Cambridge, United Kingdom
Cambridge, United Kingdom

The University of Cambridge is a collegiate public research university in Cambridge, England. Founded in 1209, Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world's third-oldest surviving university. It grew out of an association formed by scholars leaving the University of Oxford after a dispute with townsfolk; the two "ancient universities" have many common features and are often jointly referred to as "Oxbridge".Cambridge is formed from a variety of institutions which include 31 constituent colleges and over 100 academic departments organised into six Schools. The university occupies buildings throughout the town, many of which are of historical importance. The colleges are self-governing institutions founded as integral parts of the university. In the year ended 31 July 2014, the university had a total income of £1.51 billion, of which £371 million was from research grants and contracts. The central university and colleges have a combined endowment of around £4.9 billion, the largest of any university outside the United States. Cambridge is a member of many associations, and forms part of the "golden triangle" of English universities and Cambridge University Health Partners, an academic health science centre. The university is closely linked with the development of the high-tech business cluster known as "Silicon Fen".Students' learning involves lectures and laboratory sessions organised by departments, and supervisions provided by the colleges. The university operates eight arts, cultural, and scientific museums, including the Fitzwilliam Museum and a botanic garden. Cambridge's libraries hold a total of around 15 million books, 8 million of which are in Cambridge University Library which is a legal deposit library. Cambridge University Press, a department of the university, is the world's oldest publishing house and the second-largest university press in the world. Cambridge is regularly placed among the world's best universities in different university rankings. Beside academic studies, student life is centred on the colleges and numerous pan-university artistic activities, sports clubs and societies.Cambridge has many notable alumni, including several eminent mathematicians, scientists, politicians, and 90 Nobel laureates who have been affiliated with it. Throughout its history, the university has featured in literature and artistic works by numerous authors including Geoffrey Chaucer, E. M. Forster and C. P. Snow. Wikipedia.


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Blanchard G.B.,University of Cambridge
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2017

Computer-assisted tracking of the shapes of many cells over long periods of development has driven the exploration of novel ways to quantify the contributions of different cell behaviours to morphogenesis. A handful of similar methods have now been published that are used to calculate tissue deformations (strain rates) in epithelia. These methods are further used to quantify strain rates attributable to each of the cell behaviours in the tissue, such as cell shape change, cell rearrangement and cell division, that together sum to the tissue strain rates. In this review, aimed at developmental biologists, I will introduce the general approach, characterize differences in current approaches and highlight extensions of these methods that remain to be fully explored. The methods will make a major contribution to the emerging field of tissue mechanics. Precisely quantified strain rates are an essential first step towards exploring constitutive equations relating stress to strain via tissue mechanical properties. © 2017 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.


Noorani I.,University of Cambridge | Carpenter R.H.S.,University of Cambridge
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2017

The function of the motor system in preventing rather than initiating movement is often overlooked. Not only are its highest levels predominantly, and tonically, inhibitory, but in general behaviour it is often intermittent, characterized by relatively short periods of activity separated by longer periods of stillness: for most of the time we are not moving, but stationary. Furthermore, these periods of immobility are not a matter of inhibition and relaxation, but require us to expend almost as much energy as when we move, and they make just as many demands on the central nervous system in controlling their performance. The mechanisms that stop movement and maintain immobility have been a greatly neglected area of the study of the brain. This paper introduces the topics to be examined in this special issue of Philosophical Transactions, discussing the various types of stopping and stillness, the problems that they impose on the motor system, the kinds of neural mechanism that underlie them and how they can go wrong. © 2017 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.


Noorani I.,University of Cambridge
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2017

For precise motor control,we must be able to not only initiate movements with appropriate timing, but also stop them. The importance of stopping tended to be overlooked in research in favour of studying movement itself, sowe are still only beginning to understand the neural basis of action cancellation. However, the development of models of behaviour in a wider range of tasks, and their relation to neural recordings has provided great insight into the underlying neurophysiology. Here we focus on developments of the linear approach to threshold with ergodic rate (LATER) model, relating these to complementary neurophysiological studies. It is tempting to consider that there may be a unifying mechanism for cancelling impending decisions in many contexts and how future efforts may clarify this possibility. © 2017 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.


The Y chromosome is frequently lost in hematopoietic cells, which represents the most common somatic alteration in men. However, the mechanisms that regulate mosaic loss of chromosome Y (mLOY), and its clinical relevance, are unknown. We used genotype-array-intensity data and sequence reads from 85,542 men to identify 19 genomic regions (P < 5 × 10-8) that are associated with mLOY. Cumulatively, these loci also predicted X chromosome loss in women (n = 96,123; P = 4 × 10-6). Additional epigenome-wide methylation analyses using whole blood highlighted 36 differentially methylated sites associated with mLOY. The genes identified converge on aspects of cell proliferation and cell cycle regulation, including DNA synthesis (NPAT), DNA damage response (ATM), mitosis (PMF1, CENPN and MAD1L1) and apoptosis (TP53). We highlight the shared genetic architecture between mLOY and cancer susceptibility, in addition to inferring a causal effect of smoking on mLOY. Collectively, our results demonstrate that genotype-array-intensity data enables a measure of cell cycle efficiency at population scale and identifies genes implicated in aneuploidy, genome instability and cancer susceptibility. © 2017 Nature Publishing Group, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited. All Rights Reserved.


Jakowetz A.C.,University of Cambridge
Nature Materials | Year: 2017

Interfaces play a crucial role in semiconductor devices, but in many device architectures they are nanostructured, disordered and buried away from the surface of the sample. Conventional optical, X-ray and photoelectron probes often fail to provide interface-specific information in such systems. Here we develop an all-optical time-resolved method to probe the local energetic landscape and electronic dynamics at such interfaces, based on the Stark effect caused by electron–hole pairs photo-generated across the interface. Using this method, we found that the electronically active sites at the polymer/fullerene interfaces in model bulk-heterojunction blends fall within the low-energy tail of the absorption spectrum. This suggests that these sites are highly ordered compared with the bulk of the polymer film, leading to large wavefunction delocalization and low site energies. We also detected a 100 fs migration of holes from higher- to lower-energy sites, consistent with these charges moving ballistically into more ordered polymer regions. This ultrafast charge motion may be key to separating electron–hole pairs into free charges against the Coulomb interaction. © 2017 Nature Publishing Group


Korn C.,University of Cambridge | Mendez-Ferrer S.,University of Cambridge
Blood | Year: 2017

Research in the last few years has revealed a sophisticated interaction network between multiple bone marrow cells that regulate different hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) properties such as proliferation, differentiation, localization, and self-renewal during homeostasis. These mechanisms are essential to keep the physiological HSC numbers in check and interfere with malignant progression. In addition to the identification of multiple mutations and chromosomal aberrations driving the progression of myeloid malignancies, alterations in the niche compartment recently gained attention for contributing to disease progression. Leukemic cells can remodel the niche into a permissive environment favoring leukemic stem cell expansion over normal HSC maintenance, and evidence is accumulating that certain niche alterations can even induce leukemic transformation. Relapse after chemotherapy is still amajor challenge during treatment of myeloid malignancies, and cure is only rarely achieved. Recent progress in understanding the nicheimposed chemoresistancemechanisms will likely contribute to the improvement of current therapeutic strategies. This article discusses the role of different niche cells and their stage-And disease-specific roles during progression of myeloid malignancies and in response to chemotherapy. © 2017 by The American Society of Hematology.


Mustata R.C.,University of Cambridge
Nature Methods | Year: 2017

Loss-of-function studies are key for investigating gene function, and CRISPR technology has made genome editing widely accessible in model organisms and cells. However, conditional gene inactivation in diploid cells is still difficult to achieve. Here, we present CRISPR–FLIP, a strategy that provides an efficient, rapid and scalable method for biallelic conditional gene knockouts in diploid or aneuploid cells, such as pluripotent stem cells, 3D organoids and cell lines, by co-delivery of CRISPR–Cas9 and a universal conditional intronic cassette. © 2017 Nature Publishing Group, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited. All Rights Reserved.


Gibson J.S.,University of Cambridge
Blood | Year: 2016

In this issue of Blood, Chu et al show that oxygen, by changing the conformation of hemoglobin (Hb), modulates many red cell properties by altering its interaction with band 3, the major red cell membrane protein. © 2016 by The American Society of Hematology.


Sotiriou T.P.,University of Cambridge
Journal of Physics: Conference Series | Year: 2011

This is intended to be a brief introduction and overview of Hořava-Lifshitz gravity. The motivation and all of the various versions of the theory (to date) are presented. The dynamics of the theory are discussed in some detail, with a focus on low energy viability and consistency, as these have been the issues that attracted most of the attention in the literature so far. Other properties of the theory and developments within its framework are also covered, such as: its relation to Einstein-aether theory, cosmology, and future perspectives.


News Article | May 1, 2017
Site: www.newscientist.com

The plume of hot rock that sits beneath Iceland has long-reaching fingers – two of which stretch all the way to Scotland and Norway. This perhaps explains why the breathtaking scenery of areas such as the Scottish Highlands isn’t submerged beneath the waves. Mantle plumes are like chimneys that transport hot, buoyant rock from deep inside Earth. When they break through to the surface, the volcanic activity they generate can fuel the formation of islands, such as the Hawaiian archipelago. Iceland also owes its existence to a mantle plume – and seismic maps of Earth’s interior suggest that this plume doesn’t have the typical circular outline. “It’s far more irregular,” says Nicky White at the University of Cambridge. In fact, it looks a bit like flower petals or a star shape on top of a chimney of rising hot rock. But why or how that irregularity arises has remained a mystery until now. When White saw one particular map of the plume’s outline below Earth’s surface, it suddenly dawned on him how it might have gained its irregular shape. He recalled experiments by some of his colleagues in Cambridge. They have looked at how fluids with different viscosities mix in the confined, almost two-dimensional gap between two stacked sheets of rigid material such as glass. These experiments show that when a runnier fluid is squirted into a more viscous one, it forms an intricate radial pattern of branches, or fingers. The work even inspired the logo of the BP Institute at the university. “I’ve walked past the logo every day for about 15 years,” says White. “You can see why I immediately thought: I know what’s going on with the Icelandic plume.” Now White and his doctoral student Charlotte Schoonman think the plume is behaving just like the fluids in the lab experiments, but on a much grander scale. About 100 kilometres below Earth’s surface lies a layer called the asthenosphere, a zone of relatively free-flowing rock held between two horizontal layers of stiffer rock. The idea is that the Iceland plume injects hot, runny rock into this layer – and that this spreads out horizontally through the asthenosphere, forming fingers. Other plumes don’t form such tendrils, says White, because the rock within them is not sufficiently hot and runny, or injected with enough force. In lab experiments, fingers form a nice radial pattern. The fingers in the Iceland plume are much more asymmetrical, probably because the rigid crust beneath nearby Greenland is so thick that it acts as a barrier, reducing finger formation on the western side of the plume. The fingers on the plume’s eastern side seem to stretch surprisingly far, one reaching Scotland some 1000 km away, and another one further still, to Norway. The hot fingers may even help to explain why Scotland and western Norway lie above sea level. Earth’s crust beneath these areas is unusually thin, meaning that both regions should in theory be below sea level. “Something else must be going on to explain why they’re not under water,” says White. “And that something else is the hot fingers.” This is because the hot rock is relatively buoyant, which could compensate for the thinness of the crust, pushing it up. The idea that Iceland’s plume is influencing the geography of north-west Europe isn’t new, says White, but exactly how it does so has been unclear. The “hot finger” model provides an explanation. Taras Gerya at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich thinks that the model makes sense. “It seems realistic to me,” he says. The model could even be applied to mantle plume-like structures on other rocky planets such as Venus, he adds.


News Article | April 21, 2017
Site: www.scientificamerican.com

A complex cascade of biochemical signals determines what we eat, when we eat and how much we eat. Our digestive tracts and fat cells are known to secrete hormones that drive our hunger levels and our sense of satisfaction after eating. Now a new player has come to the table, our bones. A paper published this March in Nature shows bone cells secrete a hormone called lipocalin 2—and it has a surprising effect in mouse experiments of reducing appetite and stabilizing blood sugar independently of other hormones. Stavroula Kousteni, a physiologist at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and her colleagues showed 90 percent of the hormone lipocalin 2 was produced by osteoblasts, bone cells that create the chemicals necessary to build new bone. Because of its chemical structure scientists previously thought fat cells made the hormone. Lipocalin 2 is released after eating and reaches peak levels about an hour after a meal. When researchers genetically designed mice with defective lipocalin 2 genes in bone, the mice had 20 percent more body fat than mice that had the defective gene inserted into fatty tissue. The animals also ate 16 percent more chow. When mice with the broken gene were injected with lipocalin 2, their feeding behavior returned to normal. Injections of the hormone even reduced eating and improved blood sugar and insulin regulation in healthy mice. “In general, we found we could improve their metabolic phenotype,” Kousteni says. They traced the effect to the activation of the MC4R receptor in neurons of the hypothalamus, a region deep in the brain that maintains blood sugar and body temperature along with other basic physiological processes. Activating this receptor is a well-established pathway that decreases appetite. MC4R is also activated by leptin, and mutations in the receptor gene are the most common cause of genetically derived obesity. Human osteoblasts also secrete lipocalin 2. Kousteni and her team tested levels of the hormone in 26 type 2 diabetes patients with elevated insulin and glucose levels and matched them against healthy people. They found people with higher lipocalin 2 levels after eating had lower body weights and blood sugar levels. Does that mean lipocalin 2 could treat obesity or diabetes in people? According to Kousteni, maybe—but we’re a long way away from that. Even if it does help lower body weight and appetite in humans, the hormone would have to pass other tests to be a successful obesity drug; it would have to withstand the body’s adaptive strategy of making metabolism slow down so weight is regained. Metabolic slowing seems to occur regardless of how weight is lost, Kousteni says, because the body seeks to restore an equilibrium by returning to its original weight. Lipocalin 2 also boosts energy expenditure. “So maybe it’s enough to counteract the adaptive body weight effect. But that’s a big maybe,” Kousteni says. Mice that received lipocalin 2 injections had higher resting metabolic rates. Lipocalin2 is the second bone-derived hormone that regulates energy in the body. Osteocalcin, found in 2007, regulates blood sugar as well as male fertility and memory. The skeletal system is unique in that it is the only organ that undergoes a continual recycling process, replacing itself in full every 10 years. That’s energetically very expensive for the body, according to osteocalcin discoverer Gerard Karsenty, chair of the Department of Genetics and Development at Columbia who was not involved with the study. “This is why and how we’ve hypothesized there must be a coordinated regulation of the nature of bone mass and energy metabolism,” Karsenty says. Osteocalcin is currently being investigated as a therapy for sarcopenia, muscle loss that occurs in aging. But the surprising lipocalin 2 results need to be considered within a larger context. Its impact on hunger is not as strong as gut and fat hormones. Mice with faulty lipocalin 2 receptors do not have the same dramatic weight gain and insatiable appetite as mice with faulty leptin receptors, for example. Humans and mice with leptin mutations become exceptionally obese, weighing three or more times their healthy peers. It is difficult to compare the effect of lipocalin 2 against other satiety hormones without doing head-to-head experiments, Kousteni says. It is unlikely lipocalin 2, should it become an obesity or diabetes drug, would resolve the conditions for every patient. But its discovery is important to fully understand the biochemical processes that control eating behaviors and to understand that bodily systems beyond fat storage and digestion are involved. Stephen O’Rahilly, a metabolism-signaling expert at the University of Cambridge who did not participate in the work, suggests there are no known bone disorders that cause the dramatic and debilitating metabolic syndromes. That indicates the connection between lipocalin 2 and metabolic processes is probably not that strong. “There is no established physiological or pathological phenomenon for which a ‘new hormone’ is required,” O’Rahilly wrote in an e-mail. Kousteni is now studying the upstream signals for lipocalin 2 to find the inputs that cause bone to secrete the hormone. “What is interesting to us is: How [is] this happening?How does bone sense food intake? How does it know the mouse ate and respond by increasing lipocalin levels so fast,” Kousteni says.


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.newscientist.com

Unpicking the secrets of the brain’s reward system has earned three neuroscientists a reward of their own. Wolfram Schultz, Peter Dayan, and Ray Dolan have today been awarded the €1 million Brain Prize by Denmark’s Lundbeck Foundation. The prize recognises researchers who have made vital contributions to understanding how our brains work. Together, their research has revealed how reward systems in the brain that involve the signalling chemical dopamine influence our behaviour and survival, playing important roles in decision-making, gambling, drug addiction, psychopathic tendencies, and schizophrenia. “This is the biological process that makes us want to buy a bigger car or house, or be promoted at work,” says Wolfram Schultz, at the University of Cambridge. Schultz discovered through experiments on monkeys 30 years ago that when the animals receive a reward, specialised brain cells become more active and make dopamine. Subsequently, he showed that this could be triggered through learned cues, even without a reward. Peter Dayan, at University College London, took Schultz’s work further by showing how we constantly update our goals through a dopamine-driven phenomenon called “reward prediction error”. Dayan showed how our future behaviour is dictated by daily feedback on whether anticipated rewards and pleasures either fail to materialise or are more generous than anticipated. “Nature has endowed us with a fantastic system for optimising our behaviour,” said Dayan at a press briefing in London. Dayan is now working on applying the logic of decision making seen in the dopamine system to artificial intelligence algorithms. “That’s how you get computers to make predictions,” he said. Ray Dolan, of the Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing in Berlin, Germany, has further explored the influence of dopamine on decision making. As we age, people lose around 10 per cent of their dopamine-producing neurons, which can deplete a person’s ability to predict future rewards accurately. Dolan has shown that this ability can be restored by giving older people extra supplies of dopamine. After the advances they have made in understanding rewards, the researchers are now exploring how the brain responds to punishment. Dayan says the smart money is on another brain signalling chemical, serotonin. “That may be involved in punishment, but it’s fairly speculative at the moment.”


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.renewableenergyworld.com

A team of scientists at the University of Cambridge has developed a way of using solar power to generate hydrogen from biomass, the U.K. university said last week.


News Article | April 28, 2017
Site: cen.acs.org

In nine neurodegenerative diseases, the culprit is an increase in the number of repeated glutamines in a certain protein. For example, healthy people have between six and 35 glutamines in a row in their huntingtin proteins, whereas people with Huntington’s disease can have more than 100. With these expanded polyglutamine (polyQ) tracts, the proteins tend to aggregate, but scientists don’t know how the mutant proteins cause neurodegeneration when they’re instead floating freely around cells. Now a team of researchers reports that the nonexpanded polyQ tract of one protein helps regulate how cells dispose of their molecular garbage. The findings also suggest that expanded tracts associated with disease might disrupt that disposal process (Nature 2017, DOI: 10.1038/nature22078). Cells trigger a process called autophagy to clear out aggregated proteins, lipids, and other—possibly toxic—junk in their cytoplasm. David C. Rubinsztein of the University of Cambridge and colleagues found that when they decreased expression of a protein called ataxin-3 in cells, autophagy slowed. Ataxin-3 has a polyQ tract, and expansion of it leads to the neurodegenerative disease spinocerebellar ataxia type 3. Rubinsztein’s team found that normal ataxin-3 keeps autophagy running smoothly by protecting a key autophagy protein called beclin-1 from degradation. To do this, ataxin-3’s polyQ tract first binds to beclin-1. The scientists determined that longer polyQ tracts—such as those in disease versions of huntingtin—bind beclin-1 more strongly, outcompeting normal ataxin-3. As a result, beclin-1 levels drop and autophagy slows in the cells. When studying cells derived from patients with Huntington’s disease, the scientists found that rates of autophagy also were decreased.


A caterpillar commercially bred for use as fishing bait was found to have the ability to biodegrade polyethylene, the most commonly used plastic in manufacturing shopping bags. About 80 million tons of polyethylene are produced annually primarily for use in packaging. Reliance on this plastic raises concern since it will take about 100 years for a low-density polyethylene bag to degrade completely. Denser plastics would take as long as 400 years to disintegrate. A researcher, who also happens to be an amateur beekeeper, accidentally discovered that the wax worm, the larvae of the common insect called Galleria mellonella, or greater wax moth, has the potential to solve current problems with plastic waste, particularly polyethylene. Further investigation revealed it was not the caterpillar's manner of chewing that degrades the plastic. The creature actually produces something that can break down the polymer chains in polyethylene plastic. "Perhaps in its salivary glands or a symbiotic bacteria in its gut. The next steps for us will be to try and identify the molecular processes in this reaction and see if we can isolate the enzyme responsible," said study researcher Paolo Bombelli, of the University of Cambridge. "This discovery could be an important tool for helping to get rid of the polyethylene plastic waste accumulated in landfill sites and oceans." Plastic pollution is a growing problem with at least 275 million tons of this waste being produced annually by 192 nations worldwide. Of these, nearly 8 million tons are washed up into the ocean. The plastic debris in the waters are being blamed for the death of many animals including those that mistake the colorful plastic as food and those caught in plastic fishing lines. The wax worm may offer a promising solution that can help with plastic waste problem but other organisms have also been identified in the past to have the potentials for degrading plastic. Last year, Japanese scientists reported of a new species of bacteria that eats the plastic used in most disposable water bottles. The plastic called polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, can also be found in frozen-dinner trays, blister packaging and polyester clothing. The bacteria species known as Ideonella sakaiensis was found to use two enzymes to break down plastic. Researchers said that a community of Ideonella sakaiensis can break down a thin film of PET over a period of six weeks given a stable temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit. "When grown on PET, this strain produces two enzymes capable of hydrolyzing PET and the reaction intermediate, mono(2-hydroxyethyl) terephthalic acid. Both enzymes are required to enzymatically convert PET efficiently into its two environmentally benign monomers, terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol," researcher Shosuke Yoshida of Kyoto Institute of Technology, and colleagues described the bacteria in the journal Science. In 2012, researchers from Yale University discovered a variety of mushroom called Pestalotiopsis microspora that can also break down polyurethane. Two years after its discovery, a system was developed that aims to make it possible to eat these plastic-digesting fungi. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


The beauty of science and technology is that things that seemed impossible in living memory are now regularly done. From cochlear implants (look at this video of a 29 years old woman who hears for the first time ) to looking through billions of documents around the world in less than a second for free (Google!) to the eradication of smallpox , a lot of really cool progress is being made all the time. Of course, we get used to these things so quickly that they don't seem all that fantastic anymore, but trust me, if they were all taken away from us, we'd certainly miss them! But for every success story, there are also a areas where progress is slower than we would want. For example, there are millions of paralyzed people who could greatly benefit from a way to repair or replace damaged nerves, but so far a cure remains elusive for most of them. But thankfully, the absence of a complete cure doesn't mean that progress isn't being made. Today's news is an example of this: A team from the University of Cambridge reversed paralysis in dogs after injecting them with cells grown from the lining of their nose (yes, you read that right). It's not quite as simple as it might first sound, and some injuries would be a lot harder to cure than others, but it is very promising. Basically, the dogs had olfactory ensheathing cells from the lining of their nose removed and then grown and expanded for several weeks in the laboratory. The researchers then transplanted the new nerve cells across the damaged region of the spinal cord. Of 34 pet dogs on the proof of concept trial, 23 had the cells transplanted into the injury site - the rest were injected with a neutral fluid. Many of the dogs that received the transplant showed considerable improvement and were able to walk on a treadmill with the support of a harness. None of the control group regained use of its back legs. Prof Geoffrey Raisman, chair of Neural Regeneration at University College London, who discovered olfactory ensheathing cells in 1985 told the BBC: "This is not a cure for spinal cord injury in humans - that could still be a long way off. But this is the most encouraging advance for some years and is a significant step on the road towards it." See also: Favorite Nature Spots of the TreeHugger Team (Part 1 of 2)


News Article | April 21, 2017
Site: www.sej.org

"The surface of the remote Antarctic ice sheet may be a far more dynamic place than scientists imagined, new research suggests. Decades of satellite imagery and aerial photography have revealed an extensive network of lakes and rivers transporting liquid meltwater across the continent’s ice shelves — nearly 700 systems of connected pools and streams in total. “A handful of previous studies have documented surface lakes and streams on individual ice shelves over a span of a few years,” glaciologist Alison Banwell of the University of Cambridge wrote in a comment on the new research, published Wednesday in the journal Nature. “But the authors’ work is the first to extensively map meltwater features and drainage systems on all of Antarctica’s ice shelves, over multiple decades.” The findings, presented Wednesday in a pair of papers in Nature, could upend our understanding of the way meltwater interacts with the frozen ice sheet. We now know that, rather than simply pooling where it melts in every case, liquid water may run for miles across the continent first — and that discovery comes with some worrying implications."


Antarctica isn’t a huge, static block of ice where very little goes on. For the first time, scientists are getting a sense of just how active the continent’s extensive network of lakes, rivers, and streams is. These bodies of water have existed for decades on Antarctica, and their meltwater affects the stability of the ice shelf underneath. That, in turn, has important implications for sea level rise. Antarctica’s landmass is surrounded by hundreds of floating ice shelves that play a key role in preventing sea levels from engulfing our coastal cities. In fact, these ice shelves keep the ground-based ice from flowing into the sea, which would raise sea levels by several feet. Scientists have long known that, in the summer, some surface ice and snow on these ice shelves melts, pooling in lakes and streams. But until now, the phenomenon was thought to be pretty rare, according to Alison Banwell at the University of Cambridge’s Scott Polar Research Institute, who wrote a comment on the new research. Today’s study, published in Nature, shows that the network of lakes and streams is actually widespread on top of many ice shelves, transporting water for up to 75 miles. Some ponds were found to be up to 50 miles long. “The fact that there are these huge rivers moving water for hundreds of kilometers, that’s even quite an exciting discovery,” lead study author Jonathan Kingslake, a glaciologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, tells The Verge. “They’re very common across the ice sheet, but we are a long way from being able to understand how they behave and how they will impact the ice sheet in the long term.” In fact, there’s a lot we don’t know about the way this meltwater interacts with the ice sheet. Lakes and ponds that form on top of the ice are thought to be dangerous. That’s because the weight of the liquid water can crack the ice; when water drains through the crevasses, it may freeze and expand, widening the cracks and fracturing the ice. This process is believed to have caused the break-up of the Larsen B Ice Shelf in 2002. But the meltwater doesn’t only collect in puddles. Today’s study shows that it also flows downhill in rivers — for miles across the continent. And another study published today, also in Nature, shows that the meltwater doesn’t necessarily weaken the ice shelf beneath. This second paper analyzed a particular region called the Nansen Ice Shelf located in West Antarctica. Here, large and complex river networks allow huge amounts of meltwater to flow off the shelf into the ocean, with a 400-foot-wide waterfall. The drainage system may be protecting the ice shelf by getting the water off the ice quickly, before its weight cracks the ice. That means the meltwater isn’t necessarily dangerous. “The meltwater acts as a jackhammer on an ice shelf is what we’ve always thought,” the lead author of the second Nature paper, Robin Bell, a polar scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, tells The Verge. “This study suggests that we can’t just assume that if we turn up the temperature, every ice shelf will collapse.” Rather, the study suggests the process will be more complex. Scientists expect that as temperatures warm up, we’re going to see even more meltwater in Antarctica. So understanding how this water behaves and what effects it has is key for predicting what’s going to happen in this part of the world, and whether or not it’s going to affect sea level rise. In the first study, researchers analyzed satellite images from 1973 onwards, as well as aerial photos taken from 1947 onward. They found that a widespread and complicated drainage system made of lakes and rivers has existed across Antarctica for decades. Some of these streams and ponds are present as close as 375 miles from the South Pole, and at 4,300 feet above sea level. Those are areas that were thought to be clear of liquid water. Whether the amount of meltwater has actually increased in the past 70 years is impossible to tell, says Kingslake. That’s because in the past, photos of the continent were not taken as frequently as today. So you might have a photo taken in 1973, and then another one taken in 1980, with no images in between, Kingslake says. That seven-year gap doesn’t allow researchers to understand long-term trends, and calculate whether we’re seeing more meltwater. “At the moment, the initial indication is that things haven’t changed significantly,” Kingslake says. But as the planet warms up, scientists are expecting to see more ice and snow from the surface to melt and puddle up in lakes or flow in rivers. What effects this liquid water will have on the stability of the ice shelf, however, remains to be seen. “It is complicated and there are a whole bunch of processes that are really interesting and we don’t really understand,” Kingslake says. That’s why the Nature studies published today are important: they add a piece of the puzzle to figuring out how one of the largest reserve of ice on Earth works. As temperatures climb up and waters warm, all this information will be key to understand how sea levels will rise. As for how Kingslake got interested in studying Antarctica’s drainage systems, it’s all thanks to Google Earth. In 2010, he used to spend lots of time surfing the site, he says. At one point, he noticed lots of ponds on Antarctica’s ice surface. That inspired him to study more detailed satellite images and look into the widespread system of lakes and rivers dotting the continent. Today, Kingslake tells his students to never feel bad if they’re procrastinating by looking at Google Earth images. You never know what you’re going to find. “It’s not a waste of time!” he says.


(University of Cambridge) A common insect larva that eats beeswax has been found to break down chemical bonds in the plastic used for packaging and shopping bags at uniquely high speeds. Scientists say the discovery could lead to a biotechnological approach to the polyethylene waste that chokes oceans and landfills.


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.newscientist.com

It’s a fight for the future of the web. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an organisation that sets standards for how the web works, has formally proposed a controversial new anti-piracy mechanism. The proposal has caused a rare rift in the web community, with critics arguing it poses a security risk to users and harms the idea of a free and open web. The Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) mechanism provides a standard way for web browsers to deal with a form of copyright protection called digital rights management (DRM) software, so people can easily view copyrighted videos in their chosen browser. Video streaming companies like Netflix and Amazon use DRM to stop people pirating films and TV shows. Historically, this has been done using browser plugins such as Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight, but EME lets browsers play back encrypted video without these. Plugins are far from ideal because they require the installation of third-party software and have a bad track record when it comes to security, says Robin Berjon, a former W3C employee. And many major browsers already support EME, so it makes sense for the W3C to standardise it and avoid compatibility problems across different browsers and devices, he says. “The job of the W3C is to level the playing field and make sure the way in which the web functions is documented.” But security researchers are worried that using EME as standard could introduce hidden security flaws into browsers. Tampering with DRM systems is illegal under US and EU copyright law, so the concern is that researchers will not be able to properly check browsers for bugs. “This is really bad security,” says Harry Halpin at the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation. Instead of encouraging people to report security flaws so that they can be patched , standardising EME means every mainstream browser will include elements that independent researchers can’t inspect. Bugs do happen. Last year, a researcher from Israel, one of the few places without anti-circumvention laws, discovered a bug in DRM technology used by Google Chrome that allowed people to pirate protected content. If EME goes ahead as standard, more serious flaws may go undiscovered, says Cory Doctorow at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. While you could opt out of using a plugin, the push for DRM in browsers means companies – and users – soon won’t have a choice, says Halpin. The development of the technology has largely been driven by film studios and distribution companies, which require companies like Netflix to restrict who can view their films, he says. “Hollywood won’t even give Netflix access to content without DRM.” If a browser doesn’t have DRM, it can’t support Netflix. And that’s not an option for a browser that wants to remain competitive. “The loser is likely to be innovation,” says Ross Anderson at the University of Cambridge. W3C members, which include the industry’s major players as well as smaller charities and activist groups, have until 13 April to share their thoughts about the proposed standard. W3C director and World Wide Web creator Tim Berners-Lee will respond to objections and make a final decision about whether to approve EME as a web standard. Approval is highly likely. In February, Berners-Lee expressed his support of EME in a blog post arguing that it is the safest and most convenient way to allow people to watch movies online. It’s not unprecedented for a proposal to be so controversial within the W3C, says Philippe Le Hégaret, who oversees the working group that proposed the EME standard, but such divisions have been relatively rare in the organisation’s 22-year history. “It happens only once every 10 years or so,” he says.


News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Professor Ute Hellmich of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has received a Fulbright-Cottrell Award, the most important transatlantic prize recognizing excellence in research and teaching. It is awarded by the German-American Fulbright Commission. This year's two recipients -- Professor Steffen Schumann of Georg-August-Universität Göttingen has been honored alongside Hellmich -- will each receive EUR 63,000 from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) for a three-year teaching and research project and be given the opportunity to participate in the annual Cottrell Scholars Conferences in the USA. The official award presentation took place during a ceremony organized by the Fulbright Commission in Berlin. The award recognizes the combined research and teaching achievements of young German researchers who undertake teaching assignments in connection with Bachelor degree programs in the fields of chemistry, physics, astronomy, and biochemistry. The corresponding Cottrell Scholar Award has been presented annually in the USA since 1994. "The public image of a researcher is decisively influenced by his or her achievements in the field of research although a major part of our everyday work actually involves teaching and supervising students and doctoral candidates," emphasized Hellmich. "The Fulbright-Cottrell Award is unique as it recognizes not only accomplishments in research but also explicitly teaching achievements and thus I feel deeply honored by this award." It was Hellmich's proposed project "From local alterations to global changes: ABC transporters to study molecular determinants of protein function and dynamics" that convinced the jury. The project focuses on the molecular dynamics of membrane proteins and how the tiny machines in the membrane of our body cells control the uptake or release of substances such as nutrients and toxins. "Membrane proteins need to move in a very controlled manner to achieve the correct directional movement; it is as if they were a sluice that can only be opened on one side at a particular time," explained Hellmich. "We want to understand how these machines work and, using these machines as an example, reveal to our students how wonderful biochemistry can be and how satisfying a field of study it is." Ute Hellmich, born in 1981 in Heidelberg, studied Biochemistry at Goethe University Frankfurt and subsequently earned her doctorate with a thesis on the interaction between membrane proteins and lipids. She also spent periods abroad at the University of Cambridge and Harvard University. Hellmich was appointed Junior Professor of Membrane Biochemistry at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in January 2015. Her professorship is sponsored by the Carl Zeiss Foundation. The biochemist is also a Guest Scientist at the Center for Biomolecular Magnetic Resonance (BMRZ) at Goethe University Frankfurt. Her team currently investigates the functional dynamics of multi-substance transporters and ion channels in parasites.


