The common restharrow (Ononis repens, pictured) is a host plant for the insect Macrotylus paykulli, which feeds on its sap, or occasionally also on insects which get stuck to the glandular hairs of Ononis repens. If the common restharrow becomes increasingly rare due to the cultivation of common grass species with a high fodder value, Macrotylus paykulli no longer has a suitable habitat, and ultimately both go extinct. This means that even a slight intensification of the use of meadows and pastures makes it impossible for many species of flora and fauna such as the common restharrow and Macrotylus paykulli to survive, resulting in only those species remaining which do not have specific requirements regarding host plants or abiotic environmental conditions. This effect is called 'biotic homogenization'. "More intensive mowing is the main cause of biotic homogenization," said Professor Eric Allan from the University of Bern, the senior author of the study. "What is new here is the finding that the homogenization of species takes place across landscapes, thereby reducing the diversity of species at a regional and national level," said Gossner -- "which is probably a more significant consequence of the intensification of land use than the local loss of species alone." Less interaction between species changes the ecosystem Hence, grassland areas that are cultivated extensively by humans are essential for protecting species diversity because the decline in species diversity also results in less interactions between individual species: "Interactions between plants and their consumers are increasingly weakened by more intensive agricultural usage," says Gossner -- "which ultimately causes processes in the ecosystem to shift and change." It is only when as many species as possible are able to find the unique habitats they require across large areas that 'ecosystem services', which improve human well-being, can remain intact. Because 'nature's services' help increase food production by improving soil formation, for example, but they also help keep pests in check. Publication: Martin M. Gossner et al: Land-use intensification causes multitrophic homogenization of grassland communities, Nature 2016. DOI: doi:10.1038/nature20575


Hasler G.,University of Bern | Northoff G.,Ottawa Health Research Institute
Molecular Psychiatry | Year: 2011

Psychiatry research lacks an in-depth understanding of mood disorders phenotypes, leading to limited success of genetics studies of major depressive disorder (MDD). The dramatic progress in safe and affordable magnetic resonance-based imaging methods has the potential to identify subtle abnormalities of neural structures, connectivity and function in mood disordered subjects. This review paper presents strategies to improve the phenotypic definition of MDD by proposing imaging endophenotypes derived from magnetic resonance spectroscopy measures, such as cortical gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA) and glutamate/glutamine concentrations, and from measures of resting-state activity and functional connectivity. The proposed endophenotypes are discussed regarding specificity, mood state-independence, heritability, familiarity, clinical relevance and possible associations with candidate genes. By improving phenotypic definitions, the discovery of new imaging endophenotypes will increase the power of candidate gene and genome-wide associations studies. It will also help to develop and evaluate novel therapeutic treatments and enable clinicians to apply individually tailored therapeutic approaches. Finally, improvements of the phenotypic definition of MDD based on neuroimaging measures will contribute to a new classification system of mood disorders based on etiology and pathophysiology. © 2011 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.


Lithgow T.,Monash University | Schneider A.,University of Bern
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2010

All eukaryotes require mitochondria for survival and growth. The origin of mitochondria can be traced down to a single endosymbiotic event between two probably prokaryotic organisms. Subsequent evolution has left mitochondria a collection of heterogeneous organelle variants. Most of these variants have retained their own genome and translation system. In hydrogenosomes and mitosomes, however, the entire genome was lost. All types of mitochondria import most of their proteome from the cytosol, irrespective of whether they have a genome or not. Moreover, in most eukaryotes, a variable number of tRNAs that are required for mitochondrial translation are also imported. Thus, import of macromolecules, both proteins and tRNA, is essential for mitochondrial biogenesis. Here, we review what is known about the evolutionary history of the two processes using a recently revised eukaryotic phylogeny as a framework. We discuss how the processes of protein import and tRNA import relate to each other in an evolutionary context. © 2010 The Royal Society.


Gnann H.,Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg | Weinmann W.,University of Bern | Thierauf A.,Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research | Year: 2012

Background: For almost 30 years, phosphatidylethanol (PEth) has been known as a direct marker of alcohol consumption. This marker stands for consumption in high amounts and for a longer time period, but it has been also detected after 1 high single intake of ethanol (EtOH). The aim of this study was to obtain further information about the formation and elimination of PEth 16:0/18:1 by simulating extensive drinking. Methods: After 3 weeks of alcohol abstinence, 11 test persons drank an amount of EtOH leading to an estimated blood ethanol concentration of 1 g/kg on each of 5 successive days. After the drinking episode, they stayed abstinent for 16 days with regular blood sampling. PEth 16:0/18:1 analysis was performed using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (high-performance liquid chromatography 1100 system and QTrap 2000 triple quadrupole linear ion trap mass spectrometer. Values of blood alcohol were obtained using a standardized method with headspace gas chromatography flame ionization detector. Results: Maximum measured concentrations of EtOH were 0.99 to 1.83 g/kg (mean 1.32 g/kg). These values were reached 1 to 3 hours after the start of drinking (mean 1.9 hours). For comparison, 10 of 11 volunteers had detectable PEth 16:0/18:1 values 1 hour after the start of drinking, ranging from 45 to 138 ng/ml PEth 16:0/18:1. Over the following days, concentrations of PEth 16:0/18:1 increased continuously and reached the maximum concentrations of 74 to 237 ng/ml between days 3 and 6. Conclusions: This drinking experiment led to measurable PEth concentrations. However, PEth 16:0/18:1 concentrations stayed rather low compared with those of alcohol abusers from previous studies. © 2012 by the Research Society on Alcoholism.


Berger R.,University of Bern | Resnati G.,Polytechnic of Milan | Resnati G.,Italian Institute of Technology | Metrangolo P.,Polytechnic of Milan | And 3 more authors.
Chemical Society Reviews | Year: 2011

Interactions of "organic fluorine" have gained great interest not only in the context of crystal engineering, but also in the systematic design of functional materials. The first part of this tutorial review presents an overview on interactions known by organic fluorine. This involves π-πF, C-F·H, F·F, C-F·πF, C-F·π, C-F·M+, C-F·CO and anion-πF interactions, as well as other halogen bonds. The effect of the exchange of H vs. F is discussed by means of several examples and a short introduction to the young field of "fluorous" chemistry is given. The second part is dedicated to numerous applications of fluorine and fluorous interactions. It is shown how application of fluorination is used to enable a number of reactions, to improve materials properties and even open up new fields of research. © 2011 The Royal Society of Chemistry.


Simon A.E.,Specialized Early Psychosis Outpatient Service for Adolescents and Young Adults | Simon A.E.,University of Bern | Umbricht D.,Hoffmann-La Roche
Schizophrenia Research | Year: 2010

Objective: To investigate the proportion of patients among subjects initially identified as fulfilling the ultra-high risk (UHR) criteria for psychosis using the Scale of Prodromal Symptoms (SOPS) who fully remitted after one year. Method: Seventy-two patients between 14 and 40 years who were referred to the Bruderholz Early Psychosis Outpatient Service in Switzerland and who met UHR criteria were included in the present study. At 1-year follow-up, data for 52 patients were available. Patients with transition to psychosis and patients with sustained UHR criteria were defined as 'cases', and patients with remission from UHR criteria as 'non-cases'. We compared clinical and socio-demographic characteristics between these two patient groups at baseline. Results: 13.5% of the patients converted to full-blown psychosis within one year, one quarter displayed sustained UHR criteria, and 59.2% of the patients fully remitted from the initial UHR status. Outcome was independent of medication or treatment status. 'Cases' and 'non-cases' did not differ significantly on socio-demographic and clinical variables at baseline. Conclusions: The chance of remission to a non-risk state was over fourfold higher than the chance of conversion to psychosis within a year of establishing UHR status. Our data underline that the commonly used symptoms to identify UHR patients are often transitory and may not capture the stable core of developing psychosis. This highlights the danger of provoking anxiety and stigmatization in mislabeled individuals and missing true at-risk patients who present features of the psychosis core, but who do not yet-or maybe never will-manifest positive symptoms. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Jackowski C.,University of Bern | Schwendener N.,University of Bern | Grabherr S.,University of Lausanne | Persson A.,Linköping University
Journal of the American College of Cardiology | Year: 2013

Objectives This study aimed to investigate post-mortem magnetic resonance imaging (pmMRI) for the assessment of myocardial infarction and hypointensities on post-mortem T2-weighted images as a possible method for visualizing the myocardial origin of arrhythmic sudden cardiac death. Background Sudden cardiac death has challenged clinical and forensic pathologists for decades because verification on post-mortem autopsy is not possible. pmMRI as an autopsy-supporting examination technique has been shown to visualize different stages of myocardial infarction. Methods In 136 human forensic corpses, a post-mortem cardiac MR examination was carried out prior to forensic autopsy. Short-axis and horizontal long-axis images were acquired in situ on a 3-T system. Results In 76 cases, myocardial findings could be documented and correlated to the autopsy findings. Within these 76 study cases, a total of 124 myocardial lesions were detected on pmMRI (chronic: 25; subacute: 16; acute: 30; and peracute: 53). Chronic, subacute, and acute infarction cases correlated excellently to the myocardial findings on autopsy. Peracute infarctions (age range: minutes to approximately 1 h) were not visible on macroscopic autopsy or histological examination. Peracute infarction areas detected on pmMRI could be verified in targeted histological investigations in 62.3% of cases and could be related to a matching coronary finding in 84.9%. A total of 15.1% of peracute lesions on pmMRI lacked a matching coronary finding but presented with severe myocardial hypertrophy or cocaine intoxication facilitating a cardiac death without verifiable coronary stenosis. Conclusions 3-T pmMRI visualizes chronic, subacute, and acute myocardial infarction in situ. In peracute infarction as a possible cause of sudden cardiac death, it demonstrates affected myocardial areas not visible on autopsy. pmMRI should be considered as a feasible post-mortem investigation technique for the deceased patient if no consent for a clinical autopsy is obtained. © 2013 by the American College of Cardiology Foundation Published by Elsevier Inc.


Lussi A.,University of Bern | Hellwig E.,Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg
Monographs in Oral Science | Year: 2014

A prerequisite for preventive measures is to diagnose erosive tooth wear and to evaluate the different etiological factors in order to identify persons at risk. No diagnostic device is available for the assessment of erosive defects. Thus, they can only be detected clinically. Consequently, erosion not diagnosed at an early stage may render timely preventive measures difficult. In order to assess the risk factors, patients should record their dietary intake for a distinct period of time. Then a dentist can determine the erosive potential of the diet. A table with common beverages and foodstuffs is presented for judging the erosive potential. Particularly, patients with more than 4 dietary acid intakes have a higher risk for erosion when other risk factors are present. Regurgitation of gastric acids is a further important risk factor for the development of erosion which has to be taken into account. Based on these analyses, an individually tailored preventive program may be suggested to the patients. It may comprise dietary advice, use of calcium-enriched beverages, optimization of prophylactic regimes, stimulation of salivary flow rate, use of buffering medicaments and particular motivation for nondestructive toothbrushing habits with an erosive-protecting toothpaste as well as rinsing solutions. Since erosion and abrasion often occur simultaneously, all of the causative components must be taken into consideration when planning preventive strategies but only those important and feasible for an individual should be communicated to the patient. © 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel.


Johnson C.H.,U.S. National Cancer Institute | Patterson A.D.,Pennsylvania State University | Idle J.R.,University of Bern | Gonzalez F.J.,U.S. National Cancer Institute
Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology | Year: 2012

Xenobiotics are encountered by humans on a daily basis and include drugs, environmental pollutants, cosmetics, and even components of the diet. These chemicals undergo metabolism and detoxication to produce numerous metabolites, some of which have the potential to cause unintended effects such as toxicity. They can also block the action of enzymes or receptors used for endogenous metabolism or affect the efficacy and/or bioavailability of a coadministered drug. Therefore, it is essential to determine the full metabolic effects that these chemicals have on the body. Metabolomics, the comprehensive analysis of small molecules in a biofluid, can reveal biologically relevant perturbations that result from xenobiotic exposure. This review discusses the impact that genetic, environmental, and gut microflora variation has on the metabolome, and how these variables may interact, positively and negatively, with xenobiotic metabolism. © 2012 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.


Siontis G.C.M.,University of Bern | Juni P.,Clinical Trials Unit | Pilgrim T.,University of Bern | Stortecky S.,University of Bern | And 4 more authors.
Journal of the American College of Cardiology | Year: 2014

Background Atrioventricular (AV) conduction disturbances requiring permanent pacemaker (PPM) implantation may complicate transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). Available evidence on predictors of PPM is sparse and derived from small studies. Objectives The objective of this study was to provide summary effect estimates for clinically useful predictors of PPM implantation after TAVR. Methods We performed a systematic search for studies that reported the incidence of PPM implantation after TAVR and that provided raw data for the predictors of interest. Data on study, patient, and procedural characteristics were abstracted. Crude risk ratios (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals for each predictor were calculated by use of random effects models. Stratified analyses by type of implanted valve were performed. Results We obtained data from 41 studies that included 11,210 TAVR patients, of whom 17% required PPM implantation after intervention. The rate of PPM ranged from 2% to 51% in individual studies (with a median of 28% for the Medtronic CoreValve Revalving System [MCRS] and 6% for the Edwards SAPIEN valve [ESV]). The summary estimates indicated increased risk of PPM after TAVR for men (RR: 1.23; p < 0.01); for patients with first-degree AV block (RR: 1.52; p < 0.01), left anterior hemiblock (RR: 1.62; p < 0.01), or right bundle branch block (RR: 2.89; p < 0.01) at baseline; and for patients with intraprocedural AV block (RR: 3.49; p < 0.01). These variables remained significant predictors when only patients treated with the MCRS bioprosthesis were considered. The data for ESV were limited. Unadjusted estimates indicated a 2.5-fold higher risk for PPM implantation for patients who received the MCRS than for those who received the ESV. Conclusions Male sex, baseline conduction disturbances, and intraprocedural AV block emerged as predictors of PPM implantation after TAVR. This study provides useful tools to identify high-risk patients and to guide clinical decision making before and after intervention. © 2014 By The American College of Cardiology Foundation Published By Elsevier Inc.


Fattori R.,San Salvatore Hospital | Cao P.,Hospital San Camillo Forlanini | De Rango P.,Hospital Santa Maria Misericordia | Czerny M.,University of Bern | And 4 more authors.
Journal of the American College of Cardiology | Year: 2013

An expert multidisciplinary panel in the treatment of type B aortic dissection reviewed available literature to develop treatment algorithms using a consensus method. Data from 63 studies published from 2006 to 2012 were retrieved for a total of 1,548 patients treated medically, 1,706 patients who underwent open surgery, and 3,457 patients who underwent thoracic endovascular repair (TEVAR). For acute (first 2 weeks) type B aortic dissection, the pooled early mortality rate was 6.4% with medical treatment and increased to 10.2% with TEVAR and 17.5% with open surgery, mostly for complicated cases. Limited data for treatment of subacute (2 to 6 weeks after onset) type B aortic dissection showed an early mortality rate of 2.8% with TEVAR. In chronic (after 6 weeks) type B aortic dissection, 5-year survival of 60% to 80% was expected with medical therapy because complications were likely. If interventional treatment was applied, the pooled early mortality rate was 6.6% with TEVAR and 8.0% with open surgery. Medical treatment of uncomplicated acute, subacute, and chronic type B aortic dissection is managed with close image monitoring. Hemodynamic instability, organ malperfusion, increasing periaortic hematoma, and hemorrhagic pleural effusion on imaging identify patients with complicated acute type B aortic dissection requiring urgent aortic repair. Recurrence of symptoms, aortic aneurysmal dilation (>55 mm), or a yearly increase of >4 mm after the acute phase are predictors of adverse outcome and need for delayed aortic repair ("complicated chronic aortic dissections"). The expert panel is aware that this consensus document provides proposal for strategies based on nonrobust evidence for management of type B aortic dissection, and that literature results were largely heterogeneous and should be interpreted cautiously. © 2013 American College of Cardiology Foundation.


