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15-05-2019 | © Hubert Plovier & Patrice Cani, WELBIO

Akkermansia, a friendly bacterium who cares

The abundant presence of a certain bacteria in our intestine, Akkermansia muciniphila, to give it its full name, is an excellent sign according to metabolism and nutrition specialist prof. Patrice Cani. With his team, they discovered the role of these bacteria in reducing cardiometabolic risk factors - like insulin resistance or hypertension – that are leading causes in the development of cardiovascular diseases and type-2 diabetes.

23-04-2019 | © picture

Breezing through the information overload

ELECTION SERIES #1

There is now more information circulating than at any other time in history. Every day mind-boggling amounts of data are produced, reaching over 2.5 quintillion bytes. With the European elections just around the corner, we take a look at an ERC funded project on how politicians stay knowledgeable amidst this information overload. The research by grantee Prof. Stefaan Walgrave from the University of Antwerp compares how different politicians process information and then act on it in three western, post-industrialist parliamentary democracies - Israel, Belgium and Canada. An original study, which unveils some optimistic findings just as voters prepare to head to the polls.

08-03-2019 | © picture

The women of fundamental physics

This 8 March, the ERC celebrates the achievements of grantee Dr Mariana Graña, a determined researcher in a branch of physics where women are still noticeably underrepresented. She reflects on how far women have come in Theoretical Physics and what is still needed to overcome the gender-role stereotypes associated with this appealing but abstract field of science.

11-02-2019 | © picture

Spotting the killjoy cell

A microchip device to detect tumour cells in the blood, at a glance

There are trillions of cells in the human body of different sizes and shapes. In such a densely populated environment, the chances of detecting a single tumour cell circulating in the bloodstream, seem pretty weak. Yet, to prevent potential metastasis, responsible for 90% of cancer-related deaths, early detection is a must. Liesbet Lagae, an engineer based at Imec in Leuven, Belgium, is developing a microchip device that hunts, inspects and sorts out malignant cells circulating in the blood, sharply and cheaply.

05-09-2018 | © picture

Investigating the uncertain future of teaching profession

Teaching is certainly one of the most important professions in our society, yet its status and attractiveness have been systematically diminishing in the last decades. At the Université catholique de Louvain, Prof. Xavier Dumay is using his ERC Starting Grant to investigate the cultural and institutional transformations that have led to this "teaching profession crisis".

20-08-2018 | iStock

Artificial heart valves: synthetic polymer coatings could reduce complications in patients

More than 100 million people worldwide suffer from valvular heart disease, affecting one or more of the heart’s four valves and causing breathlessness, chest pain, dizziness and fainting. If severe valvular heart disease is not properly treated, chances of surviving decrease, especially in the elderly. The only effective therapy is heart valve replacement, which may entail some risks and lead to revision surgeries. What can be done to improve safety and durability of artificial heart valves? 

08-08-2018 | © Image: istockphotos.com

Classifying von Neumann algebras

Group theory, functional analysis and ergodic theory – three distinct areas of mathematics that meet within the theory of von Neumann algebras. The RIGIDITY project, funded by the ERC, aims to classify families of von Neumann algebras.

12-07-2018 | Image:©Shutterstock

Putting the CRISPR back in bacteria

CRISPR is a widely used molecular biology tool exploiting an immune process discovered in bacteria. Dr David Bikard studies CRISPR in bacterial cells, in conjunction with different DNA repair systems, to create even newer tools. He hopes to gain insight into bacterial genetics, and develop increasingly effective medical treatments.

31-05-2018 | © picture

How did human brains get so large?

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.

29-05-2018 | © picture

Shut up and heal - possible strategy to cure sick livers

'Silent killers'. This is how liver diseases are often described. But, are they really that silent? ERC grantee Mathieu Vinken, a pharmacist by training and worldwide expert in toxicology based at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), has just proven the contrary.