Category Archives: academia

Biotechs and SMEs will be allocated 20% of the overall budget in the Horizon 2020 scheme

While the new 7-year funding scheme of EU, “Horizon 2020” will continue to fund excellent basic research (17% of the total budget), an effort is being made to attract small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to participate in research consortia. After a two-and-a-half-year negotiation, the European Council and the European Parliament reached an agreement (pending final sign-off) that SMEs will claim a 20% of the total budget  in an act that aims to boost European economy.

Open access publication of results of all research funded under Horizon 2020 will be mandatory and awards will be made within 8 months as opposed to 12 months, which is the current scheme.

Read more here.

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366 Days: The Year in Science

Read below the Science Review of 2012 by Nature Magazine, with Greece making it to the top 22 “leading science nations” with 1% of the ‘most cited papers’!

NATURE_2012-in-review

Higgs boson: Proton-proton collisions as measured by Cern

Also, read on Science Magazine’s Breakthrough of the Year 2012 (Higgs Boson) and the runners-up: Genome Engineering, Curiosity Landing, Bionics, Eggs from Stem Cells, Encode, X-ray laser advances and more!

http://www.sciencemag.org/site/special/btoy2012/

 

 

Celebrating Marie Curie

7 November 2011 is a special day for Chemistry. It marks the 144th anniversary of Marie Curie’s birthday; 2011 has been designated as the International Year of Chemistry (IYC) by IUPAC and UNESC.

And there’s even more: The IYC 2011 coincides with the 100th anniversary of Marie Curie’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry. France and Poland declared 2011 to be the Year of Marie Curie. To recognise her achievements, Marie Curie has been chosen as the symbol for this year’s 2011 IYC – to celebrate it Google has dedicated today its search page to Marie Curie.

Marie Curie is shown by Google at her work bench – indeed she is known for her vigorous passion for science, her hard work that led her to claim two Nobel prizes, and her enormous contributions to Chemistry and the fight against cancer. Her legacy is lived on in several academic institutions and charities such as the Marie Curie Cancer Care. Below are important facts about the “most inspirational woman in science”:

  • Marie Sklodowska Curie was born on 7 November 1867 in Warsaw.
  • She was awarded the 1903 Nobel prize in Physics, together with husband Pierre Curie and Henri Becquerel for her “researches on the radiation phenomena”.
  • On 8 Nov. 1911, she was awarded the 1911 Nobel prize in Chemistry for “the discovery of radium and polonium, the isolation of radium and the study of radium’s nature and compounds”.
  • In 1906 she became the first female Sorbonne Professor.

    Picture taken from RSC.org

  • She is the first of only two people ever to win the Nobel prize in multiple fields. She was also the first woman ever to win the Nobel Prize.
  • Curie promoted the use of the radioactivity for therapeutic purposes.
  • In 1914 she helped develop small, mobile X-ray units and joined the war front with her 17-year old daughter Irene to help wounded soldierslocate fractures, bullets, and shrapnel.
  • Her daughter Irene won the 1935 chemistry Nobel for her work on artificial radioactivity.
  • She founded the Curie Institutes in France and Poland, co-founded the Warsaw Radium Institute, and headed the Pasteur Institute.

Curie helped forever change how the world perceived women in science and set a shining example for the future generations of scientists in that rigorous and determined investigation can lead to remarkable discoveries.

7 November is also a very special day for me as it is also my own birthday. I am unbelievably honored to share a birthday with a female chemist of this caliber. I am continuously inspired by her lifelong dedication and contributions to science. As she very well put it:

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.
Marie Curie

The biography of Marie Curie was written by her daughter, Eve Curie. From Amazon.com:

This biography chronicles Curie’s legendary achievements in science, including her pioneering efforts in the study of radioactivity and her two Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry. It also spotlights her remarkable life, from her childhood in Poland, to her storybook Parisian marriage to fellow scientist Pierre Curie, to her tragic death from the very radium that brought her fame.

Below are some of the many events with which the IYC2011 has honored Marie Curie:

  • A Marie Curie inspired poster exhibition was held at the Research Centre for Materials Science, Nagoya University (July 21st -Aug 31st 2011) in collaboration with The Curie Museum and Curie Institute.
  • To celebrate her achievements, a re-enactment play inspired by the life of Marie Curie was performed at the IUPAC World Chemistry Congress in San Juan Puerto Rico by professional actress, Susan Frontczak, which was followed by the award ceremony for the 23 Distinguished Women in Chemistry/Chemical Engineering (August 2nd 2011)
  • The Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, CA is producing the world premiere of Radiance: The Passion of Marie Curie (Nov.1 through Dec. 11, 2011).
  • Marie Curie on Stamps Exhibition @ Postalia, Québec city 
  • 25 November 2011- MSC-100 closing celebration to be held at the Royal Castle in Warsaw.

