Horizon 2020: the Turkish challenge

Reblogged from Science on the Net

Political relations between Europe and Turkey have never been easy and even in scientific research, often over the parts, the inclusion of the Turkish Government into international dynamics represented a special case. One example of this particularity is the fact that the final agreement that allows Turkey to be among the beneficiaries of Horizon 2020 was only signed in June. “Turkey is a much valued partner. Its dynamic business environment is a perfect test bed for the development of innovative products and services – making cooperation a win-win for researchers and enterprises on both sides,” wrote the UE press release.

But what is exactly the Turkey’s potential within a project like Horizon 2020?  Actually, Turkey has been associated to EU research framework programmes since 2003 and, under the last European programme between 2007 and 2013, more than one thousand participations from Turkish public and private institutions in some 950 projects received almost €200 million in EU funding.

However, its current level of investment in R&D is less than 1 percent of GDP, below the EU average that is of 2 percent and the target it has set itself for 2023.

The element that attracted the European attention were probably the Turkish small and medium-sized enterprises. In an economic landscape as difficult as that of the last few years, they have been one of the hangers in the country, as well as in the whole European community, which for years invested its capital in Turkey.

Therefore, it seems that, once again, the field on which the game is played is the economic one and it is not a coincidence that today there are those who talk about the BRICS + T, thus including Turkey in the group of economically emerging countries, along with Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

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Antimicrobial resistance throughout the world

Reblogged from Science on the Net

Through the years and the development of pharmacology, Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a growing public health threat of broad concern to countries. Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) produced a global report on surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in collaboration with Member States. This report monitors the situation worldwide, showing that the percentage of antibiotic resistance to various diseases is growing year after year all over the world, especially in developed countries, and the resistance to common bacteria has reached alarming levels in many parts of the world. It indicates that many of the available treatment options for common infections in some settings are becoming ineffective.

According to those who prepared the report, “a post-antibiotic era—in which common infections and minor injuries can kill—far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, is instead a very real possibility for the 21st century.”

Particularly, the report focuses on antibacterial resistance (ABR), which involves bacteria that causes many common infections for which treatment is becoming difficult. The main focus of this report is therefore on ABR for which knowledge, support and concerted action are inadequate. The report considers seven types of antibacterial resistance pathologies and their respective drug treatments:

– Escherichia Coli vs. the third-generation Cephalosporins and vs. Fluoroquinolones

– Kleibsiella Pneumoniae vs. the third-generation Cephalosporins and vs. Carbapenems

– Staphylococcus Aureus vs. Methiccilin

– Strptococcus Pneumoniae vs. Penicillin

– Non Typhoidal Salmonella vs. Fluoroquinolones

– Shigella Species vs. Fluoroquinolones

– Neisseria Gonorrhoeae vs. 3rd generation Cephalosporins

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When excellence comes home

Reblogged from Science on the Net

Two aspects remain etched firmly after a talk with Andrea Lunardi and Graziano Martello, two “made in Italy” brains that have decided to return to work in Italy after years of research abroad. First, go abroad tout courtis not an essential step; the difference is choosing centres of excellence abroad. Second: a PhD in Italy is a great resource, not to be missed, as long as you choose a good group to work with.

These two young men, 43 years old Lunardi and 34 years old Martello, are certainly not the rule in our country. Two researchers that decide to bring their skills in Italy thanks to two grants from a private foundation, the Armenise Foundation, plus a Telethon grant for Martello, after spending years in centers of excellence worldwide, Lunardi at Harvard Medical School and Martello at the University of Cambridge.

Let us start from the end. What is the focus of your researches and why did you decide to come back?

AL: I am a biologist and in recent years I was involved in research on cancer, particularly prostate cancer, under the lead of Pier Paolo Pandolfi, Director of the Cancer Research Institute at the Beth Israel deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School of Boston. Together with a team of American colleagues, I developed the Co-Clinical Trial Approach, a new translational platform based on the enrollment of faithful genetically engineered mouse models of human tumors in specific treatments that perfectly mirror the clinical trial in human patients. I worked in the United States for years, knowing that I would be back in Italy after a few years, and now I had the opportunity to do so, bringing in my country the skills acquired in a center of excellence like the Harvard Medical School. I then tried to obtain funding and I won the Armenise scholarship, which allowed me to come back. Trento seemed to be the best destination for me at the moment, since it is a dynamic reality that is recruiting many new resources focusing on quality.

GM: My research combines experimental and computational methods to understand what controls the behavior of embryonic stem cells. I decided to return to Italy after four years in Cambridge because it was my desire since I started my activity abroad, and I think that if you want to return, once arrived at a certain moment you should try.  I was very lucky because I had the opportunity to go back to the University where I studied, which is an excellent research center at both Italian and international level. The funding I have obtained have been obviously fundamental: I got both the Armenise and the Telethon Scholarships, which will cover my project for five years.

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Italy and African Countries scientific cooperation

Reblogged from Science on the net

A specific call of Horizon 2020 promotes cooperation between Europe and Africa for scientific research, funding project for €80 billion between 2014 and 2020: €24.5 billion for strengthening research in science, €22.6 billion for strengthening industrial leadership in innovation and €31 billion addressed to societal challenges, like global warming, sustainable transport, food or renewal energy. Actually, Italy has been active in this field for years, especially in South Africa and Egypt, through programs of bilateral scientific and technological cooperation under the authority of the Unit for Scientific and Technological Cooperation of the Directorate General for the Promotion of the Country System.


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, under the Programme for Scientific and Technological Cooperation between Italy and South Africa for the years 2014 – 2016, has launched a call for the collection of joint research projects to develop between the two countries, which closed on 28 February. The call was open to researchers, universities and research centers, and included physics, astrophysics and radio astronomy, information and communication technologies, biotechnology, nanotechnology and advanced materials, medicine, health environment, and renewable energy.

Furthermore, since the Europe-Africa cooperation is also one of the objectives of Horizon 2020, preference will be given to projects that are part of multilateral research programs of the European Call. More in detail, the initiative aims at two types of projects: the first group concerning the mobility of researchers, with support for up to three years 2014-2016 and a loan in annual installments, while the last category is about bilateral projects of great importance.

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