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ELECTION SERIES #3
The traditional pencil-and-paper method to mark your vote in the polling booth has been gradually replaced by electronic voting machines in many countries, in Europe and beyond. Ensuring the security of electronic voting machines and quelling fears of vote-rigging have become ever more important. One ERC-funded researcher has been working tirelessly to develop such an e-voting system through two projects, SEEVS and its follow-up SEEVCA.
The increasing development of wearable technology sparks the need for new, innovative ways to interact with our shiny gadgets. Deviating from the conventional approach based on touch-sensitive devices, Prof. Jürgen Steimle aims at producing body-worn user interfaces that can be applied directly on the skin. Highly personalised, biocompatible and ultrathin, these devices will seamlessly blend with the human skin to create a technological extension of our body.
The amount of currently available biomedical data is overwhelming. Large databases exist at different scales, from genes, to proteins, to patients' histories. But what do scientists do with all this information? Serbian-born Professor Nataša Pržulj, from University College London, works with Big Data to establish patterns and gain knowledge that could revolutionise how we treat diseases.
The human brain is a remarkable organ, but how did it evolve to give us such unprecedented cognitive abilities? ERC grantee Pierre Vanderhaeghen and his team from ULB, VIB-KU Leuven turned to the genome for answers: a specific set of genes, found only in humans, could play a determinant role on the size of our brain. Published today in Cell, Vanderhaeghen's EU-funded research helps to unlock the secrets of human evolution.
Travellers already benefit from applications harnessing data from sensor networks and smartphone users. They calculate alternative routes, help plan carpooling routes, or support the optimisation of public transport. With her ERC grant, Prof. Vana Kalogeraki works on a comprehensive software framework that will simplify the development of such mobile human-centred systems and make them more predictable and reliable.
Prof. Gregoire Courtine believes paralysed patients will be able to walk again. This belief has represented the focus of years of work aimed at regenerating the functions of the spinal cord after injury. Thanks to his ERC funding in both 2010 and 2015, Prof. Courtine and his team have been able to develop so-called “personalised neuroprosthetics” that have led immobile rats, and more recently monkeys, to overcome their paralysis.
Ole Kamstrup, MD., MSc., is a pensioner and lives north of Copenhagen in Denmark. He has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease ten years ago. Since 2013, Mr Kamstrup has been in contact with Professor Deniz Kirik, a neuroscientist at Lund University in Sweden. Professor Kirik, who was awarded an ERC Starting Grant in 2009, develops new therapies for Parkinson’s disease, using viral vectors to deliver therapeutic genes to the brain. An ERC Proof of Concept grant enabled him to start carrying out a market evaluation and writing a business plan for the promising therapy.
Originally published in March 2017 as part of the multimedia campaign "ERC - 10 years – 10 portraits."
By focusing on certain actions and reactions within the brain, an EU-funded project has advanced understanding of how Alzheimer’s Disease develops. This could potentially open the door to a new era of targeted treatments.
Is a precise answer always better than a slightly less detailed one? Not necessarily. Some problems could take forever to compute and tie up vast IT capacity. Where solutions are needed urgently, e.g. in business or manufacturing, near-enough can be more than enough. ERC-funded research has produced a library of fast, powerful approximation algorithms.
A crucial discovery of how the brain functions has been made by EU-funded researchers. ERC Advanced Grant holder Prof. Oscar Marin and his team have shown that brain's 'hardware' - using the computing metaphor - is in fact tuneable and can adapt to internal and external influences. The findings could help develop new therapies for neurological disorders such as epilepsy, which affects around 50 million people globally.