Scientific Watch N°8 - From 08/04/2016 to 22/04/2016

Please find every other two weeks a small Scientific Watch regarding cultural and scientific activities in France. [2016-N°8 from 08/04/2016 to 22/04/2016]

From 08/04/2016 to 22/04/2016

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- In Ile-de-France 1.5 million people are exposed to high pollution

More than 1.5 million Parisians are still exposed to “high” pollution levels, if not “very high”. Taking stock of air quality in Ile-de-France Friday 8th April 2015, the regional agency AirParif reiterated the importance of the fight against chronic pollution. "The warm winter temperatures in particular limited the use of heating. The latter is still the cause of 20 to 25% of emissions of particles and nitrogen dioxide in Ile-de-France”, notes Karine Léger, engineer at AirParif.

Published on April 08, 2016. Article from the website - Source

1.2- Tara PACIFIC 2016-2018: Coral reefs biodiversity facing climate change

The research schooner Tara will leave it home harbour of Lorient on May 28th 2016 for a new expedition in the Asian Pacific. The boat will navigate nearly 100,000 km around the Pacific Ocean for more than two years. The interdisciplinary team of scientists aboard, coordinated by the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the Scientific Centre of Monaco (CSM), will examine in a new way the biodiversity of coral reefs and their evolution in response to climate change and human activities. This adventure is sponsored by the CNRS, PSL Research University, the French Atomic Energy Commission, the Chemical Sciences Institute of Rennes and many other public and private partners.

Published on April 14, 2016. Article from CNRS’ website - Source

1.3- A major innovation for the in-depth treatment of timber

After six years of research, researchers from the INRA-INPT-ENSIACET (National Institute of Agricultural Research) unit in Toulouse, and R&D teams at Lapeyre, have developed a revolutionary treatment for construction timber. The Wood Protect® process, patented by Lapeyre and the Toulouse National Polytechnic Institute (INPT), protects timber in-depth against external attack, while endowing it with an unequalled stability and lifespan. This innovative treatment is based on a chemical process which uses natural and non-toxic reagents. It thus naturally takes part of the new high priority objective for research : developing the "green chemistry", which consists in creating more environmentally-friendly chemical products, notably using agricultural resources.

Published on April 18, 2016. Article from Inra’s website - Source

1.4- A new international project to monitor and protect surface drinking water sources in Africa

The WaSAF (Protecting surface water sources in Africa) programme was launched on February 8th 2016 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. This joint international programme, which is led by INRA (National Institute of Agricultural Research) and brings together several French and African institutes and universities, aims to implement monitoring, management and sustainable protection of surface drinking water sources in Africa.

Published on April 13, 2016. Article from Inra’s website - Source

1.5- Critical meeting regarding the construction of a French nuclear plant in the UK

On Wednesday 20 April 2016, Mr. François Hollande (French President), Mr. Manuel Valls (Prime Minister), Mr. Jean-Marc Ayrault (Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development), Mr. Emmanuel Macron (Minister of the Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs), Mr. Michel Sapin (Minister of Finance) and one counselor of Mrs. Ségolène Royal (Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy) meet to arbitrate the two nuclear power plants construction project in the UK (Hinkley Point) by EDF (state-owned electricity company). They have to decide whether the company should or should not build the two EPRs (European Pressurized Reactors or Evolutionary Power Reactor), and, accordingly, provide an adequate funding plan. This project, a partnership between the UK government, EDF and China General Nuclear (CGN), would cost EDF 24 billions of euros (around 210 billions HKD).

Published on April 19, 2016. Article from RFI’s website - Source

1.6- Biomass: on-hand green gold

In the race for renewable resources, biomass could have an important role to play. Biomass includes organic matter derived from living organisms, especially plants, which have more to offer than it seems. Learn more on the challenges and limitations of using the biomass by reading the interview of Dr. Patrick Navard, researcher in materials sciences at Mines ParisTech. He gave a talk at the symposium "Materials: realities and new frontiers" organized by the Institut Mines-Télécom on 30 and 31 March 2016.

Published on April 18, 2016. Article from the Institut Mines-Telecom’s website “Recherche & Innovation” - Source

1.7- Sponsor a Parisian beehive!

The environmental association Bee Happy.Miel producing honey in the Parisian region is launching a beehives sponsorship program to support their business. By becoming a partner, you can, appear in the "Partners" section of Bee Happy.Miel’s website, benefit from French tax deductions (66% of the amount of donations) and quote Bee Happy.Miel on all your communication materials.

