Scientific Watch N°9 - From 22/04/2016 to 06/05/2016

From 22/04/2016 to 06/05/2016

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- Significant Atmospheric Boundary Layer Change Observed above an Agulhas Current Warm Cored Eddy

The air-sea impact of a warm core eddy ejected from the Agulhas Retroflection region South of Africa was assessed through both ocean and atmospheric profiling measurements during the austral summer. The presence of the eddy causes dramatic atmospheric boundary layer deepening, exceeding what was measured previously over such a feature in the region. This deepening seems mainly due to the turbulent heat flux anomaly above the warm eddy inducing extensive deep and persistent changes in the atmospheric boundary layer thermodynamics. The loss of heat by turbulent processes suggests that this kind of oceanic feature is an important and persistent source of heat for the atmosphere.

Original article published on the Ifremer website, 2016. Source

1.2- Green Rivers

On monday April 25, 2016, rivers from several French departments have been affected by an awareness action conducted by NGOs (ex: FEETS-FO). By spilling a green natural dye into rivers the group is seeking to denounce the lack of financial resources for environmental protection.

Original article published on the Le Figaro website April 25, 2016. Source

1.3- Argos reveals some secrets of wildlife

Every day a million messages are transmitting through Argos - british company, sensors deployed in land, ice or in the ocean. Over the last 30 years, the system has accumulated a lot of information on wildlife species habits but also on the evolution of our planet. This study was conducted by the The “Centre national d’études spatiales (CNES)”.

Original article published on the Futura Science website May 01, 2016. Source


2- Health & Society

2.1- The Lancet publishes a special issue, “France: from social security to global health”

The British medical journal The Lancet has published on May 2, 2016, a special issue entitled “France: from social security to global health”. This issue addresses the French healthcare system contribution to the advent of a universal social protection cover and the role of France in health diplomacy. The publication of this issue led to a presentation in Paris, in the presence of Marisol Touraine, French Minister of Social Affairs and Health, and Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet.

Original article published on Institut Pasteur’s website on May 2, 2016. Source

2.2- Researchers provide guidance on criteria to identify Endocrine Disruptors in the context of European legislation

The European Commission is legally required to provide criteria identifying (Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs), a process that has been blocked for almost three years, allegedly because of a lack of scientific consensus and because an impact assessment study was deemed necessary. Now, a group of 7 independent researchers* from universities and research institutions from Europe and the United States show how little controversy there is around the definition of EDCs, and that the simple logic used for the identification and regulation of carcinogens can be used for EDCs. The study is published this Monday as a commentary in the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

* Including Inserm and Univ. Grenoble Alpes, IAB joint research center, Team of Environmental Epidemiology, Grenoble, France and UMR CNRS/MNHN 7221, Dept. RDDM, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, 75005 Paris, France.

Original article published on the Inserm website April 25, 2016. Source

2.3- Major French research studies in Biology presented by their authors in 2016

The Academy of Sciences invites young researchers / first authors who contributed to the great French scientific advances in biology, to present their studies at the “Institut de France”. Winners will be awarded by the prize of the “Académie des Sciences Grandes avancées françaises en biologie.”

Public session will be held from 02:30pm in the Great Hall of the (“Institut de France - Registration”.

Registration required by the June 20, 2016.

2.4- Flying bacterias for measuring air pollution

Genetically modified bacteria carried by a drone to measure the air pollution but also to map neighborhood in 3D. This ambitious project named “Quantifly” initiated by students from the Ionis-STM (Ionis-School of Technology & Management du Kremlin-Bicêtre, France) aims to find a to modify the genome of bacteria to make them detect pollutants as Volatile organic compounds, benzene, toluene... Partnerships with industry are currently discussed.

Original article published on the Futura Science website May 02, 2016. Source

2.5- How Asthma has become the leading chronic disease among children

In twenty years, the number of asthmatics has increased by over 40% among teenagers worldwide. According to WHO (World Health Agency), every ten minutes a future asthmatic borns in a developing country. 300,000 deaths are also attributed to the disease each year worldwide. The exposure to phthalate, tobacco and a bad alimentation are contributing to the development of asthma.

Original article published on, May 03, 2016 - Source or the WHO website.

2.6- Sleeping and immunity

According to an epidemiological study conducted over four years, poor sleeping quality is increasing susceptibility to infections, particularly those due to parasites and fungi. Indeed, among the 9 294 persons followed in this study, those who reported poor sleep quality were more often treated with antiparasitic and antifungal drugs than others. These results support the common hypothesis that sleeping help the immune system to function and recover.

