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21-10-2019 | © picture 4 mins read

Same past, different histories: Remembering the Jagiellonians across Europe

When you think of the Renaissance period in Europe, what springs to mind? Perhaps the Medici family in Italy where the Renaissance is said to have begun, or the discovery of the ‘New World’ by Europeans like Christopher Columbus or Abel Tasman. But have you heard of the Jagiellonians?

24-06-2019 | © istockphotos.com 2 mins read

Microbiota: a cure for obesity?

Effective treatment for obesity remains a challenge and the only intervention proven to maintain weight loss is bariatric surgery. Intrigued by the beneficial effect that this procedure has on the composition of gut microbiota, Dr Fredrik Bäckhed explores the possibility of mimicking these changes to develop a treatment for obesity that won’t require going under the knife.

15-05-2019 | © Hubert Plovier & Patrice Cani, WELBIO 2 mins read

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.

15-02-2019 | © picture 3 mins read

Understanding thinness to fight off obesity

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight in 2016. Of these, over 650 million were obese and therefore at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders and some forms of cancers. In one of the largest studies of its kind, researchers have looked into the reasons why some people are more likely to gain weight while others manage to stay thin.

14-01-2019 | © Magdalen College Oxford Old Library © Marsilio Editori in Venezia © Marina Goldring 1 min read

La rivoluzione della stampa in Europa in mostra a Venezia

Sino alla metà del XV secolo, i libri venivano scritti a mano. Nel 1455 venne stampata la Bibbia di Gutenberg, cambiando per sempre la società. Negli anni successivi milioni di libri furono stampati in tutta Europa. Cosa si sa oggi di questi libri? Chi li leggeva? Chi li acquistava? Chi li annotava? Cristina Dondi è una ricercatrice dell'Università di Oxford e curatrice della mostra "Printing Revolution 1450-1500. I 50 anni che hanno cambiato l'Europa" aperta al Museo Correr di Venezia lo scorso settembre. Forte del successo ottenuto, con oltre 90 000 visitatori a dicembre 2018, la mostra è stata prolungata sino al 30 aprile 2019. Un percorso di scoperta attraverso libri antichi e moderni strumenti digitali, frutto di anni di rigorose ricerche finanziate dall'ERC, il Consiglio europeo delle Ricerche. Sentiamo in questa intervista come nasce la passione di Cristina Dondi per i primi libri a stampa e cosa ha scoperto con le sue ultime ricerche che l'hanno portata a collaborare con biblioteche di tutto il mondo.

20-12-2018 | © Magdalen College Oxford Old Library © Marsilio Editori in Venezia © Marina Goldring 4 mins read

On the trail of the first printed books, the beginning of the knowledge economy

Until the middle of the 15th century, books were copied by hand. After the printing of the Gutenberg Bible, in Mainz, printed books started to circulate in Europe marking the start of a new era. But what do we know about the first modern books? What were they about? Who wrote them, bought them, read them? Prof. Cristina Dondi is chasing these answers, following the breadcrumbs left by these incredible volumes.

22-05-2018 | © picture 6 mins read

Sailing the mysteries of old maps

Dr Joaquim Alves Gaspar is a man of the sea. After many years in the Portuguese Navy, he gave up plans to become an admiral in favour of pursuing a PhD in the History of Cartography. This second career led him to receive an ERC Starting Grant, the first awarded in this budding discipline. With his highly multidisciplinary team (he likes to say that, to work with him, one must be a mathematician fluent in Latin), and the experience obtained as a navigator and navigational instructor, Dr Gaspar hopes to understand how and when the first nautical charts were created. The MEDEA-CHART team is the best place in Portugal, and probably in the world, to study the history of nautical cartography, hoping that this work will provide the domain with its rightful recognition within world history.

02-05-2016 | © picture 2 mins read

What does aspirin do to you?

Acetylsalicylic acid, most commonly known as aspirin, was already part of the Egyptian pharmacopeia, used also in ancient Greece and in the Middle Ages to break fevers. Taken all over the world to kill pain and reduce inflammation, today aspirin helps to prevent heart attacks, strokes and blood clots. Its emerging role in preventing and treating cancer is on the rise too. But how does this drug act on your blood cells? ERC grantee Prof Valerie O’Donnell works on the answer.

02-05-2016 | © Alice Bellagamba 2 mins read

The past and present of slavery: a history in the making

Slavery represents a dark and unclosed page in the history of mankind. Even if legally abolished by all countries of the world, its legacies shape the present in a plurality of ways and often overlap with the phenomena that scholars, activists and policy-makers target as new slaveries. Which are the consequences of slavery after its legal death? Should new forms of labor exploitation and human bondage also be read in this key? Or are they the result of recent economic, political and social transformations?

29-04-2016 | © Nature/Marta Mirazon Lahr 3 mins read

Discovery in Kenya sheds light on the origins of warfare

A ground-breaking anthropological discovery took place in East Africa, where ERC Advanced grantee Dr Marta Mirazón Lahr and her team have been studying human origins. At the excavation site in Nataruk in northern Kenya, they have stumbled upon a real archaeological rarity – the earliest historical evidence of warfare.