Scientific Letter - March 2013

Scientific letter - Bonjour Southeast

Scientific letter - Bonjour Southeast

March 2013

Southeast France Events To Know Picture


-- width='35' height='25' />Edito


Dear friends,

On February 2, the Consulate general of France in Atlanta was honoured to take part as jury members in the fifth Intramural Emory Global Health Case Competition (also available in French Twelve teams of multidisciplinary student tried to put together proposals of how to reform the financing and organization of France’s health system in the context of the European economic crisis and aging of the population. The winning team will now take part of the International Global Health Case Competition in March and we wish them luck!

Meanwhile, Duke neuroscientist has electronically linked the brains of pairs of rats for the first time, enabling them to communicate directly to solve simple behavioural puzzles, while being thousands of miles apart, on rat being in Durham, NC, USA and the other one in Natal, Brazil!

Before letting you go through this month’s newsletter, I am glad to announce the next European Science Café on March, 20. Malcolm Bennett, Professor of Veterinary Pathology at the National Centre for Zoonosis Research at the University of Liverpool where he studies the transmission of diseases from non-human animals to humans will talk about this increasingly important public health topic.

Have a good reading,

Juliane Halftermeyer, Deputy Scientific Attaché in Life Sciences


-- width='35' height='25' />Sciences in the Southeast USA


Scientific news from the Southeast USA

- International team seeks to dispel obesity myths, University of Alabama at Birmingham (AL), 01/30/2013. GIF
Think having sex or going to gym class drives weight loss, or that breastfeeding protects a child from obesity? In fact, these are among seven popular obesity myths, according to an article published today in the New England Journal of Medicine. Such inaccurate, widespread beliefs, the authors argue, are leading to poor policy decisions, inaccurate public health recommendations and wasted resources.
>> Learn more

- Cell source of heart’s blood vessels, Vanderbilt University (TN), 02/01/2013. GIF
Understanding the origins and development of coronary arteries – the blood vessels that supply the heart with oxygen – could point to new strategies for treating coronary artery disease. Researchers have discovered that endocardial cells that line the developing ventricles in the heart generate the endothelium (the inner layer) of coronary arteries. The studies disprove the current dogma that coronary arteries are derived from the epicardium (the heart’s outer layer) or from endothelial cells outside the heart.
>> Learn more

- Newly discovered plant structure may lead to improved biofuel processing, University of Georgia (GA), 02/05/2013. GIF
While examining some of the sugars, proteins and polymers that make up plant cell walls, which provide the structural support and protection that allow plants to grow, Li Tan observed that his samples contained a mixture of sugars that should not be present in the same structure. He came to realize that there were hints in the data of a connection between two different types of cell wall glycans (sugars) and a specific cell wall protein known as arabinogalactan protein.
>> Learn more

- UF researchers include humans in most comprehensive tree of life to date, University of Florida (FL), 02/07/2013. GIF
An international team of scientists has generated the most comprehensive tree of life to date on placental mammals, which are those bearing live young, including bats, rodents, whales and humans. The study details how researchers used both genetic and physical traits to reconstruct the common ancestor of placental mammals, the creature that gave rise to many mammals alive today. The data show that contrary to a commonly held theory, the group diversified after the extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
>> Learn more

- ORNL scientists solve mercury mystery, Science reports, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (TN), 02/07/2013. GIF
By identifying two genes required for transforming inorganic into organic mercury, which is far more toxic, scientists today have taken a significant step toward protecting human health.
>> Learn more

- Marsh Plants Actively Engineer Their Landscape , Duke University (NC), 02/13/2013. GIF
Marsh plants, far from being passive wallflowers, are “secret gardeners” that actively engineer their landscape to increase their species’ odds of survival, says a team of scientists.
>> Learn more

- Molecules Assemble in Water, Hint at Origins of Life, Georgia Institute of Technology (GA), 02/20/2013. GIF
The base pairs that hold together two pieces of RNA are some of the most important molecular interactions in living cells. Many scientists believe that these base pairs were part of life from the very beginning and that RNA was one of the first polymers of life. Researchers are exploring an alternate theory for the origin of RNA: they think the RNA bases may have evolved from a pair of molecules distinct from the bases we have today.
>> Learn more

