Welcome to Fiona Dunlevy's portfolio of published popular science articles. Fiona mostly writes about science policy and medical technology. She also writes about European-funded research to help consortia fulfill their dissemination obligations.
December 02, 2018
A man with debilitating nystagmus, or constant eye flicker, has been able to return to work, read and watch television, after successful treatment with magnetic implants. Here, Dr Parashkev Nachev, Institute Of Neurology, UCL, UK explains how his team developed the device to calm nystagmus, which is notoriously difficult to treat with drugs.
October 31, 2018
A team of researchers from the UK and France have developed a brain implant that pushes drugs directly into problem brain tissue, using a method called electrophoresis. In experiments, the implant successfully treated and even prevented seizures in mice with chemically induced epilepsy.
July 23, 2017
From “cryptocurrencies” to crowdfunding, innovative nancial technology offers new ways for citizens to get involved in green energy projects, and to reap the benets of the clean power produced.
Can “cryptocurrencies” encourage green-tech? Nowadays virtual means of payment are in use as an alternative to our existing currencies. Among them is SolarCoin (§), created to reward solar energy producers and to give an incentive to others considering installing solar panels.
July 02, 2017
Transparency has been an objective in the pharma world in recent years, culminating in the recent decision by the EMA to release full clinical study reports into the public domain. In spite of the publicity surrounding transparency and data sharing in pharma, the world of medical devices has largely flown under the transparency radar, but change is on the way. The final text of the long-awaited Medical Device Regulation was published in late February, and jumped the final hurdle of adoption by the European Parliament in April. This overhaul was prompted by scandals surrounding silicone gel breast implants and metal-on-metal hip replace- ments in the early 2010s that highlighted the lack of oversight and transparency. So why is this important and what are the implications for transparency?
July 02, 2017
A team from the University of Kent, UK, are developing sticking plasters or “temporary tattoos„ with radiofrequency identification (RFID) technology. This can be used to monitor patient vital signs, transmitting the data to a recorder in the patients home.
Around 10 years ago, communications engineer Prof. John Batchelor, School of Engineering at the University of Kent, was researching how to use RFID tags in assets tracking, like tracking a parcel through a warehouse or logistics system. Once he had succeeded in making RFID tags that stuck to awkward surfaces like metal
cages or glass bottles, he started casting around for a new challenge. “I thought, surely there’s nothing more difficult than making them work on people,„ says Batchelor. This question led Batchelor into the world of medtech and his present research on using wearable RFID sensors for a myriad of applications.
April 20, 2017
River floods are expected to become more frequent by mid-century, and rainstorms and coastal flooding by the end of the century.
From storms to flash floods, extreme weather events are becoming more common in Europe, and can wreak havoc on infrastructure such as transport, telecoms and energy systems. Policy makers, infrastructure owners and local authorities need data and decision-making tools to deal with extreme weather and its effects.
October 31, 2016
It has long been recognised that leaving stents in place is not ideal, and to date several solutions exist, such as bioabsorbable stents. This is not enough according to Mattson. “Bioabsorbable stents do not have the same outward force as when you use a metal or alloy stent, and become weaker with time”, he says. Often the stents are not absorbed quickly enough, meaning that the scar tissue response starts before the stent has fully disappeared. “It’s better to have a stent where you can regulate the disappearance and have an optimal radial force.”
October 26, 2016
Carrying out research is all well and good, but what happens to the knowledge once the project has finished? Many research projects consider in advance how to use research findings, either to get a product onto the market or to define how to share the new knowledge.
The European project Bricker, which is developing configurable retrofitting solutions for energy efficiency in large public buildings, is no exception. Here, we discuss the project's exploitation challenges with Meike Reimann from Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum, Germany.
September 11, 2016
Retrofitting public buildings is crucial to meeting Europe's energy efficiency goals. But can new knowledge in retrofitting be replicated across the EU?
The move to energy efficient buildings is on.Two European directives are gently nudging things along by requiring that 3 percent of public buildings be renovated every year and that public buildings be almost energy zero by 2018.
August 31, 2016
For many types of cancer, surgical removal of the tumor is the main treatment strategy. But tumors aren’t always easy to tell from healthy cells, meaning that sometimes cancerous cells get left behind. Many recurring tumors grow around the margins of the original tumor - meaning that they probably came from leftover cancer cells. Surgeons have tried numerous methods to visualize the tumor edges such as MRI and ultrasound, but no one method has stood out. Until now that is.