Helmrich A.,University of Strasbourg | Helmrich A.,University of Bern | Ballarino M.,University of Strasbourg | Ballarino M.,University of Rome La Sapienza | And 2 more authors.
Nature Structural and Molecular Biology | Year: 2013

To ensure accurate duplication of genetic material, the replication fork must overcome numerous natural obstacles on its way, including transcription complexes engaged along the same template. Here we review the various levels of interdependence between transcription and replication processes and how different types of encounters between RNA-and DNA-polymerase complexes may result in clashes of those machineries on the DNA template and thus increase genomic instability. In addition, we summarize strategies evolved in bacteria and eukaryotes to minimize the consequences of collisions, including R-loop formation and topological stresses. © 2013 Nature America, Inc. All rights reserved.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: HEALTH.2010.2.4.2-3 | Award Amount: 15.68M | Year: 2010

The initiation and perpetuation of atrial fibrillation (AF) can be regarded as a complication of a progressive transformation of the structure and functional properties of the atria. This transformation is the result of complex and multiple changes at the molecular, cellular and organ levels which interact to form the basis for proarrhythmic mechanisms in AF. Numerous individual and environmental factors are probably involved in this profound transformation process in the atria. Therefore, we believe that progress in the diagnostics, prevention and treatment of AF requires highly integrative research from the molecule to bedside and from specific signaling pathways and electrophysiological mechanisms to population based studies. A consortium was formed providing this variety of expertises and has identified central research objectives for improvements in AF prevention and therapy. In 5 work packages focusing on basic research, new biomarkers for AF and therapeutic targets will be identified. We will study mechanisms of conduction disturbances in the atria, explore new ion channel targets for treatment of AF, identify specific alterations in the atria depending on the underlying heart disease, and evaluate beneficial effects of organ-protective compounds. Within two clinically oriented work packages the clinical application of these findings will be tested. The predictive value of diagnostic tools like serum biomarkers, 3D reconstruction of atrial conduction patterns based on high resolution body surface ECGs, and echocardiographic markers will be studied in large scale population studies. The new therapeutic targets will be explored in smaller prove-of-principle clinical trials (substrate oriented ablation, new pharmacological targets, and local gene delivery).


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: ENV.2010.4.1.2-1 | Award Amount: 4.90M | Year: 2011

ERA-CLIM will develop observational datasets suitable for global climate studies, with a focus on the past 100 years. These datasets will include atmospheric, oceanic, and terrestrial observations from a variety of sources, high-resolution global reanalysis products of the observations, and associated data quality information needed for climate applications. The project will use existing climate data records and make a substantial contribution to filling known gaps in these records. Proposed data recovery efforts will focus on upper-air observations made in the first half of the 20th century, as well as near-surface observations of wind and humidity, in all regions of the globe. A specific goal for the project is to improve the quality and consistency of climate observations through reanalysis. Together with other in-situ and remote-sensing datasets available from existing data archives, the observations collected for ERA-CLIM will be included in a newly developed Observation Feedback Archive. Quality feedback information for this archive, including data departures and bias estimates, will be generated during several new pilot reanalyses, as well as from existing reanalysis datasets. The pilot reanalyses and the Observation Feedback Archive will be made available to users world-wide as a unique resource for climate research and observational studies of the Earth system.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: INFRADEV-1-2014 | Award Amount: 3.24M | Year: 2015

It has been robustly demonstrated that variations in the circulation of the middle atmosphere influence weather and climate throughout the troposphere all the way to the Earths surface. A key part of the coupling between the troposphere and stratosphere occurs through the propagation and breaking of planetary-scale Rossby waves and gravity waves. Limited observation of the middle atmosphere and these waves in particular limits the ability to faithfully reproduce the dynamics of the middle atmosphere in numerical weather prediction and climate models. ARISE2 capitalizes upon the work of the EU-funded first ARISE project combining for the first time international networks with complementary technologies such as infrasound, lidar and airglow. This joint network provided advanced data products that started to be used as benchmarks for weather forecast models. The ARISE network also allows enhanced and detailed monitoring of other extreme events in the Earth system such as erupting volcanoes, magnetic storms, tornadoes and tropical thunderstorms. In order to improve the ability of the network to monitor atmospheric dynamics, ARISE2 proposes to extend i) the existing network coverage in Africa and the high latitudes, ii) the altitude range in the stratosphere and mesosphere, iii) the observation duration using routine observation modes, and to use complementary existing infrastructures and innovative instrumentations. Data will be collected over the long term to improve weather forecasting to monthly or seasonal timescales, to monitor atmospheric extreme events and climate change. Compared to the first ARISE project, ARISE2 focuses on the link between models and observations for future assimilation of data by operational weather forecasting models. Among the applications, ARISE2 proposes infrasound remote volcano monitoring to provide notifications to civil aviation. The data portal will provide high-quality data and advanced data products to a wide scientific community.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2007.5.3 | Award Amount: 12.29M | Year: 2008

Nearly four million osteoporotic bone fractures cost the European health system more than 30 billion Euro per year. This figure could double by 2050. After the first fracture, the chances of having another one increase by 86%. We need to prevent osteoporotic fractures. The first step is an accurate prediction of the patient-specific risk of fracture that considers not only the skeletal determinants but also the neuromuscular condition. The aim of VPHOP is to develop a multiscale modelling technology based on conventional diagnostic imaging methods that makes it possible, in a clinical setting, to predict for each patient the strength of his/her bones, how this strength is likely to change over time, and the probability that the he/she will overload his/her bones during daily life. With these three predictions, the evaluation of the absolute risk of bone fracture will be much more accurate than any prediction based on external and indirect determinants, as it is current clinical practice. These predictions will be used to: i) improve the diagnostic accuracy of the current clinical standards; ii) to provide the basis for an evidence-based prognosis with respect to the natural evolution of the disease, to pharmacological treatments, and/or to preventive interventional treatments aimed to selectively strengthen particularly weak regions of the skeleton. For patients at high risk of fracture, and for which the pharmacological treatment appears insufficient, the VPHOP system will also assist the interventional radiologist in planning the augmentation procedure. The various modelling technologies developed during the project will be validated not only in vitro, on animal models, or against retrospective clinical outcomes, but will also be assessed in term of clinical impact and safety on small cohorts of patients enrolled at four different clinical institutions, providing the factual basis for effective clinical and industrial exploitations.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: HEALTH.2013.3.1-1 | Award Amount: 7.70M | Year: 2014

In 2010, 30 million Europeans were affected by depression and their number is still growing. Half of Europeans in need of mental care for depression do not have access to care services, do not always receive evidence-based treatments, are confronted with long waiting lists or high care expenditures. Internet-based treatment has the potential to addresses the drawbacks of standard care and keep depression treatment of high quality and affordable. E-COMPARED will conduct comparative effectiveness research in routine specialized mental care settings on the (cost-) effectiveness of internet-based treatment for depression in comparison with standard care. Health care systems, and -policies, existing ICT infrastructures and their uptake will be taken into account. E-COMPARED aims to 1)Evaluate EU mental health policies/guidelines for standard and internet-based care for depression in specialized care settings in countries with different health care systems and access levels of standard and internet-based care; 2)Compare clinical efficacy and cost-effectiveness of internet-based treatment and treatment as usual within controlled research settings, 3)Carry out pragmatic randomized controlled trials to study how internet-based depression treatment can be effectively implemented within routine specialized care settings, 4)Predict which patient groups could benefit from internet-based treatment vs. standard treatment by modeling patient characteristics; 5)Develop evidence based recommendations on how internet-based depression treatment can be cost-effectively integrated into routine specialized care systems for depression in EU mental health care systems, and develop a business case to ensure structural implementation of these services. E-COMPARED is multidisciplinary (psychology, HTA, ICT, care) and its members have a front runners position in internet-based treatment for common mental health disorders, e.g. through participating in FP7 projects (ICT4Depression, ROAMER).


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP-SICA | Phase: KBBE-2009-1-3-04 | Award Amount: 4.06M | Year: 2010

The proposal deals with the establishment of control measures for two major tick-borne diseases of small ruminants: theileriosis caused by Theileria lestoquardi and T. uilenbergi and babesiosis caused by Babesia ovis. The research programme aims at improving existing and producing new attenuated vaccines, designing subunit vaccines and capability building. To achieve these goals the proposal will assess parasite diversity and identify molecules associated with attenuation of parasite virulence to be included in the development of safe and efficacious live vaccines. For the design of a subunit vaccine parasite molecules will be identified and characterized involved in i) invasion of host cells ii) activation of CD4\ T cells and NK cells for the production of cytokines capable of activating macrophages for killing of the parasites and iii) activation of cytotoxic T-lymphocytes involved in killing of T. lestoquardi-infected leucocytes. For improvement of attenuated vaccines, a combination of vaccine with subunit vaccine will be examined for synergistic effects and reducing the need of a cold chain by improving storage conditions/ shelf life of vaccine will be aimed for. Groups working on Plasmodium are involved with the goal to benefit from the scientific and technological knowledge in this field and to translate it into tools and reagents for small ruminant piroplasms. Industrial expertise regarding vaccine development and delivery systems will be incorporated in the whole project. The impact of the vaccine to be produced against these emerging tick-borne diseases will be enormous, as they pose a great threat to livestock production, and a contribution will be made that will meet critical Millennium development goals: food security, food safety, poverty alleviation, animal welfare and environmental sustainability.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-RISE | Phase: MSCA-RISE-2015 | Award Amount: 580.50K | Year: 2016

Substructural logics are formal reasoning systems that refine classical logic by weakening the structural rules in Gentzen sequent calculus. While classical logic generally formalises the notion of truth, substructural logics allow to handle notions such as resources, vagueness, meaning, and language syntax, motivated by studies in computer science, epistemology, economy, and linguistics. Moreover, from a theoretical point of view, substructural logics provide a refined perspective of classical logic, since the former often exhibit features which are either absent or trivialised in the classical case. Traditionally, substructural logics have been investigated following three main approaches: proof theoretic, algebraic and abstract study. Although some connections among these approaches were observed long ago, in large part these practices developed in independence. As a result, the research directions, tools and motivations for each approach developed in relative isolation. The main objective of this project is to establish a network of collaborations between the experts of these diverse methods to investigate substructural logics in a cohesive fashion, taking into account these three distinct yet complementary points of view. The main momentum for this endeavour is provided by recent surprising results that confirm how deeply algebraic and proof theoretic methods are linked to one another. The proposal gathers leading experts in all these three areas, from all around the word, with the aim of reuniting these traditions and their communities and obtain deep results in all three areas. We are confident that this innovative, combined perspective on substructural logics will have a deep impact on the field and that this project will provide a stable basis of cooperation for a large, international community of algebraists, logicians and theoretical computer scientists, giving fresh impetus to these disciplines to flourish and integrate.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: HEALTH.2013.2.4.1-3 | Award Amount: 7.81M | Year: 2013

Survival rates after childhood cancer now reach nearly 80% in developed European countries as a result of more effective therapies and better supportive care, leading to a steady increase in the number of survivors in the population. However, the treatments that have improved survival are harsh and cause serious side-effects that can greatly impact survivors quality of life in the long term. The goal of PanCareLIFE is that survivors of cancer diagnosed before age 25 should enjoy the same quality of life and opportunities as their peers who have not had cancer. Using observational studies and molecular genetic investigations PanCareLIFE will investigate late effects that impact fertility and hearing impairment (ototoxicity), and will assess health-related quality of life. Information from PanCareLIFEs studies will be incorporated into new guidelines for fertility preservation. As the number of survivors with late effects in any one country is small, large cohorts are required for accurate estimation of risk. PanCareLIFE has assembled a team of prominent investigators from 8 European countries who will contribute in total over 12,000 well-characterised research subjects to identify risk factors, both genetic and non-genetic, linked to decrements in fertility and ototoxicity. Quality-of-life studies will evaluate the impact of fertility and ototoxicity. PanCareLIFE will advance the state-of-the-art in survivorship studies by evaluation of large cohorts with observational and genetic tools that will provide better knowledge of individual risk factors. Survivors can then be stratified into groups benefitting from personalized, evidence-based, care; future patients may expect effective therapies to have less severe side effects, and plans for a seamless transition to long-term follow-up care can be made. These approaches will result in better quality of life for survivors of cancer diagnosed at a young age.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: EO-1-2014 | Award Amount: 2.50M | Year: 2015

Earth observation (EO) satellites yield a wealth of data for scientific, operational and commercial exploitation. However, the redistribution of environmental mass is not yet part of the EO data products to date. These observations, derived from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission and in future by GRACE-FO (Follow-on), deliver fundamental insights into the global water cycle. Changes in continental water storage control the regional water budget and can, in extreme cases, result in floods and droughts that often claim a high toll on infrastructure, economy and human lives. The aim of this proposal is to demonstrate that mass redistribution products open the door for innovative approaches to flood and drought monitoring and forecast. The timeliness and reliability of information is the primary concern for any early-warning system. We aim to increase the temporal resolution from one month, typical for GRACE products, to one day and to provide gravity field information within 5 days (near real-time). Early warning indications derived from these products are expected to improve the timely awareness of potentially evolving hydrological extremes and to help in the scheduling of high-resolution follow-up observations. We will provide adequate data products and indicators for tentative integration into the work of the Center for Satellite Based Crisis Information (ZKI, operated by the German Aerospace Center) and its future use within international initiatives such as the Copernicus Emergency Management Service and the International Charter Space and Major Disasters. The performance of our products will be assessed with complementary data and post-processed mass products derived from the combined knowledge of the entire European GRACE community unified in our consortium. Our efforts thus culminate in three dedicated services: 1) a scientific combination service, 2) a near real-time service and 3) a hydrological/early warning service.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: KBBE-2007-2-2-06 | Award Amount: 3.92M | Year: 2008