News Article | May 8, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

How did protein interactions arise and how have they developed? In a new study, researchers have looked at two proteins which began co-evolving between 400 and 600 million years ago. What did they look like? How did they work, and how have they changed over time? The findings, published in eLife, show how a combination of changes in the proteins' properties created better conditions for the regulation of a cellular process. "We want to understand the process by which a new protein-protein interaction emerges and evolves," says Greta Hultqvist who co-led the study together with Per Jemth at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology, Uppsala University. Life depends on proteins; in particular, how proteins interact with each other. Most if not all basic cellular processes are dependent on protein interactions where a certain protein may enhance or reduce a specific cellular function. In many cases, the same protein interaction can be found across classes of organisms from mammals, to all animal phyla or even to all kingdoms of life. When a protein interaction is specific for vertebrates, it means that the interaction emerged at a significant time point for the vertebrate ancestor. This protein interaction was then preserved in all evolutionary lines arising from the vertebrate ancestor and can be seen in all present day vertebrates. In fact, new and modified proteins appear continuously in organisms by way of gene modifications, but most of them disappear. However, some protein-protein interactions prove to be beneficial and as a result are retained by the organism. New or modified proteins could form novel interactions with existing proteins to elicit an advantageous protein-protein interaction. This has happened multiple times during evolution. It is easy to understand that protein interactions can be beneficial to an organism and as such it is retained. However, less is known about the molecular details of such historical protein evolution. By analysing multiple amino acid sequences of two interacting proteins from different present-day organisms, the team reconstructed ancestral versions of the proteins present in species living between 400 million-600 million years ago. What the oldest of these ancestors looked like is not exactly known, but it can be speculated that it was a small animal with bilaterian symmetry. One evolutionary line led towards fishes and subsequently to the first tetrapod. The team resurrected proteins from these species and characterised their properties with experimental and computational methods. "We found that the ancestral proteins interacted with each other more weakly compared to later generation variants. The ancestral proteins were probably also more flexible in terms of structure than the later generation ones when bound together. Another striking finding is that the strength of this protein-protein interaction has not changed over the last 450 million years," says Greta Hultqvist. The proteins studied by the scientists belong to a class called 'intrinsically disordered proteins'. This means that on their own they are highly flexible and could even exist as an extended chain, as opposed to the majority of proteins, which have a globular shape. However, when the disordered proteins bind to each other they often fold into a globular structure. Protein-protein interactions between intrinsically disordered proteins are very common and are often involved in cellular regulation. "Our findings shed light on some fundamental principles of protein evolution and may be general for how new protein-protein interactions of intrinsically disordered proteins emerge and evolve. A weak and dynamic ancestral interaction could relatively quickly turn into an optimally strong one by random gene mutations followed by natural selection. The strength of the interaction is then maintained when the ancestral group of organisms diversifies into new species," says Per Jemth. The study is a collaboration between groups at Uppsala University, the University of Cambridge, the Technical University of Munich and ETH Zürich. Hultqvist, G., Åberg, E., Camilloni, C., Sundell, G., Andersson, E., Dogan, J., Chi, C. N., Vendruscolo, M., and Jemth, P. (2017) Emergence and evolution of an interaction between intrinsically disordered proteins eLife In press, DOI 10.7554/eLife.16059. Per Jemth, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology, Uppsala University. Tel.: +46 18 471 45 57; email: Per.Jemth@imbim.uu.se


News Article | May 3, 2017
Site: cen.acs.org

Many of the C–H bonds in hydrocarbons look alike to chemical reagents. As a result, synthetic chemists often have to install activating or directing groups to get reactions to occur at C–H bonds of their choosing. The method, developed by Rubén Martín of the Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia and coworkers, provides a new route to fatty acids, which are used industrially to make soaps, detergents, rubber, plastics, and dyes. Each reaction produces a single-isomer fatty acid by adding CO to a specific C–H bond in a pure alkane or an alkene mixture derived from inexpensive petroleum feedstocks. Industry currently makes fatty acids by hydrolyzing naturally derived lipids or by hydrocarbonylation of alkenes with carbon monoxide. Matthew Gaunt and Patrick Williamson of the University of Cambridge explain in a Nature commentary accompanying the new paper that those processes require separations and purifications to isolate specific fatty acids. The Martín reaction avoids those steps by creating specific regioisomers, “a remarkable feat of chemical selectivity,” Gaunt and Williamson write. In the reaction, chemists first brominate a specific alkane or an alkene mixture. Either type of hydrocarbon can have an organic group at one end. Alkene molecules in each mixture must all have the same length chain, but the position of the double bonds can vary. The bromine also can add at any position in the alkane or alkene chains, as its location does not guide selectivity for CO addition. A nickel catalyst substitutes for bromine and “chain walks” its way to a selected C–H bond. Chain walking exploits usually undesirable β-hydride eliminations that occur spontaneously in alkyl-halide substitution reactions. With each elimination, the catalyst moves one carbon from its current position and then takes steps down the chain until it gets to the target C–H site, where CO substitutes for it. Chain walking has been used before, but in less versatile ways and typically with expensive noble metal catalysts. The chemists control site selectivity though the reaction temperature. At lower temperatures, kinetic control installs CO  at the least hindered site, the alkyl terminus. At higher temperatures, thermodynamic control takes over, installing CO  at selected interior sites. “There are a number of remarkable features in this work, but the most stunning aspect is the selectivity switch that’s controlled just by changing the temperature,” comments Olivier Baudoin of the University of Basel, who recently developed another chain-walking reaction. “The goal of taking bulk commodity hydrocarbon feedstocks and converting them to chemicals of higher value is exciting, and rarely have I seen its full potential demonstrated as well as in this work,” says synthetic chemist M. Christina White of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. “This reaction goes beyond proof of concept and is immediately useful. The ability to exploit β-hydride elimination pathways that terminate in a favored site of functionalization will certainly inspire future reaction designs.” CORRECTION: This story was updated on May 4, 2017, to correct a statement about how temperature controls which C–H site on a molecule gets targeted for CO  installation. At low temperatures, the CO targets the alkyl terminus of a molecule rather than an interior C–H site. And at high temperatures, the opposite is true.


News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: phys.org

Artist's conception of nickel transforming hydrocarbons into fatty acids. Cooler temperatures make nickel insert CO2 closer to the end of the chain. Credit: © Ramón Andrade. 3DCiencia.com (Phys.org)—A team of researchers with the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology has developed a way to make fatty acids using a nickel catalyst along with hydrocarbons. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the group describes their technique and the uses to which it might be put. Matthew Gaunt and Patrick Williamson with the University of Cambridge offer a News & Views piece on the work done by the team in the same journal issue. Fatty acids are used to make a wide variety of products, from plastics to soaps, rubber, drugs and food. They are long-chain compounds which are generally easy to make from animal lipids. But the end results typically have differing chain lengths, which requires purifying. Current processes used to make them generally suffer from several factors that can drive up costs, such as the creation of hazardous byproducts and the need for precious metals. In this new effort, the researchers have found a way to use carbon dioxide and hydrocarbons (isomeric alkenes) to produce single fatty acids in highly specific ways. The new technique involves using a nickel catalyst that can be made to "walk" along a hydrocarbon chain, allowing for carbon dioxide to be incorporated at a desired reaction site. The two-step process begins with exposing the alkenes to hydrobromic acid, which adds bromine and hydrogen atoms across the carbon-to-carbon bond. The second part involves inserting a nickel atom into the carbon-bromine bond, which results in the formation of a carbon-nickel bond. The interactions that follow allow for the nickel to be walked along the chain until it reaches a spot where no interactions are occurring. The bond then reacts with carbon dioxide to form a single carboxylic acid product. The team notes that varying the temperature at which the reaction occurs allows for controlling how the reaction plays out including reversing the chain migration direction. The advantage of the new technique is that it allows for using readily available materials and opens the door to the possibility of finding reagents other than carbon dioxide that could be used in similar reactions to create products made from alkenes. Explore further: Simple method for converting carboxylic acids into boronate esters and boronic acids More information: Francisco Juliá-Hernández et al. Remote carboxylation of halogenated aliphatic hydrocarbons with carbon dioxide, Nature (2017). DOI: 10.1038/nature22316 Abstract Catalytic carbon–carbon bond formation has enabled the streamlining of synthetic routes when assembling complex molecules. It is particularly important when incorporating saturated hydrocarbons, which are common motifs in petrochemicals and biologically relevant molecules. However, cross-coupling methods that involve alkyl electrophiles result in catalytic bond formation only at specific and previously functionalized sites. Here we describe a catalytic method that is capable of promoting carboxylation reactions at remote and unfunctionalized aliphatic sites with carbon dioxide at atmospheric pressure. The reaction occurs via selective migration of the catalyst along the hydrocarbon side-chain with excellent regio- and chemoselectivity, representing a remarkable reactivity relay when compared with classical cross-coupling reactions. Our results demonstrate that site-selectivity can be switched and controlled, enabling the functionalization of less-reactive positions in the presence of a priori more reactive ones. Furthermore, we show that raw materials obtained in bulk from petroleum processing, such as alkanes and unrefined mixtures of olefins, can be used as substrates. This offers an opportunity to integrate a catalytic platform en route to valuable fatty acids by transforming petroleum-derived feedstocks directly.


News Article | May 2, 2017
Site: phys.org

The origin of life is perhaps the greatest mystery of science. It is still not adequately understood how something so complex could evolve from inanimate nature. The biochemist Markus Keller from the Medical University of Innsbruck has now made an important contribution to our understanding of how life developed on Earth. An Erwin-Schrödinger Fellowship from the FWF enabled Keller to do research abroad. In the course of his work he explored how some very old and complex processes of cellular metabolism developed. – Processes that are almost four billion years old and are also found in the human organism. "The crux here is how metabolism started in the first place", says Keller. "In some places on our planet there are very old sediments showing that life began more than 3.7 billion years ago. From these sediments we are unable, however, to conclude in exactly what form life existed and what its characteristics were. We just know that there must have been some kind of metabolic activity", notes Keller. Some metabolic pathways are identical in nearly all living organisms on the planet. One example is glycolysis, the processing of sugar. "Plants, bacteria and other living organisms use glucose in the same way we ourselves do. We may assume that the processes were the same in life-forms existing at very early stages of evolution. The question is this: how could these life-forms interconvert the intermediate products of glycolysis?" Cellular metabolism is a complicated system that depends on a number of enzymes. – These special proteins serve as catalysts, and some processes would not be possible without them. If an enzyme is missing, the entire cycle does not work. As Keller explains, it's a chicken-or-egg problem: what came first? The enzymes, which are metabolic products themselves? Or metabolism, which does not function without enzymes? Only a few years ago, the idea that several of these metabolic mechanisms might have functioned without enzymes, simply because of the prevailing environmental conditions, was disparaged as "magical thinking". But it is precisely these processes whose existence Keller was able to demonstrate. Importance of iron in the Archean Ocean His first papers dealt with glycolysis and what is called the "pentose-phosphate pathway". "At the time when life must have begun, the Archean ocean was relatively warm and contained a great deal of iron in a dissolved state", explains Keller. Under normal circumstances, iron is not water soluble in its oxidised form, i.e. rust. About four billion years ago there was, however, hardly any pure oxygen in the atmosphere or in the ocean which would have supported iron oxidation. Therefore, there existed large quantities of iron (II), or ferrous iron, which is easily dissolved in water. "We simulated the conditions prevailing in the Archean ocean and looked at how, for instance, fructose-6-phosphate, an intermediate product of cellular metabolism, would react in this environment. One of the things we found was that it converts to glucose-6-phosphate, precisely the same sequence of reaction and reaction pathways as in the living cell. In the first publications we showed that this occurs in a surprisingly efficient manner with very few side reactions. It results in exactly the right molecules." For this reason, the Archean ocean was an absolutely ideal environment for these very old metabolic reactions. And here lies the solution to this particular chicken-or-egg problem: chemical metabolic pathways were there first, and the enzymes developed later. Keller was able only recently to demonstrate a similar situation for the "citric acid cycle" (CAC), another important part of cellular metabolism. Its individual reactions can also run in the absence of enzymes. Analogous to modern cells, where glycolysis and the CAC, which is located in the cell mitochondria, run separately in different milieus, their non-enzymatic counterparts also need different chemical milieus in order to run effectively. In this way, the researcher showed that the observations made in relation to glycolysis also applied to other important metabolic pathways. Keller was able to make these observations by using mass spectrometry methods he developed during his Schrödinger Fellowship at the University of Cambridge. Mass spectrometry is an extremely sensitive method of measuring involving the breaking down of substances into their individual molecules or atoms in order to determine their mass. Keller originally examined how the components of yeast cells could be analysed by means of mass spectrometry, since it was not only highly precise but also promised additional advantages over other methods. Yeast is one of the most important model organisms of biology, and Keller's work was basic research with the aim of developing methodology for other types of research. He developed the idea of looking at the evolutionary origin of cellular metabolism together with the microbiologist Markus Ralser, head of the Cambridge research group of which Keller was a member. They also asked Alexandra Turchyn, an expert on Archean oceans, to join them and published the first paper on this issue. "Actually I never planned for my research to go in this direction", says Keller. "The initial study done on yeast metabolism is now also awaiting publication. But it was important that I had the freedom to look into these things. At first it was just a side-line." Keller emphasises that some of these effects have probably been measured in other studies as secondary effects but were not reported in detail. "These reactions still occur in cells today", observes Keller. He encourages groups that are active in this field to take a closer look at what they may misinterpret as being measuring errors. Explore further: Modern-day metabolism could have originated in 4-billion-year-old oceans More information: M. A. Keller et al. Non-enzymatic glycolysis and pentose phosphate pathway-like reactions in a plausible Archean ocean, Molecular Systems Biology (2014). DOI: 10.1002/msb.20145228 M. A. Keller et al. Conditional iron and pH-dependent activity of a non-enzymatic glycolysis and pentose phosphate pathway, Science Advances (2016). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501235 Gabriel Piedrafita et al. The Impact of Non-Enzymatic Reactions and Enzyme Promiscuity on Cellular Metabolism during (Oxidative) Stress Conditions, Biomolecules (2015). DOI: 10.3390/biom5032101 The widespread role of non-enzymatic reactions in cellular metabolism. Current Opinion in Biotechnology. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.copbio.2014.12.020


News Article | May 5, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

Although more remains to be learned, great advances have recently been made in the understanding of the molecular and genetic bases of disease resistance in plants. It is now time to deploy this knowledge to provide more durable disease resistance. Much of these advances have been enabled by improvements in analytical technologies. In particular, high-throughput DNA sequencing enable detailed analysis of food crops and their pathogens. It is now possible to characterize the resistance gene repertoires of plants and variability in pathogen populations. This information can be used as the foundation for rational deployment of resistance genes to maximize the evolutionary hurdle for pathogens to become virulent. In this webinar, sponsored by Dovetail Genomics, participants will learn about the genetic basis for disease resistance in plants and the value of high-quality reference genomes in crop research and improvement. In addition, participants will take away an understanding of how genomics is speeding up crop breeding programs. The speaker for this event will be Dr. Richard Michelmore of the University of California, Davis. Dr. Michelmore currently is a professor of Genetics in the Departments of Plant Sciences, Molecular & Cellular Biology, and Medical Microbiology & Immunology; and Director of the Genome Center at UC-Davis. He earned his doctorate in natural science from the University of Cambridge. Dr. Michelmore’s research focuses on pathogens, genetic changes resistance in plants and development of disease resistance in crops. LabRoots will host the event May 31, 2017, beginning at 9:00 a.m. PDT, 12:00 p.m. EDT. To read more about this event, learn about the continuing education credits offered, and to register for free, click here. About Dovetail Genomics Dovetail Genomics LLC is transforming genomics by making long-range information readily accessible to all. The company enables researchers and clinicians to solve complex problems involving de novo assembly, structural variation, microbiome analysis, cancer research, phasing analysis and more by providing them a more comprehensive view of the genome. Its proprietary in vitro proximity ligation approach simplifies genomic discovery by integrating the highest quality long-range genomic information with next-gen sequencing output. Dovetail is based in Santa Cruz, California. For more information on Dovetail, its technology, and service offerings, visit dovetailgenomics.com. Follow Dovetail on Twitter @DTGenomics. About Labroots LabRoots is the leading scientific social networking website, which provides daily scientific trending news, as well as produces educational virtual events and webinars, on the latest discoveries and advancements in science. Contributing to the advancement of science through content sharing capabilities, LabRoots is a powerful advocate in amplifying global networks and communities. Founded in 2008, LabRoots emphasizes digital innovation in scientific collaboration and learning, and is a primary source for current scientific news, webinars, virtual conferences, and more. LabRoots has grown into the world’s largest series of virtual events within the Life Sciences and Clinical Diagnostics community.


News Article | April 25, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

Plastic bags have become a kind of modern-day consumer addiction. A staggering 1 trillion are used by people each year. A good proportion of those end up in the world’s landfills, decomposing at negligible rates. But a caterpillar bred as fishing bait may have a solution to the mounting bag problem: its appetite for plastic, according to new observations reported in the journal Current Biology. The wax worm, which is the larvae of the greater wax moth (Galleria mellonella) in Europe, traditionally lives as a parasite in beehives, eating the wax. But scientists from the University of Cambridge and the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria in Spain made a serendipitous discovery – while beekeeping. Federica Bertocchini, an amateur beekeeper had removed the parasitic worms from her honeycombs and placed them in normal plastic shopping bags. But the next time she picked them up, they were riddled with holes, they report. “Wax is a polymer, a sort of ‘natural plastic,’ and has a chemical structure not dissimilar to polyethylene,” said Bertocchini, the lead author, of the Spanish Institute. That discovery prompted an investigation. A hundred worms were put into a plastic bag from a supermarket. Forty minutes later, holes started to appear. After 12 hours, the plastic had been reduced by 92 mg. The reduction in mass is much greater than other biodegrading accelerants. For instance, a newly isolated bacterium called Ideonella sakaiensis was shown to break down plastics at just 0.13 mg over 24 hours. The worms were also digesting the plastic – and not just chewing it up, they showed. The byproduct of ethylene glycol, the moderately toxic compound active in antifreeze and other chemicals, was produced by the worms, they showed. Exactly how the transformation was happening remains to be determined. But the scientists said they believe it is the hydrocarbons themselves that are being broken in the process. “Nevertheless, given the fast rate of biodegradation reported here, these findings have potential for significant biotechnological applications,” they conclude.


News Article | April 25, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

Plastic bags have become a kind of modern-day consumer addiction. A staggering 1 trillion are used by people each year. A good proportion of those end up in the world’s landfills, decomposing at negligible rates. But a caterpillar bred as fishing bait may have a solution to the mounting bag problem: its appetite for plastic, according to new observations reported in the journal Current Biology. The wax worm, which is the larvae of the greater wax moth (Galleria mellonella) in Europe, traditionally lives as a parasite in beehives, eating the wax. But scientists from the University of Cambridge and the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria in Spain made a serendipitous discovery – while beekeeping. Federica Bertocchini, an amateur beekeeper had removed the parasitic worms from her honeycombs and placed them in normal plastic shopping bags. But the next time she picked them up, they were riddled with holes, they report. “Wax is a polymer, a sort of ‘natural plastic,’ and has a chemical structure not dissimilar to polyethylene,” said Bertocchini, the lead author, of the Spanish Institute. That discovery prompted an investigation. A hundred worms were put into a plastic bag from a supermarket. Forty minutes later, holes started to appear. After 12 hours, the plastic had been reduced by 92 mg. The reduction in mass is much greater than other biodegrading accelerants. For instance, a newly isolated bacterium called Ideonella sakaiensis was shown to break down plastics at just 0.13 mg over 24 hours. The worms were also digesting the plastic – and not just chewing it up, they showed. The byproduct of ethylene glycol, the moderately toxic compound active in antifreeze and other chemicals, was produced by the worms, they showed. Exactly how the transformation was happening remains to be determined. But the scientists said they believe it is the hydrocarbons themselves that are being broken in the process. “Nevertheless, given the fast rate of biodegradation reported here, these findings have potential for significant biotechnological applications,” they conclude.


News Article | April 24, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A research scientist at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Federica Bertocchini, has discovered that wax worms (Galleria mellonella), which usually feed on honey and wax from the honeycombs of bees, are capable of degrading plastic. The discovery has been patented by the research scientists. The CSIC scientist worked on this research with Paolo Bombelli and Chris Howe from the University of Cambridge. The paper will be published in the next issue of Current Biology.


News Article | April 25, 2017
Site: www.gizmag.com

To look at one, you wouldn't necessarily think that a banded mongoose was a very fierce critter. However, researchers at the University of Exeter have shown that the animals engage in some pretty significant warlike behavior that starts with a screech and can easily end with death. Now, the same researchers have uncovered a different not-so-nice behavior exhibited by the banded mongoose: When females are kicked out of the group, close family members are often the first to go. Unlike other mongoose species, the banded mongoose lives in socially-oriented colonies with complex structures. This means that there are dominant males in the colony who want to increase the chances that their offspring will thrive. So to eliminate the number of females who can produce offspring that may not belong to them, the dominant males will conduct mass evictions of females, often in a violent way that can lead to injury and sometimes death. In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Exeter researchers figured out that the first females to go are often closely related to the dominant males doing the evicting. They've determined that this is because related females often fight back the least, as they're concerned about inflicting damage on a fellow family member – a concern clearly not shared by the males. "Targeting close relatives for eviction like this is the opposite of what we would expect social animals to do," said lead author Dr Faye Thompson, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on the University of Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall. "Our research shows that related females submit more easily because they are more sensitive to the costs they inflict on their relatives by fighting to stay in the group. As dominant banded mongooses need to evict rival females to reduce competition for their own offspring, their best strategy is to target close relatives." Interestingly, the researchers also discovered that, while the behavior seems harsh, the dominant mongooses at least won't target other colony-mates that are not able to defend themselves. "It seems that aggressive animals can anticipate the possibility of resistance and change their behavior accordingly," said senior author Rufus Johnstone of the University of Cambridge. "This appears to have a big effect on the way they treat relatives and non-relatives, and suggests that latent threats might exert an important influence on social behaviour more generally." The finding comes from an 18-year study of banded mongooses in Uganda and is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and the European Research Council. "We've long wondered why some individuals are marked out for violent attack and eviction, whereas others are permitted to stay," said Professor Michael Cant, of the University of Exeter, who has been leading the research. "Our new study shows that a crucial determinant is whether victims can put up a fight, and predicts that closer kinship sometimes goes hand in hand with more intense aggression." The following video shows a female being evicted from a colony of banded mongooses, but fair warning: The scene isn't pretty.


News Article | April 19, 2017
Site: phys.org

Dr Rachael Shaw, a postdoctoral research fellow in Victoria's School of Biological Sciences, conducted a study on a group of North Island robins based at Zealandia. The research investigated whether male robins could give their mate the type of food that she was most likely to want during reproduction. "Robins are a monogamous, food-sharing species, so were ideal for this experiment. The experimental procedure has only previously been used in the laboratory on Eurasian jays," she says. "We found male robins appropriately catered to their mates' desire, even when the female's behaviour was the only cue available to guide their choices. "This suggests that females can signal their current desires to their mates, enabling males to respond to that." Dr Shaw says the finding raises the possibility that other species might be capable of doing the same. "In many species food sharing by the male is vital to help the female offset the energetic costs of reproduction, such as egg laying and incubation. The male's ability to give his mate what she wants could in fact be an important factor in determining the success of a pair, as well as influencing whether they stay together. These are really exciting avenues for future research." The experiment first involved establishing female robins' eating habits. "I fed the females either meal worms or wax worms, and then gave them the choice between these two types of insect larvae. I found that after the females had eaten one type of insect, they would prefer to eat the other type when given the choice. This means that the female's desire for a particular food is affected by what she has previously eaten." Based on this, Dr Shaw then tested if the male would also be able to choose the type of insect his mate was most likely to want (the one she had not just eaten). "Regardless of whether or not he had seen what his mate ate first, the male still made the appropriate choices. This suggests that the female is likely to be displaying her current desire in her behaviour, and that the male is using these cues to identify the food that she wants." The research, co-authored by Victoria's Associate Professor Kevin Burns and Professor Nicola Clayton from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, was recently published in the journal Scientific Reports. The field work and data collection was carried out by Dr Shaw with help from Victoria student Regan MacKinlay. Dr Shaw's research is supported by a Rutherford Foundation postdoctoral fellowship and a Marsden Fast Start grant from the Royal Society of New Zealand. Previous research from Dr Shaw has revealed surprising similarities to human intelligence in robins. Explore further: Male choosiness emerges when females have multiple partners


News Article | April 25, 2017
Site: www.biosciencetechnology.com

The largest genomic analysis of puberty timing in men and women conducted to date has identified 389 genetic signals associated with puberty timing, four times the number that were previously known. The study, published in Nature Genetics and led by researchers from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge and other scientists in the international ReproGen consortium, also found new genetic evidence linking earlier timing of puberty to higher risk of several cancers known to be sensitive to sex-hormones in later life, including breast, ovary and endometrial cancers in women, and prostate cancer in men. These influences remained after controlling for body weight, which is important as body weight itself influences both the timing of puberty and the risk of some cancers. Dr. John Perry, Senior Investigator Scientist from the MRC Epidemiology Unit and senior author on the paper, says: "Previous studies suggested that the timing of puberty in childhood was associated with risks of disease decades later, but until now it was unclear if those were circumstantial observations, for example secondary to other factors such as body weight. “Our current study identifies direct causal links between earlier puberty timing itself and increased cancer risk. This link could possibly be explained by higher levels of sex hormones throughout life, but we need to do more work to understand the exact mechanisms involved. We aim to understand these disease links and thereby contribute to the prevention of diseases in later life." The timing of puberty varies widely between individuals but tends to run closely within families. Earlier puberty timing may have advantages for some adolescents, for example for boys who engage actively in sports, but it appears to have largely negative effects on later health, such as higher risks of heart disease and some cancers. By performing detailed assessments of genetic variants across the whole genome in 329,345 women, comprising data from 40 studies in the ReproGen consortium, UK Biobank, and consented 23andMe customers, this study identified 389 independent genetic signals for age at puberty in women. This observation was then confirmed in a further 39,543 women from the deCODE study, Iceland. Many of these genetic associations were also found to influence age at voice breaking, a comparable measure of puberty timing in men. These findings shed light on the mechanisms that regulate puberty timing. Perry adds: "These newly identified genetic factors explain one quarter of the estimated heritability of puberty timing. Our findings highlight the remarkable biological complexity of puberty timing, with likely thousands of genetic factors, in combination with numerous environmental triggers, acting together to control the timing of this key transition from childhood to adult life.” Dr. Ken Ong, also from the MRC Epidemiology Unit and joint senior author on the paper, says: "One of the more remarkable findings concerns the role of certain types of genes called imprinted genes, which are only active in your body when inherited specifically from one parent but not the other. We identified rare variants in two genes, which both lower the age of puberty when inherited from your father, but have no effect when inherited from your mother. This is intriguing as it suggests that mothers and fathers might benefit differently from puberty occurring at earlier or later ages in their children."


News Article | April 25, 2017
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

Banded mongooses target close female relatives when violently ejecting members from their social groups, University of Exeter scientists have found. Most animals are less aggressive towards family members, but dominant members of banded mongoose groups target relatives. The reason for this surprising behaviour is that unrelated mongooses are more likely to fight back -- making it more difficult to evict them. Females are the prime targets because the pups of dominant mongooses are less likely to survive if there are too many females breeding in the group. "Targeting close relatives for eviction like this is the opposite of what we would expect social animals to do," said lead author Dr Faye Thompson, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on the University of Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall. "Our research shows that related females submit more easily because they are more sensitive to the costs they inflict on their relatives by fighting to stay in the group. "As dominant banded mongooses need to evict rival females to reduce competition for their own offspring, their best strategy is to target close relatives." The mass evictions -- which are highly violent and often lead to injuries, and sometimes death -- result in multiple females being expelled. In about 50% of cases males are evicted with females. The trend for targeting related females was only seen in evictions of mongooses that were old enough to defend themselves -- supporting the conclusion that relatives are preferentially targeted only when they are capable of resisting eviction. Senior author Professor Rufus Johnstone, of the University of Cambridge, said: "It seems that aggressive animals can anticipate the possibility of resistance and change their behaviour accordingly. "This appears to have a big effect on the way they treat relatives and non-relatives, and suggests that latent threats might exert an important influence on social behaviour more generally." The research, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and the European Research Council, is the latest finding of an 18-year study of banded mongooses in Uganda. Professor Michael Cant, of the University of Exeter, who leads the long-term study, said: "We've long wondered why some individuals are marked out for violent attack and eviction, whereas others are permitted to stay. "Our new study shows that a crucial determinant is whether victims can put up a fight, and predicts that closer kinship sometimes goes hand in hand with more intense aggression."


News Article | March 21, 2017
Site: www.techtimes.com

Prenatal development is defined as the process through which an embryo grows into a fetus during the gestation period in the womb. The development begins from fertilization, the primary stage of embryogenesis, and continues until birth of the baby. Poverty, mother's age, drug usage, alcohol consumption, smoking, diseases, physical health and diet, depression, toxins from the environment, and low weight gain during pregnancy are various factors that affect the prenatal development of a fetus. During pregnancy, if a mother suffers from any kind of infection, then her immune system helps in eradicating the infection. In cases like these, the defense mechanism of the mother's immune system may become harmful for the child's brain development. A study conducted by the researchers from University of Cambridge, University of Cyprus, and University of California, San Diego, and Stanford University explains the effects of infection on the development of the child. The researchers used mice and rats to understand the intricate biological flow, which is due to the reactions of the mother's immune system. This may later lead to other severe consequences. During the research, the team injected pregnant rats with lipopolysaccharide, which, although non-infectious, draw out a strong immune response from the mother with an increase in cytokine levels. Cytokines are proteins secreted by certain cells and are important in cell signaling. This was done to observe how a pregnant woman's immune system can affect the brain development of her baby. The scientists discovered that the activation of the mother's immune system causes changes in the activity of varied genes in the brain of the fetus. The cause of concern is that these genes, whose pathways and activity were altered by the mother's immune system, are very important and are said to play a pivotal role in the development of autism before birth. These genes are also responsible for development of major brain processes before birth. The effects due to the commencement of maternal immune system are transitory, but researchers believe that it may have a strong effect at the time of fetal development. "The more we understand about how brain development is disrupted by these effects, the higher the chance of finding amenable targets for potential therapeutic intervention or for informing how to prevent such risk from occurring in the first place," stated Dr. Tiziano Pramparo the senior author of the study. The study has been published online in the journal Molecular Psychiatry. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: phys.org

The natural structure found within leaves could improve the performance of everything from rechargeable batteries to high-performance gas sensors, according to an international team of scientists. The researchers have designed a porous, such as the veins of a leaf, and could make energy transfers more efficient. The material could improve the performance of rechargeable batteries, optimizing the charge and discharge process and relieving stresses within the battery electrodes, which, at the moment, limit their life span. The same material could be used for high performance gas sensing or for catalysis to break down organic pollutants in water. To design this bio-inspired material, an international team comprising scientists from China, the United Kingdom, United States and Belgium is mimicking the rule known as 'Murray's Law' which helps natural organisms survive and grow. According to this Law, the entire network of pores existing on different scales in such biological systems is interconnected in a way to facilitate the transfer of liquids and minimize resistance throughout the network. The plant stems of a tree, or leaf veins, for example, optimize the flow of nutrients for photosynthesis with both high efficiency and minimum energy consumption by regularly branching out to smaller scales. In the same way, the surface area of the tracheal pores of insects remains constant along the diffusion pathway to maximize the delivery of carbon dioxide and oxygen in gaseous forms. The team, led by Prof Bao-Lian Su, a life member of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge and who is also based at Wuhan University of Technology in China and at the University of Namur in Belgium, adapted Murray's Law for the fabrication of the first ever synthetic 'Murray material' and applied it to three processes: photocatalysis, gas sensing and lithium ion battery electrodes. In each, they found that the multi-scale porous networks of their synthetic material significantly enhanced the performance of these processes. "This study demonstrates that by adapting Murray's Law from biology and applying it to chemistry, the performance of materials can be improved significantly. The adaptation could benefit a wide range of porous materials and improve functional ceramics and nano-metals used for energy and environmental applications." "The introduction of the concept of Murray's Law to industrial processes could revolutionize the design of reactors with highly enhanced efficiency, minimum energy, time, and raw material consumption for a sustainable future." Writing in Nature Communications this week, the team describes how it used zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles as the primary building block of their Murray material. These nanoparticles, containing small pores within them, form the lowest level of the porous network. The team arranged the ZnO particles through a layer-by layer evaporation-driven self-assembly process. This creates a second level of porous networks between the particles. During the evaporation process, the particles also form larger pores due to solvent evaporation, which represents the top level of pores, resulting in a three level Murray material. The team successfully fabricated these porous structures with the precise diameter ratios required to obey Murray's law, enabling the efficient transfer of materials across the multilevel pore network. Co-author, Dr Tawfique Hasan, of the Cambridge Graphene Centre, part of the University's Department of Engineering, adds: "This very first demonstration of a Murray material fabrication process is incredibly simple and is entirely driven by the nanoparticle self-assembly. Large scale manufacturability of this porous material is possible, making it an exciting, enabling technology, with potential impact across many applications." With its synthetic Murray material, with precise diameter ratios between the pore levels, the team demonstrated an efficient breakdown of an organic dye in water by using photocatalysis. This showed it was easy for the dye to enter the porous network leading to efficient and repeated reaction cycles. The team also used the same Murray material with a structure similar to the breathing networks of insects, for fast and sensitive gas detection with high repeatability. The team proved that its Murray material can significantly improve the long term stability and fast charge/discharge capability for lithium ion storage, with a capacity improvement of up to 25 times compared to state of the art graphite material currently used in lithium ion battery electrodes. The hierarchical nature of the pores also reduces the stresses in these electrodes during the charge/discharge processes, improving their structural stability and resulting in a longer life time for energy storage devices. The team envisions that the strategy could be used effectively in materials designs for energy and environmental applications. Explore further: Researchers optimize the assembly of micro-/meso-/macroporous carbon for Li-S batteries More information: Xianfeng Zheng et al, Bio-inspired Murray materials for mass transfer and activity, Nature Communications (2017). DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14921


News Article | April 24, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

The largest genomic analysis of puberty timing in men and women conducted to date has identified 389 genetic signals associated with puberty timing, four times the number that were previously known. The study, published today in Nature Genetics and led by researchers from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge and other scientists in the international ReproGen consortium, also found new genetic evidence linking earlier timing of puberty to higher risk of several cancers known to be sensitive to sex-hormones in later life, including breast, ovary and endometrial cancers in women, and prostate cancer in men. These influences remained after controlling for body weight, which is important as body weight itself influences both the timing of puberty and the risk of some cancers. Dr John Perry, Senior Investigator Scientist from the MRC Epidemiology Unit and senior author on the paper, says: "Previous studies suggested that the timing of puberty in childhood was associated with risks of disease decades later, but until now it was unclear if those were circumstantial observations, for example secondary to other factors such as body weight. "Our current study identifies direct causal links between earlier puberty timing itself and increased cancer risk. This link could possibly be explained by higher levels of sex hormones throughout life, but we need to do more work to understand the exact mechanisms involved. We aim to understand these disease links and thereby contribute to the prevention of diseases in later life." The timing of puberty varies widely between individuals but tends to run closely within families. Earlier puberty timing may have advantages for some adolescents, for example for boys who engage actively in sports, but it appears to have largely negative effects on later health, such as higher risks of heart disease and some cancers. By performing detailed assessments of genetic variants across the whole genome in 329,345 women, comprising data from 40 studies in the ReproGen consortium, UK Biobank, and consented 23andMe customers, this study identified 389 independent genetic signals for age at puberty in women. This observation was then confirmed in a further 39,543 women from the deCODE study, Iceland. Many of these genetic associations were also found to influence age at voice breaking, a comparable measure of puberty timing in men. These findings shed light on the mechanisms that regulate puberty timing. Dr Perry adds: "These newly identified genetic factors explain one quarter of the estimated heritability of puberty timing. Our findings highlight the remarkable biological complexity of puberty timing, with likely thousands of genetic factors, in combination with numerous environmental triggers, acting together to control the timing of this key transition from childhood to adult life." Dr Ken Ong, also from the MRC Epidemiology Unit and joint senior author on the paper, says: "One of the more remarkable findings concerns the role of certain types of genes called imprinted genes, which are only active in your body when inherited specifically from one parent but not the other. We identified rare variants in two genes, which both lower the age of puberty when inherited from your father, but have no effect when inherited from your mother. This is intriguing as it suggests that mothers and fathers might benefit differently from puberty occurring at earlier or later ages in their children." Felix R. Day, Deborah J. Thompson, Hannes Helgason et al. Genomic analyses identify hundreds of variants associated with age at menarche and support a role for puberty timing in cancer risk. Nature Genetics; 24 April 2017; DOI: 10.1038/ng.3841


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.newscientist.com

The repeated thoughts and urges of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) may be caused by an inability to learn to distinguish between safe and risky situations. A brain-scanning study has found that the part of the brain that sends out safety signals seems to be less active in people with the condition. People with OCD feel they have to carry out certain actions, such as washing their hands again and again, checking the oven has been turned off, or repeatedly going over religious thoughts. Those worst affected may spend hours every day on these compulsive “rituals”. To find out more about why this happens, Naomi Fineberg of Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust in the UK and her team trained 78 people to fear a picture of an angry face. The team did it by sometimes giving the volunteers an electric shock to the wrist when they saw the picture while they were lying in an fMRI brain scanner. About half the group had OCD. The team then tried to “detrain” the volunteers, by showing them the same picture many times, but without any shocks. Judging by how much the volunteers sweated in response to seeing the picture, the team found that people without OCD soon learned to stop associating the face with the shock, but people with the condition remained scared. Compared with those without the condition, the people with OCD had less activity in their ventromedial prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain involved in signalling safety and predicting rewards. Fineberg says the study shows that people with OCD aren’t always more fearful – they sweated in response to the face the same amount as the control group during the initial training. However, they sweated more than people without the condition during the detraining. This fits with why situations that trigger OCD rituals often have at least some potential for things to go wrong if the task isn’t done correctly. Leaving the oven on might start a fire, for example. “They’re not usually off-the-wall bizarre,” says Fineberg. “The obsessions are the sorts of things that most people would understand as being rational but exaggerated – for example, the need to wash your hands after going to the toilet.” Exposure response prevention therapy is usually used to treat OCD. It involves people trying to experience their triggers without doing their accompanying rituals – such as touching a toilet seat without washing their hands afterwards – to learn that nothing bad happens. But few people manage to drop all their repetitive behaviours, and about half of those with the condition aren’t helped at all. The new findings may explain why people with OCD find this approach so difficult and it can take so long, says Fineberg. “The bit of their brain that should be telling them it’s safe isn’t working. Now we can say to them this is why it’s taking so long and we should stick with it.” Annemieke Apergis-Schoute at the University of Cambridge says it may be helpful to give drugs during therapy that would help people to pay attention to the fact that nothing bad happens when they don’t do their rituals. One option would be psilocybin, for instance, a compound in magic mushrooms that causes euphoria. “We can boost this experience of things being safe or going right.”


