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What was new in December 2012

Week 44

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

  • Research Headlines
    • The tree of life goes digital
      Researchers in the United Kingdom and the United States have developed a new interactive website that allows users to explore the evolutionary tree of life. Called OneZoom™, the site went live on 16 October. This latest development is important because it gives the public a means to look at how life on Earth began, moving on to various points that unlock the mysteries of life categories by using mapping software. The work was presented in the journal PLoS Biology.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

  • FP7
    • New publication
      'Communicating EU Research & Innovation - a guide for project participants'

  • Research Headlines
    • Two black holes discovered
      In 2004 Stephen Hawking famously changed his mind about black holes – a place in space where gravity pulls so much that not even light can escape from it. Now astronomers have made a new discovery that may well once again change the way science sees black holes, or more precisely the company they keep. A team of international astronomers have discovered two black holes, bucking theorists who suggested that there could only be one. The discovery is making scientists rethink their understanding of the environment in globular star clusters, tight-knit collections containing hundreds of thousands of stars.

Monday, 29 October 2012

  • Research Headlines
    • Healthy groundwater ecosystems essential for clean groundwater
      Underneath our feet, below the Earth's surface invisible to us, but vital for our needs is groundwater. It is a major source of drinking water in Europe and plays an important role in several aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. In Germany alone groundwater accounts for two thirds of drinking water. Groundwater however is not lifeless, it contains at least 2 000 known species and numerous microorganisms which help to clean the groundwater and improve the quality of drinking water. Despite its importance, both to us and the ecosystem as a whole, its protection has not yet been established in law. The study was presented in Nature Scientific Reports.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Week 43

Saturday, 27 October 2012

  • Horizon 2020 - video testimonials
    • Edel Hennessy (IE): In your experience what are the benefits of participating in EU research projects?
      First of all they fund science, that's great! I've heard they fund science. That is brilliant in my opinion. My boyfriend is a recipient of a Marie Curie fellowship and it is just amazing the conferences he gets to go to, the interaction with people, he works alongside Peter Higgs and he was there, saw all the interactions with CERN. They organised their own conference recently and had just amazing people come and speak to them purely because they have that money from the Marie Curie programme and they can do all these things that if you don't have money you can't do... So it is pretty cool thing to have.

Friday, 26 October 2012

  • Research Headlines
    • Women in science alarmingly low
      A new study has revealed some alarming figures showing that the number of women in engineering, physics and computer science are alarmingly low in the world's leading economies and are on the decline in others. Conducted by experts in international gender, science and technology issues from Women in Global Science & Technology and the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World, and funded by the Elsevier Foundation, the study maps the opportunities and obstacles faced by women in science across Brazil, the EU, India, Indonesia, Korea, South Africa and the United States.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

  • Press Centre
    • EU exceeds research funding target for SMEs
      The European Commission today announced it has exceeded the target on research funding for Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). SMEs have received 16.3% (€2.9 billion) of the Cooperation Programme budget of €18.6 billion spent so far under the FP7. This surpasses the 15% goal set by the European Parliament and Council of Ministers at the beginning of FP7. This €2.9 billion had been allocated to to over 11000 SME participations by 30 September 2012. It is estimated that for all five specific programmes under FP7, SMEs have so far received just over €4 billion. It is forecast that by the end of FP7 (2007–2013) some 30,000 SMEs will have received around €7.3 billion in EU research funding.

  • Reports
    • First site for mobile devices - Science at the Service of Europe
      We are pleased to announce our first “mobile” site – Science at the Service of Europe 2011. Go to the site with your smart phone (any brand) or other mobile device and you will be taken to the mobile site automatically.
      If you encounter any problems, please let us know via the feedback form for the new Research & Innovation web site ( mentioning SSE2011 in the comments box and we will try to address these.
      Please note that some of the links on the site take you to other “non-mobile” sites which may not display correctly on your device.