May 17, 2016
A European Commission strategic plan wants to see 20% penetration of wind energy throughout the EU by 2020. The growing trend for decentralised energy generation by home and business owners could help meet this target using small and medium turbines. But they continue to divide opinion due to noise and health concerns.
May 25, 2016
NATUREJOBS - Wallonia
“The Marshall Plan was an important argument to start a research career here.” Liesbet Geris
IN THE heady days of the industrial revolution, coal-rich Wallonia was the wealthier part of Belgium. Over the last century, though, its fortunes have been in decline. To combat this, the Walloons have staked their future on science. In 2005, with an investment pot of €1.4 billion accumulated from budget savings and the sale of state shares in the Arcelor steel firm, the Marshall Plan – inspired by the investment plan of the same name that rebuilt Europe after World War II – was born.
April 25, 2016
The field of energy harvesting from the body is hotting up, with pacemakers first in line for recharging. We first reported on body-powered pacemakers last year, when Andreas Haeberlin from the University of Bern explained how his team is powering pacemakers from energy harvested from sunlight, heartbeats and blood flow (1, 2). Since then, the market emergence of leadless pacemakers that sit directly in the heart have added new motivation to the field of energy harvesting, to liberate pacemakers from batteries. We catch up with Dr. Haeberlin to discuss his team’s progress and we introduce the EU funded Manpower consortium, who are harvesting energy from the vibrational movement of the body.
April 25, 2016
Can the scientific endeavour become sustainable as it becomes reliant on distributed teams?
Uberisation is the latest buzzword to describe the disruption of industries by slick digital platforms connecting workers with specic tasks or services. So where does science stand in the brave new uberised world? For every characteristic of uberisation, there is a parallel in the world of research. This raises the question of whether research uberised before Uber even existed? In this article, EuroScientist, looks into whether science was ahead of its time and explores what we can expect in the future.
November 17, 2015
Citizens’ consultation for digital laws could be a step forward to normalising e-democracy in policy making
Democracy in France is entering a new phase, with the first public online consultation of a new digital law. Over a three week consultation period this autumn, more than 20,000 citizens and organisations went online to vote and comment on the text of the new digital law. Its aim is to promote open data, safeguard net neutrality and ensure internet access to all citizens. But will the comments be taken on board?
August 02, 2015
Sometimes success lies not in the medical device, but in the way you use it. A team from University College London (UCL) has been making waves with a new screening technique for ovarian cancer that doubles the rate of detection. The key to their success did not lie in an innovative new device, but rather in optimising how the existing device is used.
Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer in women in the UK, with a 10 year survival rate of just 35%. Early diagnosis can make a big difference to boosting survival. Currently, women are screened for ovarian cancer by measuring the amount of a biomarker protein called CA125 in the blood. The test is a simple ELISA (for enzyme linked immunoabsorbent assay), which uses specific antibodies and enzymes to recognise, tag and quantify CA125. The CA125 level for that patient is then compared against the normal range. An elevated value can indicate cancer, but several problems exist. Firstly, not every tumor results in elevated CA125 blood levels, and not every woman with high CA125 levels has a tumour. The test wasn’t considered accurate enough to be used in screening programmes, but some researchers thought it had enough promise to be investigated further.
July 28, 2015
Construction21 - international
The biggest current innovation in façade design stems from a modular façade with smart materials that act as an active skin to make old buildings energy ecient
Today, newly built houses are designed to be as energy ecient as possible. This is good news for the planet and for homeowners’ wallets – but what about the older houses?
Poorly insulated buildings from the 1950s to the 1990s are the focus of the European MeeFS project. It is developing innovative façades with integrated modular technologies to either cool, ventilate or heat the building wrapped within.
July 01, 2015
BRICKER - energy reduction in public building stock
A showcase project to reduce an old school building's energy consumption is a goldmine of teaching opportunities for engineering students.
The latest in energy efficient refurbishment is literally coming into the classroom for engineering students in the Higher Education Institution of the Province of Liège, in Belgium. In September 2016, their building will be retrofitted with the latest energy efficient technologies, as part of the EU-funded BRICKER project. This will help showcase how reducing energy consumption contributes to cut bills. Engineering lecturer at the institution, Gabrielle Masy explains how she is using the teaching potential of the project to train her engineering students in topics ranging from technical presentation to innovations in civil engineering and energy efficient buildings.
May 03, 2015
Many medical devices such as pacemakers rely on electricity to work. Batteries are obviously better than being tethered to a plug but as anyone who ever owned a Walkman or an iPhone will understand, batteries need to be recharged. This month, we talk to Andreas Haberlin, medical doctor and researcher at Bern University Hospital, Switzerland, who is developing a range of innovative ways to remove batteries from the equation. His most recent foray? Using solar energy to power a pacemaker.
