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News about research

  • Due to climate change and human activities, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for life in our seas and oceans to survive, and their ability to fulfil their important ecological functions is limited. This also applies to seagrasses, which are in decline around the world. Researchers at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel have discovered that seagrasses can recover, but that genetic variants are lost as a result. The right environmental factors, such as water and soil texture, are particularly important for this recovery.

  • To better understand the universe, it is crucial to gain more knowledge about the elementary particles such as electrons and quarks - and how they interact. Using Artificial Intelligence, Dr. Seth Moortgat, a scientist at the Interuniversity Institute for High Energies of the VUB and ULB, developed two innovative methods that were used at CERN. The first method makes it easier to identify different types of these quarks. The second method increases the sensitivity of the data analysis when comparing the results, allowing the theoretical models to be verified faster and possibly excluded.

  • The Oregon National Primate Research Center in Beaverton welcomes a baby monkey, called Grady. The birth of the monkey is not an ordinary one. She is the first primate born using sperm from a tissue-grafting technique. Researchers removed a tissue of the testicle of Grady’s father when he was young, afterwards it was grafted back onto his body. The technique is very hopeful for boys who need cancer treatments during a young age and might lose their fertility. Ellen Goossens, reproductive biologist at the VUB, says that the success is important for the field.

  • In April, it will be 300 years since Robinson Crusoe was published: the first British novel, which tells the story of an Englishman who becomes shipwrecked on a remote desert island and establishes a successful colony there. According to literary scientist Elisabeth Bekers, the book emphasises the superiority complex of the British Empire.

  • At the launch of the AI for Belgium Coalition - attended by European Vice-President of the European Commission Andrus Ansip and  Vice Prime Minister Alexander De Croo - Caroline Pauwels, rector of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and Pieter De Leenheer, cofounder of Belgium’s only unicorn company Collibra, unveiled their plans for a multidisciplinary AI Research Center, working in close collaboration with industry.

  • Volunteers play an important complementary role in palliative care. First, they have the time and space to ‘be there’ for the patient. They are also an important intermediary in the communication between patients, their families and care providers.

  • The European Directive 2001/18/EC sets rules for the deliberate release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). These rules require priorauthorization forreleasing GMOs in the environment for commercial or otherpurposes. The Directive makessuch authorization dependent of an assessment of risksthat suchGMOsmay present for human health and the environment and makes them subject to traceability, labelling and monitoring obligations.
  • Studying the climate of the past can teach us more about climate change today and in the future. Geologists normally use fossils, ice cores or sediments for these reconstructions – but for his doctorate under the guidance of Prof Philippe Claeys, Niels de Winter used modern oyster and mussel shells and teeth from horses. While the usual method only allows researchers to record fluctuations over long periods of time – thousands to millions of years – with this unusual comparative technique, de Winter could determine short-term to even seasonal differences in the geological past.

  • A European project led by Professor Joachim Cohen of the VUB research group End of Life Care will develop an application in the coming years to support people with cancer and their loved ones during the disease. Six European universities are participating in the development and testing of the app.

  • Het eerste grijze haartje spotten, het is voor veel mensen een regelrechte nachtmerrie waar ze liever niet op jonge leeftijd mee geconfronteerd willen worden. Maar hoe komt het precies dat sommigen al grijs worden op hun dertigste en anderen pas als ze gepensioneerd zijn? Volgens Jan Gutermuth, diensthoofd Dermatologie aan het UZ Brussel, spelen hier genetische factoren mee. “Voor mensen van Noord-Europese origine is het normaal om vanaf vijfendertig jaar grijs te worden.” Bovendien bestaat grijs haar niet eens.

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