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Teaching is certainly one of the most important professions in our society, yet its status and attractiveness have been systematically diminishing in the last decades. At the Université catholique de Louvain, Prof. Xavier Dumay is using his ERC Starting Grant to investigate the cultural and institutional transformations that have led to this "teaching profession crisis".
At the forefront of medicine, gene therapy is based on the insertion of genes into an individual's cells and tissues to treat a disease. Scientists are currently testing several approaches to this experimental technique. One of them, Prof. Seppo Ylä-Herttuala, intends to develop a novel method to treat myocardial ischemia by activating endogenous genes to propel angiogenesis. If successful, he will open a new era in gene therapy.
More than 100 million people worldwide suffer from valvular heart disease, affecting one or more of the heart’s four valves and causing breathlessness, chest pain, dizziness and fainting. If severe valvular heart disease is not properly treated, chances of surviving decrease, especially in the elderly. The only effective therapy is heart valve replacement, which may entail some risks and lead to revision surgeries. What can be done to improve safety and durability of artificial heart valves?
In the highlands of Asia, an area spanning the mountain regions between the Pamirs and the eastern Himalayas, livelihoods are shaped as much by remoteness as by connectivity. With ERC funding, Dr Martin Saxer intends to shed new light on these areas at the edge of nation-states yet in the centre of geopolitical concerns.
Cell transplantation is a promising new approach for organ regeneration in disease or after injury. To support the differentiation of hepatocytes from stem cells, European researchers developed ex vivo organoids which precisely mimic liver architecture.
'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.
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.