ERC Stories

        • Tactile Displays of the Future to feel information
        • We are more and more accustomed to interacting physically with technology - using touchscreens for example. We now routinely “thumb-flick” through information on our phones or tablets rather than pressing keys. For Professor Sriram Subramanian and his team this kind of technology needs to be pushed beyond a flat interaction with the screen beneath our fingers - instead we should be able to feel what we are currently touching. Only by doing so can we fully interact with the information we are accessing.
          Matt Sutton, © University of Bristol

        •  October 2014
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        • Major breakthrough could help detoxify pollutants
        • Scientists at the University of Manchester (UK) hope a major breakthrough could lead to more effective methods for detoxifying dangerous pollutants like PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and dioxins. The result is a culmination of 15 years of research and has been published in Nature on 19 October. It details how certain organisms manage to lower the toxicity of pollutants.
          Written in cooperation with University of Manchester (UK)
          Illustration ©David Leys, University of Manchester and Nature
          Portrait ©David Leys, University of Manchester

        •  October 2014
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        • Stem cells use first aid kits to repair damage
        • Neural stem cells – master cells that can develop into any type of nerve cell – are able to generate mini “first aid kits” and transfer them to immune cells. This is the result of a study published today in Molecular Cell, and led by ERC grantee Prof. Stefano Pluchino, based at the University of Cambridge (UK).
          Written in cooperation with the University of Cambridge

          Image ©Design and artwork CongJian Zhao, Courtesy S. Pluchino

        •  September 2014
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        • Constructing the self
        • How does our acting, sensing and feeling body shape our mind? Dr Katerina Fotopoulou’s ERC-funded project is an ambitious exploration of the relationship between the body and the mind which spans philosophy, psychology and clinical neuroscience. She will be presenting her work at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions  in Tianjin, China (10-12 September). In preparation for her presentation, Dr Fotopoulou is concentrating on one particular aspect of her research: the ramifications of body image.

        •  September 2014
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        • Proving the power of collaboration in mathematics
        • Not many of us can boast being described as a ‘tour de force’ in our field. Nor can we say that our work has reached ‘masterpiece’ status among our contemporaries. As one of the top experts in dynamical systems theory in the world, these plaudits and more have been heaped on French-Brazilian mathematician, Dr Artur Avila.
          Portrait © Alfredo Brant - Research picture © Artur Avila

        •  August 2014
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        • How abstract maths can help physicists better understand the universe
        • Mathematicians are similar to historians in that they are devoted to finding and interpreting patterns. Like historians, they have to deal with criticism that some theories are of little practical benefit. This is a futile debate, says mathematician Dr Francis Brown who is attending the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) taking place in Seoul this summer (South Korea). Through an ERC-funded project, he has developed an algorithm of immense importance to particle physics, using numbers first developed for their aesthetic appeal over 300 years ago. Sometimes the significance of mathematics – as with history – takes time to be revealed.
          Portrait © Brigitte Eymann – Académie des sciences / Illustration © www.istockphoto.com

        •  August 2014
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        • A contagious passion for pure mathematics
        • Prof. Ben Green is all about pure mathematics. Asked what is at the heart of modern society, he would probably insist on mankind’s capacity to solve problems and pass its knowledge on to new generations. The 37-year old mathematician can actually boast about his contribution to both: the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) which takes place this year in Seoul (South Korea) will see him give a plenary session which he proudly qualifies as the pinnacle of his career. With his ERC grant, he is now providing young mathematicians with an opportunity to shine.
          Portrait © Ben Green - Illustration © www.istockphoto.com

        •  August 2014
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        • Capital, compensation and the role of the family
        • The link between capital inputs and success in life are broadly accepted, but very rarely discussed. Professor Jani Erola is using his ERC funding to explore the sociological implications of this relationship. His research concentrates on the complex interaction between a family’s resources and children’s success over the course of their lives: examining how families act collectively to determine the next generation’s achievements. Prof. Erola is a speaker at the 18th World Congress of the International Sociological Association (ISA) which opens on 13th of July in Yokohama, Japan.
          Portrait © University of Turku

        •  July 2014
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        • The next generation of 3D printers
        • 3D printers are emblematic of what the future of technology could look like. Versatile, flexible and highly adaptable, they promise to produce everything from customised furniture to transplantable organs. Yet the concept of the 3D printer, its place in our imagination, has outstripped its current technical capacity. At the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, Professor Frank Niklaus and his research team have set themselves a challenge: to engineer a 3D printer fitted to the modern manufacturing world, capable of producing micro- and nano-structures and, ultimately, superior micro-materials.

        •  July 2014
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        • Smarter, faster, stronger drug therapies
        • We are living longer and, understandably, we wish to be in better health as we age. It is estimated that by 2050 the number of people aged 65 and over will reach 16% of the global population. Medical science has an ever-growing arsenal of drugs it can use to treat an increasing range of conditions. Yet, these drugs are not acting as effectively as their potential promises. Dr. Armağan Koçer and her research team at the University of Groningen (The Netherlands) are using their ERC funding to tackle the following puzzle: how can we develop methods of drug delivery that are as revolutionary as the medicine they contain?
          Picture: A liposome - Courtesy Dr. H. Ingolfsson

        •  July 2014
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