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TECH DAY 2021: Eight flagship technologies to watch


Research Luxembourg team player, the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) held a Tech Village to showcase demonstrations of some eight flagship technologies presented by the researchers involved.

How to tackle the challenges of our society, environment, and economy together?

Tech Day by the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), which took place on 22 September 2021, presented eight new technologies in domains such as Energy transition, Digitial transition, Global technologies innovations for the 21st century transportation.

Creating Luxembourg Digital Twin

A digital twin makes it possible to obtain information about an action in a simulated world before that action is carried out in the real world, opening up enormous possibilities for citizens, businesses and authorities.

This web-based platform, which maps the energy transition in cities, regions and entire nations around the world at a very high resolution, offers considerable possibilities. Renewable energy potentials can be calculated to efficiently identify opportunities for energy production and related investments in entire digital twins.

Communicating transparent antennas

In the context of a digitalised, modern and sustainable society, the solution of an existing transparent communicating antenna is to ensure 5G compatibility while showing energy recovery capabilities.

As autonomous sensor units, these transparent antennas embedded in glass receive data from environmental sensors with Bluetooth communication, which they transmit to our smartphones.

From smart buildings to smart vehicles to space, this technology has the potential to open up many forms of applications.

Detecting Airborne chemical compounds

Air pollution is one of the major environmental hazards in the world and requires a dense network of miniaturised devices.

The innovative microsensor is an ultra-miniaturised, low-power, low-cost gas sensor capable of monitoring the distribution of chemical compounds in the air with unprecedented spatial resolution.

This solution has the potential to be integrated into wearable electronics and stand-alone IoT devices to improve air quality monitoring.

A unique water sample

In light of the impacts of global climate change on water resources, there is an urgent need to better understand the life cycle of water, as well as to manage it accurately.

The field-deployable, portable and automatic water sampler prototype is likely to become an essential tool for a great diversity of water stakeholders, from hydrologists to local authorities and research organisations.

Sustainable by design bioplastics

Plastic pollution raises critical challenges that Research Luxembourg is seeking to address through the development of new sustainable and intelligent materials.

The solution involves the development of high-performance plastics with a chemical structure that can be recycled or self-repaired.

In addition, they are made from renewable and bio-based raw materials and are manufactured in an environmentally friendly process. The durability of the material is based on the molecular design.

This new bioplastic is of great interest to the space, aerospace, automotive and transport sectors.

Plant-stem cell

By modulating the genetic parameters of apple cells to turn them into so-called plant stem cells, as well as the parameters of the bioreactors in which they grow, the solution offers industrial partners massive and unlimited production of triterpene, a molecule known colloquially for its anti-ageing and anti-inflammatory properties.

Bringing in situ learning to the factory

Machines such as CNCs require specific training to ensure proper handling and avoid risks.

In an effort to support industry players in moving towards a 4.0 industry, this new integrated and IoT-based system allows CNC machine users to be trained directly on site. This means there is no forced downtime as users are trained faster and benefit from the feedback-based system.

Solution for data analytics and AI

Businesses of all types, whether in the private or public sector, are looking to unlock more value from their data and offer differentiated services.

A catalogue of services, offered by LIST, is available to organisations seeking to engage in the creation of innovative data-centric services, along with all the associated high-level tools and technological infrastructure. These services are to help them take advantage of AI solutions and test their ideas in technologically and economically sound conditions.

The experimentation of these new concepts and services is applicable to a wide range of fields, including Industry 4.0, financial technologies, logistics, policy making and B2B / B2C service delivery.

More about Tech Day

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Raising awareness to address 5G fears


The introduction of 5G networks has raised many concerns, mostly related to the radiation associated with the technology.

Education on 5G is essential to combat popular fears effectively.

What is the impact of 5G on mobility performance compared to other communication technologies? Is it better than other technologies?

The Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), in collaboration with Luxembourg’s Department of Media, Telecommunications and Digital Policy (SMC), is launching an awareness-raising platform to present and explain the technologies behind 5G, and in particular to make the complex world of 5G mobility concepts approachable to the general public.

Luxembourg Digital Twin in action to explain 5G

The 5G-PLANET project aims to create a copy of the existing 5G infrastructure in Luxembourg, i.e. digital twin, to show its use, capabilities, limitations, etc. to a wide audience.

