- Projects & figures
- News & Events
- Managing your project
- About ERC
European countries have different cultures of capitalism and employment. But in the face of challenges like globalisation and the financial crisis, the various models are changing – in different ways. At the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Professor Seán Ó Riain is using an ERC Starting Grant to understand how European employers and employees are making ‘new deals’ in response to these challenges.
Almost 842 million people worldwide are chronically undernourished according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The world faces huge challenges if it is to achieve food security for a global population predicted to reach 9 billion by 2050. With ERC help, Professor Malcolm Bennett of the UK’s University of Nottingham is trying to improve crop yields through better understanding of roots and the way they grow.
Hallucinations have been the seeds of inspiration of legendary filmmakers such as Luis Buñuel, Terry Gilliam or David Lynch. Auditory hallucinations are a major symptom of schizophrenia. These inner voices people hear in the absence of any external acoustic input can be very disruptive for health and for social life. Professor Kenneth Hugdahl, who holds an ERC Advanced grant, has developed an iPhone app to help patients to re-focus their attention. Based at the University of Bergen in Norway, he participates in the “Horizons for Social Sciences and Humanities” conference in Vilnius on 23 and 24 September 2013 and exposes the first results of his ERC project.
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.
Sponges seem an unlikely source for innovation, yet they may hold the key to new nanotechnologies, innovative optical devices and new ways of regrowing human bone and preventing bone disease. Difficult to believe? Not for Werner E.G. Müller. In the BIOSILICA project, he and his team are developing ways to adapt the complex processes that natural glassy sponges use to build their wondrous biosilica structures for use in biodegradable implants that would facilitate bone healing after surgery or fractures.
In Bratislava, the team of Dr Ján Tkáč is developing the weapons to fight back in a cellular ‘cold war’ by using new early-detection technologies – helped by the first ERC grant awarded in Slovakia. Glycans are sugar molecules that carry the information human cells need to stay healthy and fight infections. Information rich, and with sophisticated storage and coding commands, they are a vital early-warning system for triggering an organism’s natural defensive systems at the first sign of attack. So it is not surprising that infectious pathogens such as bacteria and viruses, and cell-related diseases such as cancers, have developed subterfuges to bypass this first line of defence. For example, HIV viruses do this by cracking the glycan’s molecular code, and stealing its identity – allowing the pathogen to go unrecognised by cells until the infection is well advanced.
“The next war will be fought over water, not politics,” predicted United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in 1991. But environmental changes and pressures also have impacts that – though just as important – may be slower and more difficult to spot.
Nowadays, European cities are witnessing unprecedented levels of migration and population change. In an era of super mobility and super diversity, how do people develop the capacity to live with difference? This question is asked by Professor Gill Valentine, a social scientist financed by the European Research Council (ERC). Her research is particularly pertinent in these times of economic crisis, as history has shown a hardening of attitudes towards 'others' in difficult periods. She will collect a unique set of data on everyday understandings of difference in the UK and Poland with the view to inform and nuance European policies and strategies in the field.
A good and balanced diet is central to overall healthy living. However, diet-related diseases have increased in the last decades and became a major public health concern in most developed countries. Consumers’ information and responsiveness are therefore crucial when they purchase goods. On the occasion of the consumers’ rights week, Prof. Rachel Griffith, an ERC Advanced grantee 2009 based at the Institute of Fiscal Studies (UK), explains her research about consumer food purchasing behaviour, firm food pricing behaviour and their impact on nutrition.
By combining computer science and molecular biology, researchers have been able to work on a programmable biological computer that in the future may navigate within the human body, diagnosing diseases and administering treatments. This is what Professor Ehud Shapiro and his team have called a ‘Doctor in a cell’.