Publication date: 2009-02-06
'Knowledge is… the best way to compete these days,' said Dr Enric Banda, president of the grassroots organisation Euroscience, in an interview that will kick of this week's edition of CORDIS Express. Further highlights include EU-funded research into the workings of the influenza virus and a new multimedia tool that might help improve musicians' technique. These top news stories are followed by articles about innovative drug delivery methods, a new test platform for the ITER fusion reactor and a novel test to spot steroid use in cattle. In Finally and Briefly, we remain in the animal kingdom and find out that dolphins don't like fish bones.
News - Top Stories
Dr Enric Banda, a geophysicist and president of the 2,100-member-strong grassroots organisation Euroscience, spoke with CORDIS News about the importance of young scientists, the impact of economic crises on scientific careers and the challenge of building a strong science and technology base in Europe. Euroscience is an 11-year-old organisation that gives a voice to scientists at the European level. 'It's an organisation of individuals, not institutions,' explained Dr Banda. One of the many purposes of the organisation, he said, is influencing and orienting the political world; however, this can be an uphill battle. 'The political world is certainly deaf to scientists and people interested in science,' he said. 'Politicians talk about science and technology and forget about it a minute later.'
EU-funded scientists in France have defined an important drug target in the influenza virus. The study, published in the journal Nature, shows a high-resolution image of a crucial protein that allows the virus to 'hijack' human cells and multiply. The study is part of the FLUPOL ('Host-specific variants of the influenza virus replication machinery') project, funded with EUR 1.97 million under the Policy support budget line of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). Seasonal influenza epidemics kill hundreds of thousands of people every year. According to FLUPOL, the deadly H5N1 avian influenza viruses have the potential to cause a devastating pandemic if they become transmissible between humans. The goal of the three-year research project is to provide new knowledge that will enable scientists to better monitor the influenza virus and find ways to combat the emergence of deadly strains.
A multimedia system developed by EU-funded scientists at the University of Leeds in the UK may allow musicians to significantly improve their performance. Since posture is critical to musical technique, the i-Maestro 3D Augmented Mirror (AMIR) first uses three-dimensional (3D) imaging to capture movement and posture during a performance, and then provides results against optimal performance settings. The technology was developed as part of the i-Maestro ('Interactive multimedia environment for technology-enhanced music education and creative collaborative composition and performance') project, which was financed with EUR 2.35 million through the Information Society Technologies (IST) Thematic area of the EU's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).
These articles have been taken from CORDIS News, a daily news service updated every weekday lunchtime. For more research and innovation headlines, go to the CORDIS News homepage.
Focus on Innovation
The EU-funded SonoDrugs project is developing tiny, image-guided capsules that will convey drug doses through the bloodstream to the site of a disease, where they will be activated by ultrasound pulses. The new technology, which focuses on cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer, is expected to vastly improve therapeutic efficiency. The project has been financed with EUR 10.9 million under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and brings together 15 academic and industrial partners from all over Europe. Cancer and cardiovascular disease are two of the most common causes of death; the EU recorded 1.9 million deaths from CVD in 2003 and 1.2 million from cancer in 2004. Current treatments rely on 'whole-body' doses that are difficult to control and often come with undesirable side effects.
Future of Research
A test platform for a remote handling system essential to the future functioning of the ITER fusion reactor has now been officially inaugurated in Tampere, Finland. The full-size test facility DTP2 (Divertor Test Platform for ITER) is said to be a significant step forward both for the international ITER project and for nuclear fusion research in general. The DTP2 facility will help to develop and test a remote handling system to change divertor cassettes. These cassettes are essential components of the ITER reactor. They are the only components allowed to touch the hot plasma inside the reactor in order to remove helium ash. Helium ash is a by-product of fusion reactions in deuterium-tritium plasma. The reaction produces energetic alpha-particles (helium nuclei), which heat the plasma.