5G-PLANET primarily seeks to share LIST’s experience in the planning and design of new 5G networks, using Luxembourg as a practical example. It will specifically target connected mobility applications and intelligent transport systems, which are among the most promising uses of 5G from a socio-economic perspective.

Deploying new network technologies is complex and exploiting their full potential is also a challenge, but one that can generate massive economic benefits down the road. Mobility is an excellent example to illustrate this point and explain to the general public the interest of using new, low latency communication means”

Sébastien Faye, Senior Research and Technology Associate and Project Leader at Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST)

5G-PLANET intends to provide a decision support system for planning and designing 5G networks for cooperative, connected and automated mobility (CCAM) applications. This system will be demonstrated to raise public awareness of the value of these technologies. The Digital Twin approach will provide an attractive visual showcase for public awareness.

“Our objective is to propose an awareness-raising platform that makes complex 5G-mobility concepts accessible to the greatest number of people in the long run. The dissemination of the project to the general public will be guaranteed through several complementary channels.”

Sébastien Faye, Senior Research and Technology Associate and Project Leader at Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST)

More about this educational 5G awareness project.

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In conversation with our young researchers: Dr. Adrian Nieto Castro

Causal evidence to fight inequalities.

Empirical research shows the significant negative effects inequality has on society at large. Providing answers to such questions would participate in closing the existing societal inequalities and increase well-being through policy-making.

How can causal evidence help close existing societal inequalities and address current socio-demographic problems?

Dr. Adrian Nieto Castro is a postdoc researcher in the Labour Market Department of the Luxembourg Institute of Socio Economic Research (LISER). His studies aim at providing answers to empirical questions such as gender or educational inequality and socio-demographic issues.

An interdisciplinary researcher

Adrian Nieto Castro is an interdisciplinary researcher, with interests in labour economics, family economics, gender equality and climate change.

In his research studies, the Spanish citizen seeks to find causal evidence to close existing societal inequalities (e.g. gender inequality or educational inequality) and increase well-being through policy-making. In a recently-published paper, the researcher explores native-immigrant differences in the effect of children on the gender pay gap. The findings may help policy makers in designing public policies aiming at reducing gender inequality in the labour market.

Additionally, Adrian Nieto Castro also investigates how to address current socio-demographic issues such as low fertility rates or mental health issues in developed countries. In a recent paper, he explored the link between the labour market and fertility, and showed that certain types of labour contracts may help towards increasing fertility and avoiding ageing populations.

“At LISER, researchers work on the analysis of societal changes while working on multidisciplinary research that covers topics such as labour market policies evaluation, the link between digital transformation and the labour market, the implications of ageing workforces or equality of opportunity and social mobility, among others. The interdisciplinary vision of the institute, together with the fact that LISER counts with a large, excellent and highly motivated research team, has allowed me to work on multidisciplinary and promising research projects.”

Dr. Adrian Nieto Castro

To run his projects, the interdisciplinary researcher uses causal inference analyses and large administrative as well as longitudinal survey datasets to provide answers to empirical questions. He also makes use of new programming techniques to collect unique sources of information, hence answering novel research questions.

Empirical research as a motto

During his undergraduate studies, Adrian Nieto Castro gained interest in Economics as a tool to tackle socio-economic problems and increase society’s well-being.

Such an interest led him to continue his studies at the London School of Economics, where he completed a master in Economics. Thanks to this opportunity, the researcher gained a solid background in economics and in quantitative methods on top of meeting promising scholars.

Then, the economist entered the academic world by doing a PhD in Economics at the University of Nottingham.

“While doing my PhD, I became an empirical researcher with the main purpose of providing causal evidence to address socioeconomic research questions and improve policy-making. I was also a visiting researcher at the Bank of Spain for half year, where I gained experience in working with policy-makers.”

Dr. Adrian Nieto Castro

Why Luxembourg as a research destination?

In September 2019, Adrian Nieto Castro joined the Labour Market Department of LISER. “Being part of LISER has been an excellent professional opportunity, as it has allowed me to work with internationally recognised researchers in promising research projects, thus growing as a professional and as a person.”