Original article published on the Inserm website April 27, 2016. Source

2.7- Link between endometriosis and miscarriage

Responding to the 12th European endometriosis awareness week (12-19 March 2016), a study led by Dr. Pierre-Yves Ancel and Dr. Charles Chapron (Inserm/CNRS/université Paris Descartes, Institut Cochin) on 750 women shows that this neglected gynecological pathology causing inflammatory lesions significantly increases miscarriage risks.

Original article published on the Inserm website, May 03, 2016 - Source

2.8- Gender pay gap: one cannot see the wood for the trees

Discrimination against women in labour market takes place from the recruitment process. David Masclet, researcher at the “Economy & Management Research Centre” (CNRS/Université Caen Normandie/Université Rennes 1), is interviewed in CNRS news: he explains this phenomenon from the experimental economy point of view and comes back on the sexism vicious circle set up by education.

Original article published on CNRS News, April 28, 2016 - Source


3- Research and Education

3.1- Crohn’s disease: towards a new way to reduce intestinal inflammation

In Clermont-Ferrand (Puy-de-Dôme, France), researchers (M2iSH, unité 1071 Inserm/Inra/Université d’Auvergne) have discovered the major way in which intestinal epithelial cells defend against bacteria, AIEC (Adherent-Invasive Escherichia coli), involved in Crohn’s disease. Overrepresented among approximately 40% of patients, this strain causes and maintains a major inflammatory response contributing to the development of the disease. The research team has shown that stimulating a specific signaling pathway used by epithelial cells to trigger autophagy prevents AIEC to proliferate and therefore limits inflammation.

Original article published on the Inserm website April 20, 2016. Source

4- Malaria: a common vector between apes and humans

Researchers from the IRD (“Institut de Recherche pour le Développement”, the French research institute for development), the CNRS (the French National Center for Scientific Research) and International Medical Research Centre (CIRMF - Gabon) conducted an extensive study in the Gabon’s forests. Their goal: Identify mosquito species involved in the transmission of malaria in apes in Central Africa. Scientists have identified three mosquitoes infecting both gorillas and chimpanzees, but also humans. This work, published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” on April 11, 2016, is confirming the potential transfer of the disease from one species to another.

Original article published on the IRD website April 25, 2016. Source

4.1- Reduce the carbon footprint of food, but not at any price!

How can the carbon footprint of our food habits be reduced while still maintaining nutritionally adequate and acceptable diets in cultural and economic terms? With sustainable diets in mind, The National Agricultural Research Institute (INRA) researchers teamed up with Aix-Marseille University to show, via a study using models, that it is indeed possible to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining nutritional values. It all depends on smart food choices: more starchy foods, more fruits and vegetables, and less meat. Their findings have been published in Public Health Nutrition.

Original article published on Inra’s website April 29, 2016. Source

4.2- Giant plankton gains long-due attention

A team of marine biologists and oceanographers from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), Pierre and Marie Curie University (UPMC) and the German organization GEOMAR have revealed the importance in all the world’s oceans of a group of large planktonic organisms called Rhizaria, which had previously been completely underestimated. According to their findings, these organisms make up 33% of the total abundance of large zooplankton in the world’s oceans, and account for 5% of the overall marine biomass. The study was carried out on samples collected during eleven oceanographic campaigns (2008-2013) covering the world’s main oceanic regions, including the Tara Oceans expedition. It is published on 20 April 2016 on the website of the journal Nature (print edition 28 April ).

Original article published on the CNRS website April 21, 2016. Source

4.3- Binding to produce flowers

The LEAFY protein, a transcription factor responsible for flower development, is able to assemble itself in small chains made up of several proteins. This mechanism allows it to bind to and activate regions of the genome that are inaccessible to a single protein. These results were obtained by scientists in the Laboratoire de Physiologie Cellulaire Végétale (CNRS/Inra/Atomic Energy Agency / Grenoble-Alpes University) and the Institut de Biologie Structurale (CNRS/Inra/Atomic Energy Agency / Grenoble-Alpes University), working in collaboration with their international partners . Published on 21 April 2016 in Nature Communications, they open the way to new research opportunities regarding the regulation of gene expression.

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

4.4- A single-celled organism capable of learning

For the first time, scientists have demonstrated that an organism devoid of a nervous system is capable of learning. A team from the Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition Animale (CNRS/University of Toulouse) has succeeded in showing that a single-celled organism, the protist Physarum polycephalum, is capable of a type of learning called habituation. This discovery throws light on the origins of learning ability during evolution, even before the appearance of a nervous system and brain. It may also raise questions as to the learning capacities of other extremely simple organisms such as viruses and bacteria. These findings are published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B on 27 April 2016.