News Article | May 2, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

The future of Britain’s power supply has been jeopardised by Brexit and the government must act urgently to ensure nuclear power stations stay open, MPs have warned. The influential Commons business, energy and industrial strategy committee said that any gap between the UK leaving a European atomic power treaty and entering into secure alternative deals would “severely inhibit nuclear trade and research and threaten power supplies”. The cross-party group of MPs said it shared the nuclear industry’s concern that it would take more than two years to hammer out a new deal for regulating nuclear power stations and trade. It urged the government to delay exit from the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) or set up transitional arrangements, which may need to be longer than the three years proposed by the European parliament. In a stark warning, Iain Wright, the committee’s chair, said: “The impact of Brexit on Euratom has not been thought through. The government has failed to consider the potentially severe ramifications of its Brexit objectives for the nuclear industry. Ministers must act as urgently as possible. The repercussions of failing to do so are huge. The continued operations of the UK nuclear industry are at risk.” The committee’s report echoed a warning from nuclear energy lawyers that leaving Euratom without a new deal would see the trade in nuclear fuel grind to a halt and could ultimately force Britain’s reactors to switch off. A former government adviser had told the committee that the UK nuclear industry would be “crippled” if new nuclear cooperation deals are not agreed within two years. The Euratom treaty promotes uniform safety standards, cooperation and research into nuclear power. Justin Bowden, national officer of the GMB union, said the committee’s warning “yet again emphasises our government’s lack of anything that could be called a coherent energy policy. “In a world outside of the European Union, energy self-sufficiency is common sense and nuclear, alongside gas, will be fundamental in that reliable mix,” he said. “Decisive action must take place now. The electorate will not forgive politicians of any political party who fail in their duty to maintain the electricity supply.” Wright said: “The prime minister has made it politically unfeasible to remain in Euratom long term. The government now has a responsibility to end the uncertainty hanging over the industry and ensure robust and stable arrangements to protect trade, boost research and development, and ensure safeguarding of the highest level.” The government argues that the UK must leave Euratom following Theresa May’s triggering of article 50 on 29 March, but the committee notes that legal opinion is divided. MPs are concerned that in the long run, the UK will become a “rule taker” – complying with but unable to influence European rules and standards. The committee warns that if UK standards diverge too far from those in the EU, Britain could become a dumping ground for energy-inefficient products. MPs are also worried that Brexit could distract the government from achieving emissions reduction targets, enshrined in domestic law. The committee’s report recommends maintaining access to the internal energy market and retaining membership of the emissions trading system until 2020 at least. Alternatives include retaining unrestricted energy trade between the UK and the EU, or seeking third party access to the market. The University of Cambridge suggested that energy cooperation could be reframed as an issue of security rather than trade, and an energy security treaty could be established with neighbouring countries. “We believe that membership of the internal energy market has been beneficial to UK and EU consumers and has helped provide flexibility and certainty to the supply of energy,” MPs said. “We therefore agree with the government’s intention to retain as free as possible access to this market and the intention to remain an influential player on energy in the EU. “While there are undoubtedly weaknesses in the operation of some EU policies on energy and climate change, notably the EU emissions trading system, the secretary of state, Greg Clark, acknowledged that cooperation with EU partners was generally mutually beneficial. The UK has consistently been a driver of high standards and ambitious climate change targets.”


News Article | April 25, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

The findings, published today in The Lancet, show women fare worse than men at every stage of treatment, leading to the study's authors to call for urgent improvement in how the condition is managed in women. The researchers, from Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge, found that women are less likely than men to be deemed suitable for keyhole surgery for the condition, which is associated with better outcomes. They are also more likely to be offered no surgical treatment at all. The findings are based on a review of international research into the condition, carried out since 2000. An abdominal aortic aneurysm is caused by a weakening in the wall of the aorta, the body's largest blood vessel, which carries blood from the heart through the abdomen to the rest of the body. Degenerative changes in the aortic wall cause weakening and ballooning of the blood vessel, sometimes to more than three times its normal diameter, with a risk of a potentially life-threatening rupture. Surgical repair for these aneurysms is offered only when the swelling is large enough to make the risk of rupture greater than the risks of the operation, with two types of surgery available. Open surgery involves cutting into the abdomen and replacing all of the ballooning section of the aorta with a tube-like graft. The second procedure, endovascular repair, is a minimally invasive 'keyhole' technique which involves inserting a tube-like graft through the leg artery into the swollen section of the aorta to reinforce the blood vessel's weakened wall. It is associated with better early outcomes than open surgery, but can only be offered when the aneurysm meets certain criteria, due to the shape and size of the grafts. For some patients with large aneurysms, the risk of both of these options are deemed to outweigh the risk of rupture and no treatment is offered unless patient fitness can be improved. The study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research, found that only a third of women were deemed suitable for keyhole surgery, compared with just over half of men. Less than a fifth of men were not offered surgery, compared with a third of women. Mortality rates for women for the 30 days after keyhole surgery were 2.3 per cent compared with 1.4 per cent for men. For open surgery, this rose to 5.4 per cent for women and 2.8 per cent for men. Women tend to develop aneurysms at an older age than men, and their aortas are smaller. Given the current technologies available, both of these factors can affect which type of surgery is deemed suitable, or whether surgery is an option at all. The researchers say that while these factors will form the basis of future research, age and physical fitness are not enough to account for the differences seen in mortality between men and women. Professor Janet Powell, from Imperial's Department of Surgery & Cancer and who led the research, said: "Our findings show that despite overall improvement in mortality rates for this condition, there is a huge disparity between outcomes for men and women, which is not acceptable. "The way abdominal aortic aneurysm is managed in women needs urgent improvement. We need to see if the devices used for keyhole surgery can be made more flexible to enable more women to be offered this option. We also need more grafts designed to fit women, who have smaller aortas, as all the grafts currently available have been designed for men." In the UK, abdominal aortic aneurysm is more prevalent in men, with men over 65 regularly screened for the condition. The condition often has no symptoms and many women are only diagnosed when the aneurysm ruptures, at which point the likelihood of survival can be less than 20 per cent. Professor Powell added: "Abdominal aortic aneurysm is still seen as mainly a male condition, and as a result, the way we manage the condition - from screening to diagnosis and treatment - has been developed with men in mind. Our study shows that this needs to change." 'Morphological suitability for endovascular repair, non-intervention rates, and operative mortality in women and men assessed for intact abdominal aortic aneurysm repair: systematic reviews with meta-analysis' by Ulug, P et al, is published in The Lancet.


News Article | April 25, 2017
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

An innovative study of children and parents in both Hong Kong and the United Kingdom, led by University of Cambridge researchers Michelle R. Ellefson and Claire Hughes, reveals cultural differences in important cognitive skills among adolescent participants but not their parents. The results are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. "Our findings showed substantial contrast between adolescents in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong when it came to executive functions, which may help to explain substantial differences in academic success," says Ellefson. "However, these differences do not extend to their parents -- which leads to the question of whether these differences might go away over time." Research suggests that executive functions -- the higher-order cognitive skills we use to reason, plan, and adapt to circumstances on the fly -- are linked with many long-term outcomes and are shaped by various factors, including parental and cultural influences. Ellefson, Hughes, and colleagues decided to take a novel approach to studying these executive functions, accommodating developmental and cultural perspectives in one study. A total of 1,428 children and parents from Hong Kong and the UK completed the same four tasks, which were designed to measure executive function skills related to inhibition, working memory, task switching, and planning. The results revealed that, on average, children in Hong Kong had higher executive function scores than their same-aged peers in the UK. For example, the average executive function score for 10-year-olds in Hong Kong was about the same as the average score for 12-year-olds in the UK. There was no such difference, however, between parents in Hong Kong and parents in the UK. When the team compared performance across generations, they found that the parents tended to respond more accurately than the children, but took longer to produce these accurate responses, meaning that parents avoided mistakes by slowing down. In both Hong Kong and the UK, there was a modest but notable correlation between parents' and children's scores -- parents with high executive function performance were more likely to have kids with high performance. Together, the research highlights the benefits of combining multiple theoretical perspectives in one study, looking at similarities and differences across both cultures and age groups. "This is our first paper together and it shows the value of developmental psychologists getting out of their 'age bunkers' to look at topics from a broader perspective," says Hughes. "Our findings indicate that cultural contrasts may differ in nature as well as magnitude at different points along the life span," the researchers conclude in their paper.


News Article | April 27, 2017
Site: www.newscientist.com

We have an astonishing new way to study our early human ancestors: looking for their DNA in ancient sediments in places such as caves. A team of researchers has found the DNA of Neanderthals and Denisovans in some of the sites where they are known to have lived. “I think we show convincingly that these sequences are authentic,” says lead author Viviane Slon of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany. The approach can now be used to find out whether early humans were present even when no bones have been found – and what kind of humans they were. It might also help resolve the debate about when the Americas were first inhabited by people, for instance. Just about any sample of soil or water is full of DNA from all kinds of organisms. Sequencing this “environmental DNA” is an increasingly powerful tool for studying ecosystems. For instance, biologists were recently able to identify several caves where “baby dragons”, or olms, live simply by analysing the water flowing out of them. In sediments buried in cool caves and in permafrost, this environmental DNA can survive for up to 700,000 years. In 2003, a team led by Eske Willerslev, now at the University of Cambridge, was the first to show that it was possible to find ancient DNA from species like the woolly mammoth, in frozen mud in Siberian permafrost. Now Slon’s team has shown that ancient human DNA can survive in sediments too. Her team sequenced all the DNA present in sediment samples from sites where hominins lived, such as Denisova cave in Russia. The biologists then used short pieces of modern human mitochondrial DNA to extract longer bits of DNA containing a matching sequence from the samples. The team looked for DNA from the energy-generating mitochondria within our cells, because they each contain the same DNA and there are hundreds per cell, so it is the type most likely to survive. The team found ancient hominin mitochondrial DNA in samples from four of the seven sites they looked at. The DNA probably came from human excreta or from rotting soft tissue. The discovered sequences had damage characteristic of ancient DNA and contained variants known to be unique to Neanderthals or Denisovans, so the team is sure they are the real thing, says Slon. Ancient humans are just another mammal, points out Willerslev. Given that we can find the DNA of woolly rhinoceroses and cave bears in sediments, it’s not surprising that we can find ancient hominin DNA as well. Slon’s team was even able to show that DNA from more than one individual was present in two of the samples. The team now plans to look for DNA at some of the many hominin sites where no fossils have been found. “There are a lot of sites where there are stone tools, but it is unclear who made them,” says Slon. Now we could start to get some answers. And if we can find enough ancient human DNA, it could even give us a better picture of how our ancestors moved around. What could be an issue, says Willerslev, is establishing exactly how old ancient hominin DNA is. “Cave sediments are often highly disturbed,” he says, which makes it hard to accurately date them. Read more: Rare ‘baby dragons’ discovered in five new caves thanks to DNA; DNA sequencing turns rivers into ecosystem surveillance systems; First Americans may have been Neanderthals 130,000 years ago


News Article | May 3, 2017
Site: www.nature.com

Palaeobotanist Kseniia Ashastina took this picture of her supervisor, Frank Kienast, collecting samples of ancient plants from a permafrost exposure in northeast Siberia, in June 2014. Ashastina, who is a PhD student at the Senckenberg Research Station of Quaternary Palaeontology in Weimar, Germany, says it was a welcome 20 °C at the time; this region of the world endures temperatures below freezing for 7 months a year. Over hundreds of thousands of years, the water in the soil has frozen and thawed over and over, carving deep cuts into the ground and creating steep, icy formations like the one pictured. It's a remote area: Ashastina and Kienast were the only people there, and there was no phone signal. It doesn't look it, but it's noisy, says Ashastina. “There are tons of mosquitoes there trying to bite you. There is cracking ice and creaking trees. It's dangerous. You'd need to be crazy to enjoy it, but in a good way.” The permafrost under the exposed surface makes this area perfect for Ashastina's research, because it's too cold for her samples to be digested by bacteria. The same goes for the bones of the mammals that once roamed this area, around 20,000 years ago, when a green, energy-rich land bridge joined Asia and North America. Femurs, skulls, fibulas and tibias are churned up every summer as the ice melts along the formation, and the cut retreats further into the forest. Shortly after this photo was taken, as Ashastina and Kienast camped near the formation, two locals — drunk and carrying guns — emerged from the forest and demanded to know what the scientists were doing. Every summer, the pair had made money by pulling the tusks of long-dead woolly mammoths out of the mud and selling the ivory — and they were convinced that these newcomers wanted a piece of the action. But the locals were shocked sober, Ashastina says, when they looked inside her sample bags to find that the strangers before them were ignoring the ivory in favour of the mud. This kind of story is exactly what we hoped we'd find when we announced the Naturejobs Scientist at Work photo competition at the start of March. Scientists spend their time finding connections and building a research story. But they themselves often have fascinating, scary, guns-and-ivory tales to tell, and those stories are frequently best told with an image. When meteorologist Timo Palo, who also features in this article, started working in the Arctic in 2006, he realized that bringing his message back home could be achieved more easily with a camera. “It's often too hard for scientists to put their work into simple words,” he says. “Photography can help there.” Here we present five of the best images from the competition, which ran throughout March and attracted about 170 entries, from New Zealand to Norway, Canada to Qatar. Winners were chosen by a panel of Nature designers and journalists, who judged the images purely on their aesthetic impact. We did not ask for additional context, and we accepted only one image per person. Submissions could be made either through social media or by e-mail. “Science and art have quite a few things overlapping,” says Timo Kohler, whose picture also appears here. “Even as a non-expert, if you look at life under a microscope, for example, there's absolute beauty in it. You're looking at a completely different world that you've never seen before. There's art there.” In 2010, when Timo Palo's temporary home — the Chinese research and cargo vessel Xue Long (which translates as Snow Dragon) — gave up searching the Arctic Ocean for a stable berth and paused to allow scientists on to an ice floe instead, he climbed to the top deck to take this photograph using a fisheye lens. Palo, a meteorologist at the University of Tartu in Estonia, has watched this part of the world change dramatically. Temperatures in the Arctic are rising about twice as fast as the average temperature in the rest of the world, he says. “Sea ice is sinking. As a scientist, you can't have any conclusions before you analyse the data. But visually you can see it. And when you capture something that moves people, it can have a lot more impact than words can have.” Normally, Palo says, he uses a wide-angle lens to convey the scale of the Arctic. “There's this vast territory of snow and ice, and tiny human beings in the middle of it. You feel small there,” he wrote to me after our interview. But he realized that a fisheye lens would help him to impart a different message. “We know the Arctic Ocean is on the top of a globe. It's like a roof on our planet.” The distortion, he thinks, helps the viewer to visualize this roof — and the cracks that run across its surface. Volker Diekamp, a marine-geology technician at Marum — an ocean and sea-floor research institute at the University of Bremen in Germany — spends his working hours inspecting sediment from the bottom of the ocean. He's used to photographing scenes like this one, which was taken off the coast of the Canary Islands in winter 1997. It shows scientists and sailors struggling to pull ocean-analysis equipment aboard the German research vessel Meteor. He's travelled on board the same ship, as both technician and resident photographer, on trips to the oceans around South America, Africa and India (his first voyage was in 1991). When on land, he's equally busy taking pictures of academic colleagues. “Here at the university, scientists at work are my main topic,” he says. In July — “Summer, but it's still cold,” he says — he flies to Greenland to join the Merian, another German research vessel. In 1997, the water was mercifully warm. Just before this shot was taken, Diekamp says, he “felt the movement of the ship” and knew immediately that his colleagues were about to get very wet. What about him and his camera? “Almost not at all,” he says. “I was in a safe place. I could care about the picture, not the water. It's a once-in-a-lifetime shot.” When he took this photograph, biochemist Timo Kohler had just returned from a group skiing retreat organized by Florian Hollfelder, who runs a laboratory at the University of Cambridge, UK. Hollfelder likes to encourage his students to travel together, Kohler says. Since joining the lab, Kohler has been to Crete, India and Austria, and more trips are planned. “There's a lot of social bonding going on,” he says. “You make friends. The image shows one of Kohler's fellow PhD students inspecting a microfluidic chip. To take it, Kohler reversed the magnifying glass that's normally used to see the fine detail in these chips. “It's an artistic effect. In science, I'm not allowed to do it; in photography, I can point the light where I want,” he says. Mehmet Davrandi, a microbiologist at University College London, says the image above is the result of an error. He uses blood agar to grow and observe oral bacteria, so that he can better understand dental plaque. On this occasion, he spread the germs the wrong way. When he came to hold the plate up to the light, to check the bacterial colonies, he saw what looked like a tree. Davrandi is from Cyprus. “We have a lot of almond trees in the gardens,” he says. “So everyone from Cyprus loves almonds.” But he feels that the image has a deeper meaning: “It's surprising how rare things happen, and those rare events turn out to be very big things. It really represents how accidental life can be.” Davrandi wasn't worried that his experiment had gone wrong: he had more agar plates to work with. The next day, he brought in his camera and took the above picture. “Technically, we're not allowed to have that sort of thing in the lab, but I'm pretty sure nobody's going to complain.”


News Article | May 8, 2017
Site: phys.org

But these woodlands also have value beyond their beauty: They are an economic asset, generating raw material for papermaking, construction, furniture-building and more. A new study illuminates the evolutionary history of birch, a tree that has not been studied much by scientists despite its commercial value. "Birch is one of the major trees for forest products in the Northern Hemisphere. Others, like spruce, pine and poplar, all have genome sequences, but birch did not—until now," says University at Buffalo biologist Victor Albert, who co-led the Finnish-funded project with Jaakko Kangasjärvi, Ykä Helariutta, Petri Auvinen and Jarkko Salojärvi of the University of Helsinki in Finland. Helariutta is also a professor at the University of Cambridge. "We sequenced about 80 individuals of one species, Betula pendula, the silver birch," says Kangasjärvi. "We sampled populations of this species throughout its range, so up and down Finland, down to Germany, over to Norway and Ireland, and all the way up to Siberia."By analyzing the 80 genomes sequenced, the team was able to identify genetic mutations that may be of interest to industry, including mutations that may affect how well birch trees grow and respond to light at different latitudes and longitudes and under different environmental conditions. The research could be a starting point for breeding trees that better meet the needs of various industries."What makes a birch tree hardy in different environments? A tree in Finland may die if you plant it in Siberia because plants have local adaptations—specific genetic mutations—that help them survive where they are found," Helariutta says. "An understanding of these natural adaptations can facilitate genetic engineering and artificial selection. That's why our research could be very useful for forest biotechnology." The study will be published on May 8 in Nature Genetics. In the study, the researchers identified genetic mutations of interest by hunting for distinctive stretches of DNA within the genomes of individual birch trees. Like people, plants inherit two copies of every gene—one from each parent—and these two copies are slightly different from each other. However, in some spots, an organism may have long strips of identical DNA in both copies of a gene. Such stretches of DNA point to genetic regions that are critical to a species' survival and development, as these regions are the product of "selective sweeps" in which all or most organisms in a geographic location come to depend on a certain genetic trait. When the scientists analyzed the genomes of 80 birch trees from across Europe, they discovered a rich array of selective sweeps in genes that influence important qualities such as tree growth and wood production. Moreover, the team found that some selective sweeps appeared to be associated with various environmental conditions. Two genes that help control how birch trees respond to light—PHYC and FRS10—had notable genetic mutations correlating with latitude, longitude and temperature, while the mutations in PHYC were also related to precipitation trends. Similar associations were also identified for two genes tied to wood production—KAK and MED5A. (Mutations in these genes were correlated with latitude, longitude and temperature.) "The selective sweeps we identified may be the basis for local adaptation for different populations of birch," Salojärvi says. "Trees in Siberia are under different selective pressure from trees in Finland, so genes are being tweaked in different ways in these two places to allow these plants to better adjust to their environment." "The research points to genetic mutations that could be of interest for genetic manuipulation for forest products," says Auvinen. Explore further: Genetic legacy of rare dwarf trees is widespread More information: Genome sequencing and population genomic analyses provide insights into the adaptive landscape of silver birch, Nature Genetics (2017). nature.com/articles/doi:10.1038/ng.3862


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.newscientist.com

A new oral Ebola vaccine seems to works in apes – but that doesn’t mean Africa’s great apes are now safe from the virus, which poses a grave threat to endangered gorillas, bonobos and chimpanzees. It may, however, never be used, unless researchers, conservationists and officials can agree on vaccination strategies and how to test the vaccines. Researchers had started testing the vaccines and wanted to carry on, but a change to the US Endangered Species Act prohibiting invasive research on chimps kicked in in September 2015, while they were still in the process. Wild animals become more vulnerable to the impacts of disease as their populations get smaller and more fragmented. “As great apes continue to suffer habitat loss and poaching, infectious disease is increasingly likely to tip that last domino toward extinction,” says Steve Osofsky at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Ebola is endemic to the animals’ natural range in Africa, and outbreaks have killed possibly a third of gorillas and thousands of chimpanzees since 1990. Apes can also die from purely human diseases. “Risk is increasing with more human contact, and we fear bigger outbreaks,” says Chris Whittier at Tufts University in Massachusetts. Peter Walsh at the University of Cambridge tested an oral vaccine for Ebola in 10 captive chimps at an animal facility in Louisiana. It was made of the live, weakened rabies virus used in oral vaccines for animals, with an added gene for the main surface glycoprotein from the Ebola virus. After this, levels of antibodies effective against the rabies and Ebola viruses rapidly increased in the chimps. By four weeks, they had the same levels that monkeys produced in earlier tests with the same vaccine. The monkeys had developed even higher levels of antibodies after eight weeks, which protected them from deliberate exposure to Ebola. The chimps’ antibody levels were rising just as fast, and Walsh thinks they would have developed similar, protective levels. But he couldn’t take the blood samples at eight weeks to find out because the change to US law prohibiting invasive research on apes kicked in before then. The law does allow research that benefits chimps for those that apply for an exemption. But after widespread campaigns against any chimp research, no US animal colonies applied for this, says Walsh. Although he wants to continue testing, there are now no countries that allow invasive tests such as blood samples in captive chimps. Zoos that have apes want no association with testing or Ebola. Using rescued chimps in sanctuaries might be an option, but in December the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance banned vaccines with live, replicating viruses. “We don’t want to risk even the slightest chance of a replicating vaccine virus mutating and become virulent,” says PASA director Gregg Tully. Matthias Schnell at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who developed Walsh’s vaccine, argues that the virus is so weak that it doesn’t cause rabies even when injected into mouse brains, and the Ebola gene weakens it further. Hundreds of millions of doses of the virus have been scattered in oral baits for foxes and raccoons across Europe and North America. A live-virus Ebola vaccine is needed, says Walsh, because it can be eaten, and the tiny dose absorbed then replicates to elicit immunity. Some wild animals can be darted with injected, killed-virus vaccines, he says, but apes live in dense forests and flee humans. Walsh envisages a dispenser from which apes could get sweet vaccine-laced treats, with a camera recording those that took some. The effectiveness of the vaccine could then be tested by measuring antibodies in the apes’ excretions. Nevertheless, wildlife disease experts warn that no such work should be carried out until virologists, conservationists and governments have discussed the risks and benefits and agreed a plan. “You need stakeholder buy-in,” says Osofsky. “If someone vaccinated apes now without broad consensus and there was some problem, even unrelated to the vaccine, it could doom any future effort.” He cites the emergency rabies vaccination of endangered African wild dogs in Tanzania in the 1980s. Months later, an unknown disease wiped them out and the vaccination was blamed, even though it was unrelated. The controversy delayed and even derailed efforts to vaccinate wildlife in the region for years.


News Article | April 24, 2017
Site: www.bbc.co.uk

A teenager made about £360,000 by creating computer hacking software which cost universities, gaming websites and other businesses millions of pounds, a court has heard. Adam Mudd, 20, of Hertfordshire, has already admitted offences under the Computer Misuse Act. The Old Bailey heard he lives with his parents and the crimes were about "status". He is expected to be sentenced next week. The court heard Mudd created the Titanium Stresser "malware" in 2013, when he was 16 years old, and sold it to cyber criminals across the world. The programme had 112,000 registered users who were responsible for about 1.7 million "distributed denial of service" attacks on websites, including gaming sites such as RuneScape, Minecraft and Xbox Live. The court heard there were about 25,000 attacks on RuneScape and the company which owns it spent £6m trying to defend itself. Prosecutors said Mudd carried out 594 attacks himself, including one on West Herts College where he was studying computer science. He also attacked 70 other schools and colleges, including the University of Cambridge, University of Essex and University of East Anglia, as well as local councils. Mudd had been in his bedroom when he was arrested at his home in Toms Lane, Kings Langley, in March 2015 and he refused to unlock his computer until his father intervened. Jonathan Polney, prosecuting counsel, said the malware caused "incalculable" damage to organisations. "This is a young man who lived at home. This is not a lavish lifestyle case," he said. "The motivation around this we tend to agree is about status. The money-making is by the by." Mudd also admitted one count of concealing criminal property. Judge Michael Topolski QC said the case was of "importance and seriousness" and he would not be rushed in determining sentencing.


News Article | April 25, 2017
Site: www.gizmag.com

Plastic bags are a bane of modern life. As you read this, nearly two million of them are being used around the world right now. By the time the year is over, this number will probably reach a trillion, clogging up landfills, oceans, streams, and the digestive tracts of marine animals. Over the years, scientists have been coming up with various solutions to tackle this problem, from devising ways to give it a second lease of life to making greener and more sustainable plastics. But nature might have a simpler solution: wax worms... Continue Reading Beekeepers’ nuisance could offer solution to our plastic problem Category: Environment Tags: Biodegradable Pests Plastic waste Pollution University of Cambridge Related Articles: Adidas puts its best foot forward with lighter, stronger, biodegradable shoes Cloves and silver make for better food packaging Compostable electronics could ease the e-waste problem Metabolix engineers plants to make cheaper, cleaner bioplastic 3D Printing with plants is cheaper, stronger and more environmentally friendly US military seeks biodegradable bullets that sprout plants


News Article | May 3, 2017
Site: globenewswire.com

Vienna, Vir., May 03, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today, the Jane Goodall Institute’s board of directors announced that as of March 21, 2017, Carlos Drews, who has a doctorate in zoology, joined the Jane Goodall Institute as the organization’s executive director. In this role, Drews is responsible for advancing the mission of the Institute building on the legacy of Dr. Jane Goodall, the organization's founder and UN Messenger of Peace. This mission includes promoting understanding and protection of great apes and their habitat, and inspiring individual action by young people of all ages to help animals, other people and to protect the world we all share. As he joins the Institute, Drews will be responsible for leading the organization’s staff of more than 200 conservation professionals in Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Uganda, Tanzania and the United States. On his new post Drews comments, “Having worked all my life with passion in the field of conservation stewardship, the position as JGI’s executive director is the most rewarding role I can play — allowing me to continue to work with African great apes specifically, and to build on my convictions about community-based conservation and the power of the young generation to shape a better world.” Prior to taking on his current role at the Institute, Drews spent 13 years working for the World Wildlife Fund. Most recently, Drews served as the global director of species conservation at WWF International in Switzerland where he was responsible for engaging governments, NGOs, corporations and donors to rally behind a joint marine & terrestrial species conservation agenda. Previously at WWF, Latin-America & the Caribbean, Drews headed the regional species and fisheries team where he was instrumental in reducing the amount of sea turtles injured by long-line fishing in the Eastern Pacific. As a child, Drews dreamed of studying animals in Africa. He realized this dream years later when he arrived in Tanzania as a graduate student researching psychological warfare in baboon communities – a study that earned him the John Napier Medal of the Primate Society of Great Britain. “Great apes are exposed to habitat loss, disease, poaching and other threats," Drews remarks on threats to great apes. "They are a sensitive litmus test for our relationship with fellow creatures on Earth, given their close proximity to us: if we do not fix the way we treat and respect our closest living relatives, what chance may other animals have, I wonder?" A native of Colombia, Drews earned his doctorate from the University of Cambridge and has carried out research into wildlife behavioral ecology in Africa and Latin America, which includes research on the behavioral ecology of primates as well as caimans. He also holds a masters in biology from Munich’s Ludwig-Maximilians as well as a masters in applied biology from the University of Cambridge. A longtime admirer of Jane Goodall and her work, Drews works to preserve and build on Goodall’s legacy at the helm her namesake Institute. Working with a talented staff located all over the world, Drews unites the Institute's team and positions it to ensure long-term success of their conservation efforts. Reflecting on his new work with Goodall, Drews shares, “Remarkably for me, this position gives me the opportunity to be mentored by an outstanding conservation leader that I have very much admired for at least three decades. I feel strongly committed and determined to equip JGI to move sustainably towards Jane Goodall´s vision.” The Jane Goodall Institute is a global community conservation organization that advances the vision and work of Dr. Jane Goodall. By protecting chimpanzees and inspiring action to conserve the natural world we all share, we improve the lives of people, animals and the environment. Founded in 1977 by Dr. Goodall, JGI makes a difference through community-centered conservation and the innovative use of science and technology. We work closely with local communities around the world, inspiring hope through the collective power of individual action. Through Roots & Shoots, our youth-led community action and learning program, young people in nearly 100 countries are acquiring the knowledge and skills to become compassionate conservation leaders in their own backyards. A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/2200ee70-f2ac-4b1f-bc26-c6ba39814739 A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/f06504b5-3a3c-4684-b56b-08f823769d97 A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/fda04319-5edf-421c-82d6-e0abadb9623b


