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15-07-2016 | © picture 2 mins read

Minerals reveal the flow patterns inside the Earth

The Earth is made of layers, just like a big onion, composed of different materials. However, the compounds forming these layers are not static, flowing from one stratum to another, following patterns still not entirely understood. Prof. Patrick Cordier tries to model the real conditions minerals are subjected to beneath the Earth’s crust. His aim is to understand the forces driving tectonic plates so we can better comprehend phenomena like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

12-07-2016 | Researcher picture ©Olga NAGY 2 mins read

Evolution of species: different, but not so different

Through her work with the fruit fly Drosophila santomea, Dr Virginie Orgogozo aims to answer one of the most challenging questions of modern evolutionary biology: how do observable characteristics change between species and yet remain stable in a given species?

26-04-2016 | Illustration © Eifel forest near the Viktoriaquelle water well. - Photo © Centre de Recherches Petrographiques et Geochimiques 2 mins read

A trace gas analysed in mineral spring water in Germany gives clues on the origins of the Earth

Researchers supported by the ERC have sampled magmatic gases derived from the Earth's mantle in the Eifel region in Germany. Their analysis of xenon, a rare and inert gas, sampled in bubbling mineral water could bring new insights into the origin of volatile elements, water and gases, that allowed life to develop on Earth.

22-04-2016 | © picture 3 mins read

ERC grantee uncovers genetic clue to animals' evolutionary success

A team of researchers at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona deciphered the genetic mechanisms responsible for the evolutionary success of animals, including humans. The findings give insight on how life evolved from its simple one-cell form to complex multi-cellular organisms. The results, published on 21/4/2016 in Cell journal, may also provide hints how the life will evolve in future.

21-04-2016 | Portrait picture ©Royal Society / Research picture ©Curie Institute 3 mins read

New landmark in epigenetics: understanding the silencing of the X-chromosome

While women inherit two X chromosomes, the expressions of one of them is shut down during embryonic development. Men have one X chromosome and one Y chromosome. The switching off of women’s second X chromosome is thought to compensate for the presence of only one X in males versus two in females, to balance for X-linked gene products between the sexes. X-chromosome inactivation is also one of the clearest examples of what epigenetic mechanisms do to our genetic material: the DNA of the genes on the X is still present but not actively expressed or needed. Prof. Edith Heard was awarded ERC grants to understand the intricate processes behind the phenomenon, with unexpected results that changed the way gene regulation is now looked at.

22-03-2016 | © illustration: Xavier Salvatella /IRB Barcelona 2 mins read

Treatment for late-stage prostate cancer patients: getting closer to a solution

People suffering from prostate cancer usually go through surgery and radiotherapy. When these treatments are ineffective, drugs are used to stop the tumour progression. However, after a few years, patients stop responding to this therapy. Prof. Xavier Salvatella from the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) may have found how to address this resistance, caused by alterations of the androgen receptor protein including mutations. 

21-01-2016 | © P Sankowski 3 mins read

Real-life problems realistically solved

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.

16-09-2013 | © picture 3 mins read

Can ‘public’ mean different things in different countries?

During the 20th century, the experiences of post-communist states in Central and Eastern Europe were very different from those of much of Western Europe. Have these different experiences fostered different attitudes when it comes to public space, and ‘public goods’ like health care, education or the environment? Dr Natalia Letki of the University of Warsaw in Poland is using an ERC Starting Grant to carry out an ambitious multi-disciplinary study of attitudes and behaviour regarding ‘public goods’ across this region – drawing on political science, sociology, economics and even psychology.

27-08-2013 | Cells of coccolithophore genera Gephyrocapsa grown in laboratory culture 3 mins read

Marine algae reveal close link between past climate and CO2

The ocean is filled with microscopic algae that take up carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere in order to grow. A new study by researchers from the Geology Department at the University of Oviedo (Spain) shows that the algae may adapt to rising levels of atmospheric CO2 much sooner than previously thought, and in an unexpected way. This study, published today in Nature and co-authored by ERC grantee Heather Stoll, also provides evidence for a much closer link between atmospheric CO2 decrease and cooling and glaciations in the geological past.

25-02-2013 | ©Andrzej Udalski 2 mins read

New frontiers in observational astronomy

As empirical experiments are almost impossible in astronomy, research in this field relies heavily on observation. Prof. Andrzej Udalski set new frontiers in observational astronomy, in particular in the search for extra-solar planets, using a cutting-edge gravitational microlensing technique which enables the study of celestial objects irrespective of the light they emit.