Publication date: 2010-04-09
This week’s CORDIS Express showcases cooperation in science and technology between the European Union and countries in eastern Europe and Central Asia. Various aspects of humans are also looked at through the latest in European research. Going further, scientists have given the plant world a boost by developing new methods to locate the genes behind physical traits in plants. Further, a team at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden has looked at the risk factor of 'chemical cocktails' in the human body and the effects that such a mixture can have. In Finally and Briefly, French scientists have discovered how eating raw seaweed can be healthy.
News - Top Stories
New findings from an excavation site in Spain are generating heated debate among palaeontologists and archaeologists about precisely when the Neanderthals disappeared and were replaced by the first anatomically modern human beings. The research, carried out by a team from the Centre for Prehistoric Archaeological Heritage Studies at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, and published in the Journal of Human Evolution, pinpoints the transition to between 34,000 and 32,000 years ago, and supports the hypothesis that the two species did not interact or coexist. The archaeologists carried out their research at a site called Cova Gran in the south-eastern Pyrenees in Catalonia, Spain that was inhabited by Neanderthals and modern humans at different times in the past.
An EU-commissioned research team at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden has looked at the risk factor of 'chemical cocktails' in the human body and the effect that such a mixture has on both humans and the environment. The team analysed current chemical risk assessment practices and it now proposes a number of measures that must be implemented. The report is published on the website of the European Commission's Directorate-General for the Environment. The number of synthetic chemicals that we ingest has skyrocketed within the last 50 years. These chemicals are found in substances ranging from food and drink, medicines, the air we breathe, water, cosmetics, toiletries and household cleaning agents. Even the clothes and shoes we wear are often chemically treated.
EU-funded researchers in Germany have discovered that three factors need to coincide for the neurodegenerative disorder called Parkinson's disease to develop. The findings, which are published in the journal Pubic Library of Science (PLoS) Biology, are an important step forward in our understanding of what causes the debilitating condition. The new findings are an outcome of the Neurone ('Molecular mechanisms of neuronal degeneration: from cell biology to the clinic') project, financed with EUR 8.3 million under the 'Life sciences, genomics and biotechnology for health' Thematic area of the EU's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), and of the Molpark ('Molecular mechanisms of neuronal restoration: novel approaches for Parkinson's disease') project, financed with EUR 3.47 million under the Health Theme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).
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
Voice processing in the brains of infants develops at an early stage in a child's life. A study by British and German scientists identifies the age of between four and seven months as the period when infants start demonstrating a sensitivity to the human voice, and the emotions it communicates, that is similar to that of adults. The study has now been published in the Cell Press journal Neuron. The results could prove useful in the early diagnosis of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism. In adults with autism, the voice-sensitive regions in the temporal cortex fail to activate in reaction to speech and the recognition of emotion in the human voice is impaired. Aiming to shed light on the origins of voice processing, the researchers studied specific regions in the temporal cortex of babies’ brains with the help of near-infrared spectroscopy.
Future of Research
Geneticists have given the plant world a boost by developing a new method to locate genes behind physical traits in plants. Funded in part by the EU, the scientists believe this first extensive use of genome-wide association (GWA) in a plant species could help scientists determine important agricultural traits including disease resistance and biomass production. The findings of this groundbreaking study are presented in the journal Nature. The research is part of the Anavaco ('Analysis of natural variation for cold tolerance in the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana') project, which has received more than EUR 236,000 under the ‘People’ Theme of the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). Anavaco, which kicked off in 2008 and is scheduled to end in 2011, aims to identify the genes underlying variation for cold tolerance in the species A. thaliana.
Solid research ties are on the cards between the EU and Ukraine thanks to the launching of the information platform ‘S&T Gate UKR.EU’, which targets better science and technology (S&T) cooperation on a global level, and facilitates the networking of research organisations and institutions in the EU and Ukraine, and scientific dialogue between EU Member States and Ukraine. The BILAT-UKR ('Enhancing the bilateral S&T partnership with Ukraine') project, funded under the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) with more than EUR 496,000 in support, developed and financed the S&T Gate UKR.EU platform. BILAT-UKR seeks to be a factor in the fuller integration of Ukraine into the broader European Research Area (ERA). The S&T Gate UKR.EU platform offers information about projects and programmes that interested parties can take part in, as well as partner organisations that could be established.
A conference on 'New ways to competitiveness - from European cooperation to local actions' will be held in Tartu, Estonia from 10 to 12 May 2010. The event will address the challenges which European regions are facing in the current economic context and discuss new ways of increasing their competitiveness. A number of innovative European cooperation projects, which have resulted in an action on a local level, will also be highlighted. The overall aim of the occasion is to discuss the methods and best practices on how regions can learn from each other and how they can transfer relevant experiences or turn existing policy models in one region into new initiatives in another.
The Fourth Iberian Grid Infrastructure Conference (IBERGRID 2010) will take place from 24 to 27 May 2010 in Braga, Portugal. The event is being held under the framework of the bilateral agreement for Science and Technology signed in November 2005 between Portugal and Spain. A chief goal of IBERGRID 2010 will be to create a forum where advances in the development of grid infrastructures, technologies and applications are discussed by stakeholders from Iberian and Latin American countries. This community will benefit from the construction and consolidation of a common grid infrastructure providing easy and secure access to a larger and more powerful set of distributed resources.
Calls and Tenders
The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) has launched a call for tenders for an econometric input-output (EIO) model prototype for the EU. Recently, the JRC's Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) developed a working pilot of an EIO model for EU countries. It is designed around the most recent European data, including a time series of supply and use tables from Eurostat and socio-economic accounts from the EUKLEMS ('Productivity in the European Union: a comparative industry approach') project. This model has been implemented in three test countries, and includes a demand-side specification and a translog specification of the production side with quasi-fixed capital.
The Centre for Nanohealth at Swansea University in the UK is offering expertise in ultrasensitive biosensors for early detection and diagnosis of diseases. The centre is planning to develop a nanotechnology cleanroom within a category 2 bio-environment, which will take advantage of access to planned facilities for a co-located clinical trials and translational science unit. Focusing on development of integrated sensors (bio/electronic/optical) for early disease detection and diagnosis, novel semiconductor devices will be used to develop nanoscale biosensors. The centre also has core expertise and activities in: rheology (nanoparticulates effect on the structure and mechanical properties of blood clots), mathematical modelling of cellular systems and nanomaterials in the body.
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.
The Inconet CA/SC ('International cooperation network for Central Asian and South Caucasus countries') project focuses on the strengthening and deepening of science and technology cooperation with the Central Asian and South Caucasus countries, as well as with Moldova. Activities will feed the Regional Policy Dialogue Platform encompassing all the eastern European and Central Asian (EECA) countries and extend coverage to Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. The main aims of the Inconet CA/SC are: enhancing the policy dialogue within the target groups, development of synergies, organisation of Info Days and other activities aiming at an increased participation of researchers from these regions in the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), capacity building and support for the FP7 contact points in the target regions; and the mapping of key research institutes and analyses/studies.
Finally and Briefly
Sushi is supposed to be an easily digestible meal. French scientists, though, say that Japanese people may have a so-called 'sushi enzyme' which North American sushi aficionados evidently lack.
Seaweed is an integral ingredient in sushi. (It is the green bit that holds the fish and rice together, depending on the kind of sushi.)