News Article | May 3, 2017
Site: globenewswire.com

Vienna, Vir., May 03, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today, the Jane Goodall Institute’s board of directors announced that as of March 21, 2017, Carlos Drews, who has a doctorate in zoology, joined the Jane Goodall Institute as the organization’s executive director. In this role, Drews is responsible for advancing the mission of the Institute building on the legacy of Dr. Jane Goodall, the organization's founder and UN Messenger of Peace. This mission includes promoting understanding and protection of great apes and their habitat, and inspiring individual action by young people of all ages to help animals, other people and to protect the world we all share. As he joins the Institute, Drews will be responsible for leading the organization’s staff of more than 200 conservation professionals in Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Uganda, Tanzania and the United States. On his new post Drews comments, “Having worked all my life with passion in the field of conservation stewardship, the position as JGI’s executive director is the most rewarding role I can play — allowing me to continue to work with African great apes specifically, and to build on my convictions about community-based conservation and the power of the young generation to shape a better world.” Prior to taking on his current role at the Institute, Drews spent 13 years working for the World Wildlife Fund. Most recently, Drews served as the global director of species conservation at WWF International in Switzerland where he was responsible for engaging governments, NGOs, corporations and donors to rally behind a joint marine & terrestrial species conservation agenda. Previously at WWF, Latin-America & the Caribbean, Drews headed the regional species and fisheries team where he was instrumental in reducing the amount of sea turtles injured by long-line fishing in the Eastern Pacific. As a child, Drews dreamed of studying animals in Africa. He realized this dream years later when he arrived in Tanzania as a graduate student researching psychological warfare in baboon communities – a study that earned him the John Napier Medal of the Primate Society of Great Britain. “Great apes are exposed to habitat loss, disease, poaching and other threats," Drews remarks on threats to great apes. "They are a sensitive litmus test for our relationship with fellow creatures on Earth, given their close proximity to us: if we do not fix the way we treat and respect our closest living relatives, what chance may other animals have, I wonder?" A native of Colombia, Drews earned his doctorate from the University of Cambridge and has carried out research into wildlife behavioral ecology in Africa and Latin America, which includes research on the behavioral ecology of primates as well as caimans. He also holds a masters in biology from Munich’s Ludwig-Maximilians as well as a masters in applied biology from the University of Cambridge. A longtime admirer of Jane Goodall and her work, Drews works to preserve and build on Goodall’s legacy at the helm her namesake Institute. Working with a talented staff located all over the world, Drews unites the Institute's team and positions it to ensure long-term success of their conservation efforts. Reflecting on his new work with Goodall, Drews shares, “Remarkably for me, this position gives me the opportunity to be mentored by an outstanding conservation leader that I have very much admired for at least three decades. I feel strongly committed and determined to equip JGI to move sustainably towards Jane Goodall´s vision.” The Jane Goodall Institute is a global community conservation organization that advances the vision and work of Dr. Jane Goodall. By protecting chimpanzees and inspiring action to conserve the natural world we all share, we improve the lives of people, animals and the environment. Founded in 1977 by Dr. Goodall, JGI makes a difference through community-centered conservation and the innovative use of science and technology. We work closely with local communities around the world, inspiring hope through the collective power of individual action. Through Roots & Shoots, our youth-led community action and learning program, young people in nearly 100 countries are acquiring the knowledge and skills to become compassionate conservation leaders in their own backyards. A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/2200ee70-f2ac-4b1f-bc26-c6ba39814739 A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/f06504b5-3a3c-4684-b56b-08f823769d97 A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/fda04319-5edf-421c-82d6-e0abadb9623b


The randomized, prospective, controlled clinical trial looked at weight loss among 1,267 participants randomized to attend Weight Watchers for a 12- or 52-week period, or to receive brief advice, alongside self-help materials and regular weigh-ins. The large independent study was conducted by research teams led by Dr. Amy Ahern at the University of Cambridge; Professor Jason Halford and Dr. Emma Boyland at the University of Liverpool; and Professor Susan Jebb and Professor Paul Aveyard at the University of Oxford. This trial was funded by a National Prevention Research Initiative grant and the cost of the Weight Watchers program and blood sampling and analysis were funded by Weight Watchers as part of an MRC Industrial Collaboration Award. At one year, participants assigned to 52 weeks of Weight Watchers lost, on average, more than twice as much weight as those in the brief intervention group. They were also more likely to lose 5% and 10% or more of their initial weight as compared to the brief intervention and 12-week Weight Watchers groups, which are weight loss milestones that are associated with significant health benefits. Additionally, compared to participants in the other groups, those in the year-long Weight Watchers program also had significantly greater reductions in fasting blood glucose and glycosylated haemoglobin, which are important markers of the future risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Study participants attended a final measurement appointment at 24 months, a full year after treatment had ended. Although there was weight regain among all groups, the group assigned to 52 weeks of Weight Watchers, as compared to the other two groups in the study, experienced superior weight losses and improvements in waist and fat mass that were sustained even two years down the line. The researchers also modelled the impact of the three programs over the next 25 years to predict cost effectiveness, among other factors. They found that the incremental cost effectiveness ratio for the 52-week program was cost effective compared to the brief intervention and the 12-week program. "These data replicate earlier and smaller studies proving that Weight Watchers provides clinically meaningful weight loss in a cost effective manner. This study of over 1,200 people is notable in that, as compared to the brief intervention or 12-week Weight Watchers groups, the superiority of the one year Weight Watchers program was still evident after two years," said Gary Foster, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer, Weight Watchers International, Inc. "These two-year data indicate that our liveable, scalable program can provide long-term sustainability." According to the CDC, as of 2014, more than one-third of U.S. adults have obesity. Additionally, the estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical costs for people who have obesity were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight1. For more information on Weight Watchers, please visit www.weightwatchers.com. About Weight Watchers International, Inc. Weight Watchers International, Inc. is one of the most recognized and trusted brand names among weight-conscious consumers. Weight Watchers provides commercial weight management services through a global network of Company-owned and franchise operations and offers innovative, digital weight management products through its websites, mobile sites and apps. These services and products are built on the Company's weight management program, which helps millions of people around the world lose weight through sensible and sustainable food plans, activity, behavior modification and group support. Weight Watchers has an unparalleled network of service providers to assist members on their journey and also offers a wide range of products, publications and programs for those interested in weight loss and healthier living. Funding This trial was funded by the UK National Prevention Research Initiative (a collaboration of government departments, research councils and major medical charities). The cost of the Weight Watchers program and blood sampling and analysis were funded by Weight Watchers as part of an MRC Industrial Collaboration Award. Conflicts of Interest ALA, SAJ, EJB, BRM and JCGH have received research funding to their institutions from Weight Watchers International and have given and received hospitality from providers of commercial weight loss services on a small number of occasions. PA and SAJ have conducted another publicly funded trial in which part of the intervention was delivered by and donated free by Slimming World and Rosemary Conley, and they are principal investigators on a trial funded through a grant to the University of Oxford from Cambridge Weight Plan. JCGH is Principal Investigator on studies funded through research grants to the University of Liverpool from the California Prune Board, Ingredion and American Beverage Association (ABA), and has studentships funded through BBSRC and ESRC with Unilever, Coca-Cola, and Tate & Lyle. JCGH provides expertise on health, weight management and appetite control to the food and beverage, commercial weight management, pharmaceutical and ingredient sectors. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-lancet-study-shows-weight-watchers-is-more-effective-than-brief-intervention-partnered-with-self-help-materials-300451167.html


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

Escaping cycles of poverty may depend on how much a person feels he or she can rely on their local communities, according to research led by Princeton University. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study finds that low-income individuals who trust their communities make better long-term financial decisions. This is likely because citizens rely on friends and neighbors for financial support, rather than quick fixes, like payday loans, which further indebt them. The findings show the importance of building strong communities, especially for low-income individuals. The researchers suggest moving away from a focus on low-income individuals, instead focusing on low-income communities through targeted policies. "Instead of cutting funding to community development programs, policymakers should implement changes that give individuals in low-income communities more opportunities to develop community trust," said study co-author Elke Weber, the Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment and professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School. In addition to Weber, the study was conducted by lead author Jon Jachimowicz, Columbia University; Salah Chafik, Columbia University; Sabeth Munrat, BRAC (an international development organization in Bangladesh); and Jaideep Prabhu, University of Cambridge. To determine why low-income individuals tend to make more myopic (or short-term) financial decisions, the researchers conducted a series of studies, focusing on both the United States and Bangladesh. In the first study, the researchers invited 647 participants from the United States to make several choices between "smaller, sooner" and "larger, later" options, taking into account participants' incomes and how much they trusted their local communities. They found that richer participants were generally less likely to make harmful short-term decisions than those with lower incomes, but that this only applied to low-income individuals who did not trust their communities. In contrast, those low-income individuals who trust their communities more made financial decisions that were very similar to those made by richer participants. "Current financial dilemmas are stressful and leave people with no option but to choose immediate solutions. Our results indicate that lower-income people are less likely to invest in the long-term because of their immediate financial needs," said Weber. "This is in line with work by Princeton's Eldar Shafir and others: that scarcity leads to harmful long-term decision-making." In the second study, the researchers evaluated "payday loans" in the United States, which carry high interest rates and exacerbate cycles of poverty among the poor. After reviewing the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking, the researchers found that fewer payday loans were taken out in communities where levels of trust were higher. This is because individuals can rely on their communities to help with financial needs (taking out a loan from a friend, for example), instead of resorting to high-interest emergency loans, the researchers said. In the final part of the study, the researchers turned their attention to Bangladesh, where they conducted a two-year field study. Together with BRAC and The Hunger Project, a global nonprofit organization, the researchers worked with 121 of Bangladesh's smallest local government units, known as council unions. They trained community volunteers to act as intermediaries between local government and community residents. Volunteers met with members of their community and helped provide them with access to public services. Volunteers also provided guidance to government units directly. When comparing the unions with community volunteers to those without, the researchers found the two groups differed widely in their levels of community trust. Residents with community volunteers had higher levels of community trust, which also influenced their decision-making. These individuals were more likely to forgo smaller payoffs in exchange for more-profitable, delayed options. Taken together, the findings highlight the importance of building trust in low-income communities. The findings also point to the benefits of programs currently targeted for budget cuts by the Trump administration, the researchers said. "The Trump administration's preliminary federal budget for 2018 recommends eliminating the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant, a program established in 1974 to help communities address a wide range of their development needs," said Jachimowicz. "The budget blueprint reasons that the program is 'not well-targeted to the poorest populations and has not demonstrated results.' The evidence presented in our paper contradicts this claim, and suggests eliminating this line item could lead to devastating consequences, particularly for those on low incomes." The paper, "Community trust reduces myopic decisions of low-income individuals," was published online in PNAS on April 11. This research was made possible in part by a Cambridge Judge Business School small grant, the research facilities provided by the Center for Decision Sciences at Columbia University and the support of the German National Academic Foundation.


News Article | April 19, 2017
Site: news.europawire.eu

Asian elephants are able to recognise their bodies as obstacles to success in problem-solving, further strengthening evidence of their intelligence and self-awareness, according to a new study from the University of Cambridge. CAMBRIDGE, 19-Apr-2017 — /EuropaWire/ — Self-awareness in both animals and young children is usually tested using the ‘mirror self-recognition test’ to see if they understand that the reflection in front of them is actually their own. Only a few species have so far shown themselves capable of self-recognition – great apes, dolphins, magpies and elephants. It is thought to be linked to more complex forms of perspective taking and empathy. Critics, however, have argued that this test is limited in its ability to investigate complex thoughts and understanding, and that it may be less useful in testing animals who rely less on vision than other species. One potential complement to the mirror test as a measure of self-understanding may be a test of ‘body-awareness’. This test looks at how individuals may recognise their bodies as obstacles to success in a problem-solving task. Such a task could demonstrate an individual’s understanding of its body in relation to its physical environment, which may be easier to define than the distinction between oneself and another demonstrated through success at the mirror test. To test for body-awareness in Asian elephants, Dr Josh Plotnik, visiting researcher at the University of Cambridge, visiting assistant professor of psychology at Hunter College, City University of New York and founder of conservation charity Think Elephants International, devised a new test of self-awareness together with his colleague Rachel Dale (now a PhD student at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna). The new test was adapted from one in which children were asked to push a shopping trolley, but the trolley was attached to a mat on which they were standing. In the elephant version of the test, Plotnik and Dale attached a stick to a rubber mat using a rope; the elephants were then required to walk onto the mat, pick up the stick and pass it to an experimenter standing in front of them. The researchers wanted to investigate whether elephants understood the role of their bodies as potential obstacles to success in the task by observing how and when the animals removed themselves from the mat in order to exchange the stick. In one control arm of the test, the stick was unattached to the mat, meaning the elephant could pass the stick while standing on the mat. The results of the study, which was largely funded by a Newton International Fellowship from the Royal Society awarded to Dr Plotnik, are published today in the journal Scientific Reports. “Elephants are well regarded as one of the most intelligent animals on the planet, but we still need more empirical, scientific evidence to support this belief,” says Dale. “We know, for example, that they are capable of thoughtful cooperation and empathy, and are able to recognise themselves in a mirror. These abilities are highly unusual in animals and very rare indeed in non-primates. We wanted to see if they also show ‘body-awareness’.” Plotnik and Dale found that the elephants stepped off the mat to pass the stick to the experimenter significantly more often during the test than during the control arm. Elephants stepped off the mat an average (mean) of around 42 out of 48 times during the test compared to just three times on average during the control. “This is a deceptively simple test, but its implications are quite profound,” says Dr Plotnik. “The elephants understood that their bodies were getting in the way, so they stepped aside to enable themselves to complete the task. In a similar test, this is something that young children are unable to understand until they are about two years old. “This implies that elephants may be capable of recognising themselves as separate from objects or their environment. This means that they may have a level of self-understanding, coupled with their passing of the mirror test, which is quite rare in the animal kingdom.” Species that have demonstrated a capacity for self-recognition in the mirror test all show varying levels of cooperative problem-solving, perspective taking and empathy, suggesting that ‘self-awareness’ may relate to effective cooperative-living in socially intelligent animals. A more developed self-understanding of how an individual relates to those around may underlie more complex forms of empathic perspective taking. It may also underlie how an individual targets help towards others in need. Both aspect are seen in studies of human children. Both self-awareness as demonstrated by the mirror test and body-awareness as demonstrated by the current study help scientists better understand how an animal’s understanding of self and of its place in the environment may impact social decision-making in the wild. Plotnik argues that studies such as this are important for helping increase our understanding of and appreciation for the behaviour and intelligence of animals. He also says that understanding elephant behaviour has important implications for the development of human/elephant conflict mitigation strategies in places like Thailand and India, where humans and elephants are competing for land. Only through careful consideration of both human and elephant needs can long-term solutions be sustainable. “The more we can understand about elephants’ behaviour, the more we can understand what their needs are, how they think and the strains they face in their social relationships,” he says. “This will help us if we are going to try to come up with viable long term solutions to the problems that these animals face in the wild, especially those that bring them into regular conflict with humans.” Reference Dale, R, and Plotnik, JM. Elephants know when their bodies are obstacles to success in a novel transfer task. Scientific Reports; 12 April 2017; DOI: 10.1038/srep46309


News Article | April 25, 2017
Site: www.bbc.co.uk

A computer hacker has been jailed for two years for masterminding global online attacks as a teenager from his bedroom in Hertfordshire. Adam Mudd, now 20, admitted creating malware in 2013 which was used to carry out 1.7 million cyber attacks. Among the victims were gaming websites including Minecraft, Xbox Live and the fantasy game Runescape, the Old Bailey heard. Judge Michael Topolski said Mudd "knew full well this was not a game". Mudd, who has autism, will serve his sentence in a young offenders institution. The judge said he could not suspend the jail term because he needed the sentence to be a "real" deterrent to others. Mudd was 16 when he developed a programme called Titanium Stresser, the court heard. He set it up using a false name and an address in Manchester. It had 112,000 registered users, who in turn attacked 666,000 IP addresses globally. The attacks, known as 'distributed denials of service', left companies paying millions to defend themselves against it. The teenager earned more than £386,000 worth of US dollars and Bitcoins from selling the programme to international cyber criminals. The Old Bailey heard that he also personally carried out 594 attacks, including one on West Herts College where he was studying computer science. Mudd also targeted up to 70 schools and colleges, including the University of Cambridge, University of Essex and University of East Anglia, as well as local councils. Police said that when he was arrested in March 2015, Mudd was in the bedroom of his home in King's Langley and refused to unlock his computer until his father intervened. During sentencing Judge Topolski noted that Mudd came from a "perfectly respectable and caring family" but the effect of his crimes had caused damage "from Greenland to New Zealand and from Russia to Chile". "I'm entirely satisfied that you knew full well and understood completely this was not a game for fun," he told Mudd. "It was a serious money-making business and your software was doing exactly what you created it to do".


News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Women living in the most deprived areas are over 60% more likely to have anxiety as women living in richer areas. However, whether men lived in poorer or richer areas made very little difference to their anxiety levels, according to new research from the University of Cambridge. Anxiety disorders, which often manifest as excessive worry, fear and a tendency to avoid potentially stressful situations including social gatherings, are some of the most common mental health problems in the Western world. The annual cost related to the disorders in the United States is estimated to be $42.3 million. In the European Union, over 60 million people are affected by anxiety disorders in a given year. There have been few studies to date that assess the factors or characteristics that are linked to anxiety disorders, and even fewer looking at the impact of places where people live in relation to anxiety. However, previous studies have linked living in areas of high deprivation or poverty with significantly increased risks for serious medical conditions and a shorter life expectancy. To examine whether living in poor areas is related to anxiety disorders, researchers from the Cambridge Institute of Public Health studied health and lifestyle questionnaires completed by some 21,000 people in and around Norwich, east England, between 1993-2000. The participants had been recruited as part of the EPIC-Norfolk study, set up to look at the connection between diet, lifestyle factors and cancer. The results of the study are published today in the journal BMJ Open. One in 40 women (2.5%) and one in 55 men (1.8%) were found to have generalised anxiety disorder. Women living in the most deprived areas were over 60% more likely to have anxiety than those living in areas that were not deprived. This association between deprivation and generalised anxiety disorder was not apparent in men. Although the researchers acknowledge that it is difficult to confirm that living in deprivation causes an increased risk of anxiety in women, they believe this is what their analysis points towards. "Anxiety disorders can be very disabling, affecting people's life, work and relationships, and increasing the risk of depression, substance misuse and serious medical conditions," says first author Olivia Remes, PhD candidate at the Department of Public Health and Primary Care. "We see from our study that women who live in deprived areas not only have to cope with the effects of living in poverty, but are also much more susceptible to anxiety than their peers. In real terms, given the number of people living in poverty worldwide, this puts many millions of women at increased risk of anxiety." The team speculate why this may be the case. Women are more embedded in their communities than men - tending to stay at home more and do more of the domestic duties -- and so the stress and strain of living in impoverished communities seems to affect them more, they argue. Also, women are increasingly taking on multiple roles in society today: income-earner, child-bearer, care-taker -- all of which adds to their burden. However, while men may be less susceptible to anxiety, their stress can lead to other negative coping behaviours such as alcohol and substance abuse. Professor Carol Brayne from the Cambridge Institute of Public Health, explains: "Anxiety disorders affect a substantial number of people and can lead to poor health outcomes and risk of suicide. Now we know that women are particularly affected by deprivation, while men less so. This is intriguing and further research is needed on this, particularly in the most deprived regions." "Our findings show that mental health policy needs to take communities or the places where people live into account: investing in a local area will not benefit all parts of its population in the same way," says Dr Louise Lafortune, Senior Research Associate at the Cambridge Institute of Public Health. "It's evident from our study that we need to take into account gender when determining what action to take. This is particularly important at a time of scarce economic and health-related resources." Remes, O et al. Sex differences in the association between area deprivation and generalised anxiety disorder: British population study. BMJ Open; 5 May 2017; DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-013590


The JGLS team comprising of Sayantan Chandra, Amartya Ashish Saran, Vasudha Ahuja, Anubhav Khamroi, Ananyaa Mazumdar and Harsha Pisupati won against prestigious schools of the world including FGV Rio Law School, the University of Zurich, Institut d' Etudes Politique de Paris, University of Cambridge and Columbia Law School. Congratulating the team, JGU, Vice-Chancellor, Prof. C Raj Kumar, said, "This extraordinary achievement of students of JGLS in winning the second prize in the International Commercial Arbitration moot court held in Vienna is as much a victory for India as it is a victory for JGU. It has demonstrated the outstanding abilities of Indian law students to compete internationally and excel in these mooting and advocacy programmes. The global legal education offered by JGLS is a testimony to the institutional vision and interdisciplinary curriculum; hard work and passionate commitment of the students and the competence and dedication of the faculty members." The Willem C Vis Moot is widely regarded as the world's pre-eminent arbitration moot competition. Held annually in Vienna, it brings together the global arbitration community around issues concerning the laws of international arbitration and The United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG). In the past too, JGLS students have won laurels at the Oxford Media Law Moot Court Competition, Herbert Smith Freehills Moot Court Competition, Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, ULC Bangalore Moot, 10th Nani Palkhiwala Tax Moot Court Competition to name a few. JGLS harbours a vibrant mooting culture and imparts a rigorous and multi-disciplinary legal education with a view of producing world-class legal professionals, scholars, leaders and public servants. The School's expert faculty comes from across the globe and engages in critical scholarship that contributes to public debates both in India and abroad.


News Article | April 21, 2017
Site: www.techrepublic.com

What happens when criminals figure out how to use robots to commit crimes? Christopher Markou, a Ph.D. candidate and Faculty of Law at the University of Cambridge, takes a look at the disturbing possibility in We could soon face a robot crimewave ... the law needs to be ready, a commentary he wrote for The Conversation. "How do we make sense of all this?" asks Markou. "Should we be terrified? Generally unproductive. Should we shrug our shoulders as a society and get back to Netflix? Tempting, but no. Should we start making plans for how we deal with all of this? Absolutely." SEE: Robots of death, robots of love: The reality of android soldiers and why laws for robots are doomed to failure (TechRepublic) For starters, Markou is curious how fault is determined when a robot does something considered illegal. For example, is it right the US government absolved Tesla Motors of any responsibility after a driver was killed when his autopiloted Tesla crashed? How about the robot that was arrested and then released for buying drugs in Switzerland? Successfully wading through the can-of-worms of determining culpability seems impossible. However, Markou, in his commentary, mentions something mildly reassuring. He writes that little if any thought was given to who owned the sky before the Wright brothers achieved their first sustained flight of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft. "Time and time again, the law is presented with novel ideas," he explains. "And despite initial overreaction, it got there in the end. Simply put: the law evolves." SEE: Stanford expert says liability issues puts future of robotics in peril (ZDNet) Before getting into the thorny issues of robot crime, Markou offers his thoughts as to why a system of laws is needed. "Ultimately, it [the law] is required within society for stabilizing people's expectations," writes Markou. "If you get mugged, you expect the mugger to be charged with a crime and punished." Markou then points out the law, by definition, holds people accountable. They must comply with the law to the fullest extent their consciences allow. This compliance applies to organizations as well. "To varying degrees, companies are endowed with legal personhood, too," he explains. "It grants companies certain economic and legal rights, but more importantly, it also confers responsibilities on them." Now to the thorny stuff: Markou suggests the law is on the cusp of needing to evolve. Robotic platforms using artificial intelligence (AI) are close to making, what might be considered, independent decisions, and the law is unable to answer questions like the following: The "guilty mind" Markou refers to is an interesting concept. "Criminal law requires that an accused is culpable for their actions," writes Markou. "The idea behind the guilty-mind concept is that the accused both completed the action of assaulting someone and had the intention of harming them, or knew harm was a likely consequence of their action." The first requirement for a crime based on "guilty mind" per Markou is that AI technology has reached a level of sophistication that allows the device to bypass human control; at that time questions about harm, risk, fault, and punishment will become important. So, Markou believes that robots can commit crimes, but there is a caveat: "If a robot kills someone then it has committed a crime, but technically only half a crime, as it would be far harder to determine 'guilty mind,'" explains Markou. "How do we know the robot intended to do what it did?" SEE: Robot Law, book review: People will be the problem (ZDNet) Markou feels that whether a robot can commit a crime or not depends on "emergence." Emergence is where a system does something new and likely good, but also unforeseeable, which is why it presents a problem for the law. The hope is for safe and beneficial emergent behavior, and not manifest illegal, unethical, and/or dangerous behavior. SEE: Robot kills worker on assembly line, raising concerns about human-robot collaboration (TechRepublic) It does not take much thought to envision the complexity of deciding whether a robot is guilty of committing a crime. To make matters even more untenable, Markou (maybe with a hint of sarcasm) talks about punishment, writing, "What's a 30-year jail stretch to an autonomous machine that does not age, grow infirm, or miss its loved ones?" Markou concludes his commentary on a cautionary note:


News Article | April 20, 2017
Site: news.europawire.eu

CAMBRIDGE, 20-Apr-2017 — /EuropaWire/ — Minaam Abbas has not yet started his PhD, but he is already co-founder of two businesses with the potential to transform how cancer is treated and how small enterprises are supported. Minaam, who will start his PhD at Cambridge this autumn as a Gates Cambridge Scholar, is chief operating officer of angioClast, a company aiming to develop drugs that can target blood vessels in the most aggressive forms of brain cancer. He is also co-founder of Hazina, a social enterprise that aims to turn microfinance on its head by cutting out the middle man and providing an alternative credit rating for the smallest businesses, while also teaching financial literacy. Minaam’s PhD will focus on the new field of epitranscriptomics, looking at how RNA can be modified and how these modifications can be used to fight cancer. His driving passion is to make a positive impact on people’s lives, and through both his research and his businesses he is already doing so. He might not have made it to where he is now, however, without the support of local businesspeople in Pakistan, of individuals and institutions at Cambridge, and now the Gates Cambridge Trust. Minaam is one of 90 new Gates Cambridge Scholars announced today as part of The Class of 2017. It comprises students from 34 nationalities, and includes the first Native American Scholar, as well as the first ever Scholars from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Luxembourg. Marina Velickovic, the first Gates Cambridge Scholar from Bosnia and Herzegovina, will do a PhD in International Criminal Law focusing on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia through the lens of gender and ethnicity. Marina has co-authored two books and co-founded the only feminist magazine in Bosnia, She is currently a Visiting Fellow at Goldsmiths College, where she is working on a feminist critique of the legal discourse surrounding conflict-related sexual violence. Sandile Mtetwa, from Zimbabwe, will do an MPhil in Chemistry focused on improving the properties of photo-active materials used in the process of harnessing clean energy. She is founder of the Trust Simuka-Arise Initiative, in Zimbabwe, which aims to empower young women academically, socially and economically. Norman Wray from Ecuador is a Constituent Assembly Member and once stood for President of Ecuador. He is a strong advocate of the “Buen Vivir” (Good Living) regime, the rights of nature, and the inclusion of access to water as a human right in the Constitution of Ecuador. His MPhil in Conservation will develop a nature-based, evidence-led approach to the resolution of social, economic, ecological and political problems. Thierry Mousset, the first Gates Cambridge Scholar from Luxembourg, will do a PhD at the Department of German and Dutch on the use of non-dramatic texts by W.G. Sebald, Mathias Enard and Orhan Pamuk in contemporary stage performances. He says: “I believe that in the current political climate, informed by a sharp rise in anti-Muslim and nationalist rhetoric, it is more important than ever to remind ourselves of the shared history of the two sides of the Mediterranean.” Gates Cambridge is the University of Cambridge’s leading award for international postgraduate students and was set up in October 2000 through a $210m donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation -the largest single donation to a UK university. Those selected need to demonstrate not only academic brilliance but outstanding leadership qualities and a commitment to improving the lives of others. Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, says: “Gates Cambridge Scholars come from all over the world, but they have some important things in common: great leadership potential, a commitment to improving the lives of others and an unparalleled passion for learning. Melinda and I are pleased to welcome the class of 2017. We have no doubt they will have an incredible impact on topics of global importance.” Cambridge Vice-Chancellor and Chair of the Gates Cambridge Board of Trustees Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz added: “Cambridge is a global university and the Gates Cambridge programme epitomises both its international, outward-looking nature and its mission to tackle global challenges and to improve the lives of others.” The mission of the scholarship is to create a dynamic global network of Scholars who use their intellectual and leadership skills to improve the lives of others. Since 2001 the programme has supported over 1,500 Scholars spanning more than 100 countries. The programme has already spawned several multi-disciplinary, international initiatives founded by groups of Scholars. They include the award-winning Simprints, which provides low-cost, fingerprint scanners for frontline workers in fields such as healthcare, finance and education; Favalley, a social hacking enterprise with the mission of turning slums and favelas around the world into the next Silicon Valleys; Action Meter, an e-democracy  web platform for running social campaigns in Estonia; and We are Sister Stories, a digital platform that highlights the strength and resilience of women and girls across the globe. Minaam Abbas is excited about meeting his fellow Scholars in the autumn, and hopes that being part of a diverse network of Scholars working on global issues will lead to interesting collaborations. He says:  “The Gates Cambridge community inspires me. Amazing ideas can come from people working together in a common space across different subjects, countries and perspectives. Gates Cambridge actively promotes this and encourages people to get together to brainstorm.”


Scientists at the University of Cambridge have succeeded in growing miniature functional models of the lining of the womb (uterus) in culture. These organoids, as they are known, could provide new insights into the early stages of pregnancy and conditions such as endometriosis, a painful condition that affects as many as two million women in the UK. CAMBRIDGE, 18-Apr-2017 — /EuropaWire/ — The mucosal lining inside the uterus is called the endometrium. Over the course of the menstrual cycle, its composition changes, becoming thicker and rich with blood vessels in preparation for pregnancy, but if the woman does not conceive, the uterus sheds this tissue, causing the woman’s period. A team from the Centre for Trophoblast Research, which this year celebrates its tenth anniversary, was able to grow the organoids in culture from cells derived from endometrial tissue and maintain the organoids in culture for several months, faithfully reproducing the genetic signature of the endometrium – in other words, the pattern of activity of genes in the lining of the uterus. They also demonstrated that the organoids respond to female sex hormones and early pregnancy signals, secreting what are collectively known as ‘uterine milk’ proteins that nourish the embryo during the first months of pregnancy. The findings of the study, funded by the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust and the Centre for Trophoblast Research, are published today in the journal Nature Cell Biology. “These organoids provide a major step forward in investigating the changes that occur during the menstrual cycle and events during early pregnancy when the placenta is established,” says Dr Margherita Turco, the study’s first author. “These events are impossible to capture in a woman, so until now we have had to rely on animal studies.” “Events in early pregnancy lay the foundations for a successful birth, and our new technique should provide a window into this events,” adds Professor Graham Burton, Director of the Centre for Trophoblast Research, and joint senior author with Ashley Moffett of the study. “There’s increasing evidence that complications of pregnancy, such as restricted growth of the fetus, stillbirth and pre-eclampsia – which appear later in pregnancy – have their origins around the time of implantation, when the placenta begins to develop.” Research in animal species such as mice and sheep has shown that factors secreted by the endometrial glands are critical for enabling a developing fertilised egg (known as the ‘conceptus’) to implant into the wall of the uterus. There is also strong evidence that the conceptus sends signals to the endometrial glands that then stimulate the development of the placenta. In this way, the conceptus is able to stimulate its own development through a ‘dialogue’ with the mother; if it fails, the result is loss of the pregnancy or severe growth restriction of the fetus. Professor Burton and colleagues believe that using the organoids will allow them to investigate in greater detail how the conceptus communicates with the glands, identifying the full repertoire of factors released in response and testing their effects on placental tissues. His team will be collaborating with the Bourn Hall Clinic – a fertility clinic near Cambridge – to investigate whether parts of this circuitry are impaired or deficient in women experiencing difficulty in conceiving, and if so to devise potential new treatments. The technique also enables the researchers to grow organoids from endometrial cancer cells. As proof-of-principle, this will allow them to model and understand diseases of the endometrium, including cancer of the uterus and endometriosis. Organoid cultures have proven to be powerful tools for investigating the behaviour of other organ systems. Members of the Centre for Trophoblast Research are confident that their new advance will provide a much-needed window on events during the earliest stages of pregnancy, when the conceptus and mother first physically interact. Reference Turco, MY et al. Long-term, hormone-responsive organoid cultures of human endometrium in a chemically defined medium. Nature Cell Biology; 10 April 2017; DOI: 10.1038/ncb3516


IMAGE:  The Avalon marshes is one of the largest expanses of restored wetland in the UK. view more A failure to celebrate conservation successes means we miss vital opportunities to convince the public of "real and practical solutions" they can engage with, says a leading conservationist. Writing in the journal Oryx, Andrew Balmford, Professor of Conservation Science at the University of Cambridge, argues that any progress risks being reversed if we "let drift the many gains that the conservation movement is making". Progress redefines what we consider normal, he says, as in the case of the smoking ban or rights for women. Such "positive shifting baselines" even extend to the green shoots of nature's recovery through conservation -- from birdlife in the UK's Avalon marshes to monkeys in Brazilian forests. However, Balmford says conservation improvements can quickly get taken for granted. When combined with the seemingly endless torrent of bad news about nature, he believes the overall effect can render people hopeless. "If we forget where we've come from, we risk allowing things to slip backwards," he writes, pointing to examples in the UK and US where early species recoveries have already led to official sanctioning of hunting and culling of partially restored populations. In an effort to shift the balance towards celebrating and reinforcing success, Balmford and colleagues from the Cambridge Conservation Initiative are organising Cambridge University's contribution to a day of global action. #EarthOptimism will promote a much more positive outlook on the future of the natural world. Taking place on 22 April, Earth Day, #EarthOptimism summits are being coordinated across more than 20 cities including Washington, London, Dallas and Helsinki. The Cambridge event features an open invitation to hear 'Stories of Hope' from noted naturalists such as legendary primatologist and University alumnus Jane Goodall, and Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker. "Many of us want to make a difference, but lack credible information about how we can have real impact," says Balmford "Empowering people with practical suggestions is key to understanding we are all part of the solution." Sir David Attenborough, for whom the new conservation campus building at Cambridge is named, will also be in attendance at Cambridge #EarthOptimism. "While we cannot ignore the threats to nature, there are a growing number of examples of improvements in the health of species and habitats, along with benefits to human well-being, thanks to conservation action," said Attenborough. "But conservation cannot succeed through experts alone. The decisions that we all make in our day-to-day lives are critical for its success." Balmford has long argued for the importance of celebrating conservation victories. In 2012, he published a book, Wild Hope, which collected examples of good news from the natural world. "You have to show people that their actions can change the world," he says. "You will never motivate people by just giving them bad news." In the latest article, Balmford highlights recent reasons to be slightly more cheerful: restored corridors of Brazilian forests leading to a rebound by tiny monkeys called golden lion tamarins; giant pandas no longer categorised as Endangered; and protected areas helping to rebuild fish stocks in the Amazon. Cambridge #EarthOptimism will feature more good news from nature, including resurgent seabirds and harmonious human-jaguar coexistence.* However, Balmford warns that such progress can fall victim to complacency if people are not aware of and championing these positive changes. In the UK, he flags the resurgence of some raptor species such as the red kite -- down to under forty birds in the 1960s -- and the common buzzard. This partial recovery has already led to legalised culling of buzzards, to protect the economic interests of a shooting industry that annually releases millions of non-native game birds into the countryside. Similarly, in the US limited recovery of wolf populations - still at less than 2% of historic levels - has led to some states delisting wolves as endangered, opening the animal up to hunting. "If as a result of positive shifting baselines we fail to remind ourselves and others of where we would be without conservation, the progress we have made risks being reversed," says Balmford. "Overturning the huge declines that nature is now experiencing will take a long time, and require fundamental shifts in our behaviour. But if we learn from the successes that conservation has already achieved, we can buy ourselves and the world around us much more time for those changes to take place."


