ERC Stories

        • 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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        • Can we learn to predict the political actions of citizens?
        • As a concerned citizen, you might feel angry about youth unemployment in your country being too high, your local sports centre closing down or the polar ice caps melting. But what are you going to do about it? For example, do you intend to vote in this month’s European Parliament elections, to make your voice heard and influence key decision makers? When it comes to political engagement, what factors will ultimately determine the course of action you choose to take?
          Picture ©Thinkstock

        •  May 2014
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        • Can machines crack the mystery of music creation?
        • Who has not wanted to compose as catchy a song as Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney or Charlie Parker? French researcher Dr François Pachet has always been fascinated by the mystery of how these great musicians managed to create these amazingly iconic, and strangely addictive, melodies. Thanks to his ERC Advanced Grant, Pachet and his team are working on a software package, ‘FlowMachines’, which will help musicians or writers to explore the magic of creativity and compose music or write books in an easier way. By deciphering the intriguing relations between technology and musical creativity, he aims to offer clues to creators who wish to turn style and its various dimensions into malleable and interactive objects.

        •  April 2014
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        • Targeting cancer: nanocontainers deliver localised chemotherapy
        • Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the EU – and this figure is expected to rise due to an ageing population in Europe. In his ERC-funded ‘Nanotherapy’ project, Professor George Kordas has developed ‘nanocontainers’ ­– tiny hollow spheres with a width measured in molecules – which are attracted to cancer cells and, once there, deliver their payload of chemotherapy drugs. It is a kind of ‘guided missile’, aimed at the heart of a cancer cell.
          Illustration ©Paul Hakimata photography/www.shutterstock.com
          Picture ©Courtesy of Prof. Georges Kordas

        •  April 2014
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        • Cancer in 3D: in-depth research to uncover its secrets
        • In 2012, 2.8 million people in the EU were diagnosed with cancer. It is the second most common cause of death in the Union – three out of 10 deaths for men, and two out of 10 deaths for women – a figure that is expected to rise due to the ageing European population. Dr Danijela Matic Vignjevic’s STARLIN project is using ERC funding to understand how normal cells become cancerous and spread.
          illustration © convit/shutterstock.com

        •  April 2014
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        • A hot topic for mermaids
        • To study something in detail you need to look at it from all directions, whether it is the Venus de Milo statue in the Louvre Museum, a car you are thinking of buying, or when using a CAT-scanner to image inside the human body. In the ERC-funded GLOBALSEIS project Professor Guust Nolet is doing this on a truly global scale, by developing a worldwide network of marine-based seismic-wave sensors that can give a much better picture of deep-earth structures and resolve a major paradox in geoscience.
          Pictures ©
          Alain Anglade / ©shutterstock - Littlesam
          Portrait ©Julia Frey

        •  March 2014
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        • The movie optometrist: clearer vision for cameras
        • Lights, camera... action! On the eve of the Oscars, we take a look at an ERC project in the field of film. ERC grantee Marcelo Bertalmío loves cinema so much that he made it the core of his research. A filmmaker himself – he has directed two movies – Dr. Bertalmío is developing a series of image processing algorithms that will create a better and cheaper way to shoot movies, whilst granting more artistic freedom to directors and cinematographers. He is the author of a book, Image Processing for Cinema (2014), which has already received plaudits from the film industry.
          ©Illustration - http://www.flickr.com/photos/visitportugal/ (Creative Commons licence)

        •  February 2014
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        • Biomass by numbers
        • The use of biomass from plants as a renewable energy source is not new. Yet surprisingly, the positive net economic and environmental benefits of biomass energy exist only on paper. This is about to change thanks to the largest experimental tree plantation in the world, which takes place in East Flanders. Professor Reinhart Ceulemans and his team are working to get the numbers needed to inform evidence-based decisions on the role of renewables in future energy policies.
          Portrait ©Melanie Verlinden/Reinhart Ceulemans
          Research illustration ©Melanie Verlinden

        •  February 2014
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