An EU-funded team of researchers from the UK and Ireland has unveiled a new test to detect illegal steroid use in cattle. The Biocop ('New technologies to screen multiple chemical contaminants in foods') project, financed with EUR 9.6 million under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), has developed an innovative screening technique that is cost-effective, accurate and convenient. The results are published in the journal Analytical Chemistry. An estimated 10% of European cattle are illegally treated with growth enhancers such as anabolic steroids; however, current abuse-detection methods return a mere 0.02% positive result. According to the study, led by Professor Chris Elliot of Queen's University Belfast, this implies that there are 'serious problems with the existing control systems, at least one of which is infrequency of testing.'
The EU-funded CERT-TTT-M project will hold its final conference entitled 'Technology transfer - title, profession, system or action!' on 24 and 25 February in Riga, Latvia. Under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), CERT-TTT-M ('Certified trans-national TT-manager - building up a framework to qualify TT-managers on a trans-national level and with mutual recognition') addressed the lack of people skilled in technology transfer (TT), a registered TT profession and a common education framework. The conference will provide an opportunity to discuss project outcomes, analyse and encourage further development of the profession, and review the extension of international networks fostering technology and knowledge transfer.
The European Commission's cooperation office for EU external aid programmes, EuropeAid, will hold an 'Environmental 'Auction floor' conference' on 13 March in Brussels, Belgium. This event is intended to build effective and inclusive partnerships for environmental projects in developing countries by bringing together development actors, such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and research centres, and a wide range of potential donors, including private sector foundations. Almost 100 environmental project proposals that are looking for funding are presented in a booklet. Match-making between donors and projects will be facilitated at the conference, with networking by sub-themes and regions. Private sector participants will also get a chance to share their activities in terms of corporate social responsibility.
Calls and Tenders
The European Commission's Directorate-General for Energy and Transport has issued a call for tenders for long-range energy modelling. The development of energy strategies and policy approaches needs to be supported by robust energy analysis providing a comprehensive and consistent picture of the European energy economy and its evolution. Energy modelling is an important tool for providing such quantitative analyses of energy market trends as well as the effects of alternative framework conditions (e.g. world energy prices, macroeconomic developments) or policies. Such alternative policies concern for example more vigorous policies on energy efficiency, renewables, climate change mitigation or different policies on nuclear or the further development of transport policies.
The Central Hungarian Innovation Centre (CHIC) is offering its expertise in the promotion of knowledge-based projects and the commercialisation of innovative ideas and inventions. Established in 2003 and based in the metropolitan area of the Hungarian capital Budapest, the centre provides business and innovation-related services to micro, small and medium enterprises. These services include screening and evaluation of innovative ideas, development of a business strategy, compilation of licensing dossier and more. The CHIC team has also been able to gain experience in organising trainings, especially in the field of innovation management and intellectual property rights (IPR). CHIC is interested in a wide range of Thematic Areas of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) in which projects could benefit from innovation management expertise such as information and communication technologies (ICT), energy, environment (including climate change) and others.
The CORDIS Partners Service publish partner profiles and find research collaborators to take part in EU-funded research, join a consortium or run a private collaboration in your area of interest. You can also search by profile type, programme and/or country to Find project partners for FP6 and FP7. To find partners for the Sixth Framework Programme, go to our FP7 Partners Service, which also features an advanced search facility.
At the beginning of the year, the THATEA project consortium took up its work. Its aim is to advance the science and technology behind thermoacoustic energy conversion, so as to make it economically attractive. In thermoacoustics, high-amplitude sound waves are used in a pressurized gas to pump heat from one place to another. The technology can also be employed to convert sound into electricity with high efficiency. While the working principles of thermoacoustics are quite complex, its practical implementation is relatively simple. The project partners explain that 'The systems lack moving parts, use environmentally friendly working media and only ordinary materials.' Six partners from research organisations, universities and the industry are involved the project funded to the tune of EUR 2.21 million until the end of 2011.
Finally and briefly…
Okay, we all know that dolphins are incredibly smart, at the very least since the hyper-intelligent dolphin Flipper started clicking and squeaking on our TV sets in the middle of the 1960s. Bottlenose dolphins, such as Flipper, in particular show all kinds of amazing behaviours: For example, they put marine sponges on their noses to protect them while probing in the soft seafloor. They also use their tails to 'whack' fish or to smack on the water surface above seagrass beds to flush out prey, a technique also known as 'kerplunking' (yes, kerplunking…).