More information on Bee Happy.Miel’s website - Source


2- Health & Society

2.1- TOP 20 employers “Trendence”

LVMH, Airbus , L’Oreal, Danone ... These companies are again ranked this year at the top of the much dreamed about top 20 employers Trendence. If you are more interested in the job than in the salary, you are looking for a good balance of your work and your personal life and you are fighting for equal opportunities : these companies are made for you.
Should we see a crisis effect or renewed tricolor values ​​among French young graduates since the Paris attacks ? According to the 2016 barometer of the German Institute Trendence published from data collected from 200 establishments, French companies are, this year especially, the favorite ones among young French graduates.

Published on April 12, 2016. Article from the website "L’étudiant" Source

2.2- Award “ Bull Fourier 2015”

The price “Bull-Joseph Fourier 2015” has been awarded to two different teams for their significant contribution in developing new simulation methods in the fields of medicine and materials. It has been delivered on April 12 by Catherine Rivière, CEO of GENCI and Philippe Vannier, Executive Director, Big Data and Security at the Atos Technology Group.
First prize : Faster diagnostics of stroke
Second prize : Revolutionize the development of new materials

Published on April 13, 2016. Article from the website "Palmarès Bull Fourier 2015" Source

2.3- The first British patient to have surgery in France funded by the NHS

Last year, the Centre Hospitalier de Calais (Pas de Calais, France) won the right to provide services for NHS (British National Health Service) patients, signing an agreement with the South Kent Coast NHS whereby patients would travel at their own expense to France but with the health service covering the cost of the surgery. A British man will become the first NHS patient to undergo surgery at a Calais hospital, under the new scheme that saw his waiting time for the procedure reduced from nearly 10 months to a few weeks.

Published on April 14, 2016. Article from - Source


3- Research and Education

3.1- Malaria : a new route of access to the heart of the parasite

Scientists have just identified an Achilles heel in the parasite that causes malaria, by showing that its optimum development is dependent on its ability to expropriate RNA molecules in infected cells – a host-pathogen interaction that had never previously been observed. Although the precise function of this deviation remains mysterious, these findings open new perspectives for the targeted delivery of therapeutic agents within the parasite. This study, performed by the CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research) laboratory Architecture et Réactivité de l’ARN (Strasbourg), in collaboration with the Malaria Infection and Immunity Unit at Institut Pasteur (Paris), was published in PNAS the week of April 11th 2016.

Published on April 11, 2016. Article from CNRS’ website - Source

3.2- An invisible system to rescue the heart

Heart failure affects over one million people in France. Although the blood system is the first to have been explored for the purpose of improving heart function, a study by Inserm (French Institute for Health and Medical Research) has revealed the potential of a secondary system that had previously received scant attention. The researchers analysed the heart lymphatic system in an animal model. They showed that this system was highly impaired following a myocardial infarction. Using a biotherapy based on the injection of innovative microparticles, they succeeded in regenerating lymphatic vessels in a targeted manner. This treatment promotes lymphatic drainage, thus limiting post-infarct oedema and inflammation. Heart function is thereby improved. These results are published in the journal Circulation.

Published on April 11, 2016. Article from Inserm website - Source

3.3- Jumping genes: all guilty?

Transposable elements, also known as “jumping genes” are DNA fragments that can move or copy themselves from one location to another on the chromosomes. They have invaded the genomes of most living organisms, from bacteria to humans. This phenomenon contributes to the evolution and adaptation of species. One of the main problems raised by the study of “jumping genes” is related to their extremely repetitive nature. Through a new approach, published in the open-access journal eLife (March 26, 2016), involving high-throughput sequencing, genomics, epigenomics and bioinformatics, the team led by Dr. Gaël Cristofari, Inserm Research Fellow, and his collaborators at Unit 1081, “Institute for Research on Cancer and Aging” (IRCAN) in Nice has succeeded in measuring the activity of the “jumping genes” in normal and cancer cells with unprecedented resolution. According to their results, only a small number of copies are really guilty: those located in permissive regions of our chromosomes. And these regions vary depending on the type of cell. Furthermore, all these active copies are not present in all individuals.

Published on April 19, 2016. Article from Inserm website - Source

3.4- The budget dedicated to the research in France will be increased by 20% in 2017

To mark the 10th anniversary of the ANR (French National Research Agency), the French Secretary of State for Higher Education M. Thierry Mandon has confirmed the announcement made by the President Francois Hollande in March 2016 at the inauguration of the Pierre-Gilles de Gennes Institute in Paris to increase by 20% the budget allocated to the public research in France.

