Tag Archives: science

COVID19: ERC regrets Prof.Ferrari resignation comments

“The ERC’s Scientific Council notes with regret the statement made by Mauro Ferrari concerning his resignation on 7 April. We here present the facts of the situation.

On Friday 27 March, all 19 active members of the ERC’s Scientific Council individually and unanimously requested that Mauro Ferrari resign from his position as ERC’s President.

This request was made for four reasons:

During his three-month term in office, Professor Ferrari displayed a complete lack of appreciation for the raison-d’être of the ERC to support excellent frontier science, designed and implemented by the best researchers in Europe. Although voicing his support for this in public pronouncements, the proposals he made to the Scientific Council did not reflect this position. He did not understand the context of the ERC within the EU’s Research and Innovation Programme Horizon 2020.
Since his appointment, Professor Ferrari displayed a lack of engagement with the ERC, failing to participate in many important meetings, spending extensive time in the USA and failing to defend the ERC’s programme and mission when representing the ERC.
In contrast, Professor Ferrari made several personal initiatives within the Commission, without consulting or tapping into the collective knowledge of the Scientific Council, and instead using his position to promote his own ideas.
Lastly, Professor Ferrari was involved in multiple external enterprises, some academic and some commercial, which took a lot of his time and effort and appeared on several occasions to take precedence over his commitment to ERC. The workload associated with these activities proved to be incompatible with the mandate of President of the Scientific Council.
Professor Ferrari subsequently resigned on 7 April 2020. Therefore, his resignation in fact followed a written unanimous vote of no confidence. In contrast, Professor Ferrari has stated that the reason for his resignation is that the Scientific Council did not support his call for the ERC to fund a special initiative focused on the COVID-19 virus. To address this point specifically, we did not support a special initiative because that is not our remit and the Commission’s Research and Innovation Directorate General, with which we are connected, was already very active in developing new programmes to support this research through the appropriate channels.

Indeed, many ERC funded researchers have been active for some time in researching the coronavirus family and many other equally dangerous pathogens. Over 50 ongoing or completed ERC projects supported for a total value of about EUR 100 million are contributing to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic by providing insights from several different scientific fields such as: virology, epidemiology, immunology, paths for new diagnostics and treatments, public health, medical devices, artificial intelligence, social behaviour, crisis management.

In addition, as stated on its website in reaction to the COVID-19 crisis, the ERC offers ‘grantees the flexibility to adjust their research project”. This is an efficient measure because several ERC grantees already enquired about the possibility of addressing COVID-19 related research in their ongoing ERC project. All this information is publicly available on the ERC website, which also includes testimonies from funded ERC grantees on how bottom-up frontier research is critical to deliver new – and sometimes unexpected – insights relevant for better understanding and fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as for providing social behaviour and crisis management related solutions.

However, the ERC does not make calls for specific topics, since a guiding principle of ERC is that our researchers are free to pursue the goals they define and to decide on what they wish to work. In our view, this is a crucial way to generate the best science.

The Scientific Council wishes to clarify, in case of any doubt, that they absolutely endorse the view that scientific research will provide the best solutions to tackling pandemics, such as COVID-19.

Therefore, we regret Professor Ferrari’s statement, which at best is economical with the truth. This Scientific Council remains dedicated to pursuing the mission for which the ERC was established: the support of bottom-up ground-breaking research. It is also worth noting that despite the pandemic, the ERC Executive Agency is struggling against the odds to actively process applications for our Consolidator Grants and Starting Grants, which will support researchers throughout Europe to make the discoveries of the future.”

The ERC Scientific Council

Russian COVID19 express text

Russian company has developed an express coronavirus test device that provides result in 15 minutes, the National Technical Initiative announced March 11. The new method undergoes final tests and new device might be presented to the public this autumn.
The device uses the isothermal polymerase chain reaction. To perform the analysis, a mucous sample from the nose or the throat, said the company representative, who assisted the Medical Biological Union (MBU) in creation of the test.

In early February, South China Morning Post reported that Chinese doctors began using a portable device, capable of diagnosing the 2019-nCoV (COVID-19), coronavirus in 40 minutes. In early March, Russian scientists reported that they created a device, capable of diagnosing the coronavirus in 1.5 hours.
The Chinese authorities registered an outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the city of Wuhan. Cases of novel virus were confirmed in more than 100 other countries, including in Russia.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. Outside of China, most cases of the new coronavirus were reported in South Korea, Iran and Italy.
In China, over 3,100 people died, nearly 60,000 people recovered, and the number of cases reached 80,700.

Over 110,000 coronavirus contaminations and more than 4,000 deaths were confirmed in the world so far.

Taiwan-Okinawa ancient migrant route

Taiwan museums and their Japanese colleagues launched a third experiment of human migration route from Taiwan to Okinawa, which they presume existed about 30,000 years ago. (Image above: illustration).

The sea voyage in a dugout canoe is one of multiple research projects signed in 2017 between Taiwan’s National Museum of Prehistory and Japan’s National Museum of Nature and Science.

Scientists at Japan‘s National Museum of Nature and Science have been trying for three years to obtain evidence of a hypotheses that people migrated from Taiwan to Okinawa some 30,000 years ago with archaic canoe. Previous attempts using a grass boat and a bamboo raft failed, but scientists don’t give up.

The crew five members on the canoe will use the sun and stars for navigation. They are expected to reach Yonaguni Island in 30 to 40 hours.

The museum informed the vessel left the east coast of Taiwan around 1:30 PM, local time, on July 7.

Marine for President without immunity


Modestly, the European Parliament  official site does not mention the news making the headlines around the world: the MEPs lifted Marine Le Pen’s immunity from prosecution for tweeting photographs of the Islamic State (IS) violence scenes.

Member of the  European Parliament, Marine Le Pen is a leader of Front National party, and a front-runner for the presidential elections in France, recently entering the tough competition with Emmanuel Macron, the centrist candidate, who is regarded as her probable contestant in the second round.

At the moment Marine Le Pen is under investigation in France for posting three graphic images of IS killings in 2015, including the beheading of US journalist James Foley.

#Marine position as an MEP guaranteed her immunity, however it is not the first time the EP makes the exception for Le Pen family to hand them into hand of prosecution. The EP had also changed the rules to prevent the Front National previous leader Jean-Marie Le Pen to address newly elected assembly as the oldest MEP.

The actual EP move of lifting Marine’s immunity over two years old tweets is largely seen by the expert community as a desperate attempt of two major EP political forces: the centre-right (EPP) and the socialists (S&D) to prevent her ascending the power in France.

As a part of her political programme Marine promised to organise a referendum on France EU membership, similar to the UK Brexit, within six month after entering the Elisée Palace. On contrary, her contestant the centrist Macron conducts pro EU polices, immensely pleasing the European institutions, suffering the lowest tight of popularity through its history.