- Bullied children can suffer lasting psychological harm as adults , Duke University (NC), 02/20/2013. GIF
Bullied children grow into adults who are at increased risk of developing anxiety disorders, depression and suicidal thoughts, according to a new study. The findings, based on more than 20 years of data from a large group of participants initially enrolled as adolescents, are the most definitive to date in establishing the long-term psychological effects of bullying.
>> Learn more

- Research suggests malaria can be defeated without a globally led eradication program, University of Florida (FL), 02/21/2013. GIF
Malaria does not have to be eradicated globally for individual countries to succeed at maintaining elimination of the disease, according to a new study. Researchers found that those countries that have eliminated malaria have maintained their malaria-free states with remarkable stability, going against traditional theory. Between 1945 and 2010, 79 countries eliminated malaria and 75, or 95 percent, remained malaria-free, shrinking the geographic range of the disease.
>> Learn more

- Fruit flies force young to drink alcohol, for their own good, Emory University (GA), 02/22/2013. GIF
When fruit flies sense parasitic wasps in their environment, they lay their eggs in an alcohol-soaked environment, essentially forcing their larvae to consume booze as a drug to combat the deadly wasps.
>> Learn more


-- width='35' height='25' />Sciences in France


Scientific news from France

- Where does the energy come from that is needed as a carrier in neuron extensions?, also available in French, Institut Curie, CNRS, Inserm, 02/01/2013. GIF GIF
The movement of molecules in the neuron extensions known as axons is a process that is vital for the survival of cells and the smooth operation of the nervous system. It is performed by vesicles that travel fast thanks to the energy-hungry molecular engines. Researchers have shown that the vesicles have their own energy production system needed for travelling and do not depend on the mitochondria that are the main source of cell energy.
>> Learn more

- CO2 storage in the ocean: new data to take into account in models predicting climate change (only in French), CNRS, Ifremer, 02/04/2013. GIF
The Ocean is the major reservoir moderating CO2 accumulation in atmosphere, the main factor of global warming. Thus, understanding of the mechanism underlying the storage of CO2 in the ocean is essential to better forecast climate change. French and Spanish researchers underlined a link between the slowdown of the ocean “conveyor belt”, which carries warm waters on the surface to high latitudes and cold waters in depth to the south, and decrease of the absorption of anthropogenic carbon in North Atlantic between 1997 and 2006.
>> Learn more (only in French)

- Cervical cancer : first 3D image of an HPV oncoprotein, also available in French, CNRS, Université de Strasbourg, Inserm, 02/11/2013. GIF GIF
For the first time, researchers have solved the three-dimensional structure of an important oncoprotein involved in cell proliferation and in the development of the human papilloma virus (HPV). Type 16 (HPV 16), which causes cervical cancer, is the most dangerous of human papilloma viruses. This work should make it possible to identify and improve medication to block the protein and prevent it from causing tumors.
>> Learn more

- Biological connections in microelectronics, also available in French, CEA, CNRS, Université Joseph Fourier, Inra, 02/12/2013. GIF GIF
Miniaturization of electronic components is reaching a physical limit. While the solution of three dimensional assembly has the advantage of reducing bulk, the manufacture of electrical connections in these new products remains a technological challenge. Biologists and physicists have developed a system of self-assembled connections using actin filaments for 3D microelectronic structures. Once the actin filaments become conductors, they join the various components of a system together.
>> Learn more

- The efficacy of certain anti-cancer vaccines depends on how they are administered, also available in French, Université Paris Descartes, Inserm, AP-HP, CNRS, 02/13/2013. GIF GIF
The therapeutic efficacy of certain anti-cancer vaccines depends on how they are administered. In the case of so-called mucosal cancers of the lungs or ENT area, the vaccine should be administered directly via the mucosa if it is going to be effective (intra-nasally for example). The same vaccine administered in the usual way that immunisation is performed, i.e. intramuscular or sub-cutaneous injection, will be ineffective.
>> Learn more

