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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.
Effective treatment for obesity remains a challenge and the only intervention proven to maintain weight loss is bariatric surgery. Intrigued by the beneficial effect that this procedure has on the composition of gut microbiota, Dr Fredrik Bäckhed explores the possibility of mimicking these changes to develop a treatment for obesity that won’t require going under the knife.
ELECTION SERIES #7
Why are some people more likely to vote or stand for election than others? Researchers based in Sweden are doing some deep data diving to find out how our social surroundings and our genes influence political participation.
Water is a peculiar liquid. In fact, it's thanks to some of its peculiarities that our "blue" planet looks the way it does, and that life has evolved most of the characteristics we recognise today. ERC grantee Prof. Anders Nilsson has made his career out of studying water, in particular trying to understand the secret double life water leads at extremely cold temperatures.
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.