April 28, 2015
Reproducibility studies have yet to be factored in as positive contributions for research evaluation
Researchers are increasingly being judged on two interlinked criteria: the number of prestigious published papers, and success in pulling in grants and funding. The problem is that publishing and funding both prize one thing above all else: novelty. This obsession with shiny new science undermines the scientic tradition of self-correction. Reproducing and verifying other peoples’ work is a crucial but thankless task that does not earn high impact kudos for researchers. It is therefore unlikely to translate into research grants. Researchers often cannot afford to spend precious time and money reproducing others’ work, at the risk of seeing their own lab sink.
March 02, 2015
On the 3rd of March 2015, university heads from around Europe will gather in Brussels to celebrate the 10th birthday of the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers . A decadeafter the charter’s launch, it boasts over 600 signatories. EuroScientist examines if anything has really changed for scientists since its introduction; and whether the charter has fulfilled its mission. The verdict is somewhat disappointing. This is especially true at a time where scientists need protection from precarious research positions
and need better structured career paths.
December 31, 2014
The year has drawn to a close, and as is tradition we take the chance to look back at the innovations that caught our eye in 2014, and to predict what 2015 has in store for the industry.
December 14, 2014
Bioplastics take on traditional petrochemical plastics in food packaging, with some challenges.
Producing food in a sustainable way is one thing. Making sure that it is wrapped in a sustainable packaging is another issue that also needs to be addressed. The trouble is that the plastic packaging protecting most of our food has been derived from petrochemicals. To make such packing more sustainable, it would be useful to rely on plastics that are bioresourced; in other words made from plants.
November 01, 2014
The era of the solitary mute medical device is over, displaced by fast networks of wireless sensors implanted in the body or worn externally. These so called body area networks (BANs) can monitor and treat health parameters and feed data to the outside world. BANs form the foundations of the booming eHealth revolution and are attracting a new generation of telecommunications engineers into the medical device arena. Here, Laura Galluccio, Assistant Professor in the Electrical, Electronics and Computer Engineering Department, University of Catania in Italy, explains how her research could radically improve communication in BANs involving implanted devices.
October 01, 2014
Researchers across France, Spain and Italy are orchestrating a wave of national protests, which will culminate on the 17th and 18th October 2014 in their other factors. European national research systems are struggling; that much is beyond doubt. The question is how to balance national versus EU research support and how the EU can drive rehabilitation of national research systems. Another question is whether the increased focus on excellence-based funding is really necessary. This debate is now fully open.
August 31, 2014
Millions of people worldwide take medication to control high blood pressure, but the treatment doesn't work for everyone. Kickstarting the brain into better controlling blood pressure using neurostimulation could help these patients. A group from the University of Freiburg, Germany recently showed that neurostimulation of the vagus nerve in five rats led to a 30% reduction in mean blood pressure (1). We talked to the lead author of the paper, Dr. Dennis Plachta, from the Department of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK) about the development of this device.
September 21, 2014
French research is in trouble. A protest movement has arisen from the ranks of research centres and universities to protest against what French scientists devised a very French response to this problem: marching out on the street— albeit this time with a twist. From the 27th September 2014, the grassroots movement Sciences en Marche, will see researchers march on Paris. They are planning to arrive in the French capital on 18th October, having bicycled in stages from labs all over France.
July 21, 2014
Support from a network of leading researchers across Europe specialised in a rare auto-immune disease with unmet medical needs could help test several novel treatments.
May 31, 2014
In June, over 5000 of the best and brightest cardiologists will unite in Nice, France at the biennial Cardiostim conference to present and debate the latest in cardiac electrophysiology and device therapies. Cardiovascular disease is already Europe's deadliest disease with 4.3 million deaths per year, and experts warn that this figure is set to rocket given Europe's rapidly aging population and the rise in obesity and diabetes.1 This month we predict the trends that will be making waves at Cardiostim 2014, including the innovative disruptive technologies that are toppling gold standards off their perches.
July 21, 2014
Elucidating the many possible causes of a rare auto- immune disease called Myasthenia Gravis could help point towards possible treatment for such disease.
March 21, 2014
DIRTY DRINKING WATER is a known death trap...but Irish scientists may have a solution.
Researchers from the RSCI can prove that simply exposing dirty water in a plastic bottle to sunlight can kill all but the most resistant bugs.
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