- Exploring supercapacitors to improve their structure, also available in French, CNRS, Université d’Orléans, 02/17/2013. GIF GIF
No matter how intimidating their name, supercapacitors are part of our daily lives. Take buses for example: supercapacitors are charged during braking and supply electricity to open the doors when the vehicle stops! Yet the molecular organization and functioning of these electricity storage devices had never previously been observed. For the first time, researchers have explored the molecular rearrangements at play in commercially available supercapacitors while in operation. The technique devised by the scientists provides a new tool for optimizing and improving tomorrow’s supercapacitors.
>> Learn more

- How streptococcus becomes a pathogen in newborns ? (only in French), Institut Pasteur, CNRS, Institut Cochin, AP-HP, Inserm, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 02/21/2013. GIF
Researchers identified a new mechanism controlling the expression of key virulence genes of Streptococcus agalactiae. This commensal bacteria of digestive and genital tracks is normally asymptomatic in adults, but is the main cause of invasive infections in newborns in France. This work opens new tracks to control the switch of Streptococcus agalactiae from a safe state to a virulent state.
>> Learn more (only in French)

- Discovery of fossil insects in China unveils a paleontological puzzle (only in French), Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, CNRS, 02/21/2013. GIF
Thanks to the discovery of new fossils in China, an international team provides new information on Strashilidae a group of Jurassic insects present in China and Russia. These fossils have helped to understand the original morphology of these insects but also to lift the veil on their biology and lifestyle, which had been the subject of much speculation before.
>> Learn more (only in French)

- How the sweet potato genome tells the story of the first journeys to the Americas, also available in French, CNRS, CIRAD, 02/22/2013. GIF GIF
The Europeans may not have been the first foreigners to set foot in the Americas. Several centuries before them, Polynesian ships apparently landed on the coast of Peru, and eventually sailed home with sweet potatoes, which are now found throughout the Pacific. This has been confirmed by a vast study by a team of scientists.
>> Learn more

- Lynch syndrome: structural biology in support of help to diagnosis only in French, CEA, CNRS, Université Paris-Sud, 02/24/2013. GIF
Researchers present the first model of MLH1 protein architecture, one of the main protein involved in Lynch syndrome, a genetic predisposition to colorectal cancer. This ‘image’ of MLH1 at the atomic scale will permit to better understand genetic processes leading to the disease. This result is the beginning of a clinical project of help to diagnosis in order to target therapies according to the many variants of this anomaly.
>> Learn more (only in French)


-- width='35' height='25' />Events



Consulate General of France (Atlanta)
- March, 20, 5:30 to 7:00pm
‘One Health: Humans and Animals, We are All in this Together’, also in French
Emory University (Atlanta)
- March, 7
‘7th Annual Robert B. Smith, III, Visiting Professorship - Hemodynamics for Surgeons’
- March, 26, 12:00 to 1:00pm
‘George Painter - "The Development of a Broadly Active Drug for the Prophylaxis and Treatment of dsDNA Virus Infections"’
Georgia Southern University (Statesboro)
- March, 8, 1:20pm
‘Genus 3 hyperelliptic curves with split Jacobians and many rational points’
Georgia Regents University (Augusta)
- March, 6, 4:00 to 5:00pm
‘Lung Cancer: Where are We in the Quest for “Personalized Medicine”?’
Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta)
- March, 16 to 20
‘First International Conference on Dynamics of Differential Equations’
- March, 20 to 23
‘17th Annual Hilton Head Workshop - Regenerative Medicine: Technologies Enabling Novel Therapies’
- March, 20 to 24
‘Frontiers in Systems and Synthetic Biology Conference ’13’
Georgia State University (Atlanta)
- March, 12, 4:00pm
‘The Search for Human ’Fingerprints’ in Observed Records of Climate Change’


Florida Atlantic University (Boca Raton)
- March, 9
‘50 Years of Women in Space’
- March, 15 to 16
‘Academic Leadership Symposium’
Florida International University (Miami)
- March, 13, 12:00 to 5:00pm
‘2nd Annual Forensic Symposium’
- March, 27, 7:00 to 8:00pm
‘Blue carbon and seagrass ecosystems’
University of Florida (Gainesville)
- March, 18, 12:00pm
‘AGEs in Chronic Diseases of Aging and a Paradigm Shift’
University of Miami (Miami)
- March, 7, 7:00pm
‘The Science of Beauty and The Beauty of Science’
University of North Florida (Jacksonville)
- March, 8, 3:00 to 3:50pm
‘Nobel Laureate Dr. Robert Curl’