Writing in the journal Oryx, Andrew Balmford, Professor of Conservation Science at the University of Cambridge, argues that any progress risks being reversed if we "let drift the many gains that the conservation movement is making". Progress redefines what we consider normal, he says, as in the case of the smoking ban or rights for women. Such "positive shifting baselines" even extend to the green shoots of nature's recovery through conservation – from birdlife in the UK's Avalon marshes to monkeys in Brazilian forests. However, Balmford says conservation improvements can quickly get taken for granted. When combined with the seemingly endless torrent of bad news about nature, he believes the overall effect can render people hopeless. "If we forget where we've come from, we risk allowing things to slip backwards," he writes, pointing to examples in the UK and US where early species recoveries have already led to official sanctioning of hunting and culling of partially restored populations. In an effort to shift the balance towards celebrating and reinforcing success, Balmford and colleagues from the Cambridge Conservation Initiative are organising Cambridge University's contribution to a day of global action. #EarthOptimism will promote a much more positive outlook on the future of the natural world. Taking place on 22 April, Earth Day, #EarthOptimism summits are being coordinated across more than 20 cities including Washington, London, Dallas and Helsinki. The Cambridge event features an open invitation to hear 'Stories of Hope' from noted naturalists such as legendary primatologist and University alumnus Jane Goodall, and Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker. "Many of us want to make a difference, but lack credible information about how we can have real impact," says Balmford "Empowering people with practical suggestions is key to understanding we are all part of the solution." Sir David Attenborough, for whom the new conservation campus building at Cambridge is named, will also be in attendance at Cambridge #EarthOptimism. "While we cannot ignore the threats to nature, there are a growing number of examples of improvements in the health of species and habitats, along with benefits to human well-being, thanks to conservation action," said Attenborough. "But conservation cannot succeed through experts alone. The decisions that we all make in our day-to-day lives are critical for its success." Balmford has long argued for the importance of celebrating conservation victories. In 2012, he published a book, Wild Hope, which collected examples of good news from the natural world. "You have to show people that their actions can change the world," he says. "You will never motivate people by just giving them bad news." In the latest article, Balmford highlights recent reasons to be slightly more cheerful: restored corridors of Brazilian forests leading to a rebound by tiny monkeys called golden lion tamarins; giant pandas no longer categorised as Endangered; and protected areas helping to rebuild fish stocks in the Amazon. Cambridge #EarthOptimism will feature more good news from nature, including resurgent seabirds and harmonious human-jaguar coexistence. However, Balmford warns that such progress can fall victim to complacency if people are not aware of and championing these positive changes. In the UK, he flags the resurgence of some raptor species such as the red kite – down to under forty birds in the 1960s – and the common buzzard. This partial recovery has already led to legalised culling of buzzards, to protect the economic interests of a shooting industry that annually releases millions of non-native game birds into the countryside. Similarly, in the US limited recovery of wolf populations – still at less than 2% of historic levels – has led to some states delisting wolves as endangered, opening the animal up to hunting. "If as a result of positive shifting baselines we fail to remind ourselves and others of where we would be without conservation, the progress we have made risks being reversed," says Balmford. "Overturning the huge declines that nature is now experiencing will take a long time, and require fundamental shifts in our behaviour. But if we learn from the successes that conservation has already achieved, we can buy ourselves and the world around us much more time for those changes to take place." Explore further: Science is core to saving wildlife More information: Andrew Balmford. On positive shifting baselines and the importance of optimism, Oryx (2017). DOI: 10.1017/S0030605317000096


News Article | May 3, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

(Reuters) - Europe’s top tech hubs tend to radiate from massive capital cities like London, Berlin and Paris. But the heart of European innovation isn’t a major metropolis –it’s a small city in the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders. That’s the conclusion of Reuters’ second annual ranking of Europe’s Most Innovative Universities, a list that identifies and ranks the educational institutions doing the most to advance science, invent new technologies, and help drive the global economy. The most innovative university in Europe, for the second year running, is Belgium’s KU Leuven. This nearly 600-year-old institution was founded by Pope Martin V, but today it’s better known for technology than theology: KU Leuven maintains one of the largest independent research and development organizations on the planet. In fiscal 2015, the university’s research spending exceeded €454 million, and its patent portfolio currently includes 586 active families, each one representing an invention protected in multiple countries. How does a relatively small Catholic university out-innovate bigger, better-known institutions across Europe? KU Leuven earned its first-place rank, in part, by producing a high volume of influential inventions. Its researchers submit more patents than most other universities on the continent, and outside researchers frequently cite KU Leuven inventions in their own patent applications. Those are key criteria in Reuters ranking of Europe’s Most Innovative Universities, which was compiled in partnership with Clarivate Analytics, and is based on proprietary data and analysis of indicators including patent filings and research paper citations. The second most innovative university in Europe is Imperial College London, an institution whose researchers have been responsible for the discovery of penicillin, the development of holography and the invention of fiber optics. The third-place University of Cambridge has been associated with 91 Nobel Laureates during its 800-year history. And the fourth-place Technical University of Munich has spun off more than 800 companies since 1990, including a variety of high-tech startups in industries including renewable energy, semiconductors and nanotechnology. Overall, the same countries that dominate European business and politics dominate the ranking of Europe's Most Innovative Universities. German universities account for 23 of the 100 institutions on the list, more than any other country, and the United Kingdom comes in second, tied with France, each with 17 institutions. But those three countries are also among the most populous and richest countries on the continent. Control for those factors, and it turns out that countries with much smaller populations and modest economies often outperform big ones. The Republic of Ireland has only three schools on the entire list, but with a population of less than 5 million people, it can boast more top 100 innovative universities per capita than any other country in Europe. On the same per capita basis, the second most innovative country on the list is Denmark, followed by Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Germany, the United Kingdom and France rank in the middle of the pack, an indication that they may be underperforming compared with their smaller neighbors: On a per capita basis, none of those countries has half as many top 100 universities than Ireland. And the same trends hold true if you look at national economies. According to the International Monetary Fund, in 2016 Germany’s gross domestic product exceeded $3.49 trillion –11 times larger than Ireland at $307 billion, yet Germany has only 7 times as many top 100 innovative universities. Some countries underperform even more drastically. Russia is Europe’s most populous country and has the region’s fifth largest economy, yet none of its universities count among the top 100. Other notable absences include any universities from Ukraine or Romania–a fact that reveals another divide between Western and Eastern Europe. To compile the ranking of Europe’s most innovative universities, Clarivate Analytics (formerly the Intellectual Property & Science business of Thomson Reuters) began by identifying more than 600 global organizations that published the most articles in academic journals, including educational institutions, nonprofit charities, and government-funded institutions. That list was reduced to institutions that filed at least 50 patents with the World Intellectual Property Organization in the period between 2010 and 2015. Then they evaluated each candidate on 10 different metrics, focusing on academic papers (which indicate basic research) and patent filings (which point to an institution's ability to apply research and commercialize its discoveries). Finally, they trimmed the list so that it only included European universities, and then ranked them based on their performance. This is the second consecutive year that Clarivate and Reuters have collaborated to rank Europe’s Most Innovative Universities, and three universities that ranked in the top 100 in 2016 fell off the list entirely: the Netherland’s Eindhoven University of Technology, Germany’s University of Kiel, and the UK’s Queens University Belfast. All three universities filed fewer than 50 patents during the period examined for the ranking, and thus were eliminated from consideration. They’ve been replaced by three new entrants to the top 100: the University of Glasgow (#54), the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis (#94), and the Autonomous University of Madrid (#100). The returning universities that made the biggest moves on the list were the Netherland’s Leiden University (up 21 spots to #17) and Germany’s Technical University of Berlin (up 21 spots to #41). Belgium’s Université Libre of Brussels (down 17 to #38) and the UK’s University of Leeds (down 17 to #73) made the biggest moves in the opposite direction. Generally, though, the list remained largely stable: Nine of the top ten schools of 2016 remained in the top 10 for 2017, and 17 of the top 20. This stability is understandable because something as large as university paper output and patent performance is unlikely to change quickly. Of course, the relative ranking of any university does not provide a complete picture of whether its researchers are doing important, innovative work. Since the ranking measures innovation on an institutional level, it may overlook particularly innovative departments or programs: a university might rank low for overall innovation but still operate one of the world's most innovative computer science laboratories, for instance. And it's important to remember that whether a university ranks at the top or the bottom of the list, it's still within the top 100 on the continent: All of these universities produce original research, create useful technology and stimulate the global economy.


News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: cen.acs.org

Two improved total syntheses of a hot anticancer agent, thapsigargin, could help lead to a commercially viable way to produce the compound. Thapsigargin kills cells by inhibiting an enzyme that controls essential calcium gradients inside cells. Right now, the compound is isolated from a poisonous Mediterranean plant called “deadly carrot.” Søren Brøgger Christensen of the University of Copenhagen, John Isaacs and Samuel R. Denmeade of Johns Hopkins Medicine, and coworkers developed a prodrug version of the molecule called mipsagargin. An enzyme expressed selectively in some cancer cells converts mipsagargin to thapsigargin by cleaving off a peptide side chain. Inspyr Therapeutics is believed to be close to starting Phase III human trials of mipsagargin. For future trials, companies may need a metric ton per year of thapsigargin, Christensen says. Isolating that amount of product from plants is not currently feasible, engineering organisms to make thapsigargin isn’t possible because the biosynthetic pathway is not fully known, and the semisynthesis of the compound in large amounts from a readily available natural product is possible but unproven. That leaves total synthesis. Steven Ley of the University of Cambridge and coworkers developed the first approach in 2007. With 42 steps and less than 1% yield, that synthesis isn’t practical for making large amounts. Groups led by Phil S. Baran of Scripps Research Institute California and P. Andrew Evans of Queen’s University have now independently developed more-efficient syntheses with far fewer steps (ACS Cent. Sci. 2016, DOI: 10.1021/acscentsci.6b00313; J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017, DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b01734). The improved practicality of Baran and coworkers’ approach is based in part on using strategic oxidations and introducing stereocenters in a way that avoids the use of expensive chiral ligands or auxiliaries, comments Krishna P. Kaliappan of the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. And Evans’s group achieved its improved efficiency in part by establishing thapsigargin’s polyoxygenated core with correct stereochemistry relatively early in the synthesis—an approach that could make it easier to prepare analogs for structure-activity relationship studies, Christensen says. There has been debate over the relative yields and number of steps of the two new syntheses, so it is hard to compare the efficiencies of the approaches. But both new syntheses “allow scaling to produce thapsigargin and represent advances in the ability to supply practical quantities for drug discovery,” says Javier Moreno-Dorado of the University of Cádiz.


News Article | May 8, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Forests of silver birch stretch across Europe, and they are a wonder to behold: stands of slender, white-barked trees sheltering vast swathes of earth. But these woodlands also have value beyond their beauty: They are an economic asset, generating raw material for papermaking, construction, furniture-building and more. A new study illuminates the evolutionary history of birch, a tree that has not been studied much by scientists despite its commercial value. "Birch is one of the major trees for forest products in the Northern Hemisphere. Others, like spruce, pine and poplar, all have genome sequences, but birch did not -- until now," says University at Buffalo biologist Victor Albert, who co-led the Finnish-funded project with Jaakko Kangasjärvi, Ykä Helariutta, Petri Auvinen and Jarkko Salojärvi of the University of Helsinki in Finland. Helariutta is also a professor at the University of Cambridge. "We sequenced about 80 individuals of one species, Betula pendula, the silver birch," says Kangasjärvi. "We sampled populations of this species throughout its range, so up and down Finland, down to Germany, over to Norway and Ireland, and all the way up to Siberia." By analyzing the 80 genomes sequenced, the team was able to identify genetic mutations that may be of interest to industry, including mutations that may affect how well birch trees grow and respond to light at different latitudes and longitudes and under different environmental conditions. The research could be a starting point for breeding trees that better meet the needs of various industries. "What makes a birch tree hardy in different environments? A tree in Finland may die if you plant it in Siberia because plants have local adaptations -- specific genetic mutations -- that help them survive where they are found," Helariutta says. "An understanding of these natural adaptations can facilitate genetic engineering and artificial selection. That's why our research could be very useful for forest biotechnology." The study will be published on May 8 in Nature Genetics. In the study, the researchers identified genetic mutations of interest by hunting for distinctive stretches of DNA within the genomes of individual birch trees. Like people, plants inherit two copies of every gene -- one from each parent -- and these two copies are slightly different from each other. However, in some spots, an organism may have long strips of identical DNA in both copies of a gene. Such stretches of DNA point to genetic regions that are critical to a species' survival and development, as these regions are the product of "selective sweeps" in which all or most organisms in a geographic location come to depend on a certain genetic trait. When the scientists analyzed the genomes of 80 birch trees from across Europe, they discovered a rich array of selective sweeps in genes that influence important qualities such as tree growth and wood production. Moreover, the team found that some selective sweeps appeared to be associated with various environmental conditions. Two genes that help control how birch trees respond to light -- PHYC and FRS10 -- had notable genetic mutations correlating with latitude, longitude and temperature, while the mutations in PHYC were also related to precipitation trends. Similar associations were also identified for two genes tied to wood production -- KAK and MED5A. (Mutations in these genes were correlated with latitude, longitude and temperature.) "The selective sweeps we identified may be the basis for local adaptation for different populations of birch," Salojärvi says. "Trees in Siberia are under different selective pressure from trees in Finland, so genes are being tweaked in different ways in these two places to allow these plants to better adjust to their environment." "The research points to genetic mutations that could be of interest for genetic manuipulation for forest products," says Auvinen.


News Article | May 5, 2017
Site: motherboard.vice.com

Written speculation about life beyond the confines of Earth dates back thousands of years, to the time of the Greek philosophers Epicurus and Democritus. Unrecorded curiosity about this question undoubtedly goes back much further still. Remarkably, today's generation seems about to get an answer from the study of exoplanets – planets orbiting other stars than the Sun. The early results are upending many assumptions from that long history. Two months ago, our research team at the University of Cambridge and the University of Liège in Belgium reported that a nearby star, called TRAPPIST-1A, is orbited by seven planets similar in size and mass to Earth. All seven planets are temperate, meaning that under the right atmospheric and geologic conditions, they could sustain liquid water. Three of the planets show particular potential for habitability, receiving about as much energy from their star as the Earth receives from the Sun. Our discovery received ecstatic and gratifying news coverage around the world. In many ways, though, the TRAPPIST-1 system is an odd place to look for life. The central star is just 1/12th the mass of the Sun and scarcely bigger than the planet Jupiter. It gives off just 0.05 per cent as much light as the Sun. TRAPPIST-1A belongs to a class that we call ultra-cool dwarfs, the very smallest stars that exist. Searching for habitable planets around ultra-cool dwarfs has long been considered a waste of time. Even as astronomers found that exoplanetary systems are generally different from the solar system, old attitudes lingered. The Earth and Sun appear so normal and hospitable to our eyes that we get blinded by their attributes. Major programmes are therefore directed at finding an Earth twin: a planet the mass and size of our own, orbiting a star just like the Sun, at the same Earth-Sun distance. The detection of such a world remains decades away. In the effort to answer the question 'Is there life elsewhere?' the focus on Earth twins is perceived as a safe path, since we can expect that similar conditions will lead to similar results (at least part of the time). However, we argue that this is far too conservative a goal, considering the huge number and diversity of available planets. That is part of the message of TRAPPIST-1. Research should be about finding what we don't already know. Identifying a life-bearing Earth twin would be a resounding scientific success, but it would teach little about the overall emergence of biology in the Universe. Our ambition is wider. Instead, we seek an answer to 'How frequently is life found elsewhere?' This simple change of words means that we should also be investigating planetary systems unlike the solar system. It would be disappointing and surprising if Earth were the only template for habitability in the Universe. Sun-like stars represent just 15 per cent of all stars in the Milky Way. More than half of those, in turn, exist in binary star systems that have also been disregarded as being too different from the conditions present in the solar system. The search for Earth twins therefore covers a nearly insignificant fraction of all the outcomes in nature. Once we reset the goal to measuring the total frequency of biology, ultra-cool dwarfs become an obvious target. Half the stars in the Milky Way have masses less than one-quarter of the Sun's. Our preliminary results suggest that rocky worlds are common orbiting low-mass stars, including ultra-cool dwarf system, possibly more so than in orbit around Sun-like stars. Ultra-cool dwarfs also open a much easier route to detecting and studying temperate, Earth-like planets. Our ambition is wider. Instead, we seek an answer to 'How frequently is life found elsewhere?' The scientific advantages of ultra-cool dwarfs come from their stellar properties, from how we identify exoplanets, and from how we expect to investigate their atmospheres. The TRAPPIST-1 planets were found as they passed in front of their star, events known as transits. When the planet transits, it casts a shadow whose depth tells us how much of the stellar surface is being hidden by the planet; the bigger the planet, the deeper the shadow. Because ultra-cool dwarfs are so small, the transit of an Earth-sized planet in front of TRAPPIST-1A is approximately 80 times as prominent as an equivalent transit against a much larger, Sun-like star. During a transit, any gases in the planet's atmosphere change the appearance of starlight streaming through. Around ultra-cool dwarfs, the atmospheric signature is boosted by about a factor of 80. The atmospheric composition of the TRAPPIST-1 planets will be detectable using current and upcoming facilities, such as the James Webb Space Telescope launching in 2018, unlike the decades of technological development needed to study an Earth twin. Extracting a reliable atmospheric signal requires observing dozens of transits. Here, too, systems such as TRAPPIST-1 have huge advantages. Around tiny ultra-cool dwarfs, transits of temperate planets happen once every few days to every couple of weeks, instead of once a year for a planet exactly like Earth. Astronomers, including ourselves, have already begun investigating the compositions of giant planets around other stars, detecting molecules such as water, carbon monoxide, methane, and hydrogen cyanide. With the discovery of the TRAPPIST- 1 system, we can extend those explorations to Earth-sized planets. Our first efforts will be to characterise the greenhouse gas content of atmosphere, and assess whether the surface conditions are conducive for liquid water. Then we will seek out signs of biologically produced gases, analogous to ways that living organisms have transformed the composition of Earth's atmosphere. Claiming a discovery of life will be hard. We cannot rely on the detection of a single gas but instead will need to detect several, and will need to measure their relative abundances. In addition, we will have to be extremely wary of false positives. For instance, repeated stellar flares could build up oxygen in an atmosphere without the presence of life. The richness of the TRAPPIST-1 system is an important asset, because we can compare its planets to one another. All seven planets originated from the same nebular chemistry; they share a similar history of receiving flares and meteoritic impacts. Weeding out false positives will be much easier here than in planetary systems containing only one or two temperate, potentially Earth-like worlds. More important, TRAPPIST-1 is not a one-off discovery. Ultra-cool dwarf stars are so common that there could be numerous other similar systems close to us in the galaxy. The TRAPPIST (Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescopes) facility we used to find the TRAPPIST-1 planets was just the prototype of a more ambitious planet survey called SPECULOOS (Search for habitable Planets Eclipsing Ultra-Cool Stars), which has already begun operations. We expect to find many more Earth-sized, rocky planets around dwarf stars within the next five years. With this sample in hand, we will explore the many climates of such worlds. The solar system contains two: Venus and Earth. How many different types of environments will we discover? Using SPECULOOS, we will also begin to address the many objections scientists have raised about the habitability of planets around ultra-cool dwarfs. One argument is that such planets will be tidally locked, meaning that they have permanent day and night sides. Planets orbiting in close proximity around small stars could excite each other's orbits, leading to major instabilities. Ultra-cool dwarf stars frequently flare up, emitting ultraviolet and X-rays that might vaporise a planet's oceans into space. Far from holding us back, those arguments motivated us. Now we can assess the actual conditions, and explore counter-arguments that Earth-sized planets around stars such as TRAPPIST-1A might in fact be hospitable to life. Oceans and thick atmospheres could mitigate the temperature contrast between day and night sides. Tidal interaction between close-orbiting planets might provide energy for biology. Some models suggest that planets forming around ultra-cool dwarfs start out with much more water than Earth has. Ultraviolet radiation could help to produce biologically relevant compounds… We are optimistic. No matter what we find by studying planets orbiting ultra-cool dwarfs, we cannot lose. We can only learn. If we manage to identify the presence of life on a planet similar to those in the TRAPPIST-1 system, then we can start measuring how frequently biology emerges in the universe. We could have the first clues of extraterrestrial biology in a decade! If we find that none of those worlds is habitable, or that they are habitable but barren, we would learn that life is rare and precious. It will vindicate the Earth-twin approach without delaying it. In either case, we will define the context of our existence: as one among many, or as an isolated outlier. Both possibilities are humbling. Both are thrilling.


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.newscientist.com

Moon moving away from conjunction with Jupiter, approaching trine with Venus. It’s not exactly a diagnosis you’d be thrilled to receive from your doctor, but this was the medical opinion Lucy Boswell received when she visited hers in 1602 to ask whether she might be pregnant. It was just one of the verdicts that astrologer-physicians Simon Forman and Richard Napier doled out to thousands of patients across decades of practice. Their accumulated notes – some 30,000 pages of horoscopes, religious speculations and documented physical symptoms – form some of the most extensive private medical records in history, and are the springboard for Casebooks, a new exhibition in London. For the past 10 years, the University of Cambridge has been digitising Forman and Napier’s archive for public access. Available free of charge, it makes for fascinating, if baffling, reading. Lucy Boswell was told she had been cursed by a witch (sharing culpability with the moon); that this passed for medicine, even in the age of bloodletting and belief in the four humours, is mildly alarming. Casebooks serves to highlight the digital archive’s existence. The curators invited six artists to take inspiration from Forman and Napier’s curious practice. Lurking beneath a University of Westminster building just off Marylebone Road, and accessed via an underground car park that wouldn’t look out of place in a CSI cold open, the exhibition at the Ambika P3 gallery greets you with shouted slogans. Jasmina Cibic’s Unforseen Forseens (shown above) is a corridor, filled with painters who constantly redecorate it with stamps that show the iconography of progress through generic, propaganda-style images. And the painters punctuate their work with staccato, Soviet-era pronouncements about the glory, importance and predictability of the future. Their rhetoric is repetitive – all bombast, no substance – by chance echoing some recent pronouncements from the Trump administration. In the weeks leading up to the March for Science in Washington DC on 22 April, the topicality of Cibic’s piece can only grow. Some of Casebooks’ artistic interpretations are more literal than others, but no one felt it necessary to hide behind the time period of the source material. Here you’ll find artists ready to tease out our modern and oh-so-technologically advanced relationship with the alchemical, the astrological and the anatomical. Mental Metal, a video installation projected onto three satellite dishes by Lindsay Seers, serves as a subtle reminder that, like Forman and Napier, we still appeal to the stars for answers, albeit in more cogent and quantifiable terms. Through the seamlessly alternating dialogue of an actor who plays both Forman and himself, artist Lindsay Seers blends medieval and modern concerns to highlight that they really aren’t all that different. Is she cheating on me? How do I move on from loss? Can we ever have children? If you loathe the idea of a person purporting to tell you your fortune, how do you feel about taking advice from an AI? Artist Lynn Hershman Leeson subtly undermines our ridicule of past practices with a real-time “consultation bot” that blurs the boundary between superstition and fact, nudging uncomfortably close to the role that Google and WebMD play in modern life. Her 3D holographic Real-Fiction Botnik offers 17th-century-style personal predictions: it can “diagnose” you and deliver your horoscope. Leeson’s work reminds us that superstition and home remedies delivered by seemingly trustworthy digital emissaries are still nothing more than the sum of their parts. None of the elements of Casebooks sits perfectly alongside each other, yet they are all complementary. An insight into the original practice they are not; for that you need to do your own reading before you arrive. That said, there are banks of computers here that let you browse the digital archive of Forman and Napier’s cases – and, indeed, accounts of Forman’s frankly fantastical life. (He was an inveterate womaniser who would cast astrological charts in order to find missing socks – another timeless concern.) Before leaving, spare a final, contemplative moment for Federico Díaz’s BIG LIGHT, a deep pool in which a lone figure tends to a robotic arm draped in foliage. There’s more than an echo of Studio Ghibli anime in this portmanteau creature, and it does well in making sense of Casebooks’ unifying theme: why we fleeting inhabitants of the universe look to the eternal fixtures of the natural world for answers to our internal dilemmas. Casebooks is on show at Ambika P3, London, from 17 March to 23 April


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CPCSA | Phase: ICT-2013.9.9 | Award Amount: 74.61M | Year: 2013

This Flagship aims to take graphene and related layered materials from a state of raw potential to a point where they can revolutionize multiple industries from flexible, wearable and transparent electronics, to new energy applications and novel functional composites.\nOur main scientific and technological objectives in the different tiers of the value chain are to develop material technologies for ICT and beyond, identify new device concepts enabled by graphene and other layered materials, and integrate them to systems that provide new functionalities and open new application areas.\nThese objectives are supported by operative targets to bring together a large core consortium of European academic and industrial partners and to create a highly effective technology transfer highway, allowing industry to rapidly absorb and exploit new discoveries.\nThe Flagship will be aligned with European and national priorities to guarantee its successful long term operation and maximal impact on the national industrial and research communities.\nTogether, the scientific and technological objectives and operative targets will allow us to reach our societal goals: the Flagship will contribute to sustainable development by introducing new energy efficient and environmentally friendly products based on carbon and other abundant, safe and recyclable natural resources, and boost economic growth in Europe by creating new jobs and investment opportunities.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: IA | Phase: ICT-21-2014 | Award Amount: 4.20M | Year: 2015

ProsocialLearn will establish a new market for digital games aiming at increasing social inclusion and academic performance. A ground-breaking digital gaming genre will be created that focuses on helping children to acquire prosocial skills necessary for positive relationships, team working, trustworthiness and emotional intelligence. ProsocialLearn will deliver a series of disruptive innovations building on a game development and distribution platform for the production of prosocial games that engages children and stimulates technology transfer from traditional game industry to the education sector. ProsocialLearn will offer games developers scientifically proven prosocial game elements for development digital games. An application programming interface (API), ProsocialAPI, will allow developers to integrate functions into games including visual sensing, identification of prosocial signals from in-game actions, personalised adaptation of game elements, player profiles, game mechanics and expressive virtual characters, and support for data collection with protection of personal data. SMEs from the traditional game industry will work together with serious games companies to produce a series of exciting digital games targeting European schools. Through a multi-disciplinary collaboration between industry, researchers, psychologists, pedagogists and teaching professionals, ProsocialLearn will address complex factors associated with child development and advanced ICT in school curricula. Two SMEs within the consortium will produce an initial set of games and additional SMEs will be incorporated in the third year of the project to foster market creation. Both short term and longitudinal studies (pilots) will be conducted at schools across Europe to build scientific evidence of the benefits of prosocial gaming in different cultural settings and scales, and to explore business models, business plans and verify financial viability of the ProsocialLearn platform.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-SA | Phase: SSH.2013.6.3-1 | Award Amount: 1.66M | Year: 2014

MYWeB takes a balanced approach to assessing the feasibility of a European Longitudinal Study for Children and Young People (ELSCYP) through prioritising both scientific and policy imperatives. Striking the appropriate balance between science and policy is guaranteed through the use of an evaluation/appraisal methodology which ensures that the outcomes will be methodologically robust, technically feasible and will represent value for money. A full scale pilot study in six countries means original empirical data on field experiences will provide direct evidence of the feasibility of an ELSCYP. Engagement with a wide range of stakeholders including policy-makers at a European, Member State and regional level ensures that the project outcomes take into account the broadest range of policy makers. Questions about the value added that a longitudinal survey can offer over a cross-sectional survey will, therefore, be fully informed by policy agendas. Children and Young People are integrated into the project plan to contribute to the operationalisation of notions of well-being as well as in understanding the best modes of conducting an ELSCYP. The MYWeB consortium contains researchers from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds and provides expertise in the areas of children and young peoples well-being, childhood care; education; the environment in which a child grows up, childhood/youth work and leisure and participation. In addition, all teams are experienced in undertaking questionnaire survey research. Each Delivery Partner and Collaborator in the consortium is part of the FP7 funded MYPLACE project and have direct experience of working with one another on a large and complex project and the requirements to deliver to contract. The consortium contains a team with international repute in the methodology of longitudinal surveys ensuring that the project outcomes are informed by cutting edge scientists working in this field of methodology.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2014-ETN | Award Amount: 2.79M | Year: 2015

Antimicrobial resistance is posing a continuously-rising threat to global health. Indeed, one key recommendation from the recent Action plan against the rising threats from Antimicrobial Resistance report (submitted by the Commission to the European Parliament and Council (15.11.2011)) is the development of effective antimicrobials or alternatives for treatment of human and animal infections. The INTEGRATE project is a direct response to this. We have assembled a team of 10 beneficiaries from eight EU member states, encompassing both academic and non-academic sectors and different disciplines, to form a consortium committed to training Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) in the discovery and preclinical validation of novel Gram-negative antibacterial agents and antibacterial targets. The principle aim of the consortium is to provide a training platform where students are exposed to every aspect of the antimicrobial discovery process, ranging from target identification and validation, through organic synthesis, in silico design and compound screening, to mode-of-action and possible resistance mechanisms. This exposure will be accomplished through a concrete secondment plan, coupled with a series of high-level consortium-wide training events and networking programmes. Our intention is to reverse the current fragmentation of approaches towards antibacterial discovery through mutual cooperation. The INTEGRATE training framework is built on an innovative research project aimed at targeting important but non-essential gene products as an effective means of reducing bacterial fitness, thereby facilitating clearance of the pathogen by the host immune system. To achieve this, the individual work programmes have been designed to seamlessly inter-mesh contributions from the fields of in silico design, organic synthesis, molecular biology and biochemistry, and the very latest in vitro and in vivo screening technologies.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: PHC-07-2014 | Award Amount: 20.85M | Year: 2014

COMPARE aims to harness the rapid advances in molecular technology to improve identification and mitigation of emerging infectious diseases and foodborne outbreaks. To this purpose COMPARE will establish a One serves all analytical framework and data exchange platform that will allow real time analysis and interpretation of sequence-based pathogen data in combination with associated data (e.g. clinical, epidemiological data) in an integrated inter-sectorial, interdisciplinary, international, one health approach. The framework will link research, clinical and public health organisations active in human health, animal health, and food safety in Europe and beyond, to develop (i) integrated risk assessment and risk based collection of samples and data, (ii) harmonised workflows for generating comparable sequence and associated data, (iii) state-of-the-art analytical workflows and tools for generating actionable information for support of patient diagnosis, treatment, outbreak detection and -investigation and (iv) risk communication tools. The analytical workflows will be linked to a flexible, scalable and open-source data- and information platform supporting rapid sharing, interrogation and analysis of sequence-based pathogen data in combination with other associated data. The system will be linked to existing and future complementary systems, networks and databases such as those used by ECDC, NCBI and EFSA. The functionalities of the system will be tested and fine tuned through underpinning research studies on priority pathogens covering healthcare-associated infections, food-borne disease, and (zoonotic) (re-) emerging diseases with epidemic or pandemic potential. Throughout the project, extensive consultations with future users, studies into the barriers to open data sharing, dissemination and training activities and studies on the cost-effectiveness of the system will support future sustainable user uptake.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: IA | Phase: NMP-22-2015 | Award Amount: 9.11M | Year: 2016

The vision of 1D-NEON proposal is to develop fibre-based smart materials along with an integrated technology platform for the manufacturing in Europe of new products with multi-sectorial applications in consumer electronics, energy, healthcare and fitness, smart buildings, sensors and e-skin for soft robotics. The overall objective of 1D-NEON is to build a modular platform for manufacturing fibre-based industrial products in multiple market sectors. Nanomaterials will be assembled into five basic fibre components along with manufacturing processes for integration into smart products, to impact three pilot applications. Our design and manufacturing approach will address both technical performance and cost-effectiveness of these multi-sectorial applications, targeting sustainable development of new high-value, high performance devices and systems that could be integrated safely into everyday objects for an improved quality of life. With that perspective, 1D-NEON fully addresses the challenges of the H2020 work programme topic NMP 22 2015: Fibre-based materials for non-clothing applications.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: AAT.2013.1-3. | Award Amount: 45.04M | Year: 2013

The ENOVAL project will provide the next step of engine technologies to achieve and surpass the ACARE 2020 goals on the way towards Flightpath 2050. ENOVAL completes the European 7th Framework Programme (FP7) roadmap of Level 2 aero engine projects. ENOVAL will focus on the low pressure system of ultra-high by-pass ratio propulsion systems (12 < BPR < 20) in conjunction with ultra high overall pressure ratio (50 < OPR < 70) to provide significant reductions in CO2 emissions in terms of fuel burn (-3% to -5%) and engine noise (-1.3 ENPdB). ENOVAL will focus on ducted geared and non-geared turbofan engines, which are amongst the best candidates for the next generation of short/medium range and long range commercial aircraft applications with an entry into service date of 2025 onward. The expected fan diameter increase of 20 to 35% (vs. year 2000 reference engine) is significant and can be accommodated within the limits of a conventional aircraft configuration. It is in line with the roadmap of the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda for 2020 to have the technologies ready for Optimised conventional aircraft and engines using best fuel efficiency and noise control technologies, where UHBR propulsion systems are expressively named as a key technology. ENOVAL will be established in a consistent series of Level 2 projects in conjunction with LEMCOTEC for core engine technologies, E-BREAK for system technologies for enabling ultra high OPR engines, and OPENAIR for noise reduction technologies. Finally, ENOVAL will prepare the way towards maturing the technology and preparing industrialisation in coordination with past and existing aero-engine initiatives in Europe at FP7 and national levels.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: EINFRA-5-2015 | Award Amount: 4.84M | Year: 2015