To him LISER counts with an interdisciplinary research team, where both recognised senior and promising junior researchers are willing to collaborate. This environment helped him to “quickly build a great research network as well as working on multiple promising research projects.”

“Within LISER, there are internationally recognised researchers working on projects with a lot of potential both for the academic and policy-making worlds.”

“Luxembourg offers a great setting for research in social sciences, given that researchers can interact with policy-makers working in important European institutions within the country, providing researchers with an opportunity to discuss ways on how to implement their research into the policy-making world.”

“Luxembourg has recently invested large amounts of resources into research infrastructure, which has allowed it to position itself as a leading country in the research world.”

Dr. Adrian Nieto Castro

An FNR CORE team member

Adrian Nieto Castro collaborated as a co-investigator in the Fonds National de la Recherche (FNR) funded research project “The Effect of Schengen, the Euro and Local Labour Markets: A Causal Analysis on Cross-Border Workers in Europe (CrossEUwork)”, where Andrea Albanese is the Principal Investigator.

The research project seeks to fill the gap of scarce empirical literature on cross-border employment at the individual level by using some unique data sources. To do so, the analysis focuses on the causal link between labour market factors and the choice of becoming a cross-border worker. Natural experiments implemented in Europe are the source of identification and multiple methods and datasets are used.

About living in Luxembourg

International to the core, Adrian Nieto Castro lived in the UK, Spain and the Netherlands before moving in to Luxembourg.

“What I enjoy more about living in Luxembourg is its wide offer of cultural activities. For example, one can find important museums within Luxembourg such as the National Museum of History and Art or music events on a frequently basics within the Philharmonie or Rockhal. Luxembourg also offers an international cultural atmosphere as an important part of its population comes from many different countries.”

Dr. Adrian Nieto Castro

More about Adrian Nieto Castro

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In conversation with our young researchers: Dr. Camille Perchoux

Epidemiology and geography.

Where we live and where we go as the result of our daily activities affect our health.

How much do urban environments have an impact on our active and healthy behaviours, chronic diseases and healthy ageing?

Dr. Camille Perchoux is a young research associate in the Luxembourg Institute of Socio Economic Research (LISER). She focuses on urban health.

A health geographer

Camille Perchoux describes herself as a health geographer. Indeed, her research expertise expends on her multi-disciplinary background in epidemiology and geography. Building on these two research fields, her research focus is on the social and spatial determinants of health behaviours and population health.

In her research, she investigates the impact of urban environments on active and healthy behaviours, chronic diseases and healthy ageing. Indeed, physical environmental characteristics, and social aspects of neighbourhood constitute urban structures of opportunities that enhance or constrain individual’s health related behaviours such as leisure physical activity, active transport, or adopting a healthy diet in daily life, which are key determinants of mental and physical health.

In order to more comprehensively assess people place interaction, and understand people decision making process in adopting (or not) health behaviours, Camille Perchoux and her colleagues in LISER are increasingly relying on GPS trackers to understand where people go, accelerometers to estimate their amount of energy expenditure and related transportation modes, and additional mobile sensors to accurately measure either personalised exposure to environmental factors or health related markers.

“This multidisciplinary research thematic is at the crossroads of public health policy, transport policy and land use as well as urban planning.”

Dr. Camille Perchoux

The promotion of strategies for adopting and maintaining healthy and active lifestyles is a public health priority to curb the cardiometabolic diseases, among others, and related severe impact on well-being.

In this regard, her research tends to identify socio-demographic and environmental levers that can provide element of decision-making to support the implementation of intervention at the individual level and their environment. 

Research as a natural career path

While Camille Perchoux was a master student in geography, at Provence university, she had the chance to study the geography of malaria during two successive internships in Brazzaville, Congo, and in Dakar, Senegal.

“[During my master] I had the opportunity to do some field work, develop a survey, sample and survey the participants, work with researchers from public health and geography, and disseminate the results to the local stakeholders. After such an enriching experience of the different tasks that make up the daily work of a researcher, research was the only work I could picture myself doing at the end of my master degree.”