Allergy has developed into a major health concern in Europe. Allergic diseases can currently be managed effectively but not cured. The onset of allergies stars early in life and there is increasing evidence that exogenous factors affecting the incidence of these illnesses exert their effect early in life, in part even prenatally. The highly interdisciplinary EFRAIM project will prospectively investigate the main protective factors in early life influencing the development of allergies in birth cohorts conducted in allergy protective environments in five European countries. These birth cohorts have been enrolling over 1,000 children and have collected detailed information on the onset of allergic illnesses, objective measures of allergies and a vast amount of information about a number of environmental exposures. Large biobanks with a variety of biological samples have been established. In the EFRAIM project particular attention will be given to the potential role of dietary exposures, lifestyle and other environmental (e.g. microbial) exposures early in life which are causal determinants rather than triggers of the illness. The mechanisms mediating these protective exposures such as the maturation of immune responses, gut colonisation, the mucosal barrier function and the genetic and epigenetic factors interacting with the environmental exposures will be investigated. The knowledge about protective exposures early in life can be turned into the development of preventive strategies. The EFRAIM project will actively address two routes of preventive interventions in animal models and in vitro studies: the development of an allergy protective milk formula and the development of an allergy vaccine. Both approaches are based on knowledge gained in the human studies. The EFRAIM project is expected to produce ground-breaking new insights on protective agents and their mechanisms that can be used to prevent the further development of allergies.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-EID | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2015-EID | Award Amount: 2.56M | Year: 2016

The advent of the big data era in chemistry and the life sciences requires the development of new computational analysis methods, which are not only of scientific, but also economic relevance. Currently, the international data market already grows six times faster than the entire IT sector, and growth rates further increase. Achieving and sustaining a leadership positions in the big data arena represent critically important challenges for the EU. The economic developments in the emerging big data field are science-driven. Due to complexity and heterogeneity of biochemical and biomedical data, large-scale data exploration and exploitation are intrinsically interdisciplinary tasks. BIGCHEM positions itself at interfaces between chemistry, computer science, and the life science to provide well-structured multidisciplinary training and educate high-in-demand computational specialists capable of operating in interdisciplinary and international research and business settings. Cornerstones of BIGCHEMs curriculum include on-line lectures and periodic schools taught by internationally leading experts in chemical and life science informatics, a balanced consortium of academia, SMEs, and large industry, and an unprecedented symbiosis of academic and industrial training and application components. Accordingly, BIGCHEM is well positioned to boost multilateral collaborations between academia and industry and train scientists who are highly competitive in the international big data market. In BIGCHEMs R&D and training activities, the development and evaluation of conceptually novel methods for large-scale data analysis, knowledge extraction, and information sharing with demonstrated practical application potential take center stage. The network has a clearly defined policy for exploitation of new IP through wide involvement of target users, SMEs, and large industry facilitated by the experienced technology transfer department of the coordinators team.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2011.5.2 | Award Amount: 13.91M | Year: 2013

Developing robust, reproducible, interoperable and collaborative hyper-models of diseases and normal physiology is a sine qua non necessity if rational, coherent and comprehensive exploitation of the invaluable information hidden within human multiscale biological data is envisaged. Responding to this imperative in the context of both the broad Virtual Physiological Human (VPH) initiative and the paradigmatic cancer domain, CHIC proposes the development of a suite of tools, services and secure infrastructure that will support accessibility and reusability of VPH mathematical and computational hypermodels. These will include a hypermodelling infrastructure consisting primarily of a hypermodelling editor and a hypermodelling execution environment, an infrastructure for semantic metadata management, a hypermodel repository, a hypermodel-driven clinical data repository, a distributed metadata repository and an in silico trial repository for the storage of executed simulation scenarios. Multiscale models and data will be semantically annotated using the ontological and annotating tools to be developed. An image processing and visualization toolkit, and cloud and virtualization services will also be developed. The CHIC tools, services, infrastructure and repositories will provide the community with a collaborative interface for exchanging knowledge and sharing work in an effective and standardized way. A number of open source features and tools will enhance usability and accessibility. In order to ensure clinical relevance and foster clinical acceptance of hypermodelling in the future, the whole endeavour will be driven by the clinical partners of the consortium. Cancer hypermodels to be collaboratively developed by the consortium cancer modellers will provide the framework and the testbed for the development of the CHIC technologies. Clinical adaptation and partial clinical validation of hypermodels and hypermodel oncosimulators will be undertaken.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2015-ETN | Award Amount: 3.32M | Year: 2016

Transition metal catalysts are formidable tools towards greener chemistry, allowing for low-waste, energy-efficient, and selective reactions. However, the noble metals (Ru, Os, Rh, Ir, Pd, Pt) that are currently most common in homogeneous catalysts suffer from high toxicity and environmental impact in addition to their scarcity and ensuing high cost. First-row metals (Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu) are emerging as environmentally benign alternatives, but to this day rarely equal the performance of their noble counterparts. The NoNoMeCat network aims at providing excellent and structured interdisciplinary training to a generation of young researchers in the field of Non-Noble Metal homogeneous Catalysis who will push the boundaries of the field in terms of catalyst stability, selectivity, mechanistic understanding, and scalability. These challenges are addressed in three areas of high fundamental and practical significance: the oxidation of hydrocarbons, the formation of new C-X bonds (C-C, C-N) bonds through cross-coupling reactions, and clean energy production. NoNoMeCat will enrol 14 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) who will receive structured training in experimental and theoretical aspects of non-noble metal chemistry as well as transferable skills such as research integrity, scientific communication and public outreach. Tight integration of non-academic partners will expose all ESRs to aspects of both fundamental interdisciplinary research and industrial application, paving the way for long-standing intersectorial collaborations.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: PHC-13-2014 | Award Amount: 6.23M | Year: 2015

Chronic liver disease affects about 29-million Europeans accounting for about 170,000 deaths at a cost of around 15.8bn. This chronic non-communicable disease is increasing at an alarming rate due to increasing European obesity, alcohol use and ageing. The three main causes of the disease; alcohol, fatty liver and viral hepatitis are amenable to prevention and treatment. Gut-derived endotoxins and bacterial translocation are central factors implicated in the pathogenesis of fatty liver disease and, the development and progression of cirrhosis. In cirrhosis, current state-of-the-art therapy to prevent recurrent complications of advanced cirrhosis is to use poorly absorbed antibiotics but long-term antibiotic therapy has problems associated with bacterial resistance, infection with resistant organisms and the cost. Treatment of fatty liver and modulation of bacterial translocation in early cirrhosis to prevent complications is an unmet need. Our academic-industrial consortium has developed a novel, patented, safe and cheap nanoporous carbon that modulates the effects of bacterial translocation in animal models of liver disease. Our feasibility studies demonstrate that this product advances the current state-of-the-art, is a TRL 4/5 and is now ready for validation through clinical trials. We propose to investigate the safety and efficacy of this novel nanoporous carbon in patients with fatty liver disease and cirrhosis. If successful, we will be able to confirm an innovative, cost-effective and novel strategy for the management of this chronic disease in a European population. Exploitation of the results of the CARBALIVE project will support the continued development of this carbon through additional private and public sector investment. The use of this innovative therapy is expected to reduce the economic burden of the disease in Europe, allow patients to achieve enhanced quality of life, improve survival, and allow many patients to return to economic productivity.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-ITN-2008 | Award Amount: 3.32M | Year: 2009

The Post-genomic era calls for a deep understanding of protein structure and function. The elucidation of protein structures, localization, post-translation modifications, and protein-macromolecule interactions are important to establish their role in the biology of the cell. To establish their role and investigate the protein functions requires the integration of various complementary disciplines. Among all disciplines, chemistry is central in establishing new effective ways to manipulate a biological entity to understand cellular processes with molecular precision. For studying, analyzing and manipulating a macromolecule, the site-specific incorporation of reporter molecules, by virtue of ligation reactions, is a key factor. The BioChemLig research project presented herein describes novel approaches for the discovery of new bio-compatible and chemo-specific ligation reactions. The aim of this project is to develop new ligation processes with high efficiency, large scope of application, high chemoselectivity and high rates. Through a well established network, with demonstrated success (IBAAC Project: FP6-505020), we propose to focus our efforts in a highly combined and integrated training research action conducting research and using: unusual organic chemical functionalities for ligation, environmentally benign on water ligation reactions, specific 18F radiolabelled reagents, dendrimers conjugation methodologies, high-throughput screening for bond forming reactions, bio-chemo informatics platform for theoretical investigations, artificial metalo-enzymes for template-directed ligation, templated ligation reactions and HTS. This high quality integrated research should ultimately allow scientists to dissect cellular processes with molecular precision, speed up preparation of library of bioconjugates and deliver innovatives approaches to chemical biology.


News Article | March 21, 2016
Site: news.yahoo.com

Researchers used spectral imaging to read the writing on this fragment, which details the third-century Thermopylae battle. More Fragments of an ancient Greek text telling of an invasion of Greece by the Goths during the third century A.D. have been discovered in the Austrian National Library. The text includes a battle fought at the pass of Thermopylae. Researchers used spectral imaging to enhance the fragments, making it possible to read them. The analysis suggests the fragments were copied in the 11th century A.D. and are from a text that was written in the third-century A.D. by an Athens writer named Dexippus. During Dexippus' life, Greece (part of the Roman Empire) and Rome struggled to repel a series of Gothic invasions. [10 Epic Battles That Changed History] Lecturers Christopher Mallan, of Oxford University, and Caillan Davenport, of the University of Queensland in Australia, recently translated one of the fragments into English. The translated text, detailed in the Journal of Roman Studies, describes the Thermopylae battle: At the start of the fragment, "battle columns" of Goths, a people who flourished in Europe whom the Romans considered barbarians, are attacking the Greek city of Thessalonica. "Making an assault upon the city of the Thessalonians, they tried to capture it as a close-packed band," Dexippus wrote of the attack, as translated by Mallan and Davenport. "Those on the walls defended themselves valiantly, warding off the battle columns with the assistance of many hands." Unable to capture Thessalonica, the Goth force turned south toward Athens, "envisioning the gold and silver votive offerings and the many processional goods in the Greek sanctuaries, for they learned that the region was exceedingly wealthy in this respect," Dexippus wrote. A Greek force assembled at the narrow pass of Thermopylae in an attempt to stop the Gothic advance. "Some [of the Greeks] carried small spears, others axes, others wooden pikes overlaid with bronze and with iron tips, or whatever each man could arm himself with," Dexippus wrote. "When they came together, they completely fortified the perimeter wall and devoted themselves to its protection with haste." In the text, Dexippus said the commander of the Greek force, a general named Marianus, tried to raise morale by reminding the Greeks of the battles their ancestors had fought at Thermopylae in the past, including the famous fifth-century B.C. battle between the Persians and a Spartan-led force. [In Photos: Spartan Temple and Cultic Artifacts Discovered] "O Greeks, the occasion of our preservation for which you are assembled and the land in which you have been deployed are both truly fitting to evoke the memory of virtuous deeds," Marianus' speech to his troops reads, as translated from the fragment. "For your ancestors, fighting in this place in former times, did not let Greece down and deprive it of its free state. "In previous attacks, you seemed terrifying to the enemies," said Marianus. "On account of these things, future events do not appear to me not without hope …" The fragment ends before the completion of Marianus' speech, and the outcome of the battle is uncertain, researchers said. Marianus may well have given a speech (or speeches) to the troops, the researchers said; however, the speech recorded in this text was likely invented by Dexippus, something ancient historians often did. Though no one has an exact date for the Thermopylae battle, it was likely fought in the 250s or 260s, researchers said. The Thermopylae fragment is one of several written by Dexippus, discovered in the Austrian National Library book, that discuss the invasion of Greece by the Goths. The Thermopylae battle fragment was first published in 2014 in German in the journal Wiener Studies by Gunther Martin and Jana Grusková, researchers at the University of Bern and Comenius University in Bratislava, respectively. Martin and Grusková have published several articles in German and English on the other fragments. Some of the fragments tell of an attempt by the Roman Emperor Decius (who lived A.D. 201-251) to stop the Gothic forces, as described by Martin and Grusková in 2014 in the journal Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies. In those fragments, Dexippus wrote that Emperor Decius suffered a series of setbacks, losing territory and men.


News Article | October 28, 2016
Site: phys.org

Astronomers set up two theories explaining how gaseous giant planets like Jupiter or Saturn could be born. A bottom-up formation mechanism states that first, a solid core is aggregated of roughly ten times the size of the Earth. "Then, this core is massive enough to attract a significant amount of gas and keep it," explains Judit Szulágyi, post-doctoral fellow at the ETH Zürich and member of the Swiss NCCR PlanetS. The second theory is a top-down formation scenario: Here the gaseous disk around the young star is so massive, that due to self-gravity of the gas-dust, spiral arms are forming with clumps inside. Then, these clumps collapse via their own gravity directly into a gaseous planet, similar to how stars form. The first mechanism is called "core-accretion," the second one "disk instability." In both cases, a disk forms around the gas-giants, called the circumplanetary disk, which will serve as a birth-nest for satellites to form. To find out which mechanism actually takes place in the Universe, Judit Szulágyi and Lucio Mayer, Professor at the University of Zürich, simulated the scenarios on Piz Daint supercomputer at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS) in Lugano. "We pushed our simulations to the limits in terms of the complexity of the physics added to the models," explains Judit Szulágyi: "And we achieved higher resolution than anybody before." In their studies published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the researchers found a big difference between the two formation mechanisms: In the disk instability scenario, the gas in the planet's vicinity remained very cold, around 50 Kelvins, whereas in the core accretion case the circumplanetary disk was heated to several hundreds of Kelvins. "The disk instability simulations are the first that can resolve the circumplanetary disk around multiple protoplanets, using tens of millions of resolution elements in the computational domain. We exploited Piz Daint to accelerate the calculations using graphics processing units (GPUs)," adds Mayer. This huge temperature difference is easily observable. "When astronomers look into new forming planetary systems, just measuring the temperatures in the planet's vicinity will be enough to tell which formation mechanism built the given planet," explains Judit Szulágyi. A first comparison of the calculated and observed data seems to favour the core accretion theory. Another difference that was expected didn't show up in the computer simulation. Before, astrophysics thought that the circumplanetary disk significantly differs in mass in the two formation scenarios. "We showed that this is not true," says the PlanetS member. Regarding the size of the new born planet, observations can be misleading as the astrophysicist found in a second study together with Christoph Mordasini, Professor at the University of Bern. In the core accretion model the researchers had a closer look at the disk around planets with masses three to ten times bigger than Jupiter's. The computer simulations showed that gas falling on the disk from the outside heats up and creates a very luminous shock front on the disk's upper layer. This significantly alters the observational appearance of young, forming planets. "When we see a luminous spot inside a circumplanetary disk, we cannot be sure whether we see the planet luminosity, or also the surrounding disk luminosity," says Judit Szulágyi. This may lead to an overestimation of the planet's mass of up to four times. "So maybe an observed planet has only the same mass as Saturn instead of some Jupiter masses," concludes the scientist. In their simulations, the astrophysicists mimicked the formation processes by using the basic physical laws such as gravity or the hydrodynamical equations of the gas. Because of the complexity of the physical models, the simulations were very time consuming, even on Europe's fastest supercomputer at CSCS: "On the order of nine months running time on hundreds to several thousands of computing cores" estimates Judit Szulágyi: "This means that on one computing core it would have taken longer than my entire lifetime." Yet there are still challenges ahead. Simulations of disk instability still do not cover a long timescale. It is possible that after the protoplanet has collapsed to the density of Jupiter its disk will heat up more like in core-accretion. Likewise, the hotter gas found in the core-accretion case would be partially ionized, a favourable environment for effects of magnetic fields, completely neglected so far. Running even more expensive simulations with a richer description of the physics will be the next step. Explore further: Earth-sized planets with abundant water statistically likely around red dwarfs More information: J. Szulágyi et al. Thermodynamics of Giant Planet Formation: Shocking Hot Surfaces on Circumplanetary Disks, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters (2016). DOI: 10.1093/mnrasl/slw212 J. Szulágyi et al. Circumplanetary disks around young giant planets: a comparison between core-accretion and disk instability, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2016). DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stw2617