George Whitesides on Entrepreneurship + Innovation = Jobs

The American Chemical Society (ACS) is the world’s largest scientific society with more than 161,000 members at all degree-levels and in all fields of chemistry, chemical engineering, and related fields. ACS provides a wealth of educational activities, which are mostly free and open to the public. Most importantly, they are interesting even for those who are not chemists! One of those activities is the “Virtual Career Fair”, where you can find webinars such as “Navigating the Global Industrial Job Market” and “Networking 101 — Making Your Contacts Count”. One of today’s webinars, entitled “Entrepreneurship + Innovation = Jobs” is given by Professor George Whitesides (Harvard University), a legendary innovator and pioneer, who has pioneered microfabrication and nanoscale self-assembly. One of his achievements is the “soft robot”, which is capable of gripping and lifting a raw egg without cracking its delicate shell (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., DOI: 10.1002/anie.201006464). The challenge was to find the right material that could be soft enough to treat delicate surfaces, such as an egg. You can read the full article from C& E News here.

EGG LIFT: A soft robotic gripper lifts a raw egg without damaging its shell. (Source: C&E News)

George Whitesides is the co-founder of a dozen companies and holds 50-plus patents. Definitely worth hearing from him about converting a great idea into a business.

From the American Chemical Society website on today’s webinar:

A recent ACS Task Force on Innovation report documented that most new jobs today and in the near future will be created by entrepreneurial start ups and small companies. Do you have an idea for a new product, service, or technology, but need help converting it into a business? Do you have a desire and the right stuff to be an entrepreneur? Plan to attend this webinar and receive valuable advice and direction from successful serial entrepreneur and Harvard University Professor George Whitesides. Whitesides recently chaired the ACS Task Force on Innovation, which was appointed by Joseph Francisco, 2010 ACS President and Professor of Chemistry at Purdue University. Whitesides and Francisco will provide valuable career advice for chemists at all stages in their careers, whether they are graduate students, postdocs, or seasoned professionals making a transition in this challenging economic job market. At this webinar, you will learn how ACS is working with U.S. policymakers, industry, academia, and its membership to support entrepreneurs and innovation to create jobs. You will learn about new ACS programs in entrepreneurship as well as specific steps that you can take now to develop the skills and find the resources needed to convert your innovative ideas into successful entrepreneurial ventures.

Enjoy.

Industry and academia tie the knot

When I was a student at the University of Athens in the late 90s, receiving funding from the Industry was almost unheard of. Although I was an undergrad at the time, I could see that the general Greek academic perception of collaborating with the Industry was viewed almost as the equivalent of a sell-out. Researchers considered teaming up with the Industry the betrayal of their academic purity.

When I was a student at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, things were different: A fair number of the lab’s grants stemmed from the Industry: the Volkswagen Foundation, BASF, Novartis, etc. and that was seen as an achievement. Our lab was not the only one to work with the Industry. It was a very common theme for Principal Investigators (PIs) in Germany to reach out to the Industry and big pharma, partner up, and exploit the best of both worlds.

When I was at Yale University, the situation was even better: It was now the Industry who reached out to us researchers. I was very fortunate to serve as the co-President of a very successful student society, the Yale Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Society (YBPS), now called Yale Healthcare and Life Sciences Club (YHLC). Industry sponsored our events and seminars, such as the “Life Sciences Case Competition”, the “Business of Biotechnology Seminar Series”, the “Healthcare Conference” and many others, in order to interact with us and possibly recruit students or form collaborations with research groups of the University.

When I arrived at the Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens in October 2009 as a faculty member, a pleasant surprise was awaiting me: The Greek General Secretariat for Research and Technology (GSRT) had just announced a grant call, named “Synergasia” (“Cooperation” in English), which aimed to enhance the ties and cultivate the collaboration between Greek Industry and Academia.

So times are changing. There is a new mindset in the academic world (at the very least in my area of expertise, drug discovery). Recent articles such as Nature’s Scibx, “Small (molecule) thinking in academia”, and “Partnering between pharma peers on the rise” of Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, explain how and why pharmaceutical–academia deals, such as the $100-million Pfizer pact with 8 academic Institutions from the Boston area, have been stealing headlines this year. In another recent brief mention in Nature, faculty members say that industry research has contributed to important work.

Life-science researchers in US universities receive $33,000 a year on average from the medical drug and device industry. […] More than half (51.9%) said they maintain a relationship with industry. The study found that such relationships provide significant benefits both to the researcher and to science. Among faculty members most involved with industry research, nearly half said it “contributed to their most important scientific work and led to research that would not otherwise have been possible”.

Exciting times. Still, challenges and caveats are obviously not absent. True collaborative environment between the partners, licensing/IP and publishing issues, technology transfer know-how, commercialization matters and different goals for each institution, are all issues that need to be seriously considered before teaming up in such consortia.

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