We are doing science for policy
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
A Collaboration Agreement signed today between the JRC Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM) and the Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science (KRISS) aims to advance measurement science and foster greater confidence in the comparability of international measurements. Areas covered will range from bioanalysis (DNA measurements) and radionuclide metrology (environmental measurements), to food control and mechanical testing (e.g. toughness of steel).
The European Commission’s independent Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) has published its opinion on the most recent developments in the risk assessment of nanomaterials. The opinion builds on and confirms earlier opinions published in 2006 and 2007. The JRC Institute for Health and Consumer Protection (IHCP) contributed to the opinion in the area of conceptual 'environment, health and safety' (EHS) aspects related the regulation of nanomaterials.
The world's leading experts in Experimental Earthquake Engineering will meet in Ispra on 2-3 March for the first EFAST (European Facility for Advanced Seismic Testing) Design Study workshop. EFAST is a European project that studies all aspects regarding the design of a major testing facility in Europe that would complement existing facilities.
On Monday, 23 February the European Commission adopted two Communications related to natural and man-made disasters: the first on an EU-level approach to reducing their impact and a second on an EU strategy for supporting disaster risk reduction in developing countries. The Communications represent a first attempt to establish a more strategic approach to European responses to disasters in the EU and beyond.
A cooperation agreement between the JRC and the European Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative (JTI), a public-private venture aimed at delivering commercially viable hydrogen energy and fuel cell technologies, has been approved by the JTI Governing Board.
Today at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Chicago, the JRC organised a scientific symposium on Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), a service provided by in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) clinics to parents who want to avoid passing on genetic diseases to their children.
PGD entails carrying out genetic tests on embryos in a laboratory to identify those that have a healthy version of a given gene. These embryos can then be safely implanted in a mother's womb. Not be confused with the more far-reaching and separate issue of actual genetic engineering with a view to creating 'designer babies', PGD enables fertilisation clinics to select embryos for implantation so that at-risk families can avoid passing on genetic disease to their children and to subsequent generations. Nevertheless, many questions continue to surround the technique.
The JRC-organised symposium on PDF featured Dr Tarek El Toukhy from St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London, Susannah Baruch from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore and the JRC's own Dolores Ibarreta from the JRC Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) in Seville. It was moderated by Karen Sermon from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium.
A lively debate with the audience followed the session.
EU legislation requires that the Community establish high quality and safety standards for the use of blood, organs and other substances of human origin. A JRC report in late 2007 showed that guidelines were urgently needed on the counselling of patients that opt to screen their embryos created by in vitro fertilisation (IVF) for serious genetic disorders.
The JRC is intensifying and globalising its research activities relating to desertification, drought and 'dryland' science. In 2008, a new research team was set up at the Institute for Environment and Sustainability (IES), with a view to developing benchmarks and indicators for monitoring and assessing desertification processes on a range of geographic scales. The research team is already engaged in several regional and global networks, providing key support to policy makers at a European level and beyond, and its activities are beginning to bear fruit.
The JRC hosts a symposium on soil biodiversity today, 15 February, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Chicago. The session presented an overview of current understanding in the field and attempt to explain the various pressures "life in our soils" is currently under, with an analysis of recent developments that have enhanced our understanding of this crucial, yet unknown ecosystem. The challenges faced by the research community in its support for the sustainable use of this critical, non-renewable natural resource will also be addressed.
As a result of transatlantic cooperation in the field of environmental mapping technologies, a powerful pattern recognition programme developed by researchers at the JRC is being adopted by specialists in a number of U.S. federal agencies including the U.S. Department for Agriculture’s Forest Service and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Today, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Chicago, JRC Director-General Roland Schenkel gave a presentation as part of a symposium entitled "Keeping the Lights on: The revival of Nuclear Energy".