Dr. Camille Perchoux

After completing her Master’s degree, she joined a multidisciplinary research team to conduct a dual PhD thesis in public health – epidemiology at Sorbonne university – Pierre et Marie Curie Paris 6 (France), and at Montreal university (Canada). During her PhD, she examined the residential and non-residential neighbourhood environments that individuals experience as the results of their daily activities and may influence their health behaviours, with a case study on recreational walking.

Indeed, while more traditional approaches focused exclusively on the effect on residential neighbourhood characteristics on health, a significant innovation of this work was to highlight and quantify how individuals’ daily mobilities and daily activities outside their residential neighbourhood may also contribute to shape their health.

Then she joined the Centre de Recherche en Nutrition Humaine Rhône-Aples (CRNH-RA) in 2015 where she continued developing a strong taste for multidisciplinary work, being part of the ACTI-Cités consortium that embraces a team of epidemiologists, nutritionists and geographers to examine the socio-ecological determinants of active transportation in France. She also joined the DEDIPAC knowledge hub, a multidisciplinary consortium of 68 research centres from 13 countries across Europe, reflecting on the determinants of diet, physical activity and sedentary behaviours.

Camille Perchoux joined LISER in 2016 as a postdoc researcher before being prompted permanent researcher two years later.

Why Luxembourg as a research destination?

Camille Perchoux moved to Luxembourg as LISER was conducting a very innovative study on place effects on health based on map-based questionnaires, sensors and GPS trackers. It was “the perfect opportunity for me to grow as an independent researcher in the fields of neighbourhood and health.”

“Luxembourg applies the highest international standards of research, while the rather small size of the country facilitates the discussion and collaboration between researchers from different disciplines but also between researchers, political actors and stakeholders. Such dialogue between key actors in research and policy, and citizen is key in addressing complex societal challenges such as designing healthy and liveable cities while producing research with a high societal impact.”

Dr. Camille Perchoux

An FNR CORE 2020 grantee

Dr. Camille Perchoux is the principal investigator of the FNR CORE 2020 MET’HOOD project on the “Time-varying residential neighbourhood effects on cardiometabolic health”. Cardio-metabolic diseases are one of the leading causes of premature death worldwide.

“The MET’HOOD project is a joint collaboration between LISER and Luxembourg Institute of Health. It embraces a multidisciplinary team of urban geographers, epidemiologists, nutritionists, and sports scientists, with the support of local stakeholders in public health and urban planning “

Dr. Camille Perchoux

MET’HOOD explores the relationships between the socio-economic and physical environmental characteristics of residential neighbourhoods, behavioural cardiometabolic risk factors such as diet and physical activity, and the metabolic syndrome, over a nine-year period in Luxembourg.

Based on a country-wide, population based longitudinal study, this project will provide solid evidence on how urban density, transport infrastructures, foodscape characteristics and neighbourhood active-friendly characteristics have changed over the last decade in Luxembourg, and how such changes may have resulted in changes in the cardiometabolic health of the population.

About living in Luxembourg

After moving every six months during her PhD in between France and Canada, and then discovering the city of Lyon during her post-doctoral fellowship, Camille Perchoux was eager to discover a new country and a new culture.

“I believe that Luxembourg provides a great opportunity to benefit from natural spaces, in particular nature is accessible by bike and foot, while concentrating the assess of a capital city in terms of diversity to engage in social and leisure activities. Also, being exposed daily to such a great cultural and linguistic diversity provides me a strong sense of belonging to a European community.”

Dr. Camille Perchoux

More about Camille Perchoux

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How climate change affects glacier-fed streams?

Vanishing Glaciers.

Climate change is causing icy streams and their glaciers to vanish at a rapid pace. However, it is not just water that is being lost. We are also in danger of losing a unique microbiome, which may hold ancient biosignatures that reveal the secrets of how microbes lived in these ecosystems millions of years ago.

Furthermore, the genetic blueprints contained therein may also be of high relevance to human health.

How are glacier-fed streams affected by climate change? What do icy streams and their glaciers have in store? Why has it become urgent to sample microbial life in glacier-fed streams around the globe?

The Vanishing Glaciers Project brings together an international team of researchers in Switzerland, USA, Saudi Arabia and Luxembourg, including Prof. Dr. Paul Wilmes and Dr. Susheel Bhanu Busi, both from the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) at the University of Luxembourg. Travelling across the globe, the team, led by Prof. Dr. Tom Battin from the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), samples microbial biofilms in some of the remotest glacier-fed streams on Earth.

