Scientific Watch N°2 - From 01/16/2016 to 01/29/2016

Please find every other two weeks a small Scientific Watch regarding cultural and scientific activities in France. [2016-N°02 from 01/16/2016 to 01/29/2016]

From 01/16/2016 to 01/29/2016

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- Renewable energies, M. Ban Ki-moon asks countries to fulfill their commitments.

United-nations Secretary General M. Ban Ki-moon and the French Minister Foreign of Foreign affairs, M. Laurent Fabius, launched on Monday in Abu Dhabi a strong call to achieve objectives defined during the UN climate conference (COP21) last december. "It is now time to act. Governments, private sector, international organizations must begin to implement the global goals adopted during the conference said M. Ban Ki-moon.

Published on January, 18 2016. Article from the 20 minutes’s website. Source

1.2- Anti-insect netting twice cheaper than insecticides

Researchers from CIRAD (Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement) have just shown that the use of nets is twice cheaper than using pesticides and allows at the same time to triple margins on productions. Gardeners also benefit from more stable and better controlled production. The project BioNet Agro, was funded by USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) and conducted by CIRAD and Michigan State University.

Published on January, 20 2016. Article from the CIRAD’s website. Source

1.3- The French Senate approved the creation of the French Agency for biodiversity

The French Senate approved on wednesday the creation of the French Agency for Biodiversity, a promise made by the French president during the first environmental conference in 2012. This agency will gather more than 1 200 agents in 2016 from four existing agencies -Office national de l’eau et des milieux aquatiques (Onema), Atelier technique des espaces naturels, Agence des aires marines protégées, Parcs nationaux- and aims at improving protection of natural areas.

Published on January, 21 2016. Article from the Tahiti Infos’ website. Source

1.4- CATMAG: How to transform carbon dioxide in methane

With nanoparticles heated by magnetic induction, Dr. Bruno Chaudret from the Laboratory of Physics and Chemistry of Nano-Objets (1) in Toulouse discovered a new method for the synthesis of methane from carbon dioxide. With two patents and a collaboration with the company LEAF (2) the technology is now ready to enter into the pre-industrial stage.

(1) Laboratoire de Physique et Chimie des Nano-Objets (LPCNO), CNRS/INSA Toulouse/UPS.
(2) Société LEAF, Ecoparc Technowest, 17 rue du Commandant Charcot, 33290 Blanquefort.

Published on January, 18 2016. Article from the CNRS’ website. Source

1.5- France to build new "Louvre of the grape vine" to safeguard world wine gene pool

France to build new "Louvre of the grape vine" to safeguard world wine gene pool
France is to build a new “Louvre of the grape vine” to house over half of the world’s grape varieties in a bid to safeguard wine diversity for future generations. The country first started trying to safely store the world’s grape vines in the mid-19th century in the wake of the Phylloxera plague of aphids that wiped out many of the country’s grape-growing plants. In 1949, the plants were taken to the Domaine de Vassal, a spit of sandy land on the southern coast between Agde and Sète immune from pest attack.
Each year, some 80 new varieties were added and today it is home to 7,500 types from 54 countries.

Published on January, 21 2016. Article from the Telegraph’s website. Source

1.6- Blue biotechnologies: what is in the store for marine resources?

The association AgroBiotech organizes a symposium on February 4, 2016 from 9:30am to 5:30pm (16 rue Claude Bernard, Paris 5ème, Amphitéatre Coléou) covering the topic “Blue biotechnologies: what is in the store for marine resources?”. This symposium will display several conferences and will conclude with a round table. All are welcome but registration is mandatory.

More information and registration on AgroBiotech website


2- Health & Society

2.1- Global food security impacted by the lack of pollinating insects

Crops pollinated by insects provide more than a third of our food worldwide. An international team involving INRA du centre Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (French National Institute for Agricultural Research) reveals that by increasing the number and the diversity of pollinators insects the yield of many species could grow more than 20% on average. This study conducted over 12 countries during 5 years was published in Science on January 22, 2016. This work highlights the link between the improvement of the global food security and the protection of the biodiversity.

Published on January, 25 2016. Article from the Inra’s website. Source

2.2- The partnership between IFCE and INRA, an asset for the French equine research

On Monday, January 4, 2016, the agreement between the IFCE (
French Institute for Horse and Riding) and INRA was renewed for a 4-years period. This renewal was a great opportunity to discuss about the collaboration between these two organizations. Since the first convention established in 2006, the cooperation has been considered as very positive by both institutes.

