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21-04-2016 | Portrait picture ©Royal Society / Research picture ©Curie Institute

New landmark in epigenetics: understanding the silencing of the X-chromosome

While women inherit two X chromosomes, the expressions of one of them is shut down during embryonic development. Men have one X chromosome and one Y chromosome. The switching off of women’s second X chromosome is thought to compensate for the presence of only one X in males versus two in females, to balance for X-linked gene products between the sexes. X-chromosome inactivation is also one of the clearest examples of what epigenetic mechanisms do to our genetic material: the DNA of the genes on the X is still present but not actively expressed or needed. Prof. Edith Heard was awarded ERC grants to understand the intricate processes behind the phenomenon, with unexpected results that changed the way gene regulation is now looked at.

13-11-2015 | © www.istockphoto.com

Interview with Artur Avila, Fields Medal Awardee and Brazilian ERC starting grant awardee

Artur Avila is a franco-brazilian leading mathematician and an ERC grantee since 2010. At the age of 16, he won the International Mathematical Olympic gold medal and before finishing high school, he received a scholarship for the Instituto Nacional de Matemática Pura e Aplicada (IMPA) of Rio de Janeiro. He is now senior researcher both at the National Center for Scientific Research - CNRS and IMPA. In this interview, Prof. Avila tells us about his international career and the research he conducts both in Brazil and France. 

26-10-2015 | Image: Oxia Planum ©Oxia Planum. Courtesy C. Quantin-Nataf

Mars landing site picked by an ERC grantee from University of Lyon

The European Mars mission in 2018 will land on the site identified by Prof Cathy Quantin-Nataf, grantee of the European Research Council (ERC), and her team at Université Lyon 1 and Observatoire de Lyon. Their choice of site, named Oxia Planum, was confirmed by the European Space Agency (ESA) on 21 October as the prime landing site for the robotic mission.

12-06-2015 | Portrait: © Toulouse School of Economics (TSE) | Image: © www.istockphoto.com

Our impact today on tomorrow’s world

Most of our actions can have an impact on the environment, be it minor, long-lasting or simply irreversible. But how can this effect be measured, avoided, predicted? What are the specificities of long-term risks and how can collective decisions be taken effectively to tackle those threats?

19-05-2015 | © LAAS-CNRS | Portrait: © LAAS-CNRS

Geometry at the service of robotics

Embodied intelligence is a very dynamic research field. With this ERC project, Doctor Jean-Paul Laumond intends to contribute to the advancement of basic research in this field bridging the gap between robot engineering and neuroscience thanks to geometric models.  

18-05-2015 | Portrait:© Inria / Photo J.M. Ramès | Image:© Inria - Photo Poppy Project, M. Lapeyre

Poppy, the 3-D printed robot set to inspire innovation in classrooms

It has long been a sci-fi dream to have a humanoid robot in our everyday life. Soon that dream may seem even more vivid, thanks to Dr Pierre-Yves Oudeyer’s ERC-funded project. His team has developed the first complete open-source 3D printed humanoid robot, called “Poppy”. Poppy is a robot that anybody can build – its body is 3D printed and its behaviour programmed by the user. The technology will be of benefit to the fields of science, engineering, education and even the arts.

 

08-08-2014 | Portrait © Brigitte Eymann – Académie des sciences | Image: © www.istockphoto.com

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.  

08-08-2014 | Portrait: © Alfredo Brant | Image: © www.istockphoto.com

Proving the power of collaboration in mathematics

Artur Avila is a franco-brazilian leading mathematician and an ERC grantee since 2010. At the age of 16, he won the International Mathematical Olympic gold medal and before finishing high school, he received a scholarship for the Instituto Nacional de Matemática Pura e Aplicada (IMPA) of Rio de Janeiro. He is now senior researcher both at the National Center for Scientific Research - CNRS and IMPA. In this interview, Prof. Avila tells us about his international career and the research he conducts both in Brazil and France.  

29-04-2014 | © picture

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.

04-04-2014 | Image: ©convit/shutterstock.com

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.