Exploring life at the bottom of glaciers before it’s too late

Microorganisms are the oldest, most abundant and most successful life forms on Earth. For over three billion years, microorganisms have been at the centre of major planetary cycles, surviving mass extinctions and global ice ages. In glacier-fed streams, microbial life dominates, making the most of a diversity of lifestyles and strategies to survive in some of the planet’s harshest environments, as they have done for millions of years.

As glaciers are literally vanishing around the globe at an alarming rate, we scarcely understand the impact of this global transition given our limited understanding of the life that inhabits these extreme environments.

Okjökull is Iceland’s first glacier to be lost to climate change

View over Langjökull, the second largest ice cap in Iceland and associated glaciers.

@Paul Wilmes

The Vanishing Glaciers project aims to answer fundamental questions about the life of glacier-fed streams by operating at the crossroads of microbial ecology, biogeochemistry, glaciology and geology.

What are the functional characteristics of microorganisms in glacier-fed streams?

Glacier-fed streams are hotspots of metabolism and nutrient cycling, providing a functional link between the glacial habitat on the roof of our planet and downstream ecosystems.

@Tom Battin The project involves extensive fieldwork.
@Tom Battin The field team sampling glacier-fed streams.

Looking back in the aftermath of the last ice age and looking into the future

Sampling the unsampled across the globe, the Vanishing Glaciers Project seeks to understand what ecological strategies microorganisms have developed to survive or thrive in extreme environments. Using metagenomic sequencing and activity rate measurements, the researchers are identifying and quantifying the processes allowing microorganisms in glacier-fed streams to persist in these harsh habitats year after year.

Another part of their work is to understand what the microbial life in these streams may have looked like thousands (and more) of years ago in the aftermath of the last ice age. In the meantime, the team is looking into the future trying to make predictions of what the microbial life will look like as glaciers keep on vanishing.

Luxembourg contributing to unique genomics expertise

Within the initiative, the Vanishing Glaciers Project was developed in partnership with the research group of Professor Paul Wilmes, based in the LCSB the University of Luxembourg.

@Paul Wilmes sampling microbial mats on Bretina Island near McMurdo Station in Antarctica.

Prof. Dr. Paul Wilmes

LCSB, University of Luxembourg

Member of the Vanishing Glaciers Project

“Mountain glaciers are rapidly retreating due to climate change. Glacier shrinkage is among the greatest changes of any hydrological system on Earth beyond sea-level rise. It profoundly changes the proglacial landscape with cascading impacts on the geomorphology and hydrology of the various streams therein. Despite the extent of this environmental change, the impacts of glacier shrinkage on the ontogeny, structure and functioning of nascent stream ecosystems and the floodplains they form are relatively poorly understood at present. The Vanishing Glacier Project aims to address this essential gap in knowledge against the ticking clock of rapid global change.”

The glaciers and the respective melt waters provide unique ecological niches for different kinds of microbes including bacteria, archaea, viruses and micro-eukaryotes. To date, the group has identified several microbe-driven biogeochemical functions required for survival in these extreme ecosystems, including those that may impact the global carbon cycle. Strikingly, the team has also found many unique and previously uncharacterised functions, which are likely essential in the grand scheme of global biogeochemical cycles.

This project will make it possible to predict the impact that climate change may have on the structure and function of the biofilm microbiome and its orchestration of biogeochemistry in glacier-fed streams.

“So far, we’ve catalogued 120+ glacier-fed streams with a goal to sample 200. The work is ongoing as we have other continents to explore, in particular North America. At the end of the day, the idea is to get a global catalog of microbial life, how it adapts to extreme conditions and what goes on these glacier-fed streams.”

Dr. Susheel Bhanu Busi
Postdoc researcher at LCSB, University of Luxembourg
Member of the Vanishing Glaciers Project

The Vanishing Glaciers Project is led by Tom J. Battin at Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland and supported by the NOMIS Foundation.

