Scientific Watch N°15 - From 15/07/2016 to 29/07/2016

Please find every other two weeks a small Scientific Watch regarding cultural and scientific activities in France. [2016-N°15 from 15/07/2016] to 29/07/2016]

From 01/07/2016 to 15/07/2016

Editors :

Gabriel BENET, Scientific Officer - Hong Kong

Julie METTA, Scientific Officer - Hong Kong

Justin MONIER, Scientific Officer - Hong Kong

Isabelle SAVES, Attachée for Scientific & Academic Affairs - Hong Kong

Contact :




1- Energy & Environment

1.1- Protecting Ice Memory

Scientists are joining forces to create a global archive of glacial ice for our future generations. The project’s first mission to protect the world’s ice memory will be launched in France on 15 August 2016, in the Mont Blanc massif. Researchers from the CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research), the IRD (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement) and the “Université Grenoble Alpes” will be extracting ice samples from the “Col du Dôme”, ultimately for storage in Antarctica.

Original article published on CNRS and IRD website, 20-21 July 2016. Source1 and Source2

1.2- Electricity: France looks toward self-consumption

Inspired by other European countries, France gets ready to encourage companies and households to produce and consume their own electricity, notably through solar panels. The French government plans to set a proper legal framework to boost this sector. On Wednesday 21st of July 2016, Mrs Ségolène Royal, Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, presented an ordinance’s project to the Council of Ministers to define the practice, establish guidance, methods and plan the implementation of premium tariffs. This text has previously received a favourable opinion from the French Energy Regulatory Commission (independent administrative body in charge of regulating the French electricity and gas markets).

Original article published on the website, 26 July 2016. Source

1.3- French “biodiversity law”: toward a ban of bee-harming pesticides

From its first appearance in the French parliament (Assemblée Nationale) in March 2014, the bill on “biodiversity regrowth, nature and landscapes” took 27 months to pass the final hurdle on the 20th of July and be written into national law by the parliament. Despite step backs compared to the initial bill, it includes an important signal regarding the use of a pollinators-harming class of pesticides, neonicotinoids: these molecules will be banned from September 2018 for the whole agricultural usage (with derogations to July 2020 in certain cases).

Original article published on the website, 20 July 2016. Source

1.4- Archinaute: a “sailboat” facing the wind

“Archinaute” is a project to address the energy transition challenge in the nautical field. Developed by Charles-Henri Viel, an engineer from the Ecole Centrale Paris, this project aims at building a 12 meters long trimaran, propelled by a rotary sail. Based on mechanical wind power collection, this principle allows sailing in any direction, including upwind. Archinaute is one of the laureates of the competition organized by the French Ministry of Environment, “100 projects for climate”. Continuing the momentum of COP 21, “100 projects for climate” aims to speed up the emergence of citizen-led initiatives to combat global warming. This new participative step, building on the valuable discussions of the Paris-Climate Conference, will enable the 100 most innovative solutions from around the world to become a reality.

Original article published on the website, 20 July 2016. Source


2- Health & Society

2.1- Prevention of HIV infection in men who have sex with men is a priority in West Africa

In West Africa, men who have sex with men are exposed to a high risk of HIV infection and could benefit from stronger prevention including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). This is what is suggested by the first data from ANRS CohMSM, a study led by Dr. Christian Laurent (IRD-Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, TransVIHMI) and his colleagues from ARCAD-SIDA (Bamako, Mali), Espace Confiance (Abidjan, Ivory Coast), Division SIDA/IST, Ministry of Health, Public Hygiene and Prevention (Dakar, Senegal), the Centre Muraz and REVS+ (Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso), Alternatives-Cameroun (Douala, Cameroon), Coalition Plus (Paris, France), and SESSTIM UMR 912 (Inserm/IRD/Université Aix-Marseille, France).The first results of the study will be presented at AIDS 2016 in Durban, South Africa (18 to 22 July).