If you want to find out more information about this cooperation please visit the IFCE’s website

Published on January, 20 2016. Article from the Inra’s website. Source

2.3- A pain killing intestinal bacteria

While the intestinal bacteria Faecalibacterium prausnitzii is abundantly present in healthy people, its quantity decreases during chronic intestinal inflammatory diseases. A research team from Inra (French National Institute for Agricultural Research), Inserm (French National Institute for Health and Medical Research) and the Université d’Auvergne (University of Clermont-Ferrand) highlights the analgesic properties of this bacteria. In addition to the known anti-inflammatory effects of F. prausnitzii, the results published in Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group) on January 18, 2016 confirm the bacteria’s good potential for human health and well-being.

Inra press release, January 19, 2016 - source

2.4- Life expectancy dropped for the first time in France since 1969

Observation of the French demographic trend by INSEE (National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies) was published in the “2015 report” last week. The study unveils a loss of 0,3 year of life expectancy for men and 0,4 year for women. For the institute this loss is linked to a significant increase in mortality coupled to a decline in fertility between 2014 and 2015.

Published on January, 19 2016. Article from the Liberation’s website. Source

2.5- Anti-parasitic drugs: humans and animals united in the same fight

Intestinal, pulmonary and cutaneous parasites plague both humans and animals. The 2015 Nobel Prize for Medicine awarded the development of new medicines to fight parasites in man, while INRA and the French national veterinary school of Toulouse have joined forces to find solutions for animal health. Their work is a shining example of the “One Health” initiative: one medicine, one health for all.

Published on January, 21 2016. Article from the Inra’s website. Source


3- Research and Education

3.1- International call for candidates to head 4-year group within the Institut Pasteur International Network

Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF) and Institut Pasteur are jointly launching an international call for applications for future leaders of 4-Year Groups (G4) within the Institut Pasteur International Network, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. This follows the signing of a partnership agreement on 26 November 2015. Closing date for applications: 31 March 2016.

For more information, please visit Institut Pasteur website

3.2- Cats were domesticated in China earlier than 3000 BC

Were domestic cats brought to China over 5 000 years ago? Or were small cats domesticated in China at that time? There was no way of deciding between these two hypotheses until a team from the ’Archéozoologie, Archéobotanique: Sociétés, Pratiques et Environnements’ laboratory (CNRS/MNHN), in collaboration with colleagues from the UK and China, succeeded in determining the species corresponding to cat remains found in agricultural settlements in China, dating from around 3500 BC. All the bones belong to the leopard cat, a distant relation of the western wildcat, from which all modern domestic cats are descended. The scientists have thus provided evidence that cats began to be domesticated in China earlier than 3000 BC. This scenario is comparable to that which took place in the Near East and Egypt, where a relationship between humans and cats developed following the birth of agriculture. Their findings are published on 22 January 2016 in the journal PLOS ONE.

Published on January, 22 2016. Article from the CNRS’s website. Source

3.3- SnailAnalyser-Tuner : visualize sounds and tune instruments precisely and intuitively

A novel process for analyzing and visualizing sound has been designed by the Laboratoire Sciences et Technologies de la Musique et du Son (CNRS/IRCAM/French Ministry of Culture and Communication/Pierre and Marie Curie University (UPMC)). The SnailAnalyser-Tuner is a patented CNRS technology that offers novel ways of tuning a musical instrument, working on intonation, and visualizing music and sounds in real time. Beyond the marked scientific advance that it constitutes, this software program is innovative for musicians and all those who work with sound. It is suitable for both amateurs and professionals. It will be launched on January 21, 2016 and will be presented in Paris at the Salon Musicora on February 6-7, 2016 .

Published on January, 21 2016. Article from the CNRS’s website. Source

3.4- How ants self-organize to build their nests

Ants collectively build nests whose size can reach several thousand times that of individual ants and whose architecture is sometimes highly complex. Their ability to coordinate several thousand individuals when building their nests remains a mystery. To understand the mechanisms involved in this process, researchers from CNRS, Université de Toulouse and Université de Nantes combined behavioral analysis, 3D imaging and computational modeling techniques. Their work shows that ants self-organize by interacting with the structures they build thanks to the addition of a pheromone to their building material. This chemical signal controls their building activity locally and determines the shape of the nest. Its breakdown over time and due to environmental conditions also enables the ants to adapt the shape of their nests. This work is published in PNAS on 18 January 2016.

Published on January, 18 2016. Article from the CNRS’s website. Source

3.5- Curiosity is not a "bad" defect in mice

When an unexpected event occurs, it is often necessary to act, even if one does not control all of the consequences. According to scientists in the Laboratoire Neurosciences Paris-Seine (CNRS/UPMC/INSERM), mice will display their curiosity in a situation of uncertainty: they tend to explore their environment in order to comprehend it better. As a step on from this, the scientists have demonstrated the crucial role of acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter) in modulating these behaviors. Their findings may help us to clarify our understanding of certain psychiatric disorders. They were published on 18 January 2016 on the Nature Neuroscience’s website.