The international team includes :

  • Expedition team and technical specialists: Dr. Mike Styllas, Matteo Tolosano, Vincent de Staercke and Martina Schön
  • PhD candidates: Massimo Bourquin and Amy Holt
  • Postdocs: Dr. Tyler Kohler, Dr. Stelios Fodelianakis, Dr. Susheel Bhanu Busi, Dr. Leila Ezzat, Dr. Gregoire Michoud and Dr. Alex Wash (Montana State University)
  • EPFL Scientist: Dr. Hannes Peter; Research Technicians: Dr. Paraskevi Pramateftaki and Emmy Marie Oppliger;

  • PI: Tom J. Battin;

  • Collaborators/co-PIs: Prof. Paul Wilmes University of Luxembourg; Prof. Rob Spencer (Florida State University), Prof. Eran Hood (University of Alasaka Southeast) and Prof. Juliana D’Andrilli (Montana State University)

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When housing becomes unaffordable

Landowner and developer strategies in the radar.

In many urban areas across Europe and North America, the house price boom has limited access to housing for lower- and middle-income households. Instead of pointing to the responsibility of planning and other regulatory apparatuses in this low supply, the focus is now on the multiplicative interplay of private individual landowner and property developer strategies.

What if the concentrated ownership of residential land affects housing production in Luxembourg through the interplay of landowner and developer wealth accumulation strategies?

Drawing on expert interviews, researchers from the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER) and the University of Luxembourg are investigating land and housing in Luxembourg, analysing the development of 71 large-scale residential projects since 2007. Identifying the private land-based wealth accumulation strategies this facilitative planning regime enables, the analysis of land registry data shows land hoarding, land banking and the strategic use of the planning system.

Research on concentrated private ownership of land

Half of the land surface in England is owned by less than 1% of the population. Scotland has also been identified as having an extremely concentrated landownership structure. In Luxembourg, recent research has found high levels of private ownership concentration for residential land.

While most research projects examine the political economy of land on the distribution of propertied assets and how this affects economic phenomena, the authors focus on the concentrated private ownership of land. Though access to information on land ownership tends to be complicated, there is emerging work on the prevalence of high landownership concentration.

Luxembourg as a testbed to analyse housing affordability crisis

Luxembourg’s housing affordability crisis derives in no small measure from the interplay of land-based wealth accumulation strategies pursued by private property interests in the context of an extreme concentration in the ownership of land and of a facilitative planning infrastructure.

The continued dominance of private owners over land is made possible by the fact that the country has a low property tax and no inheritance tax on transfers in direct line. This has facilitated the transmission of land and housing wealth across generations in a context of rapid house and land price increases over the last decade.

Residential land is squarely in private hands and is subject to two interlocking, and multiplicative, processes of ownership concentration. Private individuals own the bulk of residential land and release it for housing production in a strategic way, and often by drawing on the planning apparatus to maximise land values. A small set of land-rich property developers capture the majority of the residential land that these private individuals decide to sell.

As public actors are marginal to the house building process, this small set of developers faces very limited competition in the housing market. This allows them to balance land banking and development to maximise company values, and to jointly set the price and volume of housing produced – thus contributing to spiralling property prices.

Housing supply issues not caused by the planning system

“Affordability issues can emerge in a context in which the planning system places very few limits on land supply. The issue is not the amount of land zoned as residential in municipal land use maps but the mobilisation of this land for residential development in a context in which housing production serves private land-based wealth accumulation strategies. “

Antoine Paccoud, Research Scientist,
Urban Development & Mobility, LISER

Read the full article Land and the housing affordability crisis: landowner and developer strategies in Luxembourg’s facilitative planning context by Antoine Paccoud, Markus Hesse, Tom BeckerMagdalena Górczyńska-Angiulli.

The research conducted on housing in Luxembourg by Antoine Paccoud and Magdalena Górczyńska is supported by the Fonds National de la Recherche du Luxembourg (FNR).

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In conversation with our young researchers: Dr. Soumyabrata Ghosh

Clinical and biological data.

Data is an asset. Future clinical advances will depend on the quality of data which we are collecting today.

Biomedical research is rapidly transforming into a data driven field of study. As a consequence, proper data infrastructure, management, and analysis are becoming critical.