North Carolina

Duke University (Charlotte)
- March, 5, 5:00 to 6:00pm
‘The New Biology of Diabetes’
- March, 28, 9:00 to 10:00am
‘Baby Steps Towards Integrating Genetics, Genomics, and Biology Towards A More Personalized Medicine
- March, 29, 12:00 to 13:30pm
‘Biomarkers for etiology and prevention of liver cancer: Third leading cause of global cancer mortality


The University of Tennessee – Health Science Center (Memphis)
- March, 13, 12:00 to 1:00pm
‘The Southern Network on Adverse Reactions (SONOR): The next generation of pharmacovigilance’
- March, 14, 11:00am to 12:00pm
‘International Virtual Medical School (IVIMEDS): An Idea Ahead of Its Time?’
Vanderbilt University (Nashville)
- March, 7, 4:00pm
‘Molecular Blueprint of Uropathogenic E. Coli Pathogenesis and Targeted Therapies’ - Scott Hultgren
- March, 12, 2:00 to 3:00pm
‘Electrospun Nanofiber Composite Proton Exchange Membranes’
Tennessee Tech University (Cookeville)
- April, 11
‘8th Annual Student Research Day’


University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa)
- March, 7, 4:00pm
‘Smithsonian Biologist Lectures on BioDiversity Conservation’
- March, 7, 7:00pm
Dr. Tammay Horn presentation on ’Bees and Food Security’


-- width='35' height='25' />Good to Know


Young Leaders program of the French-American Foundation

“Young Leaders” was created in 1981 and selects every year for their achievements and leadership, 10 Frenchs and 10 Americans aged from 30 to 40, destined to play a important role in their country and in French-American relationships.
Successful candidates will take part in two 5-days seminars for 2 consecutive years -alternatively in France and USA- to discuss on major themes common to both countries and to go deeply in their mutual understanding.
The goal of this program is to build long-lasting friendship between leaders from both sides of the Atlantic, not only during the program, but also for a broader engagement with the community of former “Young Leaders”.
Application deadline: March 18, 2013
>>For more information and application :, also available in French GIF GIF

Launch of NETVA 2013: a training program focusing on exposure to U.S. markets for young innovative start-ups/businesses

The NETVA program (New Technology Venture Accelerator) offers young French innovative companies with a guided personalized coaching program which focuses on the analysis of opportunities and the development of technological partnerships in the United States. Managed by teams from the Science and Technology Office of the Embassy of France in the United States (Boston and San Francisco), NETVA aims to meet the need for the internationalization of young French innovative companies that are developing products with a significant added value.
Application deadline: April 7, 2013
>>For more information : Official website of the NETVA program, also available in French GIF GIF

Call for projects 2013: "LIFE SCIENCES : Inventing - Creating - Having fun"

The Office for Science & Technology (section of Los Angeles) of the Embassy of France in the United States of America will financially support French teams which participate in scientific competitions, contests or games organized by the United States, specializing in Life Sciences.
The Office for Science & Technology hopes this program will encourage students and researchers to participate in exchanges with the United States, as well as initiate collaborations between French and American scientists, and promote scientific research and practice.
Application deadline: April 14, 2013
>>For more information, also available in French GIF GIF


-- width='35' height='25' />Picture of the Month


Viruses Can Have Immune Systems

Electron micrograph of Bacteriophages

A study published today in the journal Nature reports that a viral predator of the cholera bacteria has stolen the functional immune system of bacteria and is using it against its bacterial host. The study provides the first evidence that this type of virus, the bacteriophage (“phage” for short), can acquire a wholly functional and adaptive immune system.

For more information

Edited by Juliane Halftermeyer, Deputy Scientific Attaché in Life Sciences, designed by Clémentine Bernon, Deputy Cultural Attaché
(c) Consulate General of France in Atlanta
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Last modified on 04/03/2013

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