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12-06-2015 | Portrait: © Georgios Vasilikogiannakis| Image: © www.istockphoto.com

What you make is important, but also how you make it

Faster, greener and more sustainable: our world is thirsty for innovative processes that meet these demanding criteria. While natural resources can offer part of the solution, the biggest challenge lies in cleaning-up chemical synthesis. Prof. Georgios Vasilikogiannakis and his team have been looking for answers.

19-05-2015 | Portrait: © Bruno Siciliano, PRISMA Lab | Image: © Ciro Fusco, ANSA

A step forward to the service robots of the future

Why should people waste their time executing some repetitive time-consuming everyday tasks which do not require creativity and intellectual capacity? Such a reasoning stands behind Professor Bruno Siciliano’s ERC funded project aiming at the creation of a new generation of service robots.  

18-05-2015 | Portrait: © Studio Brega

Towards simpler, smarter artificial hands

Will robots ever have the same dexterity as humans? Professor Antonio Bicchi is working on the next-generation of artificial hands that can be programmed to adapt to different tasks and environments. The  promising results of his research could have a strong impact on engineering robotics as well as on rehabilitation technologies.  

15-04-2015 | Image:© Guidotti et al./Cell 2015

Lymphocytes versus hepatitis B virus: caught in action

For the first time ever, two ERC grantees, Prof. Luca G. Guidotti and Dr Matteo Iannacone, have observed in vivo how specific white blood cells, so-called cytotoxic T lymphocytes, identify, target and attack liver cells that are infected with the hepatitis B virus. To witness these immune cells in action in real time, the two scientists developed advanced, dynamic imaging techniques. An estimated 240 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis B worldwide. This discovery, published today in the scientific journal Cell, opens new horizons for the development of novel therapies.

16-04-2014 | Portrait: © Courtesy of Prof. Georges Kordas | Illustration © Paul Hakimata photography/Shutterstock

Targeting cancer: nanocontainers deliver localised chemotherapy

Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the EU – and this figure is expected to rise due to an ageing population in Europe. In his ERC-funded ‘Nanotherapy’ project, Professor George Kordas has developed ‘nanocontainers’ ­– tiny hollow spheres with a width measured in molecules – which are attracted to cancer cells and, once there, deliver their payload of chemotherapy drugs. It is a kind of ‘guided missile’, aimed at the heart of a cancer cell.  

27-01-2014 | © picture

European perspectives on religion in public

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) makes decisions on religious freedom that affect the rights of over 800 million people in 47 countries. A famous case is the Lautsi v. Italy decision which prevented the display of the crucifix in classrooms, and was later revoked after a public outcry.

Dr Effie Fokas, a Greek researcher, has received an ERC Starting grant to study the influence of ECtHR decisions on the public. Looking beyond the legal implementation of the decisions, she hopes to discover how they change local perceptions of religious rights, grassroots movements and national case law.

28-10-2013 | © picture

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.

28-10-2013 | Portrait: © Bruno Siciliano, PRISMA Lab | Illustration: © Ciro Fusco, ANSA

From pizza maker to physiotherapist: Italian robot's promising skills

Why should people waste their time executing some repetitive time-consuming everyday tasks which do not require creativity and intellectual capacity? Such a reasoning stands behind Professor Bruno Siciliano’s ERC funded project aiming at the creation of a new generation of service robots.

16-05-2013 | © picture

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.

20-12-2012 | © Prof. F.R. Ferraro, Mosaic of 9 globular cluster images ranked in order of increasing dynamical age as measured from the observed radial distribution of their blue straggler stars. From top-left, to bottom-right: omega Centauri, NGC 288, M55, M4, M13, M

How to look young when you’re not – stars reveal the secret of aging well

Some people are in great shape at the age of 90, while others feel unfit before they are 50. How fast people age is not really linked to how old they actually are — and has a lot to do with their lifestyle. A new study led by Prof. Francesco Ferraro, Advanced grantee of the European Research Council (ERC), reveals that the same is true of star clusters. This groundbreaking discovery was made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and is featured this week in the renowned scientific journal Nature.