  • Research Headlines
    • New material puts pressure on greenhouse gases
      Researchers at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom recently discovered a novel material that could be used by sophisticated technologies to fight global warming. The study was funded in part by an European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant worth EUR 2.5 million, awarded to Professor Martin Schröder for the COORDSPACE ('Chemistry of coordination space: extraction, storage, activation and catalysis') project, under the FP7. The results, recently presented in the journal Nature Chemistry, demonstrate that this material, called NOTT-300, could substitute for carbon dioxide (CO2) absorption.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

  • Research Headlines
    • Scientists investigate genetics of HIV-1 resistance
      Investigating the genetic footprint that drug resistance causes in HIV, researchers in Europe have discovered that compensatory polymorphisms enable resistant viruses to survive. Presented in the journal Retrovirology, the study was supported in part by three EU-funded projects: VIROLAB, EURESIST and CHAIN. Both the VIROLAB ('A virtual laboratory for decision support in viral diseases treatment') and EURESIST ('Integration of viral genomics with clinical data to predict response to anti-HIV treatment') projects were funded under the 'Information society technologies' Thematic area of the FP6 to the tune of EUR 3.3 million and EUR 2.1 million, respectively. CHAIN ('Collaborative HIV and anti-HIV drug resistance network') has received almost EUR 10 million under the Health Theme of the FP7.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

  • Horizon 2020 - video testimonials
    • Louise Willemen (NL): What are your main concerns for the future?
      My main concerns for the future are sustainable use of natural resources so that people will realise already right now that things are not infinite. And you have to think about your future, you have to think about the sustainable use of your resources. You have to distribute what is there already now, so make it equally distributed in space but also in time so that future generations can live like we are living right now and hopefully even better.

  • Research Headlines
    • Wiping out species decreases resilience to climate change
      It is tragic whenever any species is lost. Now it appears that the impact of species loss is far-reaching, much more than previously thought. The symbiotic relationships that develop in the environment as a result of high biodiversity make ecosystems more resilient to change. The loss of a species can knock that ecosystem out of balance, weakening its resilience thereby making it more susceptible to events such as climate change. These findings were revealed in a new study from biologists at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and published in the journal Ecology Letters.

Monday, 22 October 2012

  • Research Headlines
    • Dry soils make for a stormy brew
      Water: about 60 % of our body weight is made up of it; it is the body's principal chemical component. Every system in our body depends on it; it carries nutrients to our cells and it takes toxins out of vital organs. Without it we couldn’t survive. It also acts in a similar way for the Earth. The Global Water Cycle plays a central role in global atmospheric circulations, controlling the global energy cycle (through latent heat) as well as the carbon, nutrient and sediment cycles. Recent research indicates that afternoon storms are more likely to develop when soils are parched. The study was funded in part by the WATCH ('Water and global change') project, which was backed with EUR 9.9 million under the 'Sustainable development, global change and ecosystems' Thematic area of the FP6.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Week 42

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Friday, 19 October 2012

  • Research Headlines
    • Preserving large females key to sustaining Atlantic cod
      Cod was once a staple diet across many European countries, and so important in fact that in the past some countries have even gone to war over this important resource. Their popularity, however, meant that they have become overfished in some areas leading to a shortage of large and old cod, which in turn has led to the fish becoming more sexually mature at a younger age. This, according to research conducted by the University of Gothenburg, Sweden has led to a serious change in cod stocks and could severely impact the fish's health, physiological ageing and reproductive capacity.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

  • Research Headlines
    • Oncology and palliative care need greater integration
      The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) has awarded its Designated Centre of Integrated Oncology and Palliative Care accreditation to 16 new oncology centres. These centres received the acknowledgment at the ESMO 2012 Congress held in Vienna, Austria from 28 September to 2 October. The congress also highlighted two new Italian studies demonstrating how palliative care works in practice in Italy. The first study explores the use of analgesics; the second looks at different models for organisation of the integration of palliative care with oncology.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

  • Horizon 2020 - video testimonials
    • Clare Taylor (GB): In your experience what are the benefits of participating in EU research projects?
      The best benefit from that was the really unique collaboration between many different countries. I was involved in a really large collaboration between seven different laboratories from four or five different countries across Europe which was brilliant in order to share experiences, develop ideas, and to travel to these different countries as well, which, as a young person, is personally inspiring. And you get to meet some really really interesting and innovative scientists. And that wouldn't happen without that kind of framework of funding.

