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Our soils are inhabited by millions of microorganisms; however, the majority of them lay dormant. In her ERC project, Prof. Dagmar Woebken explores the mechanisms that allow soil microorganisms to go into dormancy and thus survive unfavorable conditions. It is further the goal to reveal the environmental signals that lead to their resuscitation to perform important ecosystems functions.
ELECTION SERIES #2
Because the European Parliament represents such a diverse group of people, with different cultural and political backgrounds, it is the perfect ground to understand how gender equality operates in the halls of power. ERC grantee Johanna Kantola and her team have shadowed many members of Parliament and their teams, to study gender practices and policies inside Europe’s legislative machine.
At the forefront of medicine, gene therapy is based on the insertion of genes into an individual's cells and tissues to treat a disease. Scientists are currently testing several approaches to this experimental technique. One of them, Prof. Seppo Ylä-Herttuala, intends to develop a novel method to treat myocardial ischemia by activating endogenous genes to propel angiogenesis. If successful, he will open a new era in gene therapy.
Based on University of Turku's press release
For more than 3000 years, men have captured wild Asian elephants to use them for work or entertainment. In a new study published today in Nature Communications, ERC grantee Virpi Lummaa shows the harmful effects of these ongoing practices on wild-caught animals. The findings are based on detailed records from the past 100 years over a population of 5000 timber elephants from Myanmar.
Being able to generate human tissue in vitro in a dish is expected to revolutionise biomedical research. European researchers generated brain organoids to study the mechanisms of various neurological disorders and discover novel drugs to treat them.
Prof. Giulio Superti-Furga and his team work on understanding the movement of molecules across human cells. In a paper recently published on Cell Host & Microbe, they outline the significance of a single protein, SLC4A7, in phagocytosis, the body's first line of defence against infection. These results, however, go beyond the context of infectious diseases, with repercussions on our knowledge of processes like inflammation and cancer.
Fascinated by clouds and planes since childhood, she became a meteorologist and aerosol scientist. Prof. Bernadett Weinzierl looks at the atmosphere but she also flies through it, aiming to understand what happens in the upper layers of the sky. Using an ERC starting grant for her A-LIFE project, she chases aerosols, those tiny particles suspended in the air which are critically important to the global climate system.
Two newly-discovered security flaws in computer processors, named Meltdown and Spectre, could allow unauthorised users to gain direct access to the heart of computer systems and steal personal data. The vulnerabilities were discovered by an international research team, in which Graz University of Technology’s Institute of Applied Information Processing and Communications (TU Graz, Austria) played a central role. The EU's European Research Council (ERC) has been supporting this research project since 2016, to the tune of two-million euro.
All cancers carry epigenetic alterations. But the biological function of these alterations is not well understood. In his ERC project, Prof. Christoph Bock explores their functional role by introducing these alterations into cancer and normal cells. Successful engineering of an epigenetic leukaemia could challenge the idea that all cancers are driven by genetic alterations.
Virpi Lummaa holds an Academy of Finland Professorship at the University of Turku, Finland. She is interested in ageing, lifespan and natural selection in contemporary human populations, looking at evolutionary, ecological and demographic factors. At present, Prof. Lummaa also focuses on senescence patterns of the Asian elephant, a long-lived mammal that offers unique opportunities to address ageing mechanisms. Her latest findings highlight the significant role that elephant grandmothers play to ensure the survival of the calves, providing vital baby elephant care comparable to childcare in human communities across the world.Originally published in March 2017 as part of the multimedia campaign "ERC - 10 years – 10 portraits."