Workshop to occur on Sunday December 4th at 11:00 am PT Breda, the Netherlands / Ghent, Belgium - argenx (Euronext Brussels: ARGX), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on creating and developing differentiated therapeutic antibodies for the treatment of cancer and severe autoimmune diseases, today announced that it will provide updates on its two lead programs, ARGX-113 and ARGX-110, during a workshop being held today in conjunction with the American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting. The workshop is being held today at 11:00 am PT. The presentation of the event will be available on the Company's website at www.argenx.com. ARGX-113: New clinical data will be presented from the multiple ascending dose Phase I study in healthy volunteers showing comparable pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetic patterns between the lower dose (10 mg/kg) and higher dose (25 mg/kg), justifying the selection of the lower dosing regimen for upcoming Phase II clinical trials. In addition, preclinical proof of concept data supporting myasthenia gravis (MG) and immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) as lead indications for Phase II clinical trials will be presented. argenx anticipates to start the first Phase II study in MG before the end of the year and in ITP in the first quarter of 2017. ARGX-110: Further efficacy and safety data will be presented from the currently ongoing Phase Ib study in relapsed/refractory T-cell lymphoma (TCL) patients who failed multiple lines of therapy: 5 out of 10 patients show encouraging signs of clinical activity including partial response (3/10) and stable disease (2/10). ARGX-110 continues to show a favorable safety and tolerability profile. Additionally, preclinical data supporting the start of the first combination study in newly diagnosed, elderly acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) patients will be reported. The preclinical work on ARGX-110 in AML was done in collaboration with the Tumor Immunology Lab of Prof. A. F. Ochsenbein at the University of Bern, who won the prestigious 2016 Otto Naegeli Prize for his breakthrough research on CD70/CD27 signaling with therapeutic potential for cancer patients. About ARGX-113 ARGX-113 is a potential breakthrough therapy for treatment of IgG-mediated autoimmune diseases. ARGX-113 is the Fc-portion of an antibody that has been modified by the argenx proprietary ABDEG(TM) technology to increase its affinity for FcRn beyond that of normal IgG antibodies. As a result, ARGX-113 blocks antibody recycling and leads to fast depletion of the autoimmune disease-causing IgG autoantibodies. The development work on ARGX-113 is done in close collaboration with the Department of Immunology of Prof. E. Sally Ward at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical. About ARGX-110 ARGX-110 is a SIMPLE Antibody(TM) targeting CD70, an immune checkpoint target involved in hematological malignancies, several solid tumors and severe autoimmune diseases. ARGX-110 works in three ways: i) blocks growth of tumor cells, ii) kills cancer cells and iii) restores immune surveillance against tumors (Silence K. et al. mAbs 2014; 6 (2):523-532). ARGX-110 is currently being evaluated in hematological and solid tumors.  About argenx argenx combines the diversity of the llama immune system with antibody engineering to advance a clinical pipeline to treat patients with cancer and autoimmune diseases. Our platforms allow us to unlock novel and complex targets and develop antibody-based drugs designed for longer duration of effect and greater efficacy. The strength of our team, our deep understanding of the biology, and our committed collaborations with industry leaders contribute to the success of our journey. For further information, please contact: Forward-looking Statements The contents of this announcement include statements that are, or may be deemed to be, "forward-looking statements". These forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology, including the terms "believes", "estimates", "anticipates", "expects", "intends", "may", "will", or "should", and include statements argenx makes concerning the intended results of its strategy. By their nature, forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties and readers are cautioned that any such forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance. argenx's actual results may differ materially from those predicted by the forward-looking statements. argenx undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise forward-looking statements, except as may be required by law.


Gliozzi F.,University of Turin | Pepe M.,National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Italy | Wiese U.-J.,University of Bern
Physical Review Letters | Year: 2010

We investigate the transverse fluctuations of the confining string connecting two static quarks in (2+1)D SU(2) Yang-Mills theory using Monte Carlo calculations. The exponentially suppressed signal is extracted from the large noise by a very efficient multilevel algorithm. The resulting width of the string increases logarithmically with the distance between the static quark charges. Corrections at intermediate distances due to universal higher-order terms in the effective string action are calculated analytically. They accurately fit the numerical data. © 2010 The American Physical Society.


Fotopoulos A.,University of Turin | Prezas N.,University of Bern
Nuclear Physics B | Year: 2011

We derive pomeron vertex operators for bosonic strings and superstrings in the presence of D-branes. We demonstrate how they can be used in order to compute the Regge behavior of string amplitudes on D-branes and the amplitude of ultrarelativistic D-brane scattering. After a lightning review of the BCFW method, we proceed in a classification of the various BCFW shifts possible in a field/string theory in the presence of defects/D-branes. The BCFW shifts present several novel features, such as the possibility of performing single particle momentum shifts, due to the breaking of momentum conservation in the directions normal to the defect. Using the pomeron vertices we show that superstring amplitudes on the disc involving both open and closed strings should obey BCFW recursion relations. As a particular example, we analyze explicitly the case of 1?1 scattering of level one closed string states off a D-brane. Finally, we investigate whether the eikonal Regge regime conjecture holds in the presence of D-branes. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.


Rothkopf A.,Bielefeld University | Rothkopf A.,University of Bern
Journal of Computational Physics | Year: 2013

The standard implementation of the Maximum Entropy Method (MEM) follows Bryan [1] and deploys a Singular Value Decomposition (SVD) to limit the dimensionality of the underlying solution space apriori. Here we present arguments based on the shape of the SVD basis functions and numerical evidence from a mock data analysis, which show that the correct Bayesian solution is not in general recovered with this approach. As a remedy we propose to extend the search basis systematically, which will eventually recover the full solution space and the correct solution. In order to adequately approach problems where an exponentially damped kernel is used, we provide an open-source implementation, using the C/C++ language that utilizes high precision arithmetic adjustable at run-time [2]. The LBFGS algorithm is included in the code in order to attack problems without the need to resort to a particular search space restriction. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.


Zust T.,Cornell University | Agrawal A.A.,University of Bern
Nature Plants | Year: 2016

Aphids are important herbivores of both wild and cultivated plants. Plants rely on unique mechanisms of recognition, signalling and defence to cope with the specialized mode of phloem feeding by aphids. Aspects of the molecular mechanisms underlying aphid-plant interactions are beginning to be understood. Recent advances include the identification of aphid salivary proteins involved in host plant manipulation, and plant receptors involved in aphid recognition. However, a complete picture of aphid-plant interactions requires consideration of the ecological outcome of these mechanisms in nature, and the evolutionary processes that shaped them. Here we identify general patterns of resistance, with a special focus on recognition, phytohormonal signalling, secondary metabolites and induction of plant resistance. We discuss how host specialization can enable aphids to co-opt both the phytohormonal responses and defensive compounds of plants for their own benefit at a local scale. In response, systemically induced resistance in plants is common and often involves targeted responses to specific aphid species or even genotypes. As co-evolutionary adaptation between plants and aphids is ongoing, the stealthy nature of aphid feeding makes both the mechanisms and outcomes of these interactions highly distinct from those of other herbivore-plant interactions. © 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited.


Llovet J.M.,Mount Sinai School of Medicine | Villanueva A.,Mount Sinai School of Medicine | Lachenmayer A.,University of Bern | Finn R.S.,University of California at Los Angeles
Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology | Year: 2015

Mortality owing to liver cancer has increased in the past 20 years, and the latest estimates indicate that the global health burden of this disease will continue to grow. Most patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are still diagnosed at intermediate or advanced disease stages, where curative approaches are often not feasible. Among the treatment options available, the molecular targeted agent sorafenib is able to significantly increase overall survival in these patients. Thereafter, up to seven large, randomized phase III clinical trials investigating other molecular therapies in the first-line and second-line settings have failed to improve on the results observed with this agent. Potential reasons for this include intertumour heterogeneity, issues with trial design and a lack of predictive biomarkers of response. During the past 5 years, substantial advances in our knowledge of the human genome have provided a comprehensive picture of commonly mutated genes in patients with HCC. This knowledge has not yet influenced clinical decision-making or current clinical practice guidelines. In this Review the authors summarize the molecular concepts of progression, discuss the potential reasons for clinical trial failure and propose new concepts of drug development, which might lead to clinical implementation of emerging targeted agents. © 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited.


Schneider H.,University of Bern | Miller R.K.,University of Rochester
International Journal of Developmental Biology | Year: 2010

The human placenta is required to be the anchor, the conduit and the controller during pregnancy. The survival of the baby and its associated placenta is dependent upon the placenta shielding the embryo/fetus from harm, e.g., autoimmune disease - thrombophilia, antiphospholipid syndrome or infections, while simultaneously providing for the passage of critical nutrients (e.g., amino acids, vitamins) and beneficial immunoglobulins. In a number of instances, the movements of macromolecules into and through the placenta can result in the passage of the intact molecules into the fetal circulation or in the case of proteins - catabolism to amino acids which are utilized by the placenta and the fetus for continued growth and development. The transfer of two such macromolecules, immunoglobulin G (IgG) and vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin or B12), are examined as to the unique receptor-mediated transfer capability of the human placenta, its transfer specificity as related to specific receptors and the role of endogeneous placental proteins (trancobalamins) in facilitating the recognition and transport of specifically B12. Brief comparisons will be made to other animal species and the differences in specific organ transfer capabilities. © 2009 UBC Press.


Burnier Y.,University of Bern | Laine M.,Bielefeld University
European Physical Journal C | Year: 2012

By subtracting from a recent lattice measurement of the thermal vector-current correlator the known 5-loop vacuum contribution, we demonstrate that the remainder is small and shows no visible short-distance divergence. It can therefore in principle be subjected to model-independent analytic continuation. Testing a particular implementation, we obtain estimates for the flavour-diffusion coefficient (2πTD ≳ 0.8) and electrical conductivity which are significantly smaller than previous results. Although systematic errors remain beyond control at present, some aspects of our approach could be of a wider applicability. © Springer-Verlag / Società Italiana di Fisica 2012.


Monticelli L.A.,Cornell University | Osborne L.C.,Cornell University | Noti M.,University of Bern | Tran S.V.,Cornell University | And 2 more authors.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | Year: 2015

The barrier surfaces of the skin, lung, and intestine are constantly exposed to environmental stimuli that can result in inflammation and tissue damage. Interleukin (IL)-33-dependent group 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s) are enriched at barrier surfaces and have been implicated in promoting inflammation; however, the mechanisms underlying the tissue-protective roles of IL-33 or ILC2s at surfaces such as the intestine remain poorly defined. Here we demonstrate that, following activation with IL-33, expression of the growth factor amphiregulin (AREG) is a dominant functional signature of gut-associated ILC2s. In the context of a murine model of intestinal damage and inflammation, the frequency and number of AREG-expressing ILC2s increases following intestinal injury and genetic disruption of the endogenous AREG-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) pathway exacerbated disease. Administration of exogenous AREG limited intestinal inflammation and decreased disease severity in both lymphocyte-sufficient and lymphocyte-deficient mice, revealing a previously unrecognized innate immune mechanism of intestinal tissue protection. Furthermore, treatment with IL-33 or transfer of ILC2s ameliorated intestinal disease severity in an AREG-dependent manner. Collectively, these data reveal a critical feedback loop in which cytokine cues from damaged epithelia activate innate immune cells to express growth factors essential for ILC-dependent restoration of epithelial barrier function and maintenance of tissue homeostasis.


White T.A.,Cornell University | White T.A.,University of Bern | Perkins S.E.,University of Cardiff
Functional Ecology | Year: 2012

Invasive populations frequently harbour a reduced parasite community compared with their native counterparts. The loss of regulating enemies may result in re-allocation of resources away from costly defences, effects that may be particularly pronounced at the wave-front of the invasion during the range expansion stage. Bottlenecking and increased genetic drift is also expected to result in a loss of immunogenetic diversity. As the invasive species expands its range, selection will strongly favour increased growth and reproduction, traits that may trade-off against immune function. Relaxed parasite-mediated selection is expected to alter the trade-offs between immune response and immunopathology. Hence, we might expect that a combination of necessity (i.e. loss of specific alleles at immune loci) and natural selection away from immunity towards other fitness traits should result in invasive populations having reduced resistance to parasites but greater potential for demographic growth in the invaded range. Following this argument to its logical conclusion would suggest that invasive species could also be more vulnerable to novel parasites, or to parasites to which the invasive population has lost immunity arriving from the native range. Despite this attractive narrative, there is currently little empirical evidence on the ecoimmunology and immunogenetics of invasions. In this article, we review the evidence for changes in the immune response of invasive species. We also examine the likely effects of range expansions and population genetic processes on the immune systems of invasive species. We conclude that much more empirical research is necessary in this field before general patterns and predictions can emerge. © 2012 British Ecological Society.


Bohm E.,University of Heidelberg | Lippold J.,University of Bern | Gutjahr M.,Leibniz Institute of Marine Science | Gutjahr M.,UK National Oceanography Center | And 7 more authors.
Nature | Year: 2015

Extreme, abrupt Northern Hemisphere climate oscillations during the last glacial cycle (140,000 years ago to present) were modulated by changes in ocean circulation and atmospheric forcing. However, the variability of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), which has a role in controlling heat transport from low to high latitudes and in ocean CO2 storage, is still poorly constrained beyond the Last Glacial Maximum. Here we show that a deep and vigorous overturning circulation mode has persisted for most of the last glacial cycle,dominating oceancirculation inthe Atlantic,whereas a shallower glacialmode with southern-sourced waters filling the deep westernNorth Atlantic prevailed during glacialmaxima. Our results are based on a reconstruction of both the strength and the direction of the AMOC during the last glacial cycle from a highly resolved marine sedimentary recordinthe deep westernNorth Atlantic. Parallel measurements of two independent chemical water tracers (the isotope ratios of 231Pa/230Thand143Nd/144Nd), which are not directly affected by changes in the global cycle, reveal consistent responses of the AMOC during the last two glacial terminations. Any significant deviations from this configuration, resulting in slowdowns of the AMOC, were restricted to centennial-scale excursions during catastrophic iceberg discharges of the Heinrich stadials. Severe and multicentennial weakening of North Atlantic Deep Water formation occurred only during Heinrich stadials close to glacial maxima with increased ice coverage, probably as a result of increased freshwater input. In contrast, theAMOCwas relatively insensitive to submillennial meltwater pulses during warmer climate states, and an active AMOC prevailed during Dansgaard-Oeschger interstadials (Greenland warm periods). © 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited.


