Europe's leading life science researchers are to convene for the first annual EuroBioForum in Helsinki, Finland 14-15 December to discuss how to move forward on life science topics ranging from the production of hydrogen via artificial photosynthesis to learning how to survive without water.
In addition to providing a platform for key scientists to present proposals, EuroBioForum, organised by the European Science Foundation (ESF), together with the European Commission, will also act as a networking event and facilitate brokerage between researchers and funders.
Top speakers from within life sciences such as Frank Gannon, executive director of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), will be present at a roundtable discussion on the future of the European Research Area (ERA). Mark Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust will also present a talk on strengthening the role of life sciences in Europe.
Particularly topical proposals which require a coordinated approach on the European level include 'Solar-H'. This ambitious proposal aims to integrate two previously divergent fields - artificial photosynthesis in man-made systems, and photobiological H2 production in living organisms, in what is considered a truly bold scientific step. In addition to providing a clean source of fuel, the research may allow scientists to develop bio-mimetic compounds and improve the H2 production capabilities of organisms.
DryLife, another research activity which will be presented, is set to unravel the mysteries of desiccation - the process by which certain plants are able to enter a state of suspended animation where life processes become undetectable. When dry, desiccation tolerant organisms are resistant to extremes of temperature, radiation and pressure, and ageing is reduced or eliminated. There is, therefore, considerable scope for the industrial application of the desiccation process.
And in an effort to better understand the effects of the thousands of chemicals we are exposed to everyday in today's world, VITROSCREEN will provide an advanced testing framework for industrial chemicals produced today and in the future, using computer and cell-based arrays that may reduce the need for animal testing.
'Infrafrontier: The European Infrastructure for the Phenotyping and Archiving of Mammalian Models', proposes to coordinate, at a European level, the mammoth task of phenotyping and archiving mouse models, which will play a pivotal role in the future diagnosis and treatment of human diseases.
The nascent field of nanotechnology, with its near-limitless potential in a wide range of areas, has come to be known in the scientific community as the next 'blue-sky' field. The main aim of EuroNanoPAR is to develop and launch a self-sustaining business, offering advisory and testing services on all aspects of occupational, consumer and environmental health, for the European Nanotechnology industry. Nanotechnology will play an important part in the growth of the European economy and so it is in the interest of Europe to develop policies to promote nanotechnology competitiveness while protecting the health and safety of society and the environment.
METABOTECH aims to coordinate European national research efforts in the area of metabolomics - the quantitative and qualitative analysis of small molecules in cells, tissues and body fluids. Metabolic profiles are indicative of changes in metabolic pathways. Consequently, metabolomics is ideally positioned to identifying treatment targets in diseases such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, and depression.
Other proposals include: 'INCREASE: An Integrated Research Network on Climate Change Research Activities'; 'DeVelome: Deciphering of the Vertebrate Regulatory Genome: Diagnostics for human genetic disease'; 'MitLiDiDe: Mitochondria in Life, Death and Disease' and 'EURedOX: Expression and Function of Eukaryotic Disulfide Oxidoreductases'.
Professor Bertil Andersson, CEO of the ESF, said: "EuroBioForum will provide a challenging opportunity to participate in new developments in research, development and innovation."
Highlighting the importance of pan-European co-operation, Wouter Spek, EuroBioFund Director, said: "Moving toward a more coordinated approach to funding life sciences is a challenging but necessary step if Europe is to remain an important global player in life sciences and biotechnology research."
Interested parties, including public/private foundations, research funding organisations, national innovation agencies, academies, intergovernmental agencies and members of the bioscience industry may register for EuroBioForum at: www.esf.org/eurobiofund/helsinki
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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