Original article published on IRD’s website, 21 July 2016. Source

2.2- Social cost of noise in France: 57 billions of euros per year

A study presented on June 14, 2016 to the CNB, Conseil National du Bruit (French National Council of Noise) estimates the social cost of noise in France at 57 billions euros per year (HKD 490 billions). Conducted by the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (Ademe) and the audit and consulting firm EY France, the study estimates at 20.6 billions euros per year (HKD 177 billions) the costs related to transportation noise, 19.2 billions euros (HKD 165 billions) those related to noise in the professional environment, and 11.5 billions euros (HKD 99 billions) those related to neighbourhood noise (the rest is related to education difficulties related to noise).

Original article published on the website, 14 June 2016. Source

2.3- A new source of avian flu detected in South-West France

A new outbreak of avian flu was detected in a duck farm in Dordogne, said the prefecture on Monday, July 25, 2016. The new detections occurred during the restocking phase of France’s avian flu eradication plan, which followed earlier depopulation and disinfection steps. The French Agriculture Ministry said the new outbreaks are due to the high pressure of infection that existed in the area, and justify the strict biosecurity measures in place across the country.

Original article published on the website, 26 July 2016. Source


3- Research and Education

3.1- Malaria: a genetically attenuated parasite induces an effective, long-lasting immune response

With nearly 3.2 billion people currently at risk of contracting malaria, scientists from the Institut Pasteur, the CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research) and Inserm (French National Institute for Health and Medical Research) have experimentally developed a live, genetically attenuated vaccine for Plasmodium, the parasite responsible for the disease. By identifying and deleting one of the parasite’s genes, the scientists enabled it to induce an effective, long-lasting immune response in a mouse model. These findings were published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine on July 18, 2016.

Original article published on the Institut Pasteur’s website, 18 July 2016. Source

3.2- A new mechanism used by group B Streptococcus to evade the host immune system

Pathogenic bacteria produce a number of molecules that can be recognized by the innate immune system. These molecules associated with pathogens trigger an inflammatory response by stimulating specific signaling pathways in infected immune cells. Scientists from the Institut Pasteur and the CNRS, in cooperation with the University of Massachusetts Medical School, have demonstrated that group B Streptococcus degrades one of these molecules so that it can control the inflammatory response of the infected host. These findings, published in Cell Host and Microbe on July 13, 2016, help improve our understanding of the interaction between bacteria and immune cells during the infectious process.

Original article published on the Institut Pasteur’s website, 13 July 2016. Source

3.3- An antibody-based drug for multiple sclerosis

Inserm Unit U919, directed by Prof. Denis Vivien (“Serine Proteases and Physiopathology of the Neurovascular Unit”) has developed an antibody with potential therapeutic effects against multiple sclerosis. The study, directed by Fabian Docagne and published in Brain, paves the way for a new strategy to control the disease.

Original article published on Inserm’s website, 20 July 2016. Source

3.4- Long term correction of hyperbilirubinemia in animal models of Crigler-Najjar syndrome

Dr. Federico MINGOZZI, team leader of the Immunology and Liver Gene Transfer unit at Généthon, (Inserm U951/Université Pierre et Marie Curie), France, has demonstrated the long-term efficacy of an optimized AAV-UGT1A1 vector for the correction of Crigler-Najjar syndrome (CN) in two different animal models of the disease. This work, published in July 20, 2016 in Molecular Therapy Methods and Clinical Development was supported by the AFM-Telethon.

Original article published on Inserm’s website, 21 July 2016. Source

3.5- Aggressive breast cancer: prevent metastasis

A research team led by Dr. Jean-Paul Borg - Centre de Recherche en Cancérologie de Marseille (CRCM, Cancer Research Center of Marseille) affiliated to Inserm (UMR1068), CNRS (UMR7258) and Aix-Marseille University (UM105) - has discovered a molecular mechanism which explains the aggressiveness of certain forms of breast cancers with low sensitivity to current available therapeutics. The scientists have explored new therapeutic ways to inhibit this mechanism responsible for metastasis. The results have been published in the journal Developmental Cell on May 23, 2016.