E-CAM will create, develop and sustain a European infrastructure for computational science applied to simulation and modelling of materials and of biological processes of industrial and societal importance. Building on the already significant network of 15 CECAM centres across Europe and the PRACE initiative, it will create a distributed, sustainable centre for simulation and modelling at and across the atomic, molecular and continuum scales. The ambitious goals of E-CAM will be achieved through three complementary instruments: 1. development, testing, maintenance, and dissemination of robust software modules targeted at end-user needs; 2. advanced training of current and future academic and industrial researchers able to exploit these capabilities; 3. multidisciplinary, coordinated, top-level applied consultancy to industrial end-users (both large multinationals and SMEs). The creation and development of this infrastructure will also impact academic research by creating a training opportunity for over 300 researchers in computational science as applied to their domain expertise. It will also provide a structure for the optimisation and long-term maintenance of important codes and provide a route for their exploitation. Based on the requests from its industrial end-users, E-CAM will deliver new software in a broad field by creating over 200 new, robust software modules. The modules will be written to run with maximum efficiency on hardware with different architectures, available at four PRACE centres and at the Hartree Centre for HPC in Industry. The modules will form the core of a software library (the E-CAM library) that will continue to grow and provide benefit well beyond the funding period of the project. E-CAM has a 60 month duration, involves 48 staff years of effort, has a total budget of 5,836,897 and is requesting funding from the EC of 4,836,897, commensurate with achieving its ambitious goals.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2014-ETN | Award Amount: 3.90M | Year: 2015

The etymology of the word colloid stems from the Greek word for glue. The systematic study of colloids (as we perceive them nowadays) is considered to have begun in the middle of the 19th century. However, the word colloid itself had been mentioned before in very different senses. The development of the physics and chemistry of colloids really took off in the 20th century. Colloids found different applications in almost every part of our lives, and it might even seem that these systems are fully understood and tamed. In reality, this is far from the case! Both fundamental understanding and a clear application strategy are required. This is most evident when it comes to the relationship between the nature and arrangement of the colloidal particles and their macroscopic response to an external field (be that shear, electric, magnetic or gravitational fields). To elucidate this relationship we unite 7 academic and 2 industrial partners and 5 associate partners to train 15 ESRs. We aim to develop the concept of COLLoids with DEsigned respoNSE, leading to our acronym: COLLDENSE. Scientific projects are divided into three main workpackeges according to the complexity of the building blocks: deformable colloids, hybrid colloids and colloidal mixtures. The subjects vary from soft repulsive colloids, magnetic colloids, soft microgel particles, telechelic star polymers to droplets with interfaces stabilised by solid particles and DNA nano-constructs. The detailed analysis of mixtures of these components, as well as of their equilibrium and nonequilibrium thermodynamics and rheology, is the other important facet of the project. In order to obtain a complete understanding of the colloidal behaviour under an external drive we employ the three main tools of the modern natural science: experiment, computer simulations and analytical theory. This complete approach will also yield a broad training experience for the young members of the network.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2014-ETN | Award Amount: 3.91M | Year: 2015

BIOPOL is an interdisciplinary European training network at the interface of cell biology, physics and engineering. BIOPOL aims specifically at the understanding of fundamental mechanochemical principles guiding cellular behaviour and function and their relevance to human disease. A new supra-disciplinary research field is emerging bringing together the fields of molecular cell biology, physics and engineering aiming at an in depth understanding of fundamental cellular mechanochemical principles. BIOPOL combines exactly this required expertise in one joint training program for young researchers. BIOPOL has assembled a unique multidisciplinary consortium bringing together top scientists from the fields of molecular/developmental cell biology, membrane physics, engineering as well as specialists from the private sector. The scientific objectives focus on understanding of fundamental mechanisms of cellular mechanosensing in health and disease, the role of external forces in cell division and mechanochemical regulation of cell polarity including tissue formation. Finally, part of BIOPOLs research program is the further development of cutting edge technologies like advanced atomic force microscopy, novel photonic tools like optical stretcher or innovative organ on a chip technology, exploiting physical cellular properties. BIOPOLs collaborative cutting edge research program is integral part of its training program provided to early stage researcher and is further translated into seven state of the art experimental training stations representing the consortiums expertise. In addition, BIOPOL has developed a 3 years modular curriculum including workshops, summerschools, Business plan competitions and conferences with a specific agenda of transferable skill training elements highly relevant for scientific communication, translational research and in particular entrepreneurship.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: BIOTEC-6-2015 | Award Amount: 8.81M | Year: 2016

Metagenomes comprise enormous reservoirs coding for proteins with useful activities. Unfortunately, harvesting this reservoir is difficult, because useful candidates are rare and hidden in an overwhelming majority of irrelevant genes. Screening campaigns of metagenomic libraries thus require massive capital-expenditure for robotic systems and much manpower, making them expensive, slow and available to very few users. To enable valorisation of the potential of the metagenome, this project assembles an interdisciplinary and intersectoral consortium that will integrate a range of technologies into a platform designed to beat the odds of identifying library hits faster, more efficiently and by a wider user base. Exploration and exploitation of the metagenome will be made faster and more successful by (i) ultrahigh-throughput screening in picoliter droplets that dramatically lowers the cost per assay to well below 0.01 cents and allows throughput of 10e7 assays per hour; (ii) workflows that streamline and increase the yield of library construction and functional expression and (iii) workflows for efficient bioinformatic analysis of hits based on user-friendly software solutions for metagenome analysis. Emphasis is put on technologies that are straightforwardly implemented in non-specialist labs, maximising the impact of METAFLUIDICS. This platform will be used to identify enzymes for biosynthesis of therapeutic small molecules, for green bioenergy conversion, bioremediation, food chemistry and other industrial applications


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2016 | Award Amount: 3.83M | Year: 2017

ES-Cat will use directed evolution as a tool to reproduce Natures remarkable ability to generate molecular machines - in particular enzymes that perform at levels near perfection. Instead of seeing rational and combinatorial approaches as alternatives, we combine them in this network to achieve a smarter and more efficient exploration of protein sequence space. By harnessing the forces of Darwinian evolution and design in the laboratory we want to (i) screen large and diverse libraries for proteins with improved and useful functions, (ii) optimize existing proteins for applications in medicine or biotechnology and (iii) provide a better understanding of how existing enzymes evolved and how enzyme mechanisms can be manipulated. This Network brings together leading academic and industrial groups with diverse and complementary skills. The range of methodologies represented in ES-Cat allows an integrated approach combining in silico structural and sequence analysis with experimental high-throughput screening selection methods (phage-, ribozyme and SNAP display, robotic liquid handling, lab-on-a-chip/microfluidics) with subsequent systematic kinetic and biophysical analysis. This integration of methods and disciplines will improve the likelihood of success of directed evolution campaigns, shorten biocatalyst development times, and make protein engineering applicable to a wider range of industrial targets. It will also train the next generation of creative researchers ready to fill roles in tailoring enzymes and other proteins for industrial application in synthetic biology efforts to move towards a bio-based economy, rivaling advances that are being made in the US and allowing the EU economy to harvest its evident socio-economic benefits.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2016 | Award Amount: 3.39M | Year: 2017

The PATHSENSE (Pathogen Sensing) ETN will bring together an interdisciplinary team of world-leading researchers from Europe to tackle a highly ambitious scientific project, focusing on the molecular mechanisms of sensory perception in bacterial pathogens. PATHSENSE will establish an innovative doctoral training programme that will deliver 13 PhD graduates and high-impact scientific outputs. The relationship between molecular structures and biological function is central to understanding any living system; however the research methodologies required to unravel these relationships are often complex and fast-changing. The team participating in this Network has the infrastructure and track-record to train ESRs in these state-of-the art methodologies, including structural biology, proteomics & protein biochemistry, molecular biology, bacterial genetics, food microbiology, mathematical modelling, cell biology, microscopy and comparative genomics. PATHSENSE will investigate the poorly understood structure-function relationships that exist within a large multi-protein complex called a stressosome, which acts as a sensory organelle in bacteria. The project will involve extensive inter-sectoral mobility of the ESRs across 7 EU countries to make full use of the complementary skills available at each of the hosting institutions. The inter-sectoral Network comprises 8 leading Universities, 1 public research institution, 4 companies (from spin-off to large multi-national) and 1 governmental agency. A major objective of this Network will be to exploit the fundamental research to develop novel antimicrobial treatments that have applications in the food and public health sectors. This project will deliver high-impact science, 13 highly-trained innovative researchers and will produce a long-lasting inter-sectoral network of collaborators who will continue to work together to exploit fundamental research for the socio-economic benefit of Europe.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2016 | Award Amount: 3.87M | Year: 2017

Is there a crisis in the legitimacy of the European Union? That research question is timely and important. Investigating it is also an ideal way of training research leaders of tomorrow to rethink our assumptions about the study of legitimate political order. Whilst, however, the financial crisis has raised new questions about the legitimacy of the EU, existing theories of legitimacy crises are largely based on single-state political systems. New theory is, therefore, needed to understand what would count as legitimacy crises in the case of a non-state political system such as the EU. PLATOs (The Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU) ESRs will work together as a team to build new theory from 15 investigations into different standards and actors with whom the EU may need to be legitimate. ESRs will go well beyond the state-of-the-art by building a theory of legitimacy crisis in the EU from a uniquely interdisciplinary understanding of how democracy, power, law, economies and societies all fit together with institutions within and beyond the state to affect the legitimacy of contemporary political order. By developing the analytical tools needed to understand a core predicament in which the EU may both need to develop legitimate forms of political power beyond the state and find those forms of power hard to achieve, PLATO will train ESRs with the conceptual clarity needed to define new research questions at the very frontiers of their disciplines and the methodological skills needed to research those questions. They will also be prepared for careers in the non-academic sector (policy-advice, consulting, civil society, European institutions and expert bodies). PLATOs ambitious cross-university, cross-country and cross-sectoral programme of research training, supervision and secondments will pool resources from a unique network of 9 research-intensive universities and 11 non-academic partners who are themselves key users of state-of-the-art social science research.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | 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: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: MG-1.2-2015 | Award Amount: 6.70M | Year: 2016

TurboNoiseBB aims to deliver reliable prediction methodologies and noise reduction technologies in order to allow European Aerospace industries: to design low-noise aircraft to meet societys needs for more environmentally friendly air transport to win global leadership for European aeronautics with a competitive supply chain. The project is focusing on fan broadband (BB) noise sources and will offer the possibility to acquire an experimental database mandatory to validate the Computational Fluid Dynamics and Aero Acoustic (CAA) simulations from the sound sources to the radiation from aircraft engines. It fully exploits the methodology successfully developed starting from FP5 programmes, TurboNoiseCFD and AROMA and also associated FP6 (SILENCE(R), PROBAND, OPENAIR) and FP7 (FLOCON, TEENI, ENOVAL) proposals. TurboNoiseBB has 3 main objectives. 1. To acquire appropriate CAA validation data on a representative test model. In addition different approaches for measuring the BB far-field noise levels in the rear arc (bypass duct contribution) will be assessed to help define future requirements for European turbofan test facilities. 2. To apply and validate CAA codes with respect to fan & turbine BB noise. 3. To design novel low BB noise fan systems by means of state-of-the-art design and prediction tools. The combination of partners from industry, research \ university combined with the excellence of the EU most versatile test facility for aero and noise forms the basis for the successful validation and exploitation of CAA methods, crucial for quicker implementation of future low noise engine concepts. TurboNoiseBB will deliver validated industry-exploitable aeroacoustic design \ prediction tools related to BB noise emissions from aircraft nacelle intakes \ exhaust nozzles, allowing EU industry to leap-frog NASA-funded technology developments in the US. It will also deliver a technical assessment on the way forward for European turbofan noise testing.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: SEAC-2-2014 | Award Amount: 1.50M | Year: 2015

The Enhancing Responsible Research and Innovation through Curricula in Higher Education (EnRRICH) project will build the capacity of staff in higher education to facilitate their students development of knowledge, skills and attitudes and competencies in responsible research and innovation, and respond to the research needs of society, particularly underserved civil society organisations (CSOs). It will do this by identifying, developing, testing, and disseminating resources, based on existing good practice and trials of new initiatives, to embed the five RRI keys in academic curricula across Europe, with specific reference to science and engineering. It will develop case studies which showcase examples for students, teachers, professional trainers and academic staff of HEIs. Through ongoing dialogue with academics, policymakers, and CSOs, EnRRICH will kick start debates at institutional, national and international levels to create awareness of, and enhance the policy context for, RRI in curricula and thereby produce more responsible and responsive graduates and researchers. These objectives will be achieved building on the Public Engagement with Research and Research Engagement with Society (PERARES) and RRI Tools projects. It will involve new partners as well as a core of established partners drawn from HEIs and CSOs, including from RRI tools. It will establish an advisory board drawn from relevant organisations to ensure the widest possible engagement and dissemination. Work packages will deal with project management, state of the art of good practices in introducing RRI into curriculum development, exchange and trialling of good practices at national, international and transdisciplinary levels, policy development, evaluation, dissemination and a conference. Deliverables will include case studies and policy papers, and materials and resources for academic staff to involve students in experiential learning about RRI, including projects in partnership with CSOs


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SPIRE-06-2015 | Award Amount: 5.67M | Year: 2015

The MAESTRI project aims to advance the sustainability of European manufacturing and process industries. This is done by providing a management system in the form of a flexible and scalable platform, and to guide and simplify the implementation of an innovative approach, the Total Efficiency Framework. The overall aim of this framework is to encourage a culture of improvement within process industries by assisting the decision-making process, supporting the development of improvement strategies and helping define the priorities to improve the companys environmental and economic performance. Its development and validation will be achieved through application in four real industrial settings across a variety of activity sectors. The Total Efficiency Framework will be based on four main pillars to overcome the current barriers and promote sustainable improvements: a) an effective management system targeted at process and continuous improvement; b) efficiency assessment tools to define improvement and optimisation strategies and support decision-making processes; c) integration with a toolkit for Industrial Symbiosis focusing on material and energy exchange; d) a software Platform, based on the Internet of Things (IoT), to simplify the concept implementation and ensure an integrated control of improvement process. Over a period of 4 years, the project will deliver exploitable resultsclustered into technological outputs (including eco-innovative products, processes and services tailored to industrial end-users) and structured solutions (involving technical, economical, legislative and policy solutions synergistically combined).


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: EPSRC | Program: | Phase: Training Grant | Award Amount: 4.52M | Year: 2014

Moores Law states that the number of active components on an microchip doubles every 18 months. Variants of this Law can be applied to many measures of computer performance, such as memory and hard disk capacity, and to reductions in the cost of computations. Remarkably, Moores Law has applied for over 50 years during which time computer speeds have increased by a factor of more than 1 billion! This remarkable rise of computational power has affected all of our lives in profound ways, through the widespread usage of computers, the internet and portable electronic devices, such as smartphones and tablets. Unfortunately, Moores Law is not a fundamental law of nature, and sustaining this extraordinary rate of progress requires continuous hard work and investment in new technologies most of which relate to advances in our understanding and ability to control the properties of materials. Computer software plays an important role in enhancing computational performance and in many cases it has been found that for every factor of 10 increase in computational performance achieved by faster hardware, improved software has further increased computational performance by a factor of 100. Furthermore, improved software is also essential for extending the range of physical properties and processes which can be studied computationally. Our EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Computational Methods for Materials Science aims to provide training in numerical methods and modern software development techniques so that the students in the CDT are capable of developing innovative new software which can be used, for instance, to help design new materials and understand the complex processes that occur in materials. The UK, and in particular Cambridge, has been a pioneer in both software and hardware since the earliest programmable computers, and through this strategic investment we aim to ensure that this lead is sustained well into the future.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SC1-PM-04-2016 | Award Amount: 10.77M | Year: 2017

Our main objective is to identify determinants of brain, cognitive and mental health at different stages of life. By integration, harmonisation and enrichment of major European neuroimaging studies of age differences and changes, we will obtain an unparalleled database of fine-grained brain, cognitive and mental health measures of more than 6.000 individuals. Longitudinal brain imaging, genetic and health data are available for a major part, as well as cognitive/mental health measures for extensively broader cohorts, exceeding 40.000 examinations in total. By linking these data, also to additional databases and biobanks, including birth registries, national and regional archives, and by enriching them with new online data collection and novel measures, we will address risk and protective factors of brain, cognitive and mental health throughout the lifespan. We will identify the pathways through which risk and protective factors work and their moderators. Through exploitation of, and synergies with, existing European infrastructures and initiatives, this approach of integrating, harmonising and enriching brain imaging datasets will make major conceptual, methodological and analytical contributions towards large integrative cohorts and their efficient exploitation. We will thus provide novel information on brain, cognitive and mental health maintenance, onset and course of brain, cognitive and mental disorders, and lay a foundation for earlier diagnosis of brain disorders, aberrant development and decline of brain, cognitive and mental health, as well as future preventive and therapeutic strategies. Working with stakeholders and health authorities, the project will provide the evidence base for policy strategies for prevention and intervention, improving clinical practice and public health policy for brain, cognitive and mental health. This project is realized by a close collaboration of small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) and major European brain research centres


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SC1-PM-01-2016 | Award Amount: 15.04M | Year: 2017

The complex interactions between genetic and non-genetic factors produce heterogeneities in patients as reflected in the diversity of pathophysiology, clinical manifestations, response to therapies, disease development and progression. Yet, the full potential of personalized medicine entails biomarker-guided delivery of efficient therapies in stratified patient populations. MultipleMS will therefore develop, validate, and exploit methods for patient stratification in Multiple Sclerosis, a chronic inflammatory disease and a leading causes of non-traumatic disability in young adults, with an estimated cost of 37 000 per patient per year over a duration of 30 years. Here we benefit from several large clinical cohorts with multiple data types, including genetic and lifestyle information. This in combination with publically available multi-omics maps enables us to identify biomarkers of the clinical course and the response to existing therapies in a real-world setting, and to gain in-depth knowledge of distinct pathogenic pathways setting the stage for development of new interventions. To create strategic global synergies, MultipleMS includes 21 partners and covers not only the necessary clinical, biological, and computational expertise, but also includes six industry partners ensuring dissemination and exploitation of the methods and clinical decision support system. Moreover, the pharmaceutical industry partners provide expertise to ensure optimal selection and validation of clinically relevant biomarkers and new targets. Our conceptual personalized approach can readily be adapted to other immune-mediated diseases with a complex gene-lifestyle background and broad clinical spectrum with heterogeneity in treatment response. MultipleMS therefore goes significantly beyond current state-of-the-art thereby broadly affecting European policies, healthcare systems, innovation in translating big data and basic research into evidence-based personalized clinical applications.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: ICT-10-2015 | Award Amount: 2.25M | Year: 2016

ChainReact is an effort to make supplier networks transparent, understandable, and responsive, so that companies and their stakeholders can see, react to, and ultimately transform corporate network impacts. To this end, we will create an integrated data network supported by three platform struts: 1. A new informer platform (TalkFree) will help advocacy groups manage campaigns to solicit flexible bottom-up reports about corporate behaviour. 2. The worlds largest open repository of corporate information (OpenCorporates) will be enhanced to connect these reports to major corporate brands through multi-level corporate network mapping. 3. An open analysis platform (WikiRate.org) will integrate data from both sources (and others, including direct corporate disclosure) and support their interpretation via collaboratively-developed dynamic, network-aware CSR metrics. Network participation will be driven by outreach campaigns organized in collaboration with advocacy groups, including pilot campaigns with consortium partner Walk Free Foundation, an international non-profit with the mission to eliminate slavery, with a community of 8.5m participants in their campaigns. Several other major not-for-profit players, including Oxfam International, the Carbon Disclosure Project, and Amnesty International, have also begun discussions around involvement in ChainReact campaigns. University of Cambridge and University of Warsaw will provide a research perspective on every aspect of ChainReacts development and outreach. CERTH is the project coordinator and brings expertise in the entity matching that will support extracting corporate network data from unstructured documents. OpenCorporates is run by consortium partner Chrinon Ltd, WikiRate.org is run by consortium partner WikiRate e.V., and a new nonprofit will be formed to run TalkFree. TalkFree development will be led by Decko Commons e.V., the primary developers of the open-source Decko framework (currently branded as Wagn).


Grant
Agency: European Commission | 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: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-CSA-Infra | Phase: INFRA-2012-1.1.25. | Award Amount: 10.98M | Year: 2013

Optical-infrared astronomy in Europe is in a state of transition and opportunity, with the goal of a viable structured European scale community in sight. A strong astronomical community requires access to state of the art infrastructures (telescopes), equipped with the best possible instrumentation, and with that access being open to all on a basis of competitive excellence. Further, the community needs training in optimal use of those facilities to be available to all, Critically, it needs a viable operational model, with long-term support from the national agencies, to operate those infrastructures. The most important need for most astronomers is to have open access to a viable set of medium aperture telescopes, with excellent facilities, complemented by superb instrumentation on the extant large telescopes, while working towards next generation instrumentation on the future flagship, the European Extremely Large Telescope. OPTICON has made a substantial contribution to preparing the realisation of that ambition. OPTICON supported R&D has, and is developing critical next-generation technology, to enhance future instrumentation on all telescopes. The big immediate challenge is to retain a viable set of well-equipped medium aperture telescopes. The present project is to make the proof of principle that such a situation is possible - a situation developed by OPTICON under its previous contracts, in collaboration with the EC supported strategy network ASTRONET - and set the stage for the step to full implementation.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: INFRAIA-1-2014-2015 | Award Amount: 13.00M | Year: 2015

Particle physics is at the forefront of the ERA, attracting a global community of more than 10,000 scientists. With the upgrade of the LHC and the preparation of new experiments, the community will have to overcome unprecedented challenges in order to answer fundamental questions concerning the Higgs boson, neutrinos, and physics beyond the Standard Model. Major developments in detector technology are required to ensure the success of these endeavours. The AIDA-2020 project brings together the leading European infrastructures in detector development and a number of academic institutes, thus assembling the necessary expertise for the ambitious programme of work. In total, 19 countries and CERN are involved in this programme, which follows closely the priorities of the European Strategy for Particle Physics. AIDA-2020 aims to advance detector technologies beyond current limits by offering well-equipped test beam and irradiation facilities for testing detector systems under its Transnational Access programme. Common software tools, micro-electronics and data acquisition systems are also provided. This shared high-quality infrastructure will ensure optimal use and coherent development, thus increasing knowledge exchange between European groups and maximising scientific progress. The project also exploits the innovation potential of detector research by engaging with European industry for large-scale production of detector systems and by developing applications outside of particle physics, e.g. for medical imaging. AIDA-2020 will lead to enhanced coordination within the European detector community, leveraging EU and national resources. The project will explore novel detector technologies and will provide the ERA with world-class infrastructure for detector development, benefiting thousands of researchers participating in future particle physics projects, and contributing to maintaining Europes leadership of the field.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: EURO-1-2014 | Award Amount: 2.50M | Year: 2015

In response to the European debt crisis and associated deep recession, a number of important steps have recently been taken towards redesigning the institutional architecture of EMU, based on the roadmap outlined in the Van Rompuy Report (2012). But these institutional innovations in particular the fiscal compact, the ESM, the SSM and the SRM retain relatively weak theoretical foundations. In particular, there is a noticeable gap between policy-oriented analyses of the precise EU challenges, and the major developments in dynamic macroeconomic theory of the past three decades. ADEMU brings together eight research groups from leading European institutions with the aim of closing this gap. It studies the overall monetary and fiscal structure of the EU and the euro area, and the mechanisms of fiscal policy coordination among member states, with specific focus on: i) ensuring the long-term sustainability of EMU, addressing issues such as debt overhang, fiscal consolidation, public debt management, risk-sharing within the union, and crisis management mechanisms; ii) building resilience to economic shocks, with special emphasis on the coordination of fiscal policies, fiscal multipliers and labor market risks; and iii) managing interdependence in the euro area, analyzing both fiscal and financial spillovers and the effects of macroeconomic imbalances on financial and money markets, and, to confront these issues, new forms of banking regulation and monetary policy. ADEMU is at the frontier of dynamic macroeconomic research, and the project will generate new knowledge that will be used to provide a rigorous assessment of the current institutional framework, and detailed proposals for improving it. It will also be a focal point in debates among academics, policymakers and other stakeholders regarding the implementation of new policies. The scope of the project will include a full consideration of political economy and legal dimensions to alternative institutional reforms


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2014-ETN | Award Amount: 3.86M | Year: 2015

The dynamic modulation of semiconductor structures using vibrations provides a powerful tool for the control of the materials properties required for novel functionalities. Surface acoustic waves (SAWs) with GHz-frequencies and micrometre-size wavelength can be generated using piezoelectric transducers fabricated with standard integrated circuit technology. Their small propagation velocity and high sensitivity to disturbances confined to a superficial region have long been exploited in electronic signal processing and sensor applications. The SAW-induced modulation of the electro-optical properties of semiconductor structures is now been used for a wide range of applications including advanced sensors, the control of chemical processes, as well as the coherent control of carriers, spins, photons, and phonons down to the single-particle level. The latter are presently been exploited for different functionalities including advanced waveguide modulators, tuneable optical resonators, and single-electron pumps and single-photon sources. SAWTrain puts together leading groups from Europe, Asia and North America working on SAWs on semiconductor and related nanostructures to create a PhD training network. The synergy resulting from the expertise of these groups will provide PhD students with training opportunities far superior to those offered in existing PhD programmes. Training in research skills with secondments at different hosts will cover state-of-the-art research in the interdisciplinary areas of basic physics, materials, technology, and device concepts related to SAWs. This will be achieved by exposing the trainees to multiple secondments, mandatory co-supervision from different institutions, including a non-academic mentorship. The coordinated training will further contain topical courses, schools, conferences, and workshops and be complemented by measures to develop key competences and transferable skills, fostering the future career plan of the young researchers.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: EE-19-2014 | Award Amount: 2.00M | Year: 2015

The current level of energy efficiency investments in the rental housing sector is in danger of missing EU policy targets. RentalCal aims to develop models and tools for assessing the commercial viability of energy efficiency retrofitting in the rental housing stock. This will reduce split incentive barriers, price in green added value and show a clear road map towards a sustainable housing stock. In particular, RentalCal seeks to make the following key contributions: 1. Develop the first commercial viability assessment framework for energy efficiency refurbishments specifically for rental housing Although rental housing represents the majority of Europes multifamily housing stock, current viability calculation methods for energy efficiency retrofits are geared towards owner occupiers and ignore some inherent characteristics of the specific national rental market such as split incentives, rental regulations, tax regimes etc. RentalCal will develop an innovative standardised methodology for assessing retrofits in the private rental housing sector. 2. Increase the transparency of investment conditions in the EU housing industry RentalCal will provide transparent information on the viability of energy efficiency investments based on legal, technical and financial conditions in eight participating member states. The standardised framework will allow for a transparent comparison of investment conditions in the EU, help to remove investment barriers in national housing markets and stimulate cross-border investment activity. 3. Disseminate key insights into the Green Value proposition to specific target groups RentalCal will provide rental property investors with target group specific information regarding the viability of a proposed retrofit investment. This includes the valuation benefits of energy-efficient buildings as well as other indirect financial benefits. All information will be available on RentalCals web based calculation and information platform.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-RISE | Phase: MSCA-RISE-2014 | Award Amount: 450.00K | Year: 2015

SoThe project will examine the potential of Total Value and Cost of Ownership (TVO, TCO) for supporting the design and through-life management of industrial assets. Until now, some leading companies that are aware of all the costs throughout the asset life cycle use TCO to support procurement, operations and maintenance decisions. The benefit of using TCO is that a decision maker could be incentivised to go beyond the consideration of capital expenditure, and think of the potential whole-life cost arising through the use of their assets. In this regard, TCO helps achieving a cost-efficient life cycle management of the assets owned by the company. But TCO models are still poorly practiced in industry, in spite of their advantages. Further on, the flavour of the day in the industrial and academic world is to encourage innovative thinking to extract the maximum value from the assets, instead of thinking only about cost. Value can be tangible or intangible, and is determined by the organization and its stakeholders, thus TVO extends cost-based decisions. Although the importance of value maximisation in physical asset management is currently accepted, there are few works clarifying what value means, how to identify and quantify value, how to base decisions on it. The purpose of the project is to study the evolution of TVO and TCO as used in industry and understood by academics, with the aim to develop a framework for understanding, quantifying, and using TVO / TCO for decision-making. Overall, we aim at studying how asset life cycle management is possible thanks to TVO / TCO, providing the asset owner the capability to develop a sustainable factory according to the economic, social and environmental requirements of the local industry.Cross-fertilization of research and industry will be achieved through knowledge sharing between academics and industrial experts involved through interviews and workshops. Publications will provide outputs to promote knowledge sharing.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: INFRADEV-4-2014-2015 | Award Amount: 14.99M | Year: 2015

ASTERICS (Astronomy ESFRI & Research Infrastructure Cluster) aims to address the cross-cutting synergies and common challenges shared by the various Astronomy ESFRI facilities (SKA, CTA, KM3Net & E-ELT). It brings together for the first time, the astronomy, astrophysics and particle astrophysics communities, in addition to other related research infrastructures. The major objectives of ASTERICS are to support and accelerate the implementation of the ESFRI telescopes, to enhance their performance beyond the current state-of-the-art, and to see them interoperate as an integrated, multi-wavelength and multi-messenger facility. An important focal point is the management, processing and scientific exploitation of the huge datasets the ESFRI facilities will generate. ASTERICS will seek solutions to these problems outside of the traditional channels by directly engaging and collaborating with industry and specialised SMEs. The various ESFRI pathfinders and precursors will present the perfect proving ground for new methodologies and prototype systems. In addition, ASTERICS will enable astronomers from across the member states to have broad access to the reduced data products of the ESFRI telescopes via a seamless interface to the Virtual Observatory framework. This will massively increase the scientific impact of the telescopes, and greatly encourage use (and re-use) of the data in new and novel ways, typically not foreseen in the original proposals. By demonstrating cross-facility synchronicity, and by harmonising various policy aspects, ASTERICS will realise a distributed and interoperable approach that ushers in a new multi-messenger era for astronomy. Through an active dissemination programme, including direct engagement with all relevant stakeholders, and via the development of citizen scientist mass participation experiments, ASTERICS has the ambition to be a flagship for the scientific, industrial and societal impact ESFRI projects can deliver.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: AAT.2012.1.1-3. | Award Amount: 5.94M | Year: 2013

In order to achieve the greening of the European air transport with the deployment of low emission and low noise propulsion systems the reduction of core noise plays an important role. The ability to design low core noise aero-engines requires the development of reliable prediction tools. This development demands extensive research with dedicated experimental test cases and sophisticated numerical and analytical modelling work to broaden the physical understanding of core noise generation mechanisms. This objective is only reachable with an extensive cooperation on the European level. In this proposal Research on Core Noise Reduction (RECORD) the major aero-engine manufacturers of five different European countries collaborate to enable the design of low core noise aero-engines. In RECORD the fundamental understanding of core noise generation and how can it be reduced will be achieved by combining the research competence of all European experts in universities and research organizations working in this field of core noise. This concept of the RECORD project is completed by the technology development of small and medium size enterprises distributed in Europe. RECORD will promote the understanding of noise generating mechanism and its propagation taking the interaction of combustor and turbine into account. The importance of direct and indirect noise will be quantified. Through carefully designed experiments and extensive numerical calculations, the numerical methods and assumptions will be validated and extended. As a result, low-order models will provide a quick approach for the noise design of combustors and subsequent turbine stages while the more time-consuming and expensive LES calculation will provide a more detailed picture of the flow physics. Finally, RECORD will develop means and methods for core noise reduction.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: ICT-29-2016 | Award Amount: 4.00M | Year: 2017

More than 450.000 people are diagnosed with esophageal cancer (EC) each-year worldwide and approximately 400.000 die from the disease. Esophageal cancer is the eighth most commonly diagnosed cancer, but it is the sixth leading cause of cancer-related death, with incidence rates steeply rising. Risk factors, including gastroesophageal reflux disease and Barretts esophagus, may diagnostically implicate more than 300 million people worldwide. Nevertheless, the disease is detected late due to limitations in current diagnostic procedures leading to adverse prognosis and high treatment costs. ESOTRAC will change the landscape of esophageal diagnosis, over existing methods, based on cross-sectional optoacoustic and optical coherence endoscopy. The dual-modality system delivers a set of early-cancer imaging features necessary for improving early diagnosis, saving lives and leading to 3-5 Billion annual savings for the healthcare system. OCT provides micron scale subsurface morphological information based on photon scattering and optoacoustics provides deeper penetration and complementary pathophysiological features based on photon absorption. ESOTRAC develops novel photonic components (light sources, optical/optoacoustic scopes) and innovates novel medical system designs. Then, it performs pilot studies to investigate the functionality of the new endoscope and deliver a novel imaging-feature portfolio offering improved and earlier diagnosis. A central ESOTRAC ambition is that the new endoscope will become the new EC diagnostic standard by enabling quantitative and label-free three-dimensional endoscopy of early cancer with tremendous potential to impact esophageal care. ESOTRAC leverages European investment and know-how and strengthens the prospects of economic growth by leading the market position in endoscopic imaging.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: INFRAIA-01-2016-2017 | Award Amount: 10.01M | Year: 2017

Europe has become a global leader in optical-near infrared astronomy through excellence in space and ground-based experimental and theoretical research. While the major infrastructures are delivered through major national and multi-national agencies (ESO, ESA) their continuing scientific competitiveness requires a strong community of scientists and technologists distributed across Europes nations. OPTICON has a proven record supporting European astrophysical excellence through development of new technologies, through training of new people, through delivering open access to the best infrastructures, and through strategic planning for future requirements in technology, innovative research methodologies, and trans-national coordination. Europes scientific excellence depends on continuing effort developing and supporting the distributed expertise across Europe - this is essential to develop and implement new technologies and ensure instrumentation and infrastructures remain cutting edge. Excellence depends on continuing effort to strengthen and broaden the community, through networking initiatives to include and then consolidate European communities with more limited science expertise. Excellence builds on training actions to qualify scientists from European communities which lack national access to state of the art research infrastructures to compete successfully for use of the best available facilities. Excellence depends on access programmes which enable all European scientists to access the best infrastructures needs-blind, purely on competitive merit. Global competitiveness and the future of the community require early planning of long-term sustainability, awareness of potentially disruptive technologies, and new approaches to the use of national-scale infrastructures under remote or robotic control. OPTICON will continue to promote this excellence, global competitiveness and long-term strategic planning.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: HEALTH.2013.2.2.1-1 | Award Amount: 39.56M | Year: 2013

