Scientific Watch N°5 - From 26/02/2016 to 11/03/2016

Please find every other two weeks a small Scientific Watch regarding cultural and scientific activities in France. [2016-N°05 from 26/02/2016 to 11/03/2016]

From 26/02/2016 to 11/03/2016]

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- Impacts of underwater noise on marine life

The “Observatory of responsible innovation”, international think tank affiliated to the interdisciplinary Institute for Innovation (Ecole Polytechnique / French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) / MINES ParisTech / Telecom Paris) organizes a serie of lectures on the impacts of anthropogenic ocean noise on marine wildlife and possible solutions to overcome the problem. During the day of reflection organized on March 10, 2016, a press conference was scheduled at The MINES ParisTech.

Published on March 7, 2016. Article from CNRS’ website - source

1.2- ImpTrophies of the Air Liquide Foundation : the CNRS honored in Guyana

Led by Dr Emeline Houël in Guyana (UMR EcoFoG, French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) - University of French Guyana), the project "Insecticides " was awarded the Innovation Award of the Air Liquide Foundation on January 13, 2016. It rewards the work done in the Amazon on the identification of natural insecticides derived from molecules of plant origin in order to fight against mosquitoes and termites.

Published on January 28, 2016. Article from CNRS’ website - source

1.3- CNRS: Call for projects CAUSE 2016

The French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) launches the call for projects “CAUSE” aiming at the identification of teams likely to build innovative, integrative, collaborative and interdisciplinary research projects focused on analysis, criticism, and implementation of future energy scenarios. The integrative approaches will take into account technical, social, ethical, environmental, geopolitical and economic dimensions. Deadline for applications: March 17, 2016 (midnight in France).

More details and application information on CNRS’ website - source

1.4- Wood industry: the French Environment & Energy Management Agency presents plans to increase exploitation

The “ADEME” (French Environment & Energy Management Agency) has released tracks to increase the exploitation of available wood without endangering the French forest. To achieve this, it is essential to revitalize the wood industry in France.

Download the study on ADEME’s website - source


2- Health & Society

2.1- Zika: Confirmation of a causal link between the Zika virus and Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Using data collected in French Polynesia, researchers from the Institut Pasteur, the CNAM (Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers), the Institut Louis Malardé, the French Polynesia Hospital Centre and the Public Hospitals of Paris (AP-HP), have shown that infection by the Zika Virus (ZIKV) increases the likelihood of contracting Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), a severe form of limb paralysis that is often accompanied by respiratory impairment. GBS has been observed in countries where the Zika epidemic is prolific. The research has been published on February 29, 2016 in The Lancet.

Published on March 1, 2016. Article from Institut Pasteur’s website - source

2.2- International Zika Summit 2016, Institut Pasteur Paris, 25-26 April 2016

Organized by the Institut Pasteur, the French REACTing Group (Inserm, Research Institute for Development- IRD), the World Health Organization, the Wellcome Trust and the European Commission (other partners are currently being contacted), this summit will bring together scientists and public health professionals around the world working on Zika. The speed and extent of this outbreak, which the WHO declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, requires open collaborations between researchers, the public health community and the public. This meeting will provide a venue for open such discussions.

The conference will be open to all. Online registration mandatory.

More details and registration on the summit’s website - source

2.3- The reasons for the scope of the Zika epidemic better understood

Published on March 3, 2016 in the online journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, the work of a Franco-Brazilian team led by Dr Anna-Bella Failloux (Director of the Arboviruses and Insect Vectors Unit at the Institut Pasteur Paris) highlights the ineffectiveness of the two involved mosquito species to transmit the virus to human, compared to Chikungunya transmission. The extent of the current outbreak detected in May 2015 in Brazil would be attributable to the large size of the population with no immunity against the virus Zika and particularly exposed to the bites of mosquitoes living in their close environment.

Published on March 3, 2016. Article from - source

2.4- First case of acute myelitis in a patient infected with Zika virus

A first case of acute myelitis following infection with Zika virus has been reported for the first time by a research team from Inserm Unit 1127 at the Brain and Spinal Cord Institute (Inserm/CNRS/Sorbonne University) and neurologists at Pointe-à-Pitre University Hospital and the University of the Antilles. A young patient in the acute phase of an infection by Zika virus presented motor deficiency in the 4 limbs, associated with very intense pain and acute urinary retention. The presence of the virus was confirmed in the cerebrospinal fluid, blood and urine. This case was reported in a Case Report published in The Lancet on March 3, 2016.

Published on March 8, 2016. Article from CNRS’ website - source

2.5- Early and severe Parkinson’s disease: identification of a new gene involved

A new mutated gene involved in early and severe form of Parkinson’s disease has been identified. The protein it encodes, VPS13C, is essential for protecting neurons. Not only this discovery will improve understanding of the disease, but it does open up new therapeutic and diagnosis pathways to treat this disease.

Published on March 8, 2016. Article from Inserm’s’ website - source


3- Research and Education

3.1- First meeting between mathematicians and sport stakeholders in France

France has great sports champions and excellent mathematics. To join these two worlds, mathematicians organize an afternoon entitled "Mathematics and sport, what challenges for tomorrow? " on Tuesday, March 15 at the Institut Henri Poincaré (CNRS / Université Pierre et MArie Curie - UPMC) in Paris. The meeting will explain what mathematics can bring to the practice of high performance sports, and will aim at encouraging interdisciplinary collaborations.