Original article published on Inserm’s website, 20 July 2016. Source

3.6- A universal colorectal cancer biomarker

Researchers from the University Paris-Descartes, the CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research), Inserm (French National Institute for Health and Medical Research), the University Paris-Est Créteil (UPEC) and AP-HP (Assistance publique – Hôpitaux de Paris) have shown that the analysis of epigenetic alterations could be used as a universal marker for monitoring circulating tumor DNA in the blood of patients suffering from colorectal cancer. This study is based on the analysis of the hypermethylation of 2 genes (WIF1 and NPY) using an innovative method: the droplet digital PCR (polymerase chain reaction). Results have been published in the journal Clinical Chemistry on June 1st 2016.

Original article published on the CNRS’ website, 19 July 2016. Source

3.7- Learn how to distinguish plants: a new botany MOOC

Learning the basic vocabulary to describe and characterize a plant, understanding the interactions between a plant and its environment, learning to identify families and species of common plants… This is part of the knowledge and the know-how that the new MOOC “Botanique” is targetting. The MOOC is developed by the association Tela Botanica, and the educational content has been coordinated by Dr. Herve Sauquet (Laboratory “Écologie, systématique et évolution” - Université Paris-Sud/CNRS/AgroParisTech)

Original article published on the CNRS’ website, 22 July 2016. Source

3.8- Two young French mathematicians recipients of the European Mathematical Society Prize

Two young mathematicians from France are among the ten recipients of the 2016 European Mathematical Society (EMS) prize: Vincent Calvez, CNRS researcher at the unit “mathématiques pures et appliquées(CNRS/ENS de Lyon) and member of the Inria NuMed project team, as well as Hugo Duminil-Copin, professor at the Université de Genève, who will join the Laboratoire Alexander Grothendieckm (CNRS/IHÉS- Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques) in September 2016. These prizes are awarding every four years mathematicians under 35 years, have been announced at the opening of the 7th European Congress of Mathematics held in Berlin, July 18-22, 2016.

Original article published on the CNRS’ website, 18 July 2016. Source

3.9- Bread wheat genome: a whole genome assembly available online on an INRA platform

After more than 10 years of research, the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC), of which INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research) is a member, made an announcement last January about the production of a whole genome assembly for bread wheat. Today, this new resource is available online for the scientific community at

Original article published on Inra’s website, 21 July 2016. Source

3.10- Popstar: a new project from Ifremer to study fish migration

The project “Popstar” has just been launched at Ifremer (Institut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la Mer, French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea). Carried out in the Mediterranean Sea, the project aims at studying the physiological parameters in migratory fishes that are associated with collective movements. To achieve this goal, the institute will develop a new innovative electronic tag device. Previously tested on the bluefin tuna, the beacon will be smaller, cheaper, and able to collect a wide range of biological and environmental data and to transmit them to a satellite. The tagging of 200 bluefin tuna individuals is scheduled for Summer 2019.

Original article published on Ifremer’s website, 26 July 2016. Source

3.11- The sunflower genome has been decoded

INRA scientists (French National Institute for Agricultural Research) have just completed the sunflower reference genome sequence. This achievement comes as part of the SUNRISE project in collaboration with the International sunflower genome consortium led by the University of British Columbia in Canada and by INRA. This major advancement will help improve varietal sunflower breeding programs, a very promising area of research which has proven to be an environmental asset for future agricultural systems. It will provide farmers with new varieties that are better adapted to production methods, food production and industrial uses, while also responding to the sector’s economic challenges. The results will be made public during the “days exchanges on sunflower” conference taking place June 28 and 29, 2016 in Toulouse (France).

Original article published on Inra’s website, 18 July 2016. Source


4- Technology & Transport

4.1- Cybersecurity: French CEA involved along with the European Commission

On July 5, 2016, as part of its Research & Innovation strategy involving public and private partners, the European Commission has formalized a public-private partnership (Partenariats public-privé PPP) “Cybersecurity” implying the creation of the association European CyberSecurity Organisation (ECSO). Tue European Union will invest EUR 450 millions (HKD 3.8 billions) in this partnership and relies on the leverage of industry to generate investments amounting EUR 1.8 billions (HKD 15.5 billions) by 2020. Based on its expertise in the field of cybersecurity research, CEA (French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission) is fully committed to this partnership.

Original article published on CEA’s website, 22 July 2016. Source

publié le 29/07/2016

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