Published on January, 18 2016. Article from the CNRS’s website. Source

3.6- Call for Abstracts BIO/ICT ASIA 2016 Regional Workshop

Academy of Sciences of Malaysia, French MOFAID-UNESCO of Jakarta, the French Embassy in Malaysia, the University Malaya, the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the Malaysia France University Centre are pleased to invite submission of abstracts for BIO/ICT-Asia 2016 Workshop to be held on 30-31 May 2016 at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

News published on the website of the Consulate General of France in Hong Kong and Macau, January 25, 2016 - source

3.7- An oxygen mask to prevent sequelae from stroke?

And if a simple oxygen mask were to protect people from neurological sequelae following an acute stroke? It would be sufficient to administer it to patients during the interval needed by medical teams to restore the blood supply, and hence oxygen, to the brain. At any rate, this is the hypothesis formulated by Prof. Jean-Claude Baron, Inserm Research Director at Unit 894 “Psychiatry and Neurosciences Research Center” (Inserm/University Paris 5) in collaboration with English and German researchers. Work done in animals so far shows that this very simple intervention almost completely prevents neuronal loss, and completely prevents sensorimotor deficits following a stroke. Results of this work have been published in Brain.

French National Institute for Health and Medical Research (Inserm) press release, January 15, 2016 - source

3.8- CEA: Irtelis 2016 competition to fund PhD projects in Life Sciences

Each year, approximately 20 students benefit from research training contracts (CFR) for a period of three years, funded by the CEA (French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission). These students are recruited through an international competition named “Irtelis”. This year, 37 PhD projects proposals are included in the Irtelis 2016 competition.

Calendar for the Irtelis competition:
End of January – March 2016: online submission of application files
April 2016: pre-selection of candidate files by an internal jury
May 2016: interviewing of preselected candidates

For more information, please visit CEA website

3.9- Polycystic ovarian syndrome: an unprecedented brain mechanism

The most frequent common female fertility impairment, the polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), was considered until now as only affecting ovaries. Researchers from Inserm/Université de Lille and New Zealand (University of Otago School of Medical Sciences) show that PCOS would also involve the brain, with an overexcitation of neurons located in the hypothalamus due to the ovarian hormone: the anti-mullerian hormone (AMH). This discovery, published in Nature Communications, could pave the way to new therapeutic strategies. Dr. Paolo Giacobini who led this research intends to file a patent to protect this new approach.

French National Institute for Health and Medical Research (Inserm) press release, January 20, 2016 - source

3.10- French Start-Up: How to produce light without electricity

The French company Glowee which won the competition Genopole 2015 with his bright idea: “using luminescent properties of squid to produce light without electricity”, will participate in the contest “La Fabrique Aviva” and hopes to raise € 50,000 (420 000 HKD) to fund its acceleration.
You can register and vote for the project in the La Fabrique’s website

Published on January, 20 2016. Article from the Genopole’s website. Source


4- Technology & Transport

4.1- France’s Sigfox brings its IoT network to … Antarctica

France’s Sigfox, which operates a low-powered communications network for smart devices, announced today that it will be expanding its network to the Belgian polar-exploration station. The goal is to: “strengthen safety and security during research operations at the Antarctica expedition, which is underway now,” according a press release. Sigfox, based in Toulouse, France, partners with telecom operators to create a network that carries short signals from smart devices over long ranges. The messages are transmitted in short bursts and small packets, which allows the connected devices to run on low battery power for extended periods.

Published on January, 16 2016. Article from the Venturebeat’s website. Source

4.2- A new hydrogen flame without any carbon

The french company Bulane led by Dr. Nicolas Jerez and his team have developed a new high temperature flame using hydrogen. Instead of using fossil gas as usual, the company is using the electrolysis of water. This high precision flame is carbon-free is welcomed by the aerospace industry. This innovation was developed in cooperation with the The National Center for Scientific Research.

Published on January, 19 2016. Article from the aeromorning’s website. Source

4.3- Half of the streets in Paris will be limited to 30 km/h by the end of 2016.

Half of the streets in Paris will be limited to 30 km / h by the end of 2016, Said Tuesday Mrs. Anne Hidalgo (PS). This decrease in speed limit from 50 km / h to 30 km / h has been ongoing since 2001 and will cover the entire city by 2020 in order to decrease the air pollution level.

Published on January, 26 2016. Article from the 20 minutes’s website. Source

publié le 29/01/2016

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