Maffei M.E.,University of Turin | Gertsch J.,University of Bern | Appendino G.,University of Piemonte Orientale
Natural Product Reports | Year: 2011

Plant volatiles typically occur as a complex mixture of low-molecular weight lipophilic compounds derived from different biosynthetic pathways, and are seemingly produced as part of a defense strategy against biotic and abiotic stress, as well as contributing to various physiological functions of the producer organism. The biochemistry and molecular biology of plant volatiles is complex, and involves the interplay of several biochemical pathways and hundreds of genes. All plants are able to store and emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), but the process shows remarkable genotypic variation and phenotypic plasticity. From a physiological standpoint, plant volatiles are involved in three critical processes, namely plant-plant interaction, the signaling between symbiotic organisms, and the attraction of pollinating insects. Their role in these "housekeeping" activities underlies agricultural applications that range from the search for sustainable methods for pest control to the production of flavors and fragrances. On the other hand, there is also growing evidence that VOCs are endowed with a range of biological activities in mammals, and that they represent a substantially under-exploited and still largely untapped source of novel drugs and drug leads. This review summarizes recent major developments in the study of biosynthesis, ecological functions and medicinal applications of plant VOCs. © 2011 The Royal Society of Chemistry.


Hebenstreit F.,University of Bern | Hebenstreit F.,University of Heidelberg | Fillion-Gourdeau F.,INRS - Institute National de la Recherche Scientifique
Physics Letters, Section B: Nuclear, Elementary Particle and High-Energy Physics | Year: 2014

Recent studies of Schwinger pair production have demonstrated that the asymptotic particle spectrum is extremely sensitive to the applied field profile. We extend the idea of the dynamically assisted Schwinger effect from single pulse profiles to more realistic field configurations to be generated in an all-optical experiment searching for pair creation. We use the quantum kinetic approach to study the particle production and employ a multi-start method, combined with optimal control theory, to determine a set of parameters for which the particle yield in the forward direction in momentum space is maximized. We argue that this strategy can be used to enhance the signal of pair production on a given detector in an experimental setup. © 2014 The Authors.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2007.5.3 | Award Amount: 5.17M | Year: 2008

The ContraCancrum i.e. the Clinically Oriented Translational Cancer Multilevel Modelling project aims at developing a composite multilevel platform for simulating malignant tumour development and tumour and normal tissue response to therapeutic modalities and treatment schedules. The project aims at having an impact primarily in (a) the better understanding of the natural phenomenon of cancer at different levels of biocomplexity and most importantly (b) the disease treatment optimization procedure in the patients individualized context by simulating the response to various therapeutic regimens. The predictions of the simulators to be developed will rely on the imaging, histopathological, molecular and clinical data of the patient. Fundamental biological mechanisms involved in tumour development and tumour and normal tissue treatment response such as metabolism, cell cycle, tissue mechanics, cell survival following treatment etc. will be modelled. Stem cells will be addressed in the context of both tumour and normal tissue behaviour. From the mathematical point of view the simulators will exploit several discrete and continuous mathematics methods such as cellular automata, the generic Monte Carlo technique, finite elements, differential equations, novel dedicated algorithms etc. A study of the analogies of tumour growth with embryological development is expected to provide insights into both mechanisms. ContraCancrum will deploy two important clinical studies for validating the models, one on lung cancer and one on gliomas. The crucial validation work will be based on comparing the multi-level therapy simulation predictions with the actual medical data (including medical images), acquired before and after therapy. ContraCancrum aims to pave the way for translating clinically validated multilevel cancer models into clinical practice.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: HEALTH-2009-2.4.5-1 | Award Amount: 7.81M | Year: 2010

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has become one of the top concerns for the practising hepatogastroenterologist due to the obesity epidemic and its potential to progress to advanced liver disease which significantly impacts on overall and liver-related mortality. The aim of the FLIP (Fatty Liver: Inhibition of Progression) project is to understand and prevent the progression of liver disease in NAFLD. FLIP is a consortium of basic scientists and practising clinical hepatologists with an established track record and focus on research into the underlying mechanisms and management of patients with NAFLD. Therefore FLIP provides a unique opportunity to assemble the largest European cohort of patients with histologically diagnosed NAFLD with clinical and epidemiological data and with biobanks of DNA, frozen liver tissue and serum. These will be used in a wide range of collaborative inter-disciplinary research projects aimed at addressing key unanswered questions related to the mechanisms and consequences of liver injury in NAFLD and the development of novel preventive and therapeutic strategies. The main outcomes of FLIP will be new insights in the progression of liver disease in NAFLD in terms of initiating mechanisms and patients at risk, innovative diagnostic methods particularly adapted for large-scale screening and prognostic evaluation, improved implementation of lifestyle changes, collaboration with leading biotechnological or pharmaceutical companies in order to translate to the market diagnostic tests or newly identified molecular targets for pharmacological therapy. By disseminating the projects results, FLIP will further help the European Community to suggest guidelines on the management of this emerging liver disease. The long-term goal is to lay the foundations for the future of NAFLD research in Europe by creating a Collaborative Research Network on NAFLD that will continue the work initiated by the FLIP consortium.


The objective of the HEALTH-2009-2.3.1-2 call is to study the impact of different antibiotics on the prevalence of resistant bacteria in the human host. In ANTIRESDEV we will achieve this objective using the approaches suggested in the call as follows. We will use culture-based and culture-independent approaches to investigate the impact of four different types of antibiotics (with different modes of action, antimicrobial spectra and pharmacokinetic properties) on the emergence of antibiotic-resistant organisms and their persistence at several body sites. Disruption of the indigenous microbiota is recognized as an important factor in the persistence and transmission of antibiotic-resistant organisms, therefore we will also study the ecological impact of the antibiotics on the indigenous microbiotas of several body sites using culture-dependent and -independent techniques. We will then identify, using state-of-the-art microarrays, the genes responsible for resistance in the antibiotic-resistant organisms isolated. The genetic elements involved in resistance transfer by a number of these organisms will also be determined as knowledge of these elements is essential to fully understand the mechanisms underlying resistance transmission. By using state-of-the-art 454 pyrosequencing we will determine the full complement of resistance genes (the resistome) present in cultivable and not-yet-cultivated members of the oral and faecal microbiotas and the effect on these resistomes of antibiotic administration. Another important aspect of the dynamics and transmission of resistance is the fitness cost associated with resistance acquisition by an organism and we will investigate this in a variety of clinically-important organisms. We will ensure that the results of this study are made available to appropriate governmental and healthcare agencies so that they can be used to help in the formulation of measures designed to reduce the spread of antibiotic resistance.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: HEALTH-2007-2.4.2-3 | Award Amount: 13.01M | Year: 2008

The European Stroke Research Network (EUSTROKE) will be a collaborative effort that brings together researchers, government, industry, the non-profit sector and patient group associations. This network will put Europe at the forefront of stroke research through its multi-disciplinary research program, high-quality training for European scientists and clinicians, and national and global partnerships. A primary focus of the EUSTROKE research programme is to improve our understanding of the neurovascular unit to enable better prevention and treatment of stroke. This involves elucidation of dynamic interactions of vascular, cellular and matrix signalling in both the grey and white matter of the brain. Our research strategy looks beyond the single cell for a more integrative answer to ischemic brain damage. The goals of EUSTROKE will be addressed by a wide variety of multidisciplinary European research teams working on various aspects of the neurovascular unit. Thus EUSTROKE will promote integration of both clinical and experimental research teams in cerebrovascular biology, imaging, prevention, and reperfusion with a common focus upon the NVU. The project will aim at developing new approaches for targeting the NVU to improve potential combination or multi-targeted treatments for stroke. Combination therapies that target the entire neurovascular unit, promote cell survival mechanisms and extend the therapeutic time-window for reperfusion therapy will provide new opportunities to meet the challenges of stroke. Moreover, developing therapies that maintain proper NVU function or prevent age-associated alterations in the NVU may find use in the prevention or treatment of cerebrovascular disease. Thus, the collaborative project will integrate its vast multidisciplinary capacities to generate new hypotheses and conduct exploratory work on microvesselneuron communication.


Rothen N.,University of Sussex | Meier B.,University of Bern
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience | Year: 2014

Synaesthesia denotes a condition of remarkable individual differences in experience characterized by specific additional experiences in response to normal sensory input. Synaesthesia seems to (i) run in families which suggests a genetic component, (ii) is associated with marked structural and functional neural differences, and (iii) is usually reported to exist from early childhood. Hence, synaesthesia is generally regarded as a congenital phenomenon. However, most synaesthetic experiences are triggered by cultural artifacts (e.g., letters, musical sounds). Evidence exists to suggest that synaesthetic experiences are triggered by the conceptual representation of their inducer stimuli. Cases were identified for which the specific synaesthetic associations are related to prior experiences and large scale studies show that grapheme-color associations in synaesthesia are not completely random. Hence, a learning component is inherently involved in the development of specific synaesthetic associations. Researchers have hypothesized that associative learning is the critical mechanism. Recently, it has become of scientific and public interest if synaesthetic experiences may be acquired by means of associative training procedures and whether the gains of these trainings are associated with similar cognitive benefits as genuine synaesthetic experiences. In order to shed light on these issues and inform synaesthesia researchers and the general interested public alike, we provide a comprehensive literature review on developmental aspects of synaesthesia and specific training procedures in non-synaesthetes. Under the light of a clear working definition of synaesthesia, we come to the conclusion that synaesthesia can potentially be learned by the appropriate training. © 2014 Rothen and Meier.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-ITN-2008 | Award Amount: 4.11M | Year: 2009

The Initial Training Network - Language, Cognition, and Gender (ITN LCG) investigates European languages from an interdisciplinary perspective to expand current knowledge of how language influences and forms the cognitive representations of women and men. The diversity of Europe offers a unique opportunity to investigate the impact of language and culture in establishing and maintaining gender inequality. This issue has not yet been systematically addressed on a large scale, although the reduction of gender inequality is generally considered an important issue within Europe. Therefore, ITN LCG will provide a structured interdisciplinary research training programme for young researchers in the emerging supra-disciplinary field of language, cognition, and gender to enhance the scientific understanding of this topic and improve the quality of initial research training in Europe. For the first time, these lines of research will be investigated from cross-language and cross-cultural perspectives by bringing together 10 complementary providers of research-training and 12 associated partners from public and private sectors. ITN LCG has four interrelated research objectives: a) deriving indices for selected European languages that reflect the extent to which the features of a language result in gender related representations in speakers/listeners, b) investigating to what extent gender equality in formal standards of language and the use of gender-fair language correlates with higher levels of socio-economic gender equality, c) analysing the impact of language on gender stereotyping in social judgement and decision making, and d) developing and evaluating scientifically-based prototypes of guidelines and training tools for gender-fair communication in European languages. ITN LCG will strengthen the capability of its young fellows to contribute effectively to our knowledge-based economy and society, and will add to their intersectoral and transnational employability.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-SA | Phase: ENV.2009.5.1.0.2 | Award Amount: 896.04K | Year: 2009

The goal of mountain.TRIP is to provide stakeholders, end-users and practitioners with readily accessible and understandable forms of research-based information relevant to sustainable development in mountain regions. Mountain.TRIP will start where other EU projects have finished, translating research findings into useful information and developing relationships between users and researchers. EU research projects generally focus on elucidating truths, not on communicating these truths to practitioners or the interested public. Research projects often produce valuable results, methods, tools and instruments, but at the end of the project neither time nor money remains to disseminate these results among practitioners and to the interested public. Furthermore, research results usually exist in forms recognized by the research community but not easily or quickly assimilated by communities of practice. Mountain.TRIP will close the gap that currently exists between EU project findings and the needs of policy- and decision-makers, stakeholders in economy and environment, planners and administrators, non governmental organisations, end-users, and other members of groups representing the interests of citizens and industry of the most important mountain regions of Europe, hereafter referred to in this proposal as practitioners. Mountain.TRIP will not just disseminate research results but will rather synthesize results from multiple EU projects while adapting the format of that synthesis through continuous interaction with practitioners to meet their needs. The project uses multiple innovative mechanisms to ensure effective interaction with practitioners.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: FETOPEN-1-2014 | Award Amount: 3.94M | Year: 2016

The goal of the project is to develop the technology foundation for an advanced optical microscope imaging at a resolution beyond the Rayleigh limit, which is set by the photon wavelength. The proposed microscope technique is based on super-twinning photon states (N-partite entangled states) with the de Broglie wavelength equal to a fraction of the photon wavelength. Such microscopy technique will comprise building blocks for object illumination, capturing of scattered twinning photons and data processing. Based on advanced group-III nitride and III-V alloy epitaxial growths and wafer processing techniques we will build the first solid-state emitter of highly entangled photon states, utilizing the cooperative effect of Dicke superradiance (super-fluorescence) emission. Single-photon avalanche detector arrays with data pre-processing capabilities sufficient for capturing high-order field correlation functions of scattered twinning photons will be developed. A dedicated data processing algorithm for extracting the image of an illuminated object from the statistics of scattered twinning photons will complement the hardware. The project goal is to demonstrate imaging at 42 nm spatial resolution using 5-partite entangled photons at 420 nm wavelength. This quantum imaging technology will open the way for compact, portable, super-resolution microscope techniques, with no moving parts and no requirements to the optical properties of the sample.


News Article | December 5, 2016
Site: www.biosciencetechnology.com

The "reproducibility crisis" in biomedical research has led to questions about the scientific rigor in animal research, and thus the ethical justification of animal experiments. In research publishing in the Open Access journals PLOS Biology and PLOS ONE on December 2nd, 2016, researchers from the University of Bern have assessed scientific rigor in animal experimentation in Switzerland. The study, commissioned by the Swiss Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO), found widespread deficiencies in the reporting of experimental methodology. In a first step, Ph.D. student Lucile Vogt and postdoc Thomas Reichlin from the Division of Animal Welfare at the Vetsuisse Faculty in Bern screened all 1,277 approved applications for animal experiments in Switzerland in 2008, 2010 and 2012, as well as a random sample of 50 scientific publications resulting from studies described in the applications. The materials were assessed to determine whether seven basic methods that can help combat experimental bias were reported (including randomization, blinding, and sample size calculation). Appropriate use and understanding of these methods is a prerequisite for unbiased, scientifically valid results, says lead author Prof. Hanno Würbel, director of the Division of Animal Welfare. As published in their PLOS Biology study, explicit evidence that these methods were used either in the applications for animal experiments or in the subsequent publications was scarce. For example, fewer than 20 percent of applications and publications mentioned whether a sample size calculation had been performed (8 percent in applications, 0 percent in publications), whether the animals had been assigned randomly to treatment groups (13 percent in applications, 17 percent in publications), and whether outcome assessment had been conducted blind to treatment (3 percent in applications, 11 percent in publications). Animal experiments are authorized based on the explicit understanding that they will provide significant new knowledge and that animals will suffer no unnecessary harm. Thus, scientific rigor is a fundamental prerequisite for the ethical justification of animal experiments. Based on this study, the current practice of authorizing animal experiments appears to rest on an assumption of scientific rigor, rather than on evidence that it is applied. The authors of this study recommend more education and training in good research practice and scientific integrity for all those involved in this process. Although the initial results found that fewer than 20 percent of applications and publications used methods to control for bias, that didn't necessarily mean that more than 80 percent of animal studies failed to include methods to combat bias, and therefore use animals for potentially inconclusive research. "It is possible that the researchers did use these methods but did not mention them in their applications and publications," says study director Hanno Würbel. "So we decided to ask the researchers." The researchers used an online survey for all 1,891 animal researchers registered in the central online information system of the FSVO who were involved with ongoing experiments. Among other questions, researchers were asked what bias-reducing methods they normally use when conducting animal experiments and which of these they had explicitly reported in their latest scientific publication. According to the researchers' responses, as published in their PLOS ONE study, the use of methods against bias is considerably higher than reported in the animal research applications and publications. Eighty-six percent of the participants claimed to assign animals randomly to treatment groups, but only 44 percent answered that they had reported this in their latest publication. The same applies to the other measures, for example, for sample size calculation (69 percent claimed to be doing this, but only 18 percent say they reported it in their latest publication) and for blinded outcome assessment (47 percent vs. 27 percent). Taken together, the researchers draw two conclusions from these results: on the one hand, reporting in animal research applications or publications may underestimate the use of bias-reducing methods. On the other hand, the researchers may overestimate their use of appropriate methods. "We found considerably fewer publications with explicit evidence of the use of measures against risks of bias than claimed by the researchers", says Würbel. For example, 44 percent of the participants claimed to have reported randomization in their latest publication, but Würbel's team found evidence of randomization in only 17 percent of publications.