Published on April 07, 2016. Article from the website "Scienceetavenir" Source

3.5- Nanoporous material’s strange "breathing" behavior

High-tech sponges of the infinitely small, nanoporous materials can capture and release gaseous or liquid chemicals in a controlled way. A team of German researchers from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie and French researchers from the Institut de Recherche de Chimie of Paris (CNRS/Chimie ParisTech -French National Center for Scientific Research) and the Institut Charles Gerhardt de Montpellier (CNRS/Université de Montpellier/ENSCM) has developed and described one of these materials, DUT-49, whose behavior is totally counterintuitive. When pressure is increased for a sample of DUT-49 to absorb more gas, the material contracts suddenly and releases its contents—as if, when inhaling, the lungs contracted and expelled the air that they contained. This work, published in Nature on April 6, 2016, makes it possible to envisage innovative behavior in materials science.

Published on April 06, 2016. Article from the website "CNRS" Source

3.6- Origin of life : an artificial comet holds the missing piece

Researchers have for the first time shown that ribose, a sugar that is one of the building blocks of genetic material in living organisms, may have formed in cometary ices. To obtain this result, scientists at the Chemical Institute of Nice (CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research)/Université Nice Sophia Antipolis) carried out a highly detailed analysis of an artificial comet created by their colleagues at the Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale (CNRS/Université Paris-Sud). Along with other teams, including one at the SOLEIL synchrotron (Saint-Aubin, France), they propose the first realistic scenario for the formation of this key compound, which had never been detected in meteorites or cometary ices until now. Their findings, which shed new light on the emergence of life on Earth, are published in the journal Science dated 8 April 2016.

Published on April 07, 2016. Article from the website "CNRS" Source

3.7- PICS Programs

The International Scientific Cooperation Project (PICS) is a scientific project jointly established by two research teams, one from the CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research) and another from abroad. The program aims at consolidate a cooperation with a foreign partner over a period of three years. The PICS allows a team from a laboratory affiliated with the CNRS to receive additional funds (usually between 5 000 and 7 000 € per year) to finance missions, seminars and meetings.
Applications must be submitted by June 02, 2016.

More information on the CNRS’ website

3.8- The limits of precision monomer placement in chain growth polymerization

Strategies have been developed to allow the synthesis of new polymers with a large structural complexity. But how can we accurately control the arrangement of monomers to create the final object? This question raised by researchers from the Laboratory of molecular interactions and photochemical reactivity (CNRS-French National Center for Scientific Research / University of Toulouse), the Warwick University (UK) and the University of New South Wales (Australia), has found some answers in an article published on February 01, 2016 in Nature Communications.

Published on April 13, 2016. Article from the website "CNRS" Source

3.9- A breakthrough step in understanding the mechanisms of inflammatory skin diseases

Skin ensures a vital function as a barrier for the body. Dysfunction of this protection leads to various pathologies. Mei Li’s team at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cell Biology and the "Institut clinique de la souris” (University of Strasbourg/Inserm (French National Institute of Health and Medical Research)/CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research) in collaboration with researchers from the University of Toulouse III, have highlighted that inhibition of interleukin 1β reduced immune responses involved in inflammation of the skin. These results were published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Article from the website "CNRS" Source


4- Technology & Transport

4.1- A french rescue - drone

Two French entrepreneurs, Eric Flambard and Fabien de Varenne, have devoted their energy to the creation of the first rescue maritime drone. This new boat aims to save lives from drowning by faster speed-rescue.

Published on April 07, 2016. Article from the website "Ouest-France" Source

4.2- French shipyards on a rise

STX shipyards of Saint-Nazaire are booming. The company MSC Cruises has just ordered the construction of 4 new ships and plan to invest more than 4 billion euros on shipyards.

Published on April 06, 2016. Article from the website "Ouest-France" Source

4.3- A Virtual Simulator for Emergency Response Teams

In extreme situations, such as war or following a terrorist attack, first-aiders are subjected to levels of stress that can affect the quality of the care that they provide to the injured. A multidisciplinary research team has developed a virtual simulator to help the fire service and military doctors cope with this type of crisis. The French researchers has been working for nearly a year on this new type of simulator as part of the VICTEAMS project (Virtual Characters for team Training: Emotional, Adaptive, Motivated and Social). Co-funded by the ANR (French National Research Agency) and the DGA (Direction Generale de l’Armement), the project was launched in 2014 and will be completed in 2019. It is also backed by the Picardie Region and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Published on April 13, 2016. Article from the website "CNRS News" Source

4.4- Diesel: not a single manufacturer meets the norms

Builders can no longer deny that their cars pollute. Tests of fifty-two vehicles were presented on Thursday April 7th to the independent commission launched by Mrs. Ségolène Royal (Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy), following the Volkswagen scandal, to assess the emission performance of diesel engines marketed in France.
Analysis of these results show that, in actual driving conditions, all cars exceed the allowed emissions standards. Of the fifteen evaluated brands, Peugeot and BMW are among the least worst. Renault and Opel are, meanwhile, lagging behind.

Published on April 08, 2016. Article from the website - Source

publié le 21/04/2016

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