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and disability, leading to great personal suffering to victim and relatives, as well as huge direct and indirect costs to society. Strong ethical, medical, social and health economic reasons therefore exist for improving treatment. The CENTER-TBI project will collect a prospective, contemporary, highly granular, observational dataset of 5400 patients, which will be used for better characterization of TBI and for Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER). The generalisability of our results will be reinforced by a contemporaneous registry level data collection in 15-25,000 patients. Our conceptual approach is to exploit the heterogeneity in biology, care, and outcome of TBI, to discover novel pathophysiology, refine disease characterization, and identify effective clinical interventions. Key elements are the use of emerging technologies (biomarkers, genomics and advanced MR imaging) in large numbers of patients, across the entire course of TBI (from injury to late outcome) and across all severities of injury (mild to severe). Improved characterization with these tools will aid Precision Medicine, a concept recently advocated by the US National Academy of Science, facilitating targeted management for individual patients. Our consortium includes leading experts and will bring outstanding biostatistical and neuroinformatics expertise to the project. Collaborations with external partners, other FP7 consortia, and international links within InTBIR, will greatly augment scientific resources and broaden the global scope of our research. We anticipate that the project could revolutionize our view of TBI, leading to more effective and efficient therapy, thus improving outcome and reducing costs. These outcomes reflect the goals of CER to assist consumers, clinicians, health care purchasers, and policy makers to make informed decisions, and will improve healthcare at both individual and population levels.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2013-ITN | Award Amount: 3.40M | Year: 2014

The purpose of the SIMDALEE2 (Sources, Interaction with Matter, Detection and Analysis of Low Energy Electrons) network is to establish a world-class research training platform for the science and technology of nanoscale manipulation and analysis using low energy electrons. Apart from an effective and well-structured training programme, the network will pursue the following scientific goals: (1) optimizing beam size by correlating contemporary field emission (FE) theory with high resolution holographic measurements of magnetic and electric fields of FE tips with different shapes, both with and without primary electron optics; (2) putting the understanding of the contrast mechanism of electron beam techniques on a sound footing by comparing physical models with novel benchmark spectra acquired using a coincidence technique; (3) improving detection as well as understanding of emitted energy-, angular-, and spin-dependent spectra. This issue will be addressed for the common case of detectors in the a field-free environment, and for the special case when the emitted electrons encounter an electric field prior to detection; (4) Electron beam modification of nanostructured surfaces; (5) Progress in the aforementioned fields will lead to the development of an innovative prototypical methodology for nanoscale characterization with electron beams in the form of a compact desktop-type Near-Field-Emission Scanning Electron Microscope (NFESEM). Finally, (6) the economic impact and feasibility of low energy electron beam methodology will be investigated within the project. Accordingly, the ESRs and ERs will develop and acquire experience on a comprehensive methodology beneficial for any industrial or academic laboratory employing or developing electron beam techniques for natural science studies, as well as for biology and engineering. Their participation in this interdisciplinary and intersectoral network will greatly further their career opprtunities in S&T in Europe.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: PHC-01-2014 | Award Amount: 6.12M | Year: 2015

Breast tumours are heterogeneous, and result from the complex interplay of multiple lifestyle/environmental and genetic risk factors. Through the EU-funded COGS project, we have identified a large number of germline variants that influence the risk of breast cancer. In combination, these variants can identify women at wide ranges of genetic risk, even in the absence of family history of breast cancer. Given that breast cancer is not one disease, it is now essential to better understand how risk factors act together to influence the development of pathologic-molecular subtypes of breast cancer. The aim of B-CAST is to identify women at moderate to high risk of breast cancer, the subtype of cancer that is most likely to develop and the prognosis of that particular subtype. This will be accomplished through large-scale pathologic-molecular analyses of over 20,000 breast tumours, and the integration of these data with unique resources from existing consortia, including germline, lifestyle/environmental, mammographic breast density, pathologic and clinical data. This information will inform the development of risk prediction and prognostication models that will be validated in longitudinal cohorts and clinical studies, and incorporated into online tools. We will also disseminate this knowledge to relevant stakeholders, and evaluate how to translate it into risk-stratified public health and clinical strategies. The current challenge for optimised prevention, early detection, and treatment decisions for breast cancer is understanding the genetic and lifestyle determinants of risk and prognosis of molecular subtypes. B-CAST will add to this understanding and will have immediate application with benefits to women by providing validated risk and prognostication tools. This will empower women and doctors with knowledge to tailor strategies for prevention and treatment. Ultimately, this work should result in reductions in the occurrence, morbidity and mortality of this disease.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: PHC-01-2014 | Award Amount: 5.85M | Year: 2015

Age-related changes in the immune system, also known as immunosenescence, have a huge detrimental impact on the health of our ageing populations. However, the extent and mechanisms of the changes, and thus possible routes to prevention or alleviation, are largely unknown. We propose to analyse immunosenescence with unprecedented resolution by determining in large cohorts of volunteers the changes with age in circulating levels of ~140 subtypes of immune system cells and ~25 immune molecules, including cytokines and antibodies. We will also quantify age-related immune dysfunction, and notably autoreactivity, by determining the specificity and level of key circulating autoantibodies and their correlation with contractions in the B & T cell repertoire in our large general population ageing cohorts. Underlying genetic and major environmental factors -- including life style choices like smoking, diet, alcohol intake and, physical activity as well as transmissible viral infections -- will be systematically analysed. The analyses will build on our studies on levels of immune system cell subsets and inflammatory biomarkers in genetically well characterized population cohorts, and will be followed up by examining sorted circulating cells for ageing-related shifts in transcriptional profiles and function. For these targetted experiments, our focus,will be on cell types that show the greatest changes with age and/or are most critical for immune responsiveness; and from volunteers selected based on their genetic and epidemiological exposure profiles. Studies will be facilitated by complementary expertise of the participating centres, capitalising on unique bioresources. Overall, the advances in knowledge should better elucidate pathways of immunosenescence, reveal new biomarkers for early diagnosis of immune dysfunction, and point to target cells and molecules that can be supplemented or activated for eventual prevention or alleviation of ageing-related immune dysfunction.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ENV.2013.6.1-2 | Award Amount: 11.32M | Year: 2013

StratoClim will produce more reliable projections of climate change and stratospheric ozone by a better understanding and improved representation of key processes in the Upper Troposphere and Stratosphere (UTS). This will be achieved by an integrated approach bridging observations from dedicated field activities, process modelling on all scales, and global modelling with a suite of chemistry climate models (CCMs) and Earth system models (ESMs). At present, complex interactions and feedbacks are inadequately represented in global models with respect to natural and anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases, aerosol precursors and other important trace gases, the atmospheric dynamics affecting transport into and through the UTS, and chemical and microphysical processes governing the chemistry and the radiative properties of the UTS. StratoClim will (a) improve the understanding of the microphysical, chemical and dynamical processes that determine the composition of the UTS, such as the formation, loss and redistribution of aerosol, ozone and water vapour, and how these processes will be affected by climate change; (b) implement these processes and fully include the interactive feedback from UTS ozone and aerosol on surface climate in CCMs and ESMs. Through StratoClim new measurements will be obtained in key regions: (1) in a tropical campaign with a high altitude research aircraft carrying an innovative and comprehensive payload, (2) by a new tropical station for unprecedented ground and sonde measurements, and (3) through newly developed satellite data products. The improved climate models will be used to make more robust and accurate predictions of surface climate and stratospheric ozone, both with a view to the protection of life on Earth. Socioeconomic implications will be assessed and policy relevant information will be communicated to policy makers and the public through a dedicated office for communication, stakeholder contact and international co-operation.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: PHC-05-2014 | Award Amount: 6.46M | Year: 2015

Breast cancer affects more than 360,000 women per year in the EU and causes more than 90,000 deaths. Identification of women at high risk of the disease can lead to disease prevention through intensive screening, chemoprevention or prophylactic surgery. Breast cancer risk is determined by a combination of genetic and lifestyle risk factors. The advent of next generation sequencing has opened up the opportunity for testing in many disease genes, and diagnostic gene panel testing is being introduced in many EU countries. However, the cancer risks associated with most variants in most genes are unknown. This leads to a major problem in appropriate counselling and management of women undergoing panel testing. In this project, we aim to build a knowledge base that will allow identification of women at high-risk of breast cancer, in particular through comprehensive evaluation of DNA variants in known and suspected breast cancer genes. We will exploit the huge resources established through the Breast Cancer Association Consortium (BCAC) and ENIGMA (Evidence-based Network for the Interpretation of Germline Mutant Alleles). We will expand the existing datasets by sequencing all known breast cancer susceptibility genes in 20,000 breast cancer cases and 20,000 controls from population-based studies, and 10,000 cases from multiple case families. Sequence data will be integrated with in-silico and functional data, with data on other known risk factors, to generate a comprehensive risk model that can provide personalised risk estimates. We will develop online tools to aid the interpretation of gene variants and provide risk estimates in a user-friendly format, to help genetic counsellors and patients worldwide to make informed clinical decisions. We will evaluate the acceptability and utility of comprehensive gene panel testing in the clinical genetics context.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2014-ETN | Award Amount: 2.65M | Year: 2015

Nanotechnology has been identified as a key enabling technology of economic growth and the value of nanomaterials in the global market is forecast to grow to 2 trillion by 2015. In order to be a market leader in this area, it is imperative that Europe invest in research where the gap between knowledge creation and successful commercialisation is bridged, and in training the next generation of highly skilled researchers in nanotechnology. This ETN will increase innovation capacity and strengthen doctoral training in nanotechnology on a European level. The ETN will push research into applications at the cutting-edge of nanotechnology by uniting leading experts from both the academic and non-academic sectors under the theme Multi-Stimuli Responsive Molecular Systems and Materials. The objective of the research programme is to prepare new smart molecular systems and materials in a bottom-up approach from low molecular weight building blocks by exploiting dynamic covalent chemistry and supramolecular interactions. Close collaboration between the academic and industrial members in this ETN will ensure immediate commercialisation of any new technology or materials developed by the network. This ETN provides a highly structured and comprehensive training programme in nanotechnology, a subject not specifically taught in many European universities. Early-stage researchers will be recruited and trained so they are equipped with a balance of research-related and transferable skills to enhance their career perspectives in both the academic and non-academic sectors. Thus, the network will produce highly skilled, creative, innovative and entrepreneurial researchers who will contribute to European innovation capacity in nanotechnology.


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

This project is the second in the series of EC-financed parts of the Graphene Flagship. The Graphene Flagship is a 10 year research and innovation endeavour with a total project cost of 1,000,000,000 euros, funded jointly by the European Commission and member states and associated countries. The first part of the Flagship was a 30-month Collaborative Project, Coordination and Support Action (CP-CSA) under the 7th framework program (2013-2016), while this and the following parts are implemented as Core Projects under the Horizon 2020 framework. The mission of the Graphene Flagship is to take graphene and related layered materials from a state of raw potential to a point where they can revolutionise multiple industries. This will bring a new dimension to future technology a faster, thinner, stronger, flexible, and broadband revolution. Our program will put Europe firmly at the heart of the process, with a manifold return on the EU investment, both in terms of technological innovation and economic growth. To realise this vision, we have brought together a larger European consortium with about 150 partners in 23 countries. The partners represent academia, research institutes and industries, which work closely together in 15 technical work packages and five supporting work packages covering the entire value chain from materials to components and systems. As time progresses, the centre of gravity of the Flagship moves towards applications, which is reflected in the increasing importance of the higher - system - levels of the value chain. In this first core project the main focus is on components and initial system level tasks. The first core project is divided into 4 divisions, which in turn comprise 3 to 5 work packages on related topics. A fifth, external division acts as a link to the parts of the Flagship that are funded by the member states and associated countries, or by other funding sources. This creates a collaborative framework for the entire Flagship.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: INFRADEV-3-2015 | Award Amount: 19.05M | Year: 2015

The life sciences are undergoing a transformation. Modern experimental tools study the molecules, reactions, and organisation of life in unprecedented detail. The precipitous drop in costs for high-throughput biology has enabled European research laboratories to produce an ever-increasing amount of data. Life scientists are rapidly generating the most complex and heterogeneous datasets that science can currently imagine, with unprecedented volumes of biological data to manage. Data will only generate long-term value if it is Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Re-usable (FAIR). This requires a scalable infrastructure that connects local, national and European efforts and provides standards, tools and training for data stewardship. Formally established as a legal entity in January 2014, ELIXIR - the European life science Infrastructure for Biological Information - is a distributed organisation comprising national bioinformatics research infrastructures and the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI). This coordinated infrastructure includes data standards, exchange, interoperability, storage, security and training. Recognising the importance of a data foundation for European life sciences, the ESFRI and European Council named ELIXIR as one of Europes priority Research Infrastructures. In response ELIXIR have developed ELIXIR-EXCELERATE. The project will fast-track ELIXIRs early implementation phase by i) coordinate and enhance existing resources into a world-leading data service for academia and industry, ii) grow bioinformatics capacity and competence across Europe, and iii) complete the management processes needed for a large distributed infrastructure. ELIXIR-EXCELERATE will deliver a step-change in the life sciences. It will enable cost-effective and sustainable management and re-use of data for millions of users across the globe and improve the competitiveness of European life science industries through accessible data and robust standards and tools.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: Health | Award Amount: 2.25M | Year: 2015

The European Consortium for Communicating Stem Cell Research (EuroStemCell) unites 33 partner institutions, that collectively represent >400 stem cell research groupings across Europe. Our common goal is to provide trusted high quality information on stem cells accessible to citizens and stakeholders across Europe, through support and further development of the multi-lingual European Stem Cell Information Portal www.eurostemcell.org. To achieve our aims, EuroStemCell will adopt the highly structured system for coordinated information management established by the FP7 Coordination and Support Action (CSA) also called EuroStemCell. From this, we will implement an ambitious programme of online and direct stakeholder engagement with stem cell research and regenerative medicine, aimed at European citizens at all educational levels. This will include provision of resources tailored specifically for decision-making on stem cell-related questions and an extensive programme of dissemination and capacity building in science communications and public engagement. The proposed work centres on an information hub team, which will link to all project partners and to stakeholders in the stem cell and regenerative medicine arenas and wider society, working with these groupings to implement the project. All outputs will be delivered in 6 European languages, to ensure broad accessibility, and will be rigorously evaluated against measurable objectives throughout the project duration. The proposed consortium comprises leading stem cell labs across Europe, including new member states, together with experts in ethical and societal concerns and evaluating clinical outcomes. It thus provides unparalleled European expertise across the fields of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine and is uniquely placed to maintain and further develop www.eurostemcell.org as a world-leading stem cell information resource, thus meeting the challenge outlined in Topic HOA-6-2014.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: PHC-15-2014 | Award Amount: 6.00M | Year: 2015

Osteoarthritis (OA) is an incurable disease that has evaded pharmacological interference, biologic therapy or surgical intervention to prevent disease progression. Currently, OA is designated the 11th highest contributor (of 291 diseases) of global disability. In the absence of effective treatment options, cellular therapies using mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs) have emerged as potential candidates to overcome this clinical short-coming. Autologous adipose-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (ASCs) are attractive for cellular therapy given the abundance of tissue, high frequency of MSCs and minimally invasive harvest procedure. The EU consortium ADIPOA has shown in a first in man 2-centre Phase I safety study that intraarticular injection of a single dose of autologous ASCs to the knee (18 patients, 12 month follow-up) was well-tolerated, had no adverse effects, and resulted in an improvement in pain score and functional outcome. ADIPOA2 will deliver a large-scale clinical trial in regenerative medicine for OA. The purpose of the project is to design and implement a phase IIb study to assess the safety and efficacy of autologous (patient-derived) ACSs in the treatment of advanced OA of the knee. The cells will be prepared from samples of adipose tissue harvested from patients by lipoaspiration. ADIPOA2 will comprise a multi-centre, randomized clinical trial comparing culture-expanded, autologous adult ASCs in subjects with knee OA with another widely used therapeutic approach for knee degeneration (injection of Hyaluronan). There are two large elements of the study: (1) the production of consistent batches of high-quality autologous ASCs under GMP-compliant conditions and (2) delivery of these cell doses to patients in a trial which will meet all national and European regulatory and ethical standards and which will have sufficient statistical power to provide an unambiguous and definitive assessment of safety and efficacy.


Salje E.K.H.,University of Cambridge | Dahmen K.A.,University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign
Annual Review of Condensed Matter Physics | Year: 2014

Recent experimental and theoretical progress on the study of crackling noise in the plastic deformation of crystals, ferroelastics, and porous materials is reviewed. We specifically point out opportunities and potential pitfalls in this approach to the study of the nonequilibrium dynamics of disordered materials. Direct optical observation of domain boundary movement under stress and experimental results from acoustic emission and heat-flux measurements lead to power-law scaling of the jerk distribution with energy exponents between 1.3 and 2.3. The collapse of porous materials under stress leads to exceptionally large intervals of power-law scaling (seven decades). Applications in geology and materials sciences are discussed. © Copyright 2014 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: EPSRC | Program: | Phase: Fellowship | Award Amount: 795.23K | Year: 2014

When linguists are trying to determine how different languages are related or neuroscientists wish to know how one part of the brain is associated with another, how to analyse data which is both complex and massive is a fundamental question. However, an area of Statistics, namely Functional Data Analysis, where the data is described as mathematical functions rather than numbers or vectors, has recently been shown to be very powerful in these situations. This fellowship aims to take functional data analysis and advance it so that much more complex data can be investigated. This will require establishing a careful statistical framework for the analysis of such functions even in situations where the functions have strict relationships. By considering the underlying mathematical spaces which the functions lie in, it is possible to construct valid statistical procedures, which preserve these relationships, such as the functions needing to be positive definite or the functions needing to be related by a graph or network. As an example, comparison between different languages (for example, how is French quantitatively different from Italian) can be carried out in the framework of functional data but not without considering specifically how the data should be analysed to take into account its particular properties. For example in trying to find a path from one language to another, it would be sensible to try to only go via other feasible acoustic sounds. This turns out to be mathematically related to shape analysis, a simple example of which might be how to describe going from London to Sydney. The shortest path is through the centre of the Earth, but this is not sensible, so you have to go round the world. Establishing links between shape analysis and functional data is a major aim of this fellowship. In addition, most brain analysis currently splits the brain up into lots of elements know as voxels, and then analyses these voxels one by one. However, the brain is really one object (or complex 3-D object) which should be analysed together. This is another example of functional data and the methods developed in this fellowship will enable the analysis of the brain as a single object. This will be done by examining the types of dependence between observations in brain imaging data, and using these to build such an object. Of particular interest will be the analysis of brain connections resulting from particular tasks which will require a mixture of functional data analysis and graphical or network analysis. However, before this can be done and the resulting insights into the brain found, the statistical methods required to do this need to be developed.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ENV.2013.6.1-1 | Award Amount: 11.52M | Year: 2014

The ICE-ARC project aims to understand and quantify the multiple stresses involved in the change in the Arctic marine environment. Particular focus is on the rapid retreat and collapse of the Arctic sea ice cover and to assess the climatic (ice, ocean, atmosphere and ecosystem), economic and social impacts of these stresses on regional and global scales. It is not possible to look at one aspect of this system in isolation; a coupled atmosphere/cryosphere/ocean/ecosystem approach is needed. Our observations will focus on reducing the uncertainty in understanding of Arctic physical processes which are vital in climate and ecosystem change and which may not be adequately represented in present models. Results of the observational programme will be fed into an ice-ocean-atmosphere model which, after validation, will make projections - with reduced uncertainties - of the rate and nature of future changes in the ice cover, ocean structure and atmospheric temperature and circulation. In parallel with this an ecosystems model will perform the same role for marine living resources. The resulting projections of the two models will be fed into an economic impact model (PAGE-ICE) that is specially reconfigured for cryosphere-driven impacts. This will calculate the impacts of the projected physical changes upon the global economic and social system, including those of the Arctic region itself. This will be the first time that a leading global impact model has been coupled with a physical climate model to directly assess the economic impact of observed and projected climate change events. It is being applied to the oceanic region of greatest current concern to the global community because of the speed of visible change there. The outputs of the entire project, will undoubtedly lead to more effective policy and management options for societal responses to climate change, and because of this we have an extensive dissemination and engagement programme within ICE-ARC.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2015-ETN | Award Amount: 3.97M | Year: 2016

This network brings together world-leading experts in nano-science and technology from 6 European countries in order to achieve breakthroughs in understanding and successful utilization of nanoscale solid-state spin systems in emerging quantum technologies. The proposed innovative science in the supra-disciplinary field of physics and applications of spin nano-systems will underpin breakthrough developments in quantum computing, quantum communications and networks, and nano-imaging. Important innovative step consolidating the joint effort of the whole consortium is the focus on crystalline solids where magnetic interactions of electron spins with lattice nuclei are negligible and well-controlled. We will develop electrically-controlled spin-quantum-bits (qubits) in Si-Ge quantum dots and nanowires; will optically manipulate spin impurities in diamond in applications for quantum computing and networks and in nano-magnetometry; will achieve new understanding of quantum phenomena due to the spin-valley coupling in atomically thin 2D semiconductors, an emerging class of materials with a promise for quantum technologies. Research training to 15 early stage researchers will be delivered by 14 academic and 7 industrial groups. Network-wide training course in transferable skills will be specially developed and delivered by the Think Ahead (Sheffield), an award winning initiative at the University of Sheffield (award by the Times Higher Education, 2014). Current proposal is designed to advance this multi-disciplinary research field significantly beyond the state-of-the-art, and train a new cohort of researchers capable of developing spin-based solid-state quantum technologies towards real-life applications in the next 5 to 10 years.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: EINFRA-5-2015 | Award Amount: 4.91M | Year: 2015

Essentially every new commercial product, be they smart phones, solar cells, batteries, transport technology, artificial hips, etc., depends on improved or even novel materials. Computational materials science is increasingly influential as a method to identify such critical materials for both R&D. Enormous amounts of data, precious but heterogeneous and difficult to access or utilise, are already stored in repositories scattered across Europe. The NoMaD CoE will open new HPC opportunities by enabling access to this data and delivering powerful new tools to search, retrieve and manage it. NoMaD will foster sharing of all relevant data, building on the unique CECAM, Psi-k and ETSF communities, putting Europe ahead of materials science in other continents. Unprecedented, already initialised networking with researchers, with industry, with students and with other stakeholders will guarantee relevance and end-user value. NoMaD will become a crucial tool for atomistic simulations and multi-scale modelling in the physical, materials, and quantum-chemical sciences. This field is characterised by a healthy but heterogeneous eco-system of many different codes that are used at all HPC centers worldwide, with millions of CPU hours spent every day, some of them at petascale performance. NoMaD will integrate the leading codes and make their results comparable by converting (and compressing) existing inputs and outputs into a common format, thus making these valuable data accessible to academia and industry: NoMaD will develop big-data analytics for materials science. This will require novel algorithms, e.g., for statistical learning based on the created materials encyclopedia, offering complex searches and novel visualisations. These challenges exploit the essential resources of our HPC partners. Without the infrastructure and services provided by the NoMaD CoE, much of the information created with the above mentioned petascale (towards exascale) computations would be wasted.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2015-ETN | Award Amount: 3.85M | Year: 2015

This ETN is embedded into an established international research programme; The European Research Initiative on Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase (ALK)-related malignancies (ERIA; www.erialcl.net) is an existing and functional network of 13 partners, which will cosset and nurture a cohort of early stage researchers to become confident, competent, independent and well-connected European scientists with excellent career perspectives. ERIA was instigated to coordinate research into ALK-related malignancies to facilitate the development of less-toxic and more efficacious therapies. ALK is increasingly recognised as a prevalent oncogene in a number of human malignancies and therefore poses a prominent clinical problem, which requires coordinated research into its oncogenic mechanisms. ERIA now conducts a collaborative multidisciplinary research programme at the interface of biomedical and bio-mechanistic approaches, which will be an excellent environment to train the next generation of European scientists. The 15 recruited fellows will be incorporated into international academic study groups (all partners of the ERIA network) to perform high calibre research and also will be exposed to environments from other sectors to broaden their experience. Secondments will include technical training within individual laboratories and SMEs (TissueGnostics, Galkem, Cambridge Life Sciences, Sofigen and Varionostics) as well as large Pharma (Roche). Training through research will be complemented with a balanced programme of transferable skills and access to local courses. The training of each fellow will be guided by a personal career development plan and supervised by a PhD committee panel. The primary goal of the network is to train the recruited fellows by participation in an internationally competitive research programme and integrating them into an international network. Thereby providing competence in state-of-the-art research and development at the forefront of translational science.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: INFRASUPP-03-2016 | Award Amount: 3.00M | Year: 2017

The objective of the AENEAS project is to develop a concept and design for a distributed, federated European Science Data Centre (ESDC) to support the astronomical community in achieving the scientific goals of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). The scientific potential of the SKA radio telescope is unprecedented and represents one of the highest priorities for the international scientific community. By the same token, the large scale, rate, and complexity of data the SKA will generate, present challenges in data management, computing, and networking that are similarly world-leading. SKA Regional Centres (SRC) like the ESDC will be a vital resource to enable the community to take advantage of the scientific potential of the SKA. Within the tiered SKA operational model, the SRCs will provide essential functionality which is not currently provisioned within the directly operated SKA facilities. AENEAS brings together all the European member states currently part of the SKA project as well as potential future EU SKA national partners, the SKA Organisation itself, and a larger group of international partners including the two host countries Australia and South Africa.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: PHC-14-2015 | Award Amount: 7.10M | Year: 2016

Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS) is a condition that occurs when part or the entire small intestine is missing or has been removed during surgery. This condition renders the bowel incapable of fulfilling its nutritional function (intestinal failure). There is no cure for SBS. Parenteral (intravenous) nutrition (PN) and bowel transplantation are currently the preferred options for nutrition in children and adults who have lost their bowel. PN offers a low survival rate, compromised quality of life, and the economic cost for each patient is estimated to be 55,000 euro/year. Small intestinal transplant is also an option with one-year and 4-year survival rates of 90% and 60% respectively. However, because of the shortage of organs, high mortality, the severe side effects of immunosuppression and low quality of life, this is still a sub-optimal solution. The objective of this programme is to deliver a functional bowel reconstruction to patients with SBS through an autologous tissue engineering strategy, overcoming the shortage of organs, and avoiding the need for immunosuppression. It will be achieved by identifying the best autologous cell source; providing the ideal scaffold; engineering functional intestine for transplantation and engaging with patients, scientists and public. The work is designed to lead directly to a clinical trial for the application of the optimal protocol for tissue-engineered intestine. The consortium is uniquely positioned to complete this ambitious effort as we have an internationally pre-eminent, multi-disciplinary team, which possesses a combination of expertise from basic molecular biology, engineering, and surgery, combining knowledge from universities, hospitals and industry. Importantly we are one of the few groups in the world with experience, infrastructure, and track record to translate regenerative medicine solutions to patients, including true clinical translation of tissue engineered organs.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SC5-06-2016-2017 | Award Amount: 6.35M | Year: 2016

The Paris Agreement substantially increased the need for countries and regions to understand the full economic, social and environmental implications of the deep decarbonisation to which the global community is now committed. The EU has long had decarbonisation ambitions, but there remains considerable uncertainty as to precisely how these ambitions will be achieved, or what the impacts of such achievement will be on the EU economy and society more generally. INNOPATHS will resolve this uncertainty to the extent possible, will characterise and provide a quantification of the uncertainty which remains, and will describe in great detail a number of possible low-carbon pathways for the EU, together with the economic, social and environmental impacts to which they are likely to lead. These pathways will be co-designed with the aid of 23 stakeholders from different sectors who have already provided letters of support to INNOPATHS. INNOPATHS will suggest through this analysis how the benefits of these pathways, such as new industries, jobs and competitiveness, may be maximized, and how any negative impacts, such as those on low-income households, or on carbon-intensive sectors, may be mitigated. INNOPATHS will communicate its insights through the normal scientific channels, and make substantial contributions to the scientific literature, but will go well beyond this in terms of interactions with stakeholders, building on the co-design processes in the project to reach out to stakeholder networks of businesses, NGOs, local and national policy makers. INNOPATHS will create four innovative online tools to explain its pathways, technological transitions and policies, to different constituencies. Through these tools and other dissemination and communication mechanisms, INNOPATHS will have a substantial impact on the climate and energy policy debates up to and beyond 2020, increasing the probability that decisions in this area will be taken in an informed and cost-effective way


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: SC5-16-2016-2017 | Award Amount: 1.16M | Year: 2016

Global demand for minerals is growing rapidly, driven by rapid population growth, urbanisation and an increasingly diverse range of technical applications. Global material supply chains linking the extraction, transport and processing stages of raw materials have become increasingly complex and today involve multiple players and product components. An interactive platform that provides transparency about existing approaches and information gaps concerning global material flows is needed to understand these global supply chains; developing this capability is critical for maintaining competitiveness in the European economy. Against this backdrop, the proposed MinFuture project aims to identify, integrate, and develop expertise for global material flow analysis and scenario modelling. Specific activities include: the analysis of barriers and gateways for delivering more transparent and interoperable materials information; the assessment of existing model approaches for global material flow analysis, including the demand- supply forecasting methods; the delivery of a common methodology which integrates mineral data, information and knowledge across national boundaries and between governmental and non-governmental organisations; the development of recommendations for a roadmap to implement the common methodology at international level; the creation of a web-portal to provide a central access point for material flow information, including links to existing data sources, models, tools and analysis. MinFuture brings together 16 international partners from across universities, public organisations and companies, to deliver new insight, strategic intelligence and a clear roadmap for enabling effective access to global material information.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: PHC-03-2015 | Award Amount: 5.10M | Year: 2015

Common mechanisms and pathways in Stroke and Alzheimers disease. It has long been recognized that stroke and (Alzheimers Disease) AD often co-occur and have an overlapping pathogenesis. As such, these two diseases are not considered fellow travelers, but rather partners in crime. This multidisciplinary consortium includes epidemiologists, geneticists, radiologists, neurologists with a longstanding track-record on the etiology of stroke and AD. This project aims to improve our understanding of the co-occurrence of stroke and AD. An essential concept of our proposal is that stroke and AD are sequential diseases that have overlapping pathyphysiological mechanisms in addition to shared risk factors. We will particularly focus on these common mechanisms and disentangle when and how these mechanisms diverge into causing either stroke, or AD, or both. Another important concept is that mechanisms under study will not only include the known pathways of ischemic vasculopathy and CAA, but we will explore and unravel novel mechanisms linking stroke and AD. We will do so by exploiting our vast international network in order to link various big datasets and by incorporating novel analytical strategies with emerging technologies in the field of genomics, metabolomics, and brain MR-imaging.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SC1-PM-01-2016 | Award Amount: 16.02M | Year: 2017

The SYSCID consortium aims to develop a systems medicine approach for disease prediction in CID. We will focus on three major CID indications with distinct characteristics, yet a large overlap of their molecular risk map: inflammatory bowel disease, systemic lupus erythematodes and rheumatoid arthritis. We have joined 15 partners from major cohorts and initiatives in Europe (e.g.IHEC, ICGC, TwinsUK and Meta-HIT) to investigate human data sets on three major levels of resolution: whole blood signatures, signatures from purified immune cell types (with a focus on CD14 and CD4/CD8) and selected single cell level analyses. Principle data layers will comprise SNP variome, methylome, transcriptome and gut microbiome. SYSCID employs a dedicated data management infrastructure, strong algorithmic development groups (including an SME for exploitation of innovative software tools for data deconvolution) and will validate results in independent retrospective and prospective clinical cohorts. Using this setup we will focus on three fundamental aims : (i) the identification of shared and unique core disease signatures which are associated with the disease state and independent of temporal variation, (ii) the generation of predictive models of disease outcome- builds on previous work that pathways/biomarkers for disease outcome are distinct from initial disease risk and may be shared across diseases to guide therapy decisions on an individual patient basis, (iii) reprogramming disease - will identify and target temporally stable epigenetic alterations in macrophages and lymphocytes in epigenome editing approaches as biological validation and potential novel therapeutic tool. Thus, SYSCID will foster the development of solid biomarkers and models as stratification in future long-term systems medicine clinical trials but also investigate new causative therapies by editing the epigenome code in specific immune cells, e.g. to alleviate macrophage polarization defects.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-IF-EF-ST | Phase: MSCA-IF-2014-EF | Award Amount: 183.45K | Year: 2015

The Earths surface has been dominated by cycles of glacial advance for more than two million years. Processes occurring at the glacier bed exert a fundamental control on the release of bioavailable elements to rivers and oceans and the evolution of the Earths surface, hydrosphere and atmosphere. As global temperatures rise and ice-sheets retreat, it is critical to constrain the roles that subglacial weathering processes play in controlling global biogeochemical cycles. The overarching goal of this project is to investigate the redox conditions that control vital nutrient and elemental release through a study of glacial outflows from contrasting subglacial environments. I will achieve this goal using a novel multidisciplinary framework incorporating cutting-edge redox sensitive stable isotope proxies (Mo, Fe and Se isotopes) of iron and sulphur cycling and oxidation state to unique glaciated regions. Using a combination of archived samples and focused field campaigns I will study subglacial outflow environments that differ in bedrock geology, regional climate and type of individual glacier drainage basins (e.g. ice cap, ice sheet and alpine glacier) in order to evaluate the importance of these parameters in weathering processes and ultimately the release of bio-available elements from the sub-glacial environment to rivers and oceans. Key questions I am to answer are how is the release of bioavailable elements a function of the redox state of the subglacial environment? Which of the three key parameters plays the most significant role? To what extent is this reflected in the enrichments of elements in solid/liquid phases? and how does this affect biogeochemical cycling downstream and nutrient supply?