News Article | January 5, 2016
Site: phys.org

Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale agg.) are well-known plants of European and Asian origin that have spread around most of the temperate world. Children love their yellow flowers and even more the fluffy seed heads with their parachute-like seeds that can travel long distances by wind. Young plants grow with such force that they can penetrate even asphalt. Therefore dandelions have become a symbol for survival in modern cities. In fields and meadows, the plant must fend off many herbivores, among them cockchafer larvae. The common cockchafer (Melolontha melolontha) spends the first three years of its life cycle underground as a grub feeding on the roots of different plants. One of its favorite foods is dandelion roots. Like many other plants, dandelions produce secondary metabolites to protect themselves against herbivores. Some of these defenses, such as terpenes and phenols, are of pharmaceutical interest and are considered promising anti-cancer agents. The most important dandelion metabolites are bitter substances which are especially found in a milky sap called latex, a substance found in almost ten percent of all flowering plants. Scientists from the Department of Biochemistry and their colleagues from the University of Bern have now taken a closer look at dandelion latex. The scientists found the highest concentrations of the bitter latex in the roots of dandelions. Dandelions need to protect their roots very fiercely because these are the main storage organs for nutrients which fuel growth early in the spring. The scientists tested first whether latex compounds produced by dandelion roots were negatively associated with the development of cockchafer larvae. They also wanted to know whether these compounds had a positive effect on the fitness and reproductive success of dandelions under Melolontha melolontha attack. An analysis of the components of dandelion latex revealed that one single substance negatively influenced the growth of cockchafer larvae. This substance was identified as the sesquiterpene lactone, taraxinic acid β-D-glucopyranosyl ester (TA-G). When the purified substance was added to an artificial larval diet in ecologically relevant amounts, the grubs fed considerably less. The researchers succeeded in identifying the enzyme and gene responsible for the formation of a precursor of TA-G biosynthesis, and so were able to engineer plants with lower TA-G. Roots of engineered plants with less TA-G were considerably more attacked by cockchafer larvae. The chemical composition of latex varies between different natural dandelion lines. A common garden experiment with different lines revealed that plants which produce higher amounts of TA-G maintained a higher vegetative and reproductive fitness when they were attached by cockchafer larvae. "For me, the biggest surprise was to learn that a single compound is really responsible for a defensive function," says Jonathan Gershenzon, the head of the Department of Biochemistry at the Max Planck Institute in Jena. "The latex of dandelions and other plants consists of such a mixture of substances that it didn't seem necessarily true that one chemical by itself had such a protective role against our study insect." The combination of approaches as a key to success "It was clearly the combination of techniques that was crucial for the success of our studies," explains Matthias Erb from the University of Bern who led the study. "Each approach has its weaknesses that were balanced by the strengths of the others. We think that this type of interdisciplinary research can be very powerful to understand biological systems." The scientists are now planning further experiments study the co-evolution of dandelions and their root herbivores in order of find out whether the presence of root-feeding insects has shaped the plant defensive chemistry in the course of evolution and whether the insects show adaptations to dandelion defenses. [AO] More information: Huber, M., Epping, J., Schulze Gronover, C., Fricke, J., Aziz, Z., Brillatz, T., Swyers, M., Köllner, T. G., Vogel, H., Hammerbacher, A., Triebwasser-Freese, D., Robert, C. A. M., Verhoeven, K., Preite, V. Gershenzon, J., Erb, M. (2016). A latex metabolite benefits plant fitness under root herbivore attack. PLOS Biology, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002332. Open Access


News Article | November 30, 2016
Site: phys.org

Normally, every meadow is different, and different species are able to find a suitable habitat somewhere. Intensified human land use leads to a smaller number of distinct plant communities on grasslands, which can therefore sustain fewer and fewer species: This is the catalyst for the increasing loss of species. In previous studies, only individual groups of species, such as birds, were studied within a particular habitat, and only over a specified area. But could the local loss of species not have a much greater effect if it were to be studied on a larger spatial scale and viewed in the context of the full diversity of life—from single-celled organisms to vertebrates? For a study published in Nature, scientists analyzed and evaluated a unique data set with exactly this question in mind. For the very first time, it provided statistical evidence that intensified use led to all grasslands becoming homogeneous and only being able to provide habitats for a few species, and this proved to be the case across regions. "The data comes from the Biodiversity Exploratories, which are funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), and were collected from 150 grassland areas starting from 2008," according to Professor Wolfgang Weisser from Terrestrial Ecology Research Group at TUM, who is also one of the founders of this focus project. "These are probably the most comprehensiveecological field research sites in Europe," says Weisser. The research areas, whose data was used in the study, include the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Swabian Alb, the Hainich National Park and its surroundings, and the Biosphere Reserve Schorfheide-Chorin. All three regions differ in terms of climate, geology, and topography, but are cultivated by farmers in a manner typical for Europe. More than 4,000 species were analyzed using an innovative statistical procedure. This new method allows for nonlinear effects on the the dissimilarity of species communities between grassland areas to be tracked along a continuous land-use gradient (cutting of grass, fertilizing, and grazing). Data along the food chain ranged from single-celled soil organisms to birds What was unique in this case was that data from organisms in the ground such as from bacteria, fungi, and millipedes were also included. "For the first time, we investigated all groups of species along the food chain on grasslands with different forms of land use in a variety of regions," said Dr Martin M. Gossner, lead author of the study, who is now working at the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL. The species were subdivided into twelve groups according to their position on the food chain, and whether they live above- or belowground. For example, one group of aboveground species is that of the primary producers, which mainly comprises plants. Other groups include herbivores and plant pollinators, as well as their predators. Even moderate land use results in a decline in species The findings showed that it did not matter whether grassland areas were used moderately or intensively by humans. For example, a distinction was made between areas where grass was cut twice or four times a year. "According to our observations, the homogenization of species does not progress proportionally to the intensity of use. Instead, even a moderate management of grassland results in cross-regional communities being reduced to the same, less demanding all-rounders," said Gossner—"a further increase in the intensity of use simply doesn't have a comparably large effect." An example for a high-maintenance species: The common restharrow (Ononis repens, pictured) is a host plant for the insect Macrotylus paykulli, which feeds on its sap, or occasionally also on insects which get stuck to the glandular hairs of Ononis repens. If the common restharrow becomes increasingly rare due to the cultivation of common grass species with a high fodder value, Macrotylus paykulli no longer has a suitable habitat, and ultimately both go extinct. This means that even a slight intensification of the use of meadows and pastures makes it impossible for many species of flora and fauna such as the common restharrow and Macrotylus paykulli to survive, resulting in only those species remaining which do not have specific requirements regarding host plants or abiotic environmental conditions. This effect is called 'biotic homogenization'. "More intensive mowing is the main cause of biotic homogenization," said Professor Eric Allan from the University of Bern, the senior author of the study. "What is new here is the finding that the homogenization of species takes place across landscapes, thereby reducing the diversity of species at a regional and national level," said Gossner—"which is probably a more significant consequence of the intensification of land use than the local loss of species alone." Less interaction between species changes the ecosystem Hence, grassland areas that are cultivated extensively by humans are essential for protecting species diversity because the decline in species diversity also results in less interactions between individual species: "Interactions between plants and their consumers are increasingly weakened by more intensive agricultural usage," says Gossner—"which ultimately causes processes in the ecosystem to shift and change." It is only when as many species as possible are able to find the unique habitats they require across large areas that 'ecosystem services', which improve human well-being, can remain intact. Because 'nature's services' help increase food production by improving soil formation, for example, but they also help keep pests in check. More information: Martin M. Gossner et al, Land-use intensification causes multitrophic homogenization of grassland communities, Nature (2016). DOI: 10.1038/nature20575


Gaggiotti O.E.,CNRS Alpine Ecology Laboratory | Foll M.,University of Bern
Molecular Ecology Resources | Year: 2010

We review a model-based approach to estimate local population FST's that is based on the multinomial-Dirichlet distribution, the so-called F-model. As opposed to the standard method of estimating a single FST value, this approach takes into account the fact that in most if not all realistic situations, local populations differ in their effective sizes and migration rates. Therefore, the use of this approach can help better describe the genetic structure of populations. Despite this obvious advantage, this method has remained largely underutilized by molecular ecologists. Thus, the objective of this review is to foster its use for studying the genetic structure of metapopulations. We present the derivation of the Bayesian formulation for the estimation of population-specific FST's based on the multinomial-Dirichlet distribution. We describe several recent applications of the F-model and present the results of a small simulation study that explains how the F-model can help better describe the genetic structure of populations. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Ptak R.,University of Geneva | Muri R.M.,University of Bern
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience | Year: 2013

The parietal cortex is a critical interface for attention and integration of multiple sensory signals that can be used for the implementation of motor plans. Many neurons in this region exhibit strong attention-, reach-, graspor saccade-related activity. Here, we review human lesion studies supporting the critical role of the parietal cortex in saccade planning. Studies of patients with unilateral parietal damage and spatial neglect reveal characteristic spatially lateralized deficits of saccade programming when multiple stimuli compete for attention. However, these patients also show bilateral impairments of saccade initiation and control that are difficult to explain in the context of their lateralized deficits of visual attention. These findings are reminiscent of the deficits of oculomotor control observed in patients with Bálint's syndrome consecutive to bilateral parietal damage. We propose that some oculomotor deficits following parietal damage are compatible with a decisive role of the parietal cortex in saccade planning under conditions of sensory competition, while other deficits reflect disinhibition of low-level structures of the oculomotor network in the absence of top-down parietal modulation. © 2013 Ptak and Müri.


Trappmann D.,University of Bern | Stoffel M.,University of Bern | Stoffel M.,University of Geneva
Geomorphology | Year: 2013

Rockfall is a widespread and hazardous process in mountain environments, but data on past events are only rarely available. Growth-ring series from trees impacted by rockfall were successfully used in the past to overcome the lack of archival records. Dendrogeomorphic techniques have been demonstrated to allow very accurate dating and reconstruction of spatial and temporal rockfall activity, but the approach has been cited to be labor intensive and time consuming. In this study, we present a simplified method to quantify rockfall processes on forested slopes requiring less time and efforts. The approach is based on a counting of visible scars on the stem surface of Common beech (Fagus sylvatica L.). Data are presented from a site in the Inn valley (Austria), where rocks are frequently detached from an ~. 200-m-high, south-facing limestone cliff. We compare results obtained from (i) the "classical" analysis of growth disturbances in the tree-ring series of 33 Norway spruces (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) and (ii) data obtained with a scar count on the stem surface of 50 F. sylvatica trees.A total of 277 rockfall events since A.D. 1819 could be reconstructed from tree-ring records of P. abies, whereas 1140 scars were observed on the stem surface of F. sylvatica. Absolute numbers of rockfalls (and hence return intervals) vary significantly between the approaches, and the mean number of rockfalls observed on the stem surface of F. sylvatica exceeds that of P. abies by a factor of 2.7. On the other hand, both methods yield comparable data on the spatial distribution of relative rockfall activity. Differences may be explained by a great portion of masked scars in P. abies and the conservation of signs of impacts on the stem of F. sylvatica. Besides, data indicate that several scars on the bark of F. sylvatica may stem from the same impact and thus lead to an overestimation of rockfall activity. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.


Stoffel M.,University of Bern | Huggel C.,University of Geneva
Progress in Physical Geography | Year: 2012

Changes in temperature and precipitation have a range of impacts, including change of glacier extent, extent and duration of snow cover, and distribution and thermal properties of permafrost. Similarly, it is likely that climatic changes affect frequency and magnitude of mass movements, such as shallow landslides, debris flows, rock slope failures, or ice avalanches. However, so far changes in mass-movement activity can hardly be detected in observational records. In this progress report we document the role of climate variability and change on mass-movement processes in mountains through the description and analysis of selected, recent mass movements where effects of global warming and the occurrence of heavy precipitation are thought to have contributed to, or triggered, events. In addition, we assess possible effects of future climatic changes on the incidence of mass-movement processes. The report concentrates on high-mountain systems, including processes such as glacier downwasting and the formation of new ice-marginal lakes, glacier debuttressing and the occurrence of rock slope instability, temperature increase and permafrost degradation, as well as on changing sediment reservoirs and sediment supply, with a clear focus on studies from the European Alps. © The Author(s) 2012.


Garzoni C.,University of Bern | Kelley W.L.,University of Geneva
EMBO Molecular Medicine | Year: 2011

Staphylococcus aureus small colony variants (SCVs), which are characterized by slow growth and a range of morphological and metabolic changes including altered antibiotic resistance profiles, have been studied for several decades. This Closeup highlights findings described in this issue of EMBO Molecular Medicine by Tuchscherr et al (2011), who present strong evidence that SCVs can arise in chronic infection models when S. aureus is internalized in non-professional phagocytes and survives intracellularly. As the intracellular residency time increases, the proportion of SCVs grows and the host cell inflammatory response diminishes. The study suggests that this mode of phenotype switching is an essential feature of the S. aureus infection process and can explain an underlying cause of chronic and relapsing infections. See related article in EMBO Mol Med (Tuchscherr et al (2011) EMBO Mol Med 3: 129-141) Copyright © 2011 EMBO Molecular Medicine.


Bion J.,University of Birmingham | Rothen H.U.,University of Bern
American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine | Year: 2014

The diversity of European culture is reflected in its healthcare training programs. In intensive care medicine (ICM), the differences in national training programs were so marked that it was unlikely that they could produce specialists of equivalent skills. The Competency-Based Training in Intensive Care Medicine in Europe (CoBaTrICE) program was established in 2003 as a Europe-based worldwide collaboration of national training organizations to create core competencies for ICM using consensus methodologies to establish common ground. The group's professional and research ethos created a social identity that facilitated change. The program was easily adaptable to different training structures and incorporated the voice of patients and relatives. The CoBaTrICE program has now been adopted by 15 European countries, with another 12 countries planning to adopt the training program, and is currently available in nine languages, including English. ICMis nowrecognized as a primary specialty in Spain, Switzerland, and the UK. There are still wide variations in structures andprocesses of training in ICM across Europe, although there has been agreement on a set of common program standards. The combination of a common "product specification" for an intensivist, combined with persisting variation in the educational context in which competencies are delivered, provides a rich source of research inquiry. Pedagogic research in ICM could usefully focus on the interplay between educational interventions, healthcare systems and delivery, and patient outcomes, such as including whether competency-based program are associated with lower error rates, whether communication skills training is associated with greater patient and family satisfaction, how multisource feedback might best be used to improve reflective learning and teamworking, or whether increasing the proportion of specialists trained in acute care in the hospital at weekends results in better patient outcomes. Copyright © 2014 by the American Thoracic Society.


