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30-04-2019 | Portrait: © 2018 Camilla Colombo; Image: artistic representation of objects in Low Earth Orbit © ESA 2 mins read

Making space a safer place for satellites and spacecraft

Space has a wealth of resources for humanity. Scientific missions enable new discoveries and increase knowledge of our solar system. Satellites orbiting around the Earth provide us with a broad range of services for telecommunications, weather forecasting, marine and air traffic, forest mapping, etc. However, intense space activity comes at a cost both in terms of energy consumption and dangerous space debris produced.

11-07-2018 | Image: ©istockphotos 2 mins read

Mimicking nature to create new super materials

Nature is a major source of inspiration for scientists. ERC grantee Giulia Lanzara is one of them. The unique sensing and shaping abilities of birds, dolphins and other living creatures inspired her to engineer novel multifunctional materials which could make a difference in a wide variety of industrial fields.

18-04-2018 | Portrait:© University of Trento Image: Limpet teeth © Courtesy of A. Barber, University of Portsmouth and N. Pugno, University of Trento 2 mins read

Inspired by nature: bionic spider webs and other super-materials

Metal fatigue and ice-layer accumulation are challenges faced by the aviation industry and prove costly in terms of fuel waste. Sometimes nature can provide solutions to problems such as these. ERC grantee Nicola Pugno combines biological observations with nanotechnology to create some of the most remarkable materials in the world.

02-05-2016 | Research picture: Graffito on a private wall, Janjanbureh Island © Alice Bellagamba 2 mins read

The past and present of slavery: a history in the making

Slavery represents a dark and unclosed page in the history of mankind. Even if legally abolished by all countries of the world, its legacies shape the present in a plurality of ways and often overlap with the phenomena that scholars, activists and policy-makers target as new slaveries. Which are the consequences of slavery after its legal death? Should new forms of labor exploitation and human bondage also be read in this key? Or are they the result of recent economic, political and social transformations?

25-02-2016 | © picture 3 mins read

Effective targeted treatment for hairy cell leukaemia

An ERC-funded project is conducting groundbreaking research into a rare form of leukaemia, proving the effectiveness in patients of non-chemotherapy-based treatments that target the genetic cause of the disease. The Hairy Cell Leukemia project, launched by the Institute of Hematology at the University of Perugia in Italy with funding from the European Research Council, is one of the world’s foremost initiatives to develop a targeted therapy for hairy cell leukaemia (HCL), a rare form of blood cancer.

12-06-2015 | Portrait: © András Málnási-Csizmadia | Image: Illustration of Molecular Tattoo © András Málnási-Csizmadia’s lab 2 mins read

Molecular tattooing for local, targeted drug-delivery

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.

28-10-2013 | © picture 3 mins read

Towards better reproductive technologies and safer pregnancies

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) is increasingly used to help women become pregnant. The most common technique is in vitro fertilisation, i.e. the transfer of fertilised human eggs into a woman's uterus. However, ART can imply risks for the embryo during the pregnancy or even later in life. With a grant of the European Research Council (ERC), Polish researcher Dr Grazyna Ewa Ptak has analysed sheeps embryos. With her team at the University of Teramo, she has discovered the precise timing and nature of placental disorders consequent to ART. Her findings can greatly improve reproductive technologies and lead to safer pregnancies for both women and animals.

16-05-2013 | © picture 3 mins read

Unbreakable materials on the horizon

Since Leonardo da Vinci, scientists and engineers have investigated how things break or irreversibly deform, with a view to discovering unbreakable materials. This issue is at the core of Stefano Zapperi’s research. In 2011, he received an ERC Advanced grant to explore the response of materials when they are exposed to an external driving force. The long-term outcomes of his research could contribute to enhancing the safety of materials and daily products.