Original article published on the CNRS website April 21, 2016. Source

4.5- Although boiling, water does shape Martian terrain

At present, liquid water on Mars only exists in small quantities as a boiling liquid, and only during the warmest time of day in summer. Its role has therefore been considered insignificant until now. However, an international team including scientists from the CNRS, Université de Nantes and Université Paris-Sud and headed by Dr. Marion Massé, from the Laboratoire de Planétologie et Géodynamique de Nantes (CNRS/Université de Nantes) has now shown that even though water that emerges onto the surface of Mars immediately begins to boil, it creates an unstable, turbulent flow that can eject sediments and cause dry avalanches. The flow of small amounts of a boiling liquid therefore significantly alters the surface. The discovery of this exotic process, unknown on our planet, radically changes our interpretation of the Martian surface, making it difficult to undertake a direct comparison of flows on the Earth and on Mars. These findings are published on 2 May 2016 in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Original article published on the CNRS website May 02, 2016. Source

4.6- How can the onset of psychosis be explained?

A research team from Paris Descartes University, Inserm and Sainte-Anne Hospital, led by Professor Marie-Odile Krebs, has demonstrated that epigenetic modifications accompany the onset of a psychotic episode in a cohort of young at-risk people aged 15–25 years. These modifications compromise systems for responding to oxidative stress and inflammation. Through this new work, the researchers have shed new light on this disease, for which the main biological explanation, before now, was based on disruption of dopamine secretion in the brain. The study was published in Molecular Psychiatryon 26 April 2016.

Original article published on the inserm website April 26, 2016. Source

4.7- Call for nominations: Sanofi - Institut Pasteur Awards 2016

The Sanofi-Institut Pasteur 2016 Awards will honor four national and international scientists, whose outstanding research in life sciences is contributing to progress in global public health, specifically in the following fields: tropical and neglected diseases, immunology, drug resistance, neuroscience.

There will be three categories of awards:

- One International Senior award (€ 150 000)
- One International Mid-career award (€ 100 000)
Two National Junior awards (€ 75 000 each)

Deadline to submit nominations: Tuesday, 14th June, 2016

Awards Ceremony: Tuesday, 13th December 2016, in Paris

More information on Institut Pasteur’s website - Source

4.8- Call for films: 10th International Science & Film Festival

The association Polly Maggoo (Marseille, France )is launching the call for films for its 10th International Science & Film Festival (RISC).

RISC’s goals are to screen contemporary films and to provoke encounters between directors, scientists and a large audience, including the young one.
All genres of film (documentary, fiction, experimental, video art, animation, etc.), of any duration, whose subject is related to scientific topics (fundamental sciences, life sciences, environmental sciences, medicine, economics, architecture, urbanism, sociology, anthropology, etc.) can compete.

Preference shall be given to the most original cinematographic approaches. Deadline: 20 May 2016.

More information on Polly Maggoo’s website - Source

4.9- Oncology: Leopold Griffuel Prize 2016

Sponsored by the French Foundation for Cancer Research (ARC), the Griffuel Prize, most renowned European prize for cancer research, is designed to reward the accomplishments of 2 researchers of international renown. The 2 laureates this year are Dr. Michel Attal, hematologist, director of the “Institut Universitaire du Cancer de Toulouse”, and Dr. Olivier Delattre, pediatrician and oncologist, research director at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm).

Original article published on, May 03, 2016. Source


5- Technology & Transport

5.1- A Silicon Valley for Internet Of Things near Toulouse

The IOT Valley based near Toulouse just extended its surface by 3 000 square meters. This huge growth reflects the ambition of this French nursery: becoming a world leader for the Internet of Things.

Original article published on the Le Figaro website April 25, 2016. Source

5.2- ePrix of Paris: great success for electric cars

With more than 15 000 spectators, the ePrix, organized on Saturday 23 April in Paris at the “Esplanade des Invalides”, attracted a large audience charmed by electric race car. The electric car is primarily a vehicle for the city but tend to now extend to sport activities.

Original article published on the Futura Science website April 25, 2016. Source

5.3- 3D cell automation

CELENYS (French biotechnology company) presented 3D cell automation session at the ELRIGfr (non-profit focused on the use of automation, robotics and laboratory instrumentation and larger laboratory automation applications in a francophone environment) with HCS Pharma (French biotechnological start-up focused on in vitro preclinical research), on May 03-04, 2016, in Rennes, France.

More information on Celenys’ website - Source

publié le 06/05/2016

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