Published on February 29, 2016. Article from CNRS’ website - source

3.2- Antibodies capable of eliminating HIV-infected cells

Researchers from the Institut Pasteur led by Dr Olivier Schwartz from the Virus and Immunity Unit, in collaboration with CNRS and Vaccine Research Institute (ANRS/Inserm) have recently shown that some effective antibodies recognize cells infected by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and trigger their destruction by the immune system. This discovery sheds new light on the mechanism of action of these specific antibodies, which are currently undergoing clinical trials. These findings were published in Nature Communications on March 3rd, 2016.

Published on March 3, 2016. Article from Institut Pasteur’s website - source

3.3- Cancer metastasis: it all depends on the patient’s immune response

The researchers from Unit 1138, “Integrative Cancer Immunology,” (Inserm, Pierre and Marie Curie and Paris Descartes Universities) have analysed the tumours from 838 patients with colorectal cancer, in order to identify markers for their metastatic potential. The genomic characteristics of the cancer cells seem to have little relevance. Conversely, lymphatic vascularisation around the tumour and the intensity of the patient’s immune response appear to be crucial, and might be used as markers to predict the progression of the disease. The article detailing these findings is published in Science Translational Medicine on 24 February 2016.

Published on February 25, 2016. Article from Inserm’s website - source

3.4- 30 small neurons join forces against pain

Oxytocin plays a crucial role in modulating the response to pain, but until now the process leading to its release was unknown. An international team, coordinated by Dr Alexandre Charlet, at the CNRS-Institut des Neurosciences Cellulaires et Intégratives in Strasbourg and Dr Valery Grinevich from the Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (German Cancer Research Center), has just identified a new pain control center situated in the hypothalamus. It comprises some thirty neurons that are wholly responsible for coordinating the release of oxytocin into the blood and spinal cord, thus reducing painful sensations. These findings, which open new perspectives in the treatment of pathological pain, are detailed in an article published on 3 March 2016 in Neuron.

Published on March 3, 2016. Article from CNRS’ website - source

3.5- Obesity: an epigenetic track to fight against weight gain and high cholesterol

The number of cases of obesity has doubled since 1980: in 2014, over 600 million adults were affected across the world. Causes are both environmental and genetic. Researchers from Inra (French National institute for agricultural research) led by Dr Hélène Bierne , in collaboration with colleagues from the Institut Pasteur, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm), the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the University of Cambridge (UK), have shown that a protein (BAHD1) is involved in cholesterol rate and weight gain regulation mechanisms by controlling the expression of genes by epigenetic phenomena. These results have been published on March 3, 2016 in the journal PLOS Genetics and could lead to new therapies against obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Published on March 4, 2016. Article from CNRS’ website - source

3.6- Great tilt gave Mars a new face

The surface of the planet Mars tilted by 20 to 25 degrees 3 to 3.5 billion years ago. This was caused by a massive volcanic structure, the Tharsis volcanic dome, which is the largest in the Solar System. The discovery of this huge shift changes our vision of Mars during the first billion years of its history. It also provides a solution to three puzzles: we now know why rivers formed where they are observed today; why underground reservoirs of water ice are located far from the poles of Mars; and why the Tharsis dome is today situated on the equator. These findings have been published on 2 March 2016 in the journal Nature by a mainly French team including researchers from Géosciences Paris Sud (CNRS/ Paris-Sud University), Géosciences Environnement Toulouse (CNRS/Toulouse III University / Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD)) and the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique (CNRS/École polytechnique/Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie-UPMC/ Ecole National Supérieur -ENS), together with a researcher from the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (University of Arizona, US).

Published on March 2, 2016. Article from CNRS’ website - source

3.7- MOOC new energy technology

How will the world meet the energy demands of future generations? If you have been asking yourself this question, then this MOOC is for you. This MOOC explores the new and upcoming energy technologies that may help solve some of the world’s biggest energy challenges.

Price : Free online training
From 6 weeks and 2 hours of work per week
Certificate of Participation

This MOOC was developed through the joint and collaborative efforts of two leading French “Grandes Ecoles” (Grenoble Ecole de Management and Grenoble INP) and Tenerrdis, the French leading energy cluster which joins together combining 200 energy firms and R&D labs. This MOOC was also made possible through the generous financial support and cooperation of major industry leaders in the global energy market such as Air Liquide, General Electric, Think Smart Grids and CNR.

Sing up here

3.8- A New Source of Quantum Light

A new ultra-bright source of single photons - 15 times brighter than commonly used sources and emitting photons that are 99.5% indistinguishable from one another - has been developed by researchers from the CNRS, Paris Diderot University, and Paris-Sud University. This feat was achieved thanks to the nanometrically-precise positioning of a quantum dot2 within an optical microcavity. Adding an electrical control to the device helped reduce the "noise" around the quantum dot, which generally renders photons different from one another. Obtained in collaboration with researchers from Brisbane (Australia), these results make it possible to conduct quantum computing of unprecedented complexity, a first step toward the creation of optical quantum computers. The results will be published in Nature Photonics on March 7, 2016.

Published on March 7, 2016. Article from CNRS’s’ website - source


4- Technology & Transport

4.1- 11th IEEE Nanotechnology Materials and Devices Conference (NMDC 2016)

NMDC 2016 is being held on 9-12 October in Toulouse, France.
IEEE NMDC is an international conference sponsored by IEEE Nanotechnology Council.

Please find more information in the following website

publié le 11/03/2016

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