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ENV.2013.6.4-3 | Award Amount: 6.53M | Year: 2014

Coastal floods are one of the most dangerous and harmful natural hazards affecting urban areas adjacent to shorelines. Rapid urbanisation combined with climate change and poor governance means a significant increase in the risk of local surface flooding coinciding with high water levels in rivers and high tide or storm surges from the sea, posing a greater risk of devastation to coastal communities. The threats posed need to be addressed not just in terms of flood prediction and control, but taking into account governance and socio-economic issues. PEARL brings together world leading expertise in both the domain of hydro-engineering and risk reduction and management services to pool knowledge and practical experience in order to develop more sustainable risk management solutions for coastal communities focusing on present and projected extreme hydro-meteorological events. The project will examine 7 case studies from across the EU to develop a holistic risk reduction framework that can identify multi-stressor risk assessment, risk cascading processes and strengthen risk governance by enabling an active role for key actors. The research programme links risk and root cause assessment through enhanced FORIN methodology, event prediction, forecast and warning, development of adaptive structural and non-structural strategies and active stakeholder participation. The project aims to develop novel technologies and methods that can improve the early warning process and its components; it builds a pan-European knowledge base gathering real case studies and demonstrations of best practice across the EU to support capacity development for the delivery of cost-effective risk-reduction plans. Additionally, the project provides an interface to relevant ongoing tsunami work: it plugs into global databases, early warning systems and processes at WMO, and contributes to community building, development of guidelines and communication avenues at the global level through IWA.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2013-ITN | Award Amount: 3.65M | Year: 2014

SNAL is a multidisciplinary programme specially designed to provide scientific and transferable skill training and career development for early stage researchers and experienced researchers in membrane research. Working in a multidisciplinary network will give the researchers a broad perspective on their research field as well as the basic ability of pursuing a research project from basic sciences to industrial applications. The broad aim is to train a new cohort of researchers with systemic thinking equipped with generic skills in combining experimental studies and computer simulations to prepare them for fruitful careers in academia and industry. One challenge for the project is the design and synthesis of novel biomaterials able to modify membrane properties. This requires deep understanding of the interactions of lipid membranes with nano-objects including functional biomimetic polymers, polymeric micelles, carbon nanotubes and polymer therapeutic complexes/conjugates to enable the intelligent design of novel materials with improved bilayer modifying properties. To achieve this goal we have assembled a highly interdisciplinary team of leading groups all having synergies in their established research interests in the field of lipid bilayer nano-objects interactions. The project combines computer simulations, chemical synthesis, clinical and industrial expertise, physical and biological experiments. The industry involvement in the project is very high with full participation of Unilever and Biopharma, the companies from different sectors. Complementarity of partner skills provides a logical basis for a collective training programme. The full cycle of the design process, from theoretical models to synthesis and experimental and clinical validation, is of particular importance for training of ESRs and their future career development.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: EPSRC | Program: | Phase: Training Grant | Award Amount: 5.25M | Year: 2014

A new generation of gas turbine engines is required to meet future environmental and commercial targets. This requirement applies to gas turbines used for a wide range of applications including aircraft propulsion and power generation. To date, many performance improvements have been made through improved understanding of the complex aerodynamic processes occurring within a gas turbine engine. However, meeting future challenges and targets will require the adoption of a multi-disciplinary and integrated design methodology. In such a methodology, the complex aerodynamic processes, and the design of individual components, can not be considered in isolation. Instead, the design process must include (i) the strong links/interaction between the aerodynamics and other aerothermal processes (e.g. heat transfer, acoustics, fuel break up) and (ii) the interaction between the different gas turbine components. To facilitate this approach, an EPSRC Centre of Doctoral Training in Gas Turbine Aerodynamics is proposed involving Cambridge, Loughborough and Oxford Universities. These three universities have been specifically chosen because of their track record of research excellence in the aerodynamics of the three major components of a gas turbine (compressor, combustor and turbine). In addition to their aerodynamics expertise these universities also undertake world class research in the fields with which aerodynamics interacts (e.g. heat transfer, acoustics, two phase flows). The proposed CDT is fully aligned with the strategies of all three institutions to promote long term industrial engagement and collaboration, as strongly endorsed in the institutional letters of support. Students will spend the first year of their training studying for an MRes in Gas Turbine Aerodynamics. The intention is for this course to become the worlds premiere gas turbine course, training the next generation of research and industry leaders. All three institutions, and the industry partners of the CDT, will contribute to the teaching of this course to ensure that the students aquire the broad range of knowledge required to meet future technical challenges. This contrasts to the current approach whereby students typically study a narrow range of methods and techniques applicable to a specific component challenge. The approach proposed here will enable the students to be exposed to a wide range of theoretical, experimental and numerical techniques applicable to the design of different components of a gas turbine engine, with emphasis being placed on a more integrated and multi-disciplinary design philosophy. Time spent at the different institutions will also expose the students to the cutting edge research being undertaken in these different areas. In the following three years, the students will undertake high impact and innovative research projects inspired by industrial collaboration. To successfully innovate and translate innovation into a product requires close engagement between academia and industry. The CDT has assembled a group of companies which span the entire gas turbine products range including Rolls-Royce in gas turbines for aerospace, industrial and marine applications, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in large gas turbines for power generation and Siemens UK for small gas turbines for power and pumping. In addition, technologies developed for use in gas turbines are now being actively developed for a range of other purposes. An example of this is Dyson who has invested significant research funding into the development high efficiency axial compressors for use in domestic products. The CDT will be open to such companies who can benefit directly both from the facilities available, the research undertaken within the individual projects and the design methods developed. In the longer term, these companies will also benefit from the potential employees and industry leaders that the CDT will produce.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CS2-RIA | Phase: JTI-CS2-2014-CFP01-ENG-03-02 | Award Amount: 997.77K | Year: 2016

Lean burn combustor technologies introduced to reduce NOx emissions are proving to be inherently noisier than conventional combustors, generating broadband noise that can be heard external to the aircraft. Without careful design and optimisation, there is a danger the low emission cores will cause the aircraft engines to exceed the Horizon 2020 noise requirement. The research in the CORNET proposal is aimed at understanding the flow physics involved in the generation and propagation of core noise in low emission cores. It includes both the direct noise of combustion, pressure waves generated directly by unsteadiness in the rate of combustion, and the indirect noise generated as entropy waves accelerate through the Nozzle Guide Vanes (NGVs) at combustor exit and propagate through turbine blade rows. Large Eddy Simulations of a combustor with a realistic engine fuel injector operating at representative engine conditions are validated through high-speed optical diagnostics applied to a high-pressure rig. The combustor modelling gives the entropy and acoustic waves incident on the NGVs. The generation of in-direct noise is predicted through unsteady high-resolution computations of the interaction of these entropy and acoustic waves within a high-pressure turbine stage. The new understanding will be captured in an advanced analytical combustion noise prediction tool that can be readily used by industry.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: ERC-SyG | Phase: ERC-2013-SyG | Award Amount: 9.65M | Year: 2014

Organic semiconductors are enabling flexible, large-area optoelectronic devices, such as organic light-emitting diodes, transistors, and solar cells. Due to their exceptionally long spin lifetimes, these carbon-based materials could also have an important impact on spintronics, where carrier spins, rather than charges, play a key role in transmitting, processing and storing information. However, to exploit this potential, a method for direct conversion of spin information into an electric signal is indispensable. Spin-charge conversion in inorganic semiconductors and metals has mainly relied on the spin-orbit interaction, a fundamental relativistic effect which couples the motion of electrons to their spins. The spin-orbit interaction causes a flow of spins, a spin current, to induce an electric field perpendicular to both the spin polarization and the flow direction of the spin current. This is called the inverse spin Hall effect (ISHE). We have very recently been able to observe for the first time the inverse spin-Hall effect in an organic conductor. This breakthrough raises important questions for our understanding of spin-charge conversion in materials with intrinsically weak spin-orbit coupling. It also expands dramatically the range of materials and structures available to address some currently not well understood scientific questions in spintronics and opens opportunities for realising novel spintronic devices for spin-based information processing and spin caloritronic energy harvesting that make use of unique properties of hybrid, organic-inorganic structures. The main objective of the proposed research is to take spintronics to a level that inorganic spintronics cannot reach on its own. The project is based on new theoretical and experimental methodologies arising at the interface between two currently disjoint scientific communities, organic semiconductors and inorganic spintronics, and aims to exploit synergies between chemistry, physics and theory.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SPIRE-01-2014 | Award Amount: 6.00M | Year: 2015

In many aspects batch processes are superior to continuous. Therefore it is worthwhile to take advantage of recent progress in sensor technologies, modelling and automation to develop a new paradigm for the design and conduction of batch processes: a) operation at maximum efficiency, b) dynamic, quality driven process trajectories rather than fixed schedules c) detailed analysis and tracking of all relevant process and product parameter. The main objective of the proposed project is the maximization of efficiency (reg. quality, energy, raw materials, and costs) of batch processes. Integrated process control is essential for an efficient operation of industrial batch processes: it tracks the evolution of product properties, detects deviations from the target values for product quality and derives corrective actions at a stage when an automatic compensation of deviations from an optimal trajectory is still possible. This contributes to optimal energy and raw material utilisation, shortens production time and enhanced the product quality. With the ambition to deliver solutions with relevance to all sectors of the process industries, the RECOBA consortium represents a selection of batch processes operating industries and partners across the value chain of batch process control, among them 3 global players from the polymer industry (BASF), the steel industry (TKSE), and the silicon metal industry (ELKEM). Within RECOBA there will be developed and validated: (1) new & innovative solutions for the measurement of different types of quality aspects, (2) new models to realise integrated process control of batch processes & suitable online parameter adaptation technologies to keep these models valid, (3) control modules to realise concepts for real-time, model based & closed loop process control, which are easily adaptable to existing batch processes in various industrial sectors, (4) business models to approach relevant industrial sectors for a future market entry.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: ERC-CG | Phase: ERC-CG-2013-SH6 | Award Amount: 2.00M | Year: 2014

This project explores the relationship between climate change and human behaviour. During the harshest conditions of the last ice age European human populations abandoned northern latitudes, with their range contracting to southern regions. By the time ice sheets retreated and large areas of land became available for resettlement there had been a hiatus of at least 7000 years. This project examines the recolonisation of these Northern regions which took place during a period of rapid climate change, the last major global warming event on earth. As people move eastwards and northwards increasing diversification is seen in their stone and bone tool industries which indicate human development. This project examines whether climate a) drove the human dispersal and development, b) played a more indirect role, or c) was of little significance to humans at this time. State-of-the-art scientific techniques (radiocarbon dating, DNA, stable isotope, clumped isotope and charcoal ring width analyses) will be used to create integrated chronological, palaeoclimatic and palaeoecological frameworks that are directly linked to the Late and Final Palaeolithic archaeological record. Temporal and spatial trends in climate change, prey abundance and behaviour, and technological development will be compared and considered in light of regional and global climate trends and archaeological evidence for hunting strategies, human mobility and landscape use. Such data will provide an insight into the conditions Palaeolithic people experienced and how this influenced their perceptions of the landscape they inhabited and the decisions they made.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: HEALTH.2013.2.2.1-2 | Award Amount: 8.14M | Year: 2014

Neuroimaging (NI) has enormous potential to improve the clinical care of patients with psychiatric disorders, but has yet to deliver. The PSYSCAN project will address this issue directly by developing a NI-based tool that will help clinicians resolve key clinical issues in the management of patients with psychotic disorders. Clinicians will use the tool to assess patients with a standardised set of NI and complementary demographic, clinical, cognitive, and genetic measures. The clinician will enter data on to an iPad, and these data, along with NI data will be electronically transferred to a central facility for analysis. Key features of the analysis include the assessment of NI data at a network level, the integration of NI and non-NI data, and the use of machine learning methods to make predictions specific to the patient being assessed. The results will be delivered to the clinicians iPad and will indicate the likelihood of a given clinical or functional outcome. The tool will have 3 clinical applications. PSYSCAN-Predict will facilitate prediction of the onset of psychosis in high risk subjects. PSYSCAN-Stratify will aid early diagnosis and the stratification of patients with first episode psychosis according to future course and outcome. PSYSCAN-Monitor will allow clinicians to measure progression of the disorder over time. Once developed, the tool will be validated in 2 large scale naturalistic studies using the consortiums extensive network of centres. The validated tool will then be disseminated to clinical centres across the EU. The PSYSCAN project involves a world-class consortium of experts on NI and psychiatry that unites academic centres, SMEs with image processing and computerised testing expertise, a large medical device provider, and the pharmaceutical industry. The consortium is thus ideally suited to translating expertise and knowledge in NI to build a tool that can be used to improve the care of patients with psychiatric disorders


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: AAT.2013.4-6. | Award Amount: 26.47M | Year: 2013

Thermal behaviour of aircraft has recently become a crucial subject due to many factors: increasing number of complex systems required by modern, more electric, commercial aircraft, the introduction of hotter engines with higher by-pass ratios, the increased use of composite material in aircraft structures, or the confinement of highly dissipative equipment and systems in smaller areas to earn space for passengers and cargo. New advanced techniques to manage the aircraft thermal behaviour at the very early stages of development are essential to take the right configuration decisions while meeting market demands. To work efficiently and on emerging innovative solutions, it is essential to perform thermal management at the global aircraft level. Today, thermal studies are performed for sizing and risk analyses. The TOICA project intends to radically change the way thermal studies are performed within aircraft design processes. It will create and manage a thermal aircraft architecture which today does not exist. This will be shared in the extended enterprise with design partners through a collaborative environment supporting new advanced capabilities developed by the project, namely the architect cockpit, which will allow the architects and experts to monitor the thermal assessment of an aircraft and to perform trade-off studies. Super integration will support a holistic view of the aircraft and allow traditional design views and the related simulation cascade to be challenged. Six use cases illustrating new thermal strategies will demonstrate the benefits of the TOICA approach on realistic aircraft configurations. Plateaus will be organised with architects for the definition, selection and evaluation of thermally optimised aircraft configurations. These plateaus will drumbeat the project. In parallel, technology readiness evaluations will assess the maturity of the developed technologies and support the deployment and exploitation of the TOICA results.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2013.3.3 | Award Amount: 18.11M | Year: 2013

The concept of the MSP project is based on a multi-project wafer approach that enables the development of highly innovative components and sensors based on Key Enabling Technologies (KETs). The central objective of the MSP-project is the development of a technology and manufacturing platform for the 3D-integration of sophisticated components and sensors with CMOS technology being the sound foundation for cost efficient mass fabrication.\nThe MSP project is focused on the development of essential components and sensors that are required for the realization of miniaturized smart systems capable for indoor and outdoor environmental monitoring:\n\ Gas sensors for detection of potentially harmful or toxic gases\n\ Sensors for particulate matter and ultrafine particles\n\ Development of metamaterial based IR sensors for presence and fire detection\n\ Development of optimized IR detectors based on SOI thermopiles\n\ Development of highly efficient photovoltaics and piezoelectrics for energy harvesting\n\ Development of light sensor and UV-A/B sensors.\nThe rigorous employment of Through-Silicon-Via technology enables a highly flexible plug-and play 3D-integration of these components and sensors to miniaturized smart systems with significantly advanced functionalities. The goal of the MSP project is the development of a smart multi-sensor platform for distributed sensor networks in Smart Building Management, which are able to communicate with smart phones.\nThe MSP project covers the heterogeneous integration of KETs and contributes to reinforce European industrial leadership through miniaturization, performance increase and manufacturability of innovative smart systems. The MSP project is focused on emerging innovative technologies and processes for customer needs with a special emphasis on SMEs to enable their take up of KETs for competitive, highly performing product development.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: SEC-2013.4.1-4 | Award Amount: 4.08M | Year: 2014

The threat of mass casualty incidents or medical surges to healthcare systems has always been present. Preparing essential parts of the healthcare system such as hospitals and their partners to prevent, respond, and rapidly recover from these threats is critical for protecting and securing the entire health infrastructure. Large-scale disaster situations causing mass casualty incidents are characterised by large numbers of same-type injuries which require immediate and simultaneous medical intervention and means of support such as ambulances, surgeries, specialists, diagnostic equipment and others. These characteristics underline the need for enhanced communication between medical institutions and other organisations involved in disaster management. At the same time, the surge of demand for services to patients points to the need for better organisation within hospitals concerning the deployment of specialists and the availability of medical supplies, transportation, rooms and equipment. While a variety of incidents may necessitate an emergency response, different types of such incidents (natural disasters, explosions, humanitarian crises and others) mean a different framework for responders. While health responders are ubiquitous in their involvement with the response to an emergency situation, the parameters regarding how they are involved greatly differ with the type of threat represented. The COncORDE project will develop a Decision Support System (DSS) to improve preparedness and interoperability of medical services during an emergency which affects the health of the population at local, regional or cross-border level. The project will incorporate existing operational assets related to security, trust and infrastructure and leverage them within the DSS.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: AAT.2012.3.3-2.;AAT.2012.3.4-1. | Award Amount: 5.64M | Year: 2013

Commercial aircraft fault tolerant control (FTC) strategies in the flight control system (FCS) are based on fail-safe approaches whereby a nominal control law is switched first to a robust solution and then if necessary to a direct law controlling the actuators surfaces. Each component of the control law set is designed off-line and has a different level of robustness and performance. The reasons for this conservative FTC approach are: 1. Lack of demonstrated maturity of reconfigurable guidance and control (G&C) methods for commercial aircraft. 2. Lack of research in the practical interaction limitations between reconfigurable G&C systems and estimation / diagnostic systems. 3. A definite gap on the clearance problem for such G&C systems. The goal of RECONFIGURE is to investigate and develop aircraft G&C technologies that facilitate the automated handling of off-nominal events and optimize the aircraft status and flight while maintaining, or even improving, its safety level. These technologies will extend the operation of the current G&C functionalities that assist the pilot and optimize the aircraft performance. Thus, the aim is to provoke a change in aircraft transport towards: Full-time, all-event availability of performance-enhancement electrical fly-by-wire This will be achieved by developing: - Advanced parameter and fault estimation/diagnosis approaches. - Reconfigurable G&C approaches. - Integration and integrated approaches for estimation, diagnosis and G&C. - Advanced clearance approaches for such systems. The investigation will focus on off-nominal/abnormal event scenarios directly affecting the aircraft flight control system. The techniques will offer the capability to adjust and adapt to the abnormal event during flight.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: EPSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 390.06K | Year: 2015

Ionotronic devices rely on charge effects based on ions instead of/or in addition to electrons. The field has begun to gain very wide attention recently. It has been applied mainly to oxide thin film memristors (resistance depends on voltage and can be switched between an on and an off state of high and low resistance). These devices are interesting for creating electrically switchable memory, but there are challenges with these structures including the requirement of a setting process and variable properties from one film to another. In this proposal, we have the new idea to utilise ionotronic effects to create a new kind of electrically switchable memory. Here ionic defects at vertical interfaces in vertical nanocomposite thin films charge couple to magnetism in a magnetic transition metal oxide. Since the cation valences in the metal oxide depend on oxygen concentration or charge state, and since the magnetic properties depend on cation valences, it should be possible to switch magnetism on and off by applying an electric field. This device is an ionotronic magnetoelectric, and it represents a completely new form of magnetoelectric RAM. Magnetoelectric RAM is where electric field controls magnetism instead of electric current doing so as in other forms of RAM, and it is a long sought-after goal. It offers the possibility of low power, very high density, high-speed reading and writing times, and non-volatility. Low energy, high performance computing is promised with this technology. However, while a range of structures and materials have been studied to date, none has proved practical in terms of ease of structure formation, stability, temperature of operation, or size of magnetoelectric effect. Making the ionotronic magnetoelectric a practical reality is not trivial, and relies on advanced materials science - the growth of very thin films, the creation of highly ordered materials combinations on a very small scale (1/0000 the thickness of a human hair), the movement of charges along interface nanochannels near to room temperature, the knowledge of which materials combine together in a compatible way, the imaging of materials at the atomic scale, etc. To attain the practical magnetoelectric dream we propose to create and measure new structures, we will use unique experimental capabilities and will also collaborate with world-leading researchers. Our starting point for the research is our ability to create, at the nanometre scale, ionic interface channels in perfect vertical nanocomposite films. We have also observed the first signs that ions can indeed charge couple to magnetic properties.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ENV.2013.6.4-3 | Award Amount: 7.65M | Year: 2013

Resilience-Increasing Strategies for Coasts toolKIT (RISC-KIT) will deliver ready-to-use methods, tools and management approaches to reduce risk and increase resilience to low-frequency, high-impact hydro-meteorological events. The open-source and free-ware RISC-KIT tool kit will consist of a Coastal Risk Assessment Framework (CRAF) which - at the regional scale (100s km) - can quickly assess present and future hot spot areas of coastal risk due to multi-hazards a quantitative, high-resolution Early Warning and Decision Support System (EWS/DSS) for use on these hot spots (with a scale of 10s of km) and a web-based management guide offering innovative, cost-effective, ecosystem-based DRR measures; and a Coastal Risk Database of present and historic socio-economic and physical data. These tools will enable Europes coastal managers, decision-makers and stakeholders to identify hot spot areas; produce timely forecasts and early warnings; evaluate the effect of climate-related, socio-economic and cultural changes on coastal risk; and choose the best prevention, mitigation and preparedness measures for their coast. The toolkit will be tested using data collected on ten diverse case study sites along each of Europes regional seas and one international site. The toolkits performance will be evaluated with an End-User Board of coastal managers, civil protection agencies and local governments with a vested interest in each of these case study sites. The RISC-KIT products will help to achieve rapid attainment of UNISDR Disaster Reduction Goals and promote EU-consistent methods through innovative e-learning and open access publication. RISC-KIT will have an active synergy with Belmont Forum projects, related EU projects and an International Expert Board with members from third countries experiencing similar types of threats.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2014-ETN | Award Amount: 3.96M | Year: 2015

NMR and MRI play unique roles in contemporary Science, from Physics, Chemistry and Biology, to clinical research and diagnosis. Despite its irreplaceable role, further progress in NMR and MRI is hampered by sensitivities that are much lower than those of alternatives such as mass-spec, or PET. The prospects of solving this problem by bigger machines are uncertain and of poor return, given the high maturity already achieved by NMR/MRI. This ETN challenges this status from an untapped perspective, combining NMR/MRI with nuclear hyperpolarization eliciting signals that surpass those currently available by up to 50,000x. Focus is placed on two particular approaches, dynamic nuclear polarization and para-hydrogen-driven polarization, exhibiting the highest potential for biophysical, metabolomic, pre-clinical and clinical research. To maximize these supersignals we assembled leading experts in the physics and engineering of magnetic resonance, in the synthetic chemistry essential for the success of these methods, in the uses of NMR to structural/cell biology, and in preclinical and clinical MRI applications. Guiding this assembling is the conception that only by teaming together key areas of expertise, can hyperpolarisations promises be realized. In addition to fostering synergies among experts from academia and industry, EUROPOL will provide frontier training for ESRs in all the topics underlying the advancement of MR. This will include advanced physics, new instruments and forms of exploiting NMR/MRIs hyperpolarisation, biophysical NMR, screening of healthy and diseased metabolomes, expanded portfolios of substrates to be targeted by in vivo MR, ancillary in cell and system biology explorations clarifying the nature of the metabolic phenomena, and in vivo hyperpolarisation strategies in MRI. This ETN is unparalleled in scope, breadth and potential for synergies.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2014-ETN | Award Amount: 3.27M | Year: 2015

SELECTA is a highly inter-disciplinary initiative which has the primary goal of training young researchers in the field of smart electrodeposited metallic alloys suitable for environmental / sustainable development applications. The Network encompasses the fabrication and in-depth characterization of: (i) innovative protective coatings, (ii) resilient micro/nano-electromechanical systems, and (iii) wirelessly actuated micro/nano-robotic platforms for cutting-edge environmental applications. The project will explore new types of electrodeposited alloys (based on Fe, Cu or Al; free from hazardous and scarce raw elements), with tunable structure (amorphous, nanocrystalline), morphology (dense, nanoporous) and geometry (films, micropillars, nanowires), to meet specific technological demands (high wear/corrosion resistance, superior magnetic properties or hydrophobicity). SELECTA aims to integrate technological progress with environmental sustainability concerns, which is one of the major Societal Challenges listed in the Horizon 2020 Work Programme. Several disciplines (Physics, Electrochemistry, Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Biology and Robotics) converge together to provide a holistic approach to accomplish the SELECTA goals. The project brings together 10 Beneficiaries and 7 Partner Organizations (including 5 private companies), belonging to 10 EU Member States (plus Switzerland and Serbia). Special efforts will be devoted to bridge fundamental science with commercialisation of the research outcome. The complementarities among partners will render a high-level, multi-faceted educational programme. World-class research will be combined with unique training opportunities in soft skills, such as career planning, dissemination, intellectual property rights, entrepreneurship or management. The Network aims to provide highly-qualified specialists able to face future professional challenges in either Academia or Industry in an independent manner.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2015-ETN | Award Amount: 3.90M | Year: 2016

We propose a Multi-Partner ITN-ETN network on Transport of Soft Matter at the Nanoscale. The scientific topic, which is the focus of the proposal, is an emerging field of science and technology. Challenges such as design of environmentally friendly engineering materials or understanding the principles of biological organization crucially depend on fundamental understanding of transport of fluids and colloids at the nanoscale. Topics we will study within NANOTRANS are at the core of modern technology (i.e. active design of smart nanomaterials, nanofluidic and lab on a chip devices, sustainable nanocompounds, energy storage, contaminants dissemination in environment, oil recovery, drug delivery and disease treatment). The main objective of the ITN network is to train students. We will offer a balanced and timely supradisciplinary research training program providing a range of skills in various scientific and technological disciplines and fostering creativity and entrepreneurial mindset. Both, private and academic sectors are strongly represented in the network and will substantially contribute to the NANOTRANS training program, which will offer the participating fellows unparalleled education unavailable in standard academic programs at Universities, as well as excellent career opportunities both in academia and industry. NANOTRANS research will result in improved fundamental understanding of soft matter systems out of equilibrium, novel experimental and theoretical methods for nanoscale exploration, as well as in designing advanced aterials, products and applications. In turn, it will contribute to issues connected to energy production and storage, sustainable development, and novel disease treatment strategies. The NANOTRANS research, training and outreach activities will have a substantial and lasting impact on the society, environment, international scientific community, industry and on the European Union.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2016 | Award Amount: 3.88M | Year: 2016

The unprecedented properties of optical fibres make them ideal to be implemented as artificial nervous systems, enabling any tool or structure to become a sensitive and smart object. Conventional optical fibres are small, low-cost and can be seamlessly integrated in materials, in engineering structures and in the environment. By exploiting the most advanced light-matter interactions, these tiny luminous wires can realize distributed sensing, which means that each point along an optical fibre can separately and selectively sense quantities such as temperature, strain, acoustic waves and pressure, in perfect similarity to a real organic nerve. These remarkable features have attracted the interest of different end-users covering application domains as diverse as pipeline protection, oil and gas well exploitation, electricity transport, perimeter, fire alarm, etc., leading to a sustained market growth in the last years. However, the full potential of state-of-the-art distributed fibre sensing is exploited in a fairly narrow range of applications only. This is mainly due to the lack of trained scientific personnel capable of creating the link between the sensors and possible applications. The ambition of FINESSE is therefore to educate and to train researchers in the development of a set of disruptive new optical artificial nervous systems with improved sensitivity, precision and new sensing abilities, and to boost the industrial uptake of these sensors by training these researchers to valorise their work. The ultimate vision empowering the project is the widespread implementation of fibre-optic nervous systems dedicated to: (i) contributing to a safer society by returning early warnings for danger and (ii) ensuring sustainable development through the efficient exploitation of natural resources. The full set of specialists, who can turn this ambitious concept into a reality, is present in Europe and have teamed up to propose FINESSE training network.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2014-ETN | Award Amount: 2.82M | Year: 2015

The last half century has seen a tremendous advancement in adhesives technology and has led to widespread replacement of mechanical fasteners with adhesive bonds (e.g. aircraft, automobile, construction, etc.). Bonding to wet, rough and fouled surfaces, however, remains challenging and adhesive technology is rarely applied for bonding in wet conditions, such as in (orthopaedic) medicine. Therefore, a need exists to educate young researchers in this interdisciplinary research field of controlling adhesion under wet conditions and to bridge the gap between the fundamentals of underwater adhesives and their practice. BioSmartTrainee is set up to provide such training by a combination of three complementary scientific fields: polymer science, adhesion and (fluid)-biomechanics. We aim to (i) extract principles from biological systems and mimic them to design synthetic materials; to (ii) experimentally test their adhesion properties in wet conditions and to (iii) clarify the adhesion mechanisms based on natural examples and theoretical modelling. These innovative adhesives will be useful for reversible attachment to a variety of surfaces in wet environments and, therefore, be highly relevant for products from European industry such as technological adhesives, coatings, tissue adhesives, wound dressings or transdermal delivery devices. This carefully planned research and training program in a network of leading academic and industrial (BASF, AkzoNobel, UGRO) partners will ensure that young researchers are given an excellent training in a pioneering research domain of high scientific and technological relevance, where Europe can take a leading position.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: ERC-COG | Phase: ERC-CoG-2014 | Award Amount: 1.99M | Year: 2015

This proposal seeks to understand the logic of neural circuit switches in the relatively simple nervous system of Drosophila. Our goals are to examine the developmental, physiological and behavioural logic of several of these elementary circuit motifs. We will use innate olfactory behaviour as our primary model, investigating behaviours triggered by single or convergent odour stimuli and their modulation by memory and internal state. We will start with the favourable case of a sexually dimorphic circuit switch that we have recently characterised (for the first time in any animal). We have shown that a transcription factor, fruitless, determines the state of this switch in sex pheromone processing during development. We will now (1) identify the molecules that determine the layout of this specific circuit during development and (2) probe the behavioural relevance of this specific circuit switch. In parallel with this work on pheromone processing, we will examine (3) the circuit basis of valence (simply put whether an odour is attractive or aversive) in which genetic instructions likely hardwire olfactory pathways to downstream modules of different behavioural significance. Finally we will examine the logic of dynamic switches in which a second stimulus (4) positively or (5) negatively gates the response to a stimulus.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: Innovate UK | Program: | Phase: Collaborative Research & Development | Award Amount: 465.33K | Year: 2015

Potato late blight is one of the worlds most destructive crop diseases, with £3.5Bn annual losses globally in an industry suffering stagnant yields for the last decade. This project will develop a rapid acoustic biosensor device for in-field identification of air-borne sporangia of Phytophthora Infestans (causal agent of late blight), to meet the compelling need for improved disease management & control. Soil Essentials (SE), a precision-farming SME, together with University of Cambridge (UC), the James Hutton Institute (JHI), Mylnefield Research Services (MRS) & Syngenta (SG), will develop an integrated diagnostic tool for early pathogen detection, by coupling low-cost, antibody-coated acoustic sensing consumables with a proven spore-trap. The proposed innovation, enabled only by the interdisciplinary convergence of state-of-the art acousto-electronics, smart materials, biochemistry, late blight epidemiology, advanced ICT & precision agriculture, will enable optimised disease control, reducing potato crop waste & fungicide costs, improving marketable yield & quality. As a platform technology, it can be easily adapted to detect other crop & livestock pathogens for wider agricultural impact.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: FETOPEN-2-2014 | Award Amount: 532.34K | Year: 2015

In recent years, several research groups have been created in the emerging research area of molecular communications. This is seen as a fundamental enabler for nano-scale networked devices. The heterogeneity of the biological environments that can host nano-scale communications has produced different proposals (e.g. neuronal networks, molecular diffusion, flow-based carrier mobility) analyzed by means of different research approaches and tools (different analytical models, simulators, lab experiments). For this reason, the need of integrating research activities at an EU level has emerged. The main objective of the CIRCLE is to integrate islands of heterogeneous research activities in a common research framework. The nature of the proposal is therefore strategic for the EU research objectives, highly interdisciplinary, inclusive of any input coming from any research activities that can contribute to identifying a research roadmap for the future years and feasible future exploitation plans. In the short term, CIRCLE will facilitate the creation of an EU wide Molecular Communications (CIRCLE) forum and provide a support infrastructure for coordination of research across Europe. In the medium term, it will foster knowledge sharing via the CIRCLE forum and a dedicated web portal. This will focus on the sharing of both research methodologies and simulation code repositories. It will establish expert working groups in different research topics within the Molecular Communications domain and develop strategic Roadmaps for both academic research and industry involvement. In the long term, CIRCLE will push the Roadmaps at a Member State and EU level to ensure Molecular Communications research converges rapidly towards feasible products of interest in the marketplace.


Wickramasinghe V.O.,Medical Research Center Cancer Unit | Laskey R.A.,University of Cambridge
Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology | Year: 2015

Nuclear export of mRNAs is a crucial step in the regulation of gene expression, linking transcription in the nucleus to translation in the cytoplasm. Although important components of the mRNA export machinery are well characterized, such as transcription-export complexes TREX and TREX-2, recent work has shown that, in some instances, mammalian mRNA export can be selective and can regulate crucial biological processes such as DNA repair, gene expression, maintenance of pluripotency, haematopoiesis, proliferation and cell survival. Such findings show that mRNA export is an unexpected, yet potentially important, mechanism for the control of gene expression and of the mammalian transcriptome. © 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: FCT-16-2015 | Award Amount: 4.46M | Year: 2016

PROTON aims at improving existing knowledge on the processes of recruitment to organised crime and terrorist networks (OCTN) through an innovative integration between social and computational sciences. Moving beyond the state of the art, this integration will support evidence-based policies at the international, national and local level. To achieve its aim, PROTON will complete three specific objectives: 1. Investigate the social, psychological and economic factors leading to OCTN (WP1 and 2), including their connection with cybercrime and the cyberspace (WP3). The factors will be transformed into input (WP4) for PROTONs final outputs, PROTON-S and PROTON Wizard (WP5), designed for helping policy makers to act more effectively against OCTN. 2. Develop PROTON-S, agent-based modelling (ABM) simulations of the effects of different societal and environmental changes on OCTN. PROTON-S will generate virtual societies in a computer laboratory, enabling to test the impact of different scenarios on the evolution of, and particularly individuals recruitment to, OCTN. 3. Develop PROTON Wizard, a user-friendly software tool embedding the results of the ABM simulations. PROTONs impact will improve the quality of prevention policies on OCTN, providing at the same time significant innovations in the social, technological and computational sciences. PROTON-S, based on simulations, will bear no ethical and societal risks, and will create a breakthrough in the understanding of OCTN, enabling better policies and stimulating further innovation. PROTON Wizard will provide the first support tool for policy makers at the international, national and local level, giving easy access to the most advanced scientific research. The participation of different policy makers and potential end-users throughout the whole project will make sure that the final results specifically meet their needs and expectations.


Bartolomei M.S.,University of Pennsylvania | Ferguson-Smith A.C.,University of Cambridge
Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology | Year: 2011

Normal mammalian development requires a maternal and paternal contribution, which is attributed to imprinted genes, or genes that are expressed from a single parental allele. Approximately 100 imprinted genes have been reported in mammals thus far. Imprinted genes are controlled by cis-acting regulatory elements, termed imprinting control regions (ICRs), which have parental-specific epigenetic modifications, including DNA methylation. ICRs are methylated by de novo DNA methyltransferases during germline development; these parental-specific modifications must be maintained following fertilization when the genome is extensively reprogrammed. Many imprinted genes reside in ~1-megabase clusters, with two major mechanisms of imprinting regulation currently recognized, CTCF-dependent insulators and long noncoding RNAs. Unclustered imprinted genes are generally regulated by germline-derived differential promoter methylation. Here, we describe the identification and functions of imprinted genes, cis-acting control sequences, trans-acting factors, and imprinting mechanisms in clusters. Finally, we define questions that require more extensive research. © 2011 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.

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