  • Research Headlines
    • Nuclear power plants located in tsunami risk zones
      On March 11 2011, the world watched in awe at the sheer destructive power of the tsunami that struck Japan. The tsunami began following an earthquake off the east coast of Japan, which was recorded at 9.0 on the Richter scale - the largest quake ever to hit Japan. The ensuing tsunami that was created swept across cities and farmland in the northern part of the country, killing as many as 20 000 people. In the wake of the tsunami, however, another disaster emerged, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, which has been referred to by some as the largest nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. Scientists have highlighted this disaster as a wake-up call, and one team of scientists has assessed 'potentially dangerous' areas that are home to completed nuclear plants or those under construction.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

  • Press Centre
    • Green light for clinical trial of new tuberculosis vaccine candidate
      European scientists are one step closer to delivering a new, safe and more effective vaccine against tuberculosis developed through EU research funding. Swiss-medic, the Swiss regulatory authority for medicine, has given permission to start assessing the new TB vaccine in healthy adult volunteers, paving the way for trials to start. The vaccine, MTBVAC, will be the first of its kind to start clinical evaluation.

  • Research Headlines
    • Potential political defectors can be identified according to archetype
      The world of politics is often depicted as one of intrigue, political machinations and Machiavellian ethics. A world where personal loyalty to a party can bring about change in society, and where disloyalty can topple a government. As a result, party whips are employed in many political systems, including in the Westminster system of government, to keep party members in line. But now it turns out that some members are already predisposed to defection. A study from the University of Leicester has identified an 'archetype' for someone who is likely to break political ranks in the political landscape of the United Kingdom.

Monday, 15 October 2012

  • Research Headlines
    • From Sea2Sky - Inspiring science across Europe
      On the last Friday of September people gathered across 800 venues in 320 cities located in 32 European countries to take part in European Researchers' Night - a free, day-long research festival dedicated to popular science and fun learning that the whole family could attend. On hand to open the Sea2Sky Researchers' Night in Galway, Ireland was Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, who applauded the interest taken by the public, especially the young, in the event.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Week 41

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Friday, 12 October 2012

  • Research Headlines
    • Small bacteria helping big things grow in the ocean
      Around 71 per cent of the Earth's surface is made up of salt-water oceans - that's 98 per cent of all water. The ecosystems that exist beneath their surface are diverse and vibrant. Their sheer scale, however, means that there is still a lot to be discovered. And that is exactly what an international team comprising scientists from Europe and the United States have done. Their new discovery - of a symbiosis between tiny single-celled algae and highly specialised bacteria in the ocean - will help scientists to better understand oceans and the important role they play in our lives.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

  • Horizon 2020 - video testimonials
    • Dr Sarah Martin (GB): How do you see research and innovation making a difference for a better future?
      I think it comes from a different place than people expected to, generally. I think we are very good at the moment at really trying to encourage young people to think innovatively. However, I also think that just throwing a whole lot of money at research and innovation and research management, it is going to be very fruitful, however if we think back at the big innovations, they started in garages, they started with young people being inspired and doing their own thing with no funding whatsoever. I work as a scientist, I work on mass spectrometers, and studying proteins. I work on a machine that is currently:state of the art as being sold in huge copies worldwide, developed by a professor who had no funding for it for ten years and spent its weekends developing it in a garage. This is something that is really difficult to quantify, and really difficult for us to actually to anything about. We need to possibly create the space where these things can happen. But if you think of Penisilin,that was not a research strategy, that was not a research ground saying 'this is what we will discover and have developed in five years. It was a total accident. I think a lot of research and innovation unfortunately for us and for research managers, is accidental and long may it last.

  • Research Headlines
    • Forests to feel climate change effect
      A new pan-European study suggests that the economic value of forests will decline between 14 % and 50 % due to climate change. If measures are not taken to change this, the damage could reach several hundred billion euros, say researchers led by the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research in Switzerland. The study was presented in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

  • Reports
    • Science at the Service of Europe
      We have published Science at the Service of Europe - an illustrated guide to the 2011 annual activity report of the European Commission's Research & Innovation DG.