Bottazzi P.,University of Bern | Dao H.,University of Geneva
Land Use Policy | Year: 2013

Previous studies have shown that collective property rights offer higher flexibility than individual property and improve sustainable community-based forest management. Our case study, carried out in the Beni department of Bolivia, does not contradict this assertion, but shows that collective rights have been granted in areas where ecological contexts and market facilities were less favourable to intensive land use. Previous experiences suggest investigating political processes in order to understand the criteria according to which access rights were distributed. Based on remote sensing and on a multi-level land governance framework, our research confirms that land placed under collective rights, compared to individual property, is less affected by deforestation among Andean settlements. However, analysis of the historical process of land distribution in the area shows that the distribution of property rights is the result of a political process based on economic, spatial, and environmental strategies that are defined by multiple stakeholders. Collective titles were established in the more remote areas and distributed to communities with lower productive potentialities. Land rights are thus a secondary factor of forest cover change which results from diverse political compromises based on population distribution, accessibility, environmental perceptions, and expected production or extraction incomes. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Hartmann M.,University of Bern | Fischer M.H.,University of Potsdam
Current Biology | Year: 2014

Recent studies provide promising methodological advances in the use of pupillometry as on-line measurement of cognitive processes and show that visual attention allocation, mind-wandering, mental imagery, and even rhyme expectations can influence the size of the human pupil. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


Shirokova N.,Rutgers University | Niggli E.,University of Bern
Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology | Year: 2013

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a serious and almost inevitable complication of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a devastating and fatal disease of skeletal muscle resulting from the lack of functional dystrophin, a protein linking the cytoskeleton to the extracellular matrix. Ultimately, it leads to congestive heart failure and arrhythmias resulting from both cardiac muscle fibrosis and impaired function of the remaining cardiomyocytes. Here we summarize findings obtained in several laboratories, focusing on cellular mechanisms that result in degradation of cardiac functions in dystrophy. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled "Calcium Signaling in Heart". © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Braunisch V.,Forest Research Institute of Baden Wuerttemberg | Suchant R.,University of Bern
Ecography | Year: 2010

Systematic species surveys over large areas are mostly not affordable, constraining conservation planners to make best use of incomplete data. Spatially explicit species distribution models (SDM) may be useful to detect and compensate for incomplete information. SDMs can either be based on standardized, systematic sampling in a restricted subarea, or - as a cost-effective alternative - on data haphazardly collated by "volunteer-based monitoring schemes" (VMS), area-wide but inherently biased and of heterogeneous spatial precision. Using data on capercaillie Tetrao urogallus, we evaluated the capacity of SDMs generated from incomplete survey data to localise unknown areas inhabited by the species and to predict relative local observation density. Addressing the trade-off between data precision, sample size and spatial extent of the sampling area, we compared three different sampling strategies: VMS-data collected throughout the whole study area (7000 km 2) using either 1) exact locations or 2) locations aggregated to grid cells of the size of an average individual home range, and 3) systematic transect counts conducted within a small subarea (23.8 km 2). For each strategy, we compared two sample sizes and two modelling methods (ENFA and Maxent), which were evaluated using cross-validation and independent data. Models based on VMS-data (strategies 1 and 2) performed equally well in predicting relative observation density and in localizing "unknown" occurrences. They always outperformed strategy 3-models, irrespective of sample size and modelling method, partly because the VMS-data provided the more comprehensive clues for setting the discrimination-threshold for predicting presence or absence. Accounting for potential errors due to extrapolation (e.g. projections outside the environmental domain or potentially biasing variables) reduced, but did not fully compensate for the observed discrepancies. As they cover a broader range of species-habitat relations, the area-wide data achieved a better model quality with less a-priori knowledge. Furthermore, in a highly mobile species like capercaillie a sampling resolution corresponding to an individuals' home range can lead to equally good predictions as the use of exact locations. Consequently, when a trade-off between the sampling effort and the spatial extent of the sampling area is necessary, less precise data unsystematically collected over a large representative region are preferable to systematically sampled data from a restricted region. © 2010 The Authors.


Meier P.,University College London | Hemingway H.,University College London | Lansky A.J.,Yale Medical School | Knapp G.,TU Dortmund | And 2 more authors.
European Heart Journal | Year: 2012

Aims The coronary collateral circulation as an alternative source of blood supply has shown benefits regarding several clinical endpoints in patients with myocardial infarction (MI) such as infarct size and left ventricular remodelling. However, its impact on hard endpoints such as mortality and its impact in patients with stable coronary artery disease (CAD) is more controversial. The purpose of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to explore the impact of collateral circulation on all-cause mortality. Methods and results We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, ISI Web of Science (2001 to 25 April 2011), and conference proceedings for studies evaluating the effect of coronary collaterals on mortality. Random-effect models were used to calculate summary risk ratios (RR). A total of 12 studies enrolling 6529 participants were included in this analysis. Patients with high collateralization showed a reduced mortality compared with those with low collateralization [RR 0.64 (95 confidence interval 0.450.91); P = 0.012]. The RR for 'high collateralization' in patients with stable CAD was 0.59 [0.390.89], P = 0.012, in patients with subacute MI it was 0.53 [0.151.92]; P = 0.335, and for patients with acute MI it was 0.63 [0.291.39]; P = 0.257. Conclusion sIn patients with CAD, the coronary collateralization has a relevant protective effect. Patients with a high collateralization have a 36 reduced mortality risk compared with patients with low collateralization. © 2011 The Author.


Kucharski A.J.,London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine | Althaus C.L.,University of Bern
Eurosurveillance | Year: 2015

As at 15 June 2015, a large transmission cluster of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERSCoV) was ongoing in South Korea. To examine the potential for such events, we estimated the level of heterogeneity in MERS-CoV transmission by analyzing data on cluster size distributions. We found substantial potential for superspreading; even though it is likely that R0 < 1 overall, our analysis indicates that cluster sizes of over 150 cases are not unexpected for MERS-CoV infection. © 2015 European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). All rights reserved.


Awale M.,University of Bern | Van Deursen R.,Biomolecular Screening Facility | Reymond J.-L.,University of Bern
Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling | Year: 2013

The MQN-mapplet is a Java application giving access to the structure of small molecules in large databases via color-coded maps of their chemical space. These maps are projections from a 42-dimensional property space defined by 42 integer value descriptors called molecular quantum numbers (MQN), which count different categories of atoms, bonds, polar groups, and topological features and categorize molecules by size, rigidity, and polarity. Despite its simplicity, MQN-space is relevant to biological activities. The MQN-mapplet allows localization of any molecule on the color-coded images, visualization of the molecules, and identification of analogs as neighbors on the MQN-map or in the original 42-dimensional MQN-space. No query molecule is necessary to start the exploration, which may be particularly attractive for nonchemists. To our knowledge, this type of interactive exploration tool is unprecedented for very large databases such as PubChem and GDB-13 (almost one billion molecules). The application is freely available for download at www.gdb.unibe.ch. © 2013 American Chemical Society.


Meier B.,University of Bern | Frank B.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Wahl A.,University of Bern | Diener H.C.,University of Duisburg - Essen
European Heart Journal | Year: 2012

Stroke is the most debilitating cardiovascular event. It has a variety of causes that may be present simultaneously. In young or otherwise healthy people, the search for a patent foramen ovale (PFO) has become standard. In stroke of the elderly, atherosclerosis and atrial fibrillation are in the foreground but the PFO should not be ignored. The risk of a PFO-related stroke over time is controversial and so is its prevention by device closure. The association of proximal aortic plaques in arteries subtending the brain and stroke is considered strong, ignoring that it is as putative as that of the PFO. Statins can prevent progression of such plaques. Antiplatelet agents in asymptomatic and surgical endarterectomy in symptomatic patients or highly ulcerated lesions are the treatment of choice. Stenting with protection devices was shown competitive in selected patients. © 2011 The Author.


Eggermont H.,Royal Belgian Institute Of Natural Sciences | Eggermont H.,Ghent University | Heiri O.,University of Bern | Heiri O.,University Utrecht
Biological Reviews | Year: 2012

Fossils of chironomid larvae (non-biting midges) preserved in lake sediments are well-established palaeotemperature indicators which, with the aid of numerical chironomid-based inference models (transfer functions), can provide quantitative estimates of past temperature change. This approach to temperature reconstruction relies on the strong relationship between air and lake surface water temperature and the distribution of individual chironomid taxa (species, species groups, genera) that has been observed in different climate regions (arctic, subarctic, temperate and tropical) in both the Northern and Southern hemisphere. A major complicating factor for the use of chironomids for palaeoclimate reconstruction which increases the uncertainty associated with chironomid-based temperature estimates is that the exact nature of the mechanism responsible for the strong relationship between temperature and chironomid assemblages in lakes remains uncertain. While a number of authors have provided state of the art overviews of fossil chironomid palaeoecology and the use of chironomids for temperature reconstruction, few have focused on examining the ecological basis for this approach. Here, we review the nature of the relationship between chironomids and temperature based on the available ecological evidence. After discussing many of the surveys describing the distribution of chironomid taxa in lake surface sediments in relation to temperature, we also examine evidence from laboratory and field studies exploring the effects of temperature on chironomid physiology, life cycles and behaviour. We show that, even though a direct influence of water temperature on chironomid development, growth and survival is well described, chironomid palaeoclimatology is presently faced with the paradoxical situation that the relationship between chironomid distribution and temperature seems strongest in relatively deep, thermally stratified lakes in temperate and subarctic regions in which the benthic chironomid fauna lives largely decoupled from the direct influence of air and surface water temperature. This finding suggests that indirect effects of temperature on physical and chemical characteristics of lakes play an important role in determining the distribution of lake-living chironomid larvae. However, we also demonstrate that no single indirect mechanism has been identified that can explain the strong relationship between chironomid distribution and temperature in all regions and datasets presently available. This observation contrasts with the previously published hypothesis that climatic effects on lake nutrient status and productivity may be largely responsible for the apparent correlation between chironomid assemblage distribution and temperature. We conclude our review by summarizing the implications of our findings for chironomid-based palaeoclimatology and by pointing towards further avenues of research necessary to improve our mechanistic understanding of the chironomid-temperature relationship. © 2011 The Authors. Biological Reviews © 2011 Cambridge Philosophical Society.


Tannast M.,University of Bern | Najibi S.,Hip and Pelvis Institute | Matta J.M.,Hip and Pelvis Institute
Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery - Series A | Year: 2012

Background: The aims of the study were (1) to determine the cumulative two to twenty-year survivorship of the hip after open reduction and internal fixation of displaced acetabular fractures, (2) to identify factors predicting conversion to total hip arthroplasty or hip arthrodesis, and (3) to create a predictive model that calculates an individual's probability of early need for total hip arthroplasty or hip arthrodesis. Methods: Eight hundred and sixteen acetabular fractures treated with open reduction and internal fixation by one surgeon over a twenty-six-year period were analyzed. Cumulative two to twenty-year Kaplan-Meier survivorship analyses of the hip, including best and worst-case scenarios, were performed with total hip arthroplasty or hip arthrodesis as the end point. Univariate and multivariate Cox regression analyses were performed to identify negative predictors, which were then used to construct a nomogram for predicting an individual's probability of needing an early total hip arthroplasty. Results: The cumulative twenty-year survivorship of the 816 hips available for follow-up was 79% at twenty years. The best and worst-case scenarios corresponded to cumulative twenty-year survivorship of 86% and 52%, respectively. Significant independent negative predictors were nonanatomical fracture reduction, an age of more than forty years, anterior hip dislocation, postoperative incongruence of the acetabular roof, involvement of the posterior acetabular wall, acetabular impaction, a femoral head cartilage lesion, initial displacement of the articular surface of ≥20 mm, and utilization of the extended iliofemoral approach. Conclusions: Open reduction and internal fixation of displaced acetabular fractures was able to successfully prevent the need for subsequent total hip arthroplasty within twenty years in 79% of the patients. The results represent benchmark comparative data for any future and past studies on the outcome of surgical fixation of acetabular fractures. Level of Evidence: Prognostic Level II. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence. Copyright © 2012 by the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery Incorporated.


Lopez C.,Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne | Lopez C.,University of Bern | Blanke O.,Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne | Blanke O.,University of Geneva
Brain Research Reviews | Year: 2011

The vestibular system provides the brain with sensory signals about three-dimensional head rotations and translations. These signals are important for postural and oculomotor control, as well as for spatial and bodily perception and cognition, and they are subtended by pathways running from the vestibular nuclei to the thalamus, cerebellum and the "vestibular cortex." The present review summarizes current knowledge on the anatomy of the thalamocortical vestibular system and discusses data from electrophysiology and neuroanatomy in animals by comparing them with data from neuroimagery and neurology in humans. Multiple thalamic nuclei are involved in vestibular processing, including the ventroposterior complex, the ventroanterior-ventrolateral complex, the intralaminar nuclei and the posterior nuclear group (medial and lateral geniculate nuclei, pulvinar). These nuclei contain multisensory neurons that process and relay vestibular, proprioceptive and visual signals to the vestibular cortex. In non-human primates, the parieto-insular vestibular cortex (PIVC) has been proposed as the core vestibular region. Yet, vestibular responses have also been recorded in the somatosensory cortex (area 2v, 3av), intraparietal sulcus, posterior parietal cortex (area 7), area MST, frontal cortex, cingulum and hippocampus. We analyze the location of the corresponding regions in humans, and especially the human PIVC, by reviewing neuroimaging and clinical work. The widespread vestibular projections to the multimodal human PIVC, somatosensory cortex, area MST, intraparietal sulcus and hippocampus explain the large influence of vestibular signals on self-motion perception, spatial navigation, internal models of gravity, one's body perception and bodily self-consciousness. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.


Van Kleunen M.,University of Bern | Weber E.,University of Bern | Weber E.,University of Potsdam | Fischer M.,University of Bern
Ecology Letters | Year: 2010

A major aim in ecology is identifying determinants of invasiveness. We performed a meta-analysis of 117 field or experimental-garden studies that measured pair-wise trait differences of a total of 125 invasive and 196 non-invasive plant species in the invasive range of the invasive species. We tested whether invasiveness is associated with performance-related traits (physiology, leaf-area allocation, shoot allocation, growth rate, size and fitness), and whether such associations depend on type of study and on biogeographical or biological factors. Overall, invasive species had significantly higher values than non-invasive species for all six trait categories. More trait differences were significant for invasive vs. native comparisons than for invasive vs. non-invasive alien comparisons. Moreover, for comparisons between invasive species and native species that themselves are invasive elsewhere, no trait differences were significant. Differences in physiology and growth rate were larger in tropical regions than in temperate regions. Trait differences did not depend on whether the invasive alien species originates from Europe, nor did they depend on the test environment. We conclude that invasive alien species had higher values for those traits related to performance than non-invasive species. This suggests that it might become possible to predict future plant invasions from species traits. © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/CNRS.


