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Until recently, lungs were believed to be sterile, but today we know that they are inhabited by microbes migrating from the mouth. Dr Randi Bertelsen has been awarded an ERC grant to investigate the role played by the oral microbiome in lung disease.
The ERC-funded ONOFF project is building upon previous efforts to better understand auditory hallucinations (AH) in patients with schizophrenia. Its results could lead to new cognitive and pharmacological treatments.
Alina Badescu is a young researcher, with her head in the sky and her thoughts firmly buried under layers of rock – in some of her native Romania’s most stunning salt mines. Her work focuses on neutrinos, small subatomic particles that can tell us a lot about the phenomena in the universe: the birth of stars, the explosion of supernovas, black holes.
Understanding complex structures means separating irrelevant information to get to something simpler and easier to understand. When you look at something from a distance – although you don’t see all the details, you can still describe what you see. ERC grantee Balázs Szegedy has developed several mathematical tools for providing a compressed yet useful view of complex structures.
This year the European Research Council turned 10. But 2017 also marked two other important milestones: 20 years of Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowships, which offer career development opportunities to early-career researchers, and 30 years of ERASMUS, that has shaped the new generation of young Europeans, launching students' mobility. What do researchers think about the impact of these European programmes on their professional and personal life? Let's hear from those who have benefitted from all three.
Regulating migration has become a key priority for European countries and, according to Prof. Katja Franko, crime control practices and penal cultures have evolved across the continent as a consequence. With ERC support, she has studied these new hybrid and intertwined forms of migration and crime control policies, a phenomenon she calls ‘Crimmigration control’.
While on court, beach volleyball players need to act as a whole in order to prevent the ball from touching the sand: in a fraction of a second - just before the opponent's hand spikes the ball - the passer has to predict and adjust to the attacker's action as well as to their teammate's block position. Thanks to her Consolidator Grant, cognitive science professor Natalie Sebanz is studying the cognitive and psychological mechanisms underlying joint action expertise – in other words, how individuals learn skilled actions, such as those performed by professional athletes, together.
The Theory of Mind - the ability to understand that others may have thoughts, beliefs, desires, and intentions different from ours - develops in early childhood and is considered as a key process to explain our social interactions. How do children acquire this ability? What are the cognitive and brain mechanisms that allow human beings to learn from others, to predict their behaviour and to communicate with them? These are some of the questions Dr Agnes Melinda Kovacs addresses, thanks to an ERC grant, in her laboratory in Budapest.
Different responses might be given to global challenges. For example, how should the vanishing of a glacier be tackled? Prof. Thomas Eriksen aims to understand the economic, environmental and cultural transitions the world is going through and the responses created by local communities in order to offer valuable advice to our policymakers and leaders.
Dr Málnási-Csizmadia focuses on enzymes, proteins essential for body functions, and the largely unexplored intricate mechanisms underlying their activity. His recent findings could open the way to a ground-breaking development in pharmacology, especially in targeted cancer therapy.