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15-12-2015 | illustration © Semiarid landscape in Argentina - Juan Gaitán 4 mins read

New insight into links between biodiversity and climate change mitigation in global drylands

Both tropical forests and areas with extensive forest coverage are fundamental in tackling the effects of climate change on Earth. However, the environmental importance of arid, semi-arid and dry-subhumid ecosystems – also referred to as drylands - is less well known. Drylands cover about 40% of the Earth's land surface and support 38% of human population. With his BIOCOM project Dr Fernando T. Maestre, a 2009 ERC Starting grantee from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (Spain), investigates the role of biodiversity in enhancing the ability of drylands to maintain essential functions. Some of these functions have the capacity to combat the consequences of climate change and desertification in drylands worldwide.

13-11-2015 | © istockphoto.com 4 mins read

Interview with Artur Avila, Fields Medal Awardee and Brazilian ERC starting grant awardee

Artur Avila is a franco-brazilian leading mathematician and an ERC grantee since 2010. At the age of 16, he won the International Mathematical Olympic gold medal and before finishing high school, he received a scholarship for the Instituto Nacional de Matemática Pura e Aplicada (IMPA) of Rio de Janeiro. He is now senior researcher both at the National Center for Scientific Research - CNRS and IMPA. In this interview, Prof. Avila tells us about his international career and the research he conducts both in Brazil and France. 

10-11-2015 | Glomerulus, the filtration unit of the kidney © Sanna Lehtonen 3 mins read

New defences against kidney disease in diabetes

Why do so many diabetes patients develop kidney disease, and how can we improve prevention? EU-funded research has examined insulin-related processes at play in impaired renal function — and it may have found a way to protect key cells that help to filter our blood.

30-10-2015 | image © Istockphoto 2 mins read

Animals "peer-pressured" into reacting to danger

ERC grantee Marta Moita and her team use cutting-edge experimental procedures to investigate how rats and flies learn to appropriately respond to danger from other individuals. The results of her study may teach us a lot about our own brains, and shed light on diseases that impair social behaviour.

27-10-2015 | Image: © ESO/M. Kornmesser/Nick Risinger (skysurvey.org) 2 mins read

Hunting for extra-solar planets

Since the early 1990s almost 2000 planets have been detected outside our solar system. These discoveries led to a new area of universe sciences which is rapidly expanding. Astronomers are currently searching for extra-solar planets using a huge array of telescopes and instruments. Funded by the ERC, Prof. Cardoso Santos’ team has developed new tools to be used in both ground- and space-based facilities, to detect and study these planets.

26-10-2015 | Image: Oxia Planum ©Oxia Planum. Courtesy C. Quantin-Nataf 2 mins read

Mars landing site picked by an ERC grantee from University of Lyon

The European Mars mission in 2018 will land on the site identified by Prof Cathy Quantin-Nataf, grantee of the European Research Council (ERC), and her team at Université Lyon 1 and Observatoire de Lyon. Their choice of site, named Oxia Planum, was confirmed by the European Space Agency (ESA) on 21 October as the prime landing site for the robotic mission.

24-09-2015 | © picture 2 mins read

Widening gap between the rich and poor in European cities

The widening gap between rich and poor is leading to segregation in more and more European cities. The rich and the poor are living at increasing distance from each other, and this can be disastrous for the social stability and competitive power of cities. These are the conclusions of joint research of Prof. Maarten van Ham, ERC grantee at Delft University of Technology, and Prof. Tiit Tammaru, Dr. Szymon Marcińczak and Prof. Sako Musterd.

19-08-2015 | © picture 2 mins read

China and the Historical Sociology of Empire

How can we explain the continuity of Chinese empires? Dr Hilde De Weerdt with her project "Chinese Empire" revisits this big question in world history.

14-06-2015 | illustration © Semiarid landscape in Argentina - Juan Gaitán 2 mins read

Minimizing the effects of climate change on drylands

Both tropical forests and areas with extensive forest coverage are fundamental in tackling the effects of climate change on Earth. However, the environmental importance of arid, semi-arid and dry-subhumid ecosystems – also referred to as drylands - is less well known. Drylands cover about 40% of the Earth's land surface and support 38% of human population. With his BIOCOM project Dr Fernando T. Maestre, a 2009 ERC Starting grantee from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (Spain), investigates the role of biodiversity in enhancing the ability of drylands to maintain essential functions. Some of these functions have the capacity to combat the consequences of climate change and desertification in drylands worldwide.

 

14-06-2015 | Portrait: © Prof. Päivi Peltomäki | Image: © www.istockphoto.com 2 mins read

An early detection kit for colorectal cancer

Prevention and early detection largely determine the outcome of most cancers. Prof. Päivi Peltomäki studies how tumours arise and progress, with a view to identifying biomarkers of our susceptibility to developing cancer. With the ERC grant, the team has created a single-step, early diagnosis kit for colorectal cancer.