Stoffel M.,University of Bern | Stoffel M.,University of Geneva
Geomorphology | Year: 2010

Debris-flow activity in a watershed is usually defined in terms of magnitude and frequency. While magnitude-frequency (M-F) relations have long formed the basis for risk assessment and engineering design in hydrology and fluvial hydraulics, only fragmentary and insufficiently specified data for debris flows exists. This paper reconstructs M-F relationships of 62 debris flows for an aggradational cone of a small (< 5 km2), high elevation watershed in the Swiss Alps since A.D. 1863. The frequency of debris flows is obtained from tree-ring records. The magnitude of individual events is given as S, M, L, XL, and derived from volumetric data of deposits, grain size distributions of boulders, and a series of surrogates (snout elevations, tree survival, lateral spread of surges). Class S and M debris flows (< 5 × 103 m3) encompass a typical size of events and have mean recurrence intervals of 5.4 (SD: 3.2) and 7.4 years (SD: 6.7), respectively. Class XL events (104-5 ×104 m3) are, in contrast, only identified three times over the past 150 years, and major erosional activity on the cone was restricted to two of these events in 1948 and 1993. A comparison of results with hydrometeorological records shows that class L and XL events are typically triggered by advective storms (rainfall > 50 mm) in August and September, when the active layer of the rock glacier in the source area of debris flows is largest. Over the past ∼ 150 years, climate has exerted control on material released from the source area and prevented triggering of class XL events before 1922. With the projected climatic change, permafrost degradation and the potential increase in storm intensity are likely to produce "class XXL" events in the future with volumes surpassing 5 × 104 m3 at the level of the debris-flow cone. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: HEALTH-2009-2.4.2-2 | Award Amount: 16.03M | Year: 2009

Arrhythmias are common manifestations of heart disease which frequently cause sudden cardiac death (SCD) or other devastating health problems. In Europe, prevention of SCD by device and drug therapy is expensive and increasingly strains public health resources due to a growing population at risk. However, identification of patients at increased risk for SCD is ineffective, and SCD prevention strategies are not directed at the underlying risk mechanisms. To address this challenging situation, new insights into genetic and environmental modulators of SCD risk, arrhythmia initiating mechanisms (Triggers) and therapeutic strategies (Treatments) are urgently needed. The EUTrigTreat consortium proposes a translational project strategy based on interactive objectives (modules). Module 1 investigates novel genetic arrhythmia mechanisms in patients and is supported by Module 2 which investigates genetic and environmental SCD risk modulators in animals with arrhythmias. Module 3 elucidates common environmental arrhythmia risk mediators including obesity and diabetes. Module 4 applies molecular and biophysical imaging techniques to identify novel risk biomarkers. Module 5 translates experimental data through computer modeling and prediction analysis. Modules 6 develops new SCD risk identification strategies through combined patient and experimental studies. Module 7 develops and validates novel therapeutic drug compounds and a new form of anti-arrhythmic device therapy. The pre-clinical and clinical activities will potentially result in patents of diagnostic and therapeutic applications, licensing strategies, early clinical trials and a spin-off company. Module 8 manages, advises and reviews the project progress of EUTrigTreat. Ultimately, we aim to better understand and educate about arrhythmia initiating mechanisms and associated risk biomarkers. Such knowledge will provide strong rationales towards improved prevention and treatment of patients at risk for SCD.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: HEALTH.2013.1.4-1 | Award Amount: 7.89M | Year: 2013

Hearing impairment is the most frequent human sensory deficit and is mainly caused by the irreversible loss of neurosensory cells in the cochlea. The lack of human otic cell models represents a significant roadblock that has hampered the development of drug-based or cell-based therapies for the treatment of hearing loss. In a collaborative effort under this proposal we wish to devise approaches to generate human otic progenitors and differentiated otic cells from different human stem cell sources. We have devised guidance protocols for mouse and human embryonic and reprogrammed stem cells toward inner ear cell types that make use of principles of early germ layer formation and otic induction. A limitation is the efficacy of otic progenitor cell generation. Purification techniques for human otic progenitors from ES/iPS cell sources and in addition from native human otic tissues from fetal and adult stages will will serve the dual purpose for one to enable the development of novel bioassays for drug screens, as well as generating cells with decreased tumorigenicity for cell transplantation studies in in vivo animal models. New hit compounds identified from screening efforts will be tested and validated further in established organ culture models. The identification of relevant candidate compounds will be further developed as lead drug candidates in noise and ototoxic drug induced in vivo models. The scope of this stem cell technology development requires a collaborative team effort, with groups that have substantial combined experience in human ES/iPS cell work, inner ear stem cell biology, high-throughput assay development, and in translating research findings into the clinic as well as into the biotechnology realm. Within the consortium there exists an established translational route from bench to bedside for the commercial development of human otic stem cell derived technology towards inner ear medical applications aiming at the restoration of hearing function.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-SA | Phase: HEALTH.2013.4.1-4 | Award Amount: 557.48K | Year: 2013

Millions of Europeans still suffer the consequences of neurological disease, but the number of new drugs coming to market continues to fall. Reasons for the failure of stroke drug efficacy to translate from animals to clinical trials is probably best studied, but the problem is widespread. The economic and social costs of translational failure are substantial; a new approach to translational medicine is required. We propose the development of a capacity for multi-centre animal studies to address issues of limited validity; poor generalisability; and inadequate sample size. This will include central randomisation, outcome adjudication, and monitoring of laboratory practice; planned heterogeneity between sites to increase generalisability; and the capacity quickly to deliver large studies. Our data will be more reliable, reducing the need for further animal studies; and because clinical trials will be founded on better evidence the risk to participants will be lower. This idea has been broadly welcomed, and the next stage is to establish a framework within which this may be achieved. Our objective is to engage with all partners to build consensus around the feasibility, structure, composition and operation of multi-centre consortia. Issues include the role of industry and regulators; whether the capacity to deliver such studies exists; the statistical analysis to be used; and ethical, legal and governance issues. This consensus will be achieved through a series of themed meetings involving the applicants and others; the development of a detailed plan for such a consortium; and the validation of that plan with a specially constituted Scientific Advisory Board. We will then seek funding for the delivery of multi-centre animal studies based on this plan to allow its delivery. The applicants bring together substantial relevant expertise. This is a high-risk project, but the potential research, economic and health gains both in Europe and beyond are huge.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-ITN-2008 | Award Amount: 3.04M | Year: 2009

Molecules containing the element oxygen can be further characterized by the distributions of the stable oxygen isotopes. In some cases, these isotopes have an anomalous distribution, which is evidence of Mass Independent Fractionation (MIF). MIF has become a powerful research tool in earth system science and its use is expected to spread from the core science disciplines to industrial applications. With INTRAMIF, we bring together experts from atmospheric and climate research, hydrology, oceanography and molecular physics. 13 ESR projects from these disciplines are connected by the common theme of MIF. Sharing expertise and world-class facilities will allow the individual groups to do research that would otherwise be impossible. This will create a center of excellence for MIF research in Europe. The associated industrial partners of INTRAMIF will integrate the research and training programs with real-world opportunities, including commercialization of new techniques and the application of MIF to solve questions on water supplies and food authentication. The broad scientific program allows us to combine specialized training at the host institutions with a unique interdisciplinary and intra-sector network training program on the climate system involving associated partners from the industrial, political and economic sectors. The strong interest from our associated partners documents the need for highly qualified scientists with a wide interdisciplinary background. INTRAMIF will educate the next generation of scientists that can tackle new challenges to society in a changing climate.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: ERC-SG | Phase: ERC-SG-LS5 | Award Amount: 1.52M | Year: 2013

Parkinsons disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder primarily caused by the progressive loss of dopaminergic (DA) neurons in the substantia nigra (SN). Despite the advances in gene discovery associated with PD, the knowledge of the PD pathogenesis is largely limited to the involvement of these genes in the generic cell death pathways, and why degeneration is specific to DA neurons and why the degeneration is progressive remain enigmatic. Broad goal of our work is therefore to elucidate the mechanisms underlying specific and progressive DA neuron degeneration in PD. Our new Drosophila model of PD Fer2 gene loss-of-function mutation is unusually well suited to address these questions. Fer2 mutants exhibit specific and progressive death of brain DA neurons as well as severe locomotor defects and short life span. Strikingly, the death of DA neuron is initiated in a small cluster of Fer2-expressing DA neurons and subsequently propagates to Fer2-negative DA neurons. We therefore propose a novel two-step model of the neurodegeneration in PD: primary cell death occurs in a specific subset of dopamindegic neurons that are genetically defined, and subsequently the failure of the neuronal connectivity triggers and propagates secondary cell death to remaining DA neurons. In this research, we will test this hypothesis and investigate the underlying molecular mechanisms. This will be the first study to examine circuit-dependency in DA neuron degeneration. Our approach will use a combination of non-biased genomic techniques and candidate-based screening, in addition to the powerful Drosophila genetic toolbox. Furthermore, to test this hypothesis beyond the Drosophila model, we will establish new mouse models of PD that exhibit progressive DA neuron degeneration. Outcome of this research will likely revolutionize the understanding of PD pathogenesis and open an avenue toward the discovery of effective therapy strategies against PD.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: EO-1-2014 | Award Amount: 2.95M | Year: 2015

EUSTACE utilises Europes capacity for gathering space-borne observations of the skin temperature, of all components of Earths surface, by extracting data relevant to providing estimates of surface air temperature, a primary Essential Climate Variable (ECV), conventionally measured at (often sparse) meteorological stations. EUSTACE will use measurements from operational and research satellites to enable estimates of surface air temperature to be made everywhere on Earth at higher spatial and temporal resolution than previously possible. The surface air temperature ECV is so fundamental to understanding our climate, that this will innovatively enable Europe to address its key societal challenges. The global coverage of space-borne observations of surface skin temperature will allow EUSTACE to estimate surface air temperature for parts of Earth that are not currently or historically observed by meteorological stations. EUSTACE will combine previous research experience, with the wealth of surface skin temperature retrievals now available, to produce estimates of surface air temperature over the whole of Earth, including the Poles. EUSTACE will then use these to develop new derived data products, i.e. globally complete analyses with estimates of associated uncertainties using new analysis methods developed within the project. Through the engagement of appropriate trail blazer users, EUSTACE will enable integration or assimilation of the products into applications related to Earth system sciences, forecasting models and other user sectors. EUSTACE will develop an automated system for surface air temperature products that is capable of being sustained after its lifetime. All development work will be undertaken on the same IT platform and all code secured within a central code repository. The design of the EUSTACE system will also account for on-going availability of observations from existing sources and planned availability of information from next generation sensors.


Patent
University of Bern and CSIC - National Center for Metallurgical Research | Date: 2013-02-18

The invention relates inhibiting nucleic acids directed at mammalian homologues of the Drosophila fwe gene (Flower) and to antibodies against the respective proteins, and their use in diagnosing, preventing and treating cancer.


Patent
Stichting Voor De Technische Wetenschappen, Saint - Gobain and University of Bern | Date: 2016-03-22

A scintillation crystal can include Ln_((1-y))RE_(y)X_(3), wherein Ln represents a rare earth element, RE represents a different rare earth element, y has a value in a range of 0 to 1, and X represents a halogen. In an embodiment, the scintillation crystal is doped with a Group 1 element, a Group 2 element, or a mixture thereof, and the scintillation crystal is formed from a melt having a concentration of such elements or mixture thereof of at least approximately 0.02 wt. %. In another embodiment, the scintillation crystal can have unexpectedly improved proportionality and unexpectedly improved energy resolution properties. In a further embodiment, a radiation detection apparatus can include the scintillation crystal, a photosensor, and an electronics device. Such a radiation detection apparatus can be useful in a variety of applications.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: SC5-05-2016 | Award Amount: 2.59M | Year: 2016

To better constrain the response of Earths climate system to continuing emissions, it is essential to turn to the past. A key advance would be to understand the transition in Earths climate response to changes in orbital forcing during the mid-Pleistocene transition (900 to 1200 thousand years ago) and in particular the role of greenhouse gases. Unravelling such key linkages between the carbon cycle, ice sheets, atmosphere and ocean behaviour is vital for society to better design effective mitigation and adaptation strategies. Only ice cores contain the unique and quantitative information about past climate forcing and atmospheric responses. But the ice providing essential evidence about past mechanisms of climate change more than 1 Ma ago required for our understanding of these changes (termed the Oldest Ice core), has not been found to date. The consortium BEYOND EPICA OLDEST ICE (BE-OI), formed by 14 European institutions, takes on this challenge to prepare the ground for obtaining 1.5 million year old ice from East Antarctica. BE-OI has the objectives to: - support the site selection through creation and synthesis of all necessary information on Antarctic sites through specific geophysical surveys and the use of fast drilling tools to qualify sites and validate the age of their ice; - select and evaluate the optimum drill site for the future Oldest Ice core project and establish a science and management plan for a future drilling; - coordinate the technical and scientific planning to ensure the availability of the technical means to implement suitable drill systems and analytical methodologies for a future ice-core drilling, and of well-trained personnel to operate them successfully; - establish the budget and the financial background for a future deep-drilling campaign; - embed the scientific aims of an Oldest Ice core project within the wider paleoclimate data and modelling communities through international and cross-disciplinary cooperation.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: ENV.2010.1.1.6-1 | Award Amount: 4.29M | Year: 2011

At COP15 in Copenhagen one outcome was a commitment to develop a mechanism for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and enhancing carbon stocks (REDD\). There is, however, only a limited research basis for such a mechanism particularly with regard to the need for understanding and monitoring the impact of REDD\ activities on climate effectiveness, cost efficiency, equity and co-benefits. I-REDD\ will approach these challenges from a truly interdisciplinary perspective. The overall objective will be to obtain an improved understanding of how the implementation of REDD\ mechanisms may 1) reduce emissions of GHG and maintain or enhance existing stocks of carbon in vegetation and soil of various land cover types; 2) impact livelihoods and welfare of local farming communities and differences between communities; 3) impact biodiversity conservation, and 4) provide a realistic framework for monitoring, reporting and verification of REDD\, including the importance of governance and accountability at multiple levels. To complement other research initiatives we propose to work in the uplands of Southeast Asia in the Heart of Borneo, Kalimantan, Indonesia, and in the northern parts of Lao PDR and Vietnam, and Yunnan in Southwest China. Rapid land use transitions from forest and shifting cultivation to other, more intensive land use systems and widespread forest degradation are occurring in these areas, making the potential for REDD\ particularly pronounced. Moreover, REDD\ may considerably impact on local economies, because of the high population densities in the region. The partners in I-REDD\ are leading research institutions in Europe and Southeast Asia, international research organizations, an NGO and an SME. The consortium has a strong emphasis on local dissemination and capacity development in order to ensure that project results influence REDD\ policy development at local, national and global level.

Loading University of Bern collaborators
Loading University of Bern collaborators