  • Research Headlines
    • Scientists identify genes and facial shape connection
      Researchers funded in part by the EU have discovered that five genes play a key role in determining human facial shapes. Presented in the journal PLoS Genetics, the genome-wide association study on facial phenotype can help scientists identify more genes for other complex human phenotypes, including height. The research can help advance our understanding of the complex molecular interactions governing normal and pathological differences in facial shape (when combined with sophisticated three-dimensional imaging techniques).

Tuesday, 09 October 2012

  • Research Headlines
    • Passive smoking affects neurodevelopment in babies
      Newborns exposed to nicotine from both active and passive smoking mothers show poor physiological, sensory, motor and attention responses. These are the results of new research carried out in the Behaviour Evaluation and Measurement Research Centre of the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Spain, and published in the journal Early Human Development.

Monday, 08 October 2012

  • Research Headlines
    • New test to catch illegal drug doping in sports
      From July to August, the world's attention was drawn to the London Olympics to watch more than 10 500 athletes from 204 national Olympic committees compete. Behind the scenes, 150 scientists were ready and testing up to 400 samples every day for more than 240 prohibited substances. Their efforts were based on the results of the Growth Hormone-2004 team which developed a test for growth hormone misuse in sport, with funding from the World Anti-Doping Agency and US Anti-Doping Agency, and with support from UK Anti-Doping.

Sunday, 07 October 2012

Week 40

Saturday, 06 October 2012

Friday, 05 October 2012

  • Research Headlines
    • Scientists discover diabetes drug may help Alzheimer's patients
      Scientists at the University of Ulster in the United Kingdom have discovered that a type 2 diabetes drug can potentially be used to help patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. Past studies have shown that type 2 diabetes is a known risk factor for Alzheimer's, and researchers believe that impaired insulin signalling in the brain could impair neurons and contribute to triggering the disease. The results were published the journal Brain Research.

Thursday, 04 October 2012

  • Research Headlines
    • Limit climate change to save coral reefs
      Almost all coral reefs are expected to be subject to severe degradation, that is unless action is undertaken to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions – and an assumption that corals can adapt at extremely rapid rates. And even if all the assumptions are correct, only two thirds of the coral reefs will be safe according to a study recently published in the journal Nature Climate Change. Given the important role that coral reefs play in the marine ecosystem, these findings are alarming. It is estimated that coral reefs house almost a quarter of the species in the oceans and provide critical services such as coastal protection, tourism and fishing to millions of people worldwide. All these services could be at risk as global warming and ocean acidification, both driven by human-caused carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, pose a major threat to these ecosystems.

Wednesday, 03 October 2012

  • Research Headlines
    • Antarctica's feeling a bit gassy
      Methane, a chemical compound, is a colourless, odourless gas that despite its uses is a relatively potent greenhouse gas. New research published in Nature and conducted by an international team from the University of Bristol (United Kingdom), the University of California, Santa Cruz (United States), the University of Alberta, Edmonton (Canada) and the University of Utrecht (the Netherlands) shows that the Antarctic Ice Sheet could be an overlooked but important source of methane.

Tuesday, 02 October 2012

  • Research Headlines
    • New gene variants increase risk of paediatric cancer
      Two new gene variants have been discovered by researchers from Italy and the United States that increase the risk of neuroblastoma, a paediatric cancer. This discovery was made using automated technology to perform genome-wide association studies on DNA from thousands of subjects. The study has effectively broadened our understanding of how gene changes may make a child susceptible to this early childhood cancer, as well as causing a tumour to progress.

Monday, 01 October 2012

  • Research Headlines
    • Vitamin C and beta-carotene can help fight dementia
      Can vitamin C and beta-carotene help protect people from dementia? New research from Germany suggests they can. University of Ulm scientists investigated the effect of antioxidants on the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. Presented in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, the results indicate that it is possible to influence the pathogenesis of this neurological disorder through the use of dietary antioxidants or even a change in diet. The study was funded in part by the FP7.

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