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'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.
Prof. Giulio Superti-Furga and his team work on understanding the movement of molecules across human cells. In a paper recently published on Cell Host & Microbe, they outline the significance of a single protein, SLC4A7, in phagocytosis, the body's first line of defence against infection. These results, however, go beyond the context of infectious diseases, with repercussions on our knowledge of processes like inflammation and cancer.
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.
ERC grantee Renata Sõukand is exploring to what extent local ecological practices concerning the use of plants, among selected ethnic minorities in Eastern Europe, have declined due to the centralization imposed by dominant practices through the impacts on natural resources, health, economies and the well-being of local communities.
Peer pressure plays an important role in spreading new trends and habits. But what impact does social influence have in the diffusion of disruptive innovations that challenge prevailing transport technologies and mobility practices? Funded by the ERC, a team led by Dr Charlie Wilson is looking into this matter.
In urban areas, an increasing number of travellers are turning to more sustainable means of transport such as walking and cycling. The ALLEGRO project studies pedestrians and cyclists’ behaviour in traffic, a field that offers many opportunities for ground-breaking knowledge.
Severe traffic jams not only have an impact on mobility, they also raise environmental and health issues linked to fuel consumption and air and noise pollution. Prof. Ludovic Leclercq is developing new traffic control models that could tackle road congestion while integrating a green dimension.
Scientists led by ERC grantee Emma Teeling have identified part of the molecular mechanism that gives bat species Myotis their extraordinary long and healthy lifespans. The longest-lived bats can live over 41 years of age while weighing only 7g, which is the human equivalent of some 234 years. They also maintain good health longer than many other mammals. The findings, published in the journal Science Advances, focus on the protective structures at the end of chromosomes, called telomeres. Bats may have evolved unique telomere maintenance mechanisms which allow them to repair age-related cell damage.
How does the past inform the lives of children and young people? A global team of EU-funded researchers is examining this issue by assessing how stories from classical antiquity impact on popular culture and society. The project’s results and outputs will provide valuable resources for scholars and teachers.
Can architects provide new types of evidence on war crimes and human rights violations? Dr Eyal Weizman believes they can. With the ERC backing, he developed a new field of research: forensic architecture. Dr Weizman and a multidisciplinary team of architects, software engineers, graphic designers and researchers provide architectural evidence and new perspectives on violent events and conflicts around the world.