Dr. Soumyabrata Ghosh is a postdoc researcher in the Bioinformatics Core group of the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) at the University of Luxembourg. He focuses on the clinical and biological data domain. His research aims to ensure the quality and integrity of the data and extract meaningful insight from it.

Bioinformatics, an interdisciplinary scientific field

Bioinformatics can be defined as “the application of computational tools to organise, analyse, understand, visualise and store information associated with biological macromolecules.” Interdisciplinary at heart, bioinformatics combines computer science, mathematics, physics, and biology.

Basically, bioinformatics consists of developing software tools and algorithms while analysing and interpreting biological data using a variety of specific software tools and algorithms.

“My research is focused to ensure the quality and integrity of the data and extract meaningful insight from it. I’m using both classical bioinformatics and newer data-science approaches for the analysis. As most of my projects have direct connection with the practicing clinicians, epidemiologists, patient organisation, and health policy officials, it is inspiring to see the real impact of my research.”

Dr. Soumyabrata Ghosh

Dr. Soumyabrata Ghosh is experiencing how biomedical research is rapidly transforming into a data driven field of study.

Science as a way of life

After completing his PhD in engineering from Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur, Dr. Soumyabrata Ghosh worked in both academic and industrial research. His focus area was specialised computational systems and their application in the biomolecular interaction modelling.

“I believe that science is a way of life. It is difficult for me to think about any other profession as an alternative. For me, apart from the usual target of publication and grant, research should have a purpose – a humble humanly purpose.”

Dr. Soumyabrata Ghosh

After joining LCSB, the bioinformatician shifted his research direction towards the clinical and biological data domain.

Why Luxembourg as a research destination?

Coming from Kolkata, a city in the eastern part of India, Soumyabrata feels that his decision to join the Bioinformatics Core group of LCSB largely contributed to his personal growth.

To him, “the country offers an openness and breathing space for new researchers.”

“The research environment and opportunities I got here as a new postdoc are quite incomparable. It is a privilege to work with science visionaries. And also finding mentors and team-mates have a huge positive impact on my work.”

“Infrastructure-wise Luxembourg is rapidly developing. Recently, supercomputing node Meluxina started its operation. I think that LCSB’s IT infrastructure and technical expertise can compete with the top research institutions in EU or North America.”

Dr. Soumyabrata Ghosh

Working on multiple EU and national projects

Due to his role in the interdisciplinary and collaborative projects, Dr. Soumyabrata Ghosh works with a variety of professionals – including clinicians, health workers, statisticians, experimental biologists, software engineers, project management and legal staffs.

Being in the intersect of translational medicine and information technology, the researcher is involved in the workflow management and data analysis of multiple EU projects like IMI-Biomap, IMI-Immuniverse, H2020-SYSCID as well as critical national projects like NCER-PD, and CON-VINCE. Soumyabrata is also coordinating the data and process standaridisation efforts including FAIRification or OMOP in various EU consortia and internally at LCSB.

“LCSB has an environment of openness and approachability. Bioinformatics Core, which has more than 50 members, shines with the team spirit among the researchers and technology people. “

Dr. Soumyabrata Ghosh

About living in Luxembourg

Even though there were some initial challenges and language barrier, overall settling down here was very smooth for the researcher.

To him, the best thing about Luxembourg is its people: “They are the best.”

“I like Luxembourg a lot. It is a nice and welcoming place to stay. Life is peaceful and internet bandwidth is high.”

Dr. Soumyabrata Ghosh

More about the Bioinformatics Core group of the LCSB.

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Latest news Sustainable & Responsible Development

Molecular biology for oil and gas exploration: Research Luxembourg joins EU project

Environmentally-friendly exploration methods.

Despite efforts to achieve to increase the percentage of renewable energy resources, oil and gas will continue to play an important role in Europe’s energy and raw material supply for at least 30 years. As less and less hydrocarbons are being sought in Europe, dependence on producing countries is increasing. One of the main reasons for this decline is the environmental impact of oil and gas exploration. New exploration methods are therefore needed to minimise the environmental footprint of the search for new deposits.

One of the key factors in achieving the EU’s greenhouse gas emission reduction targets is substituting coal with alternative energy sources, mainly natural gas.

Bringing together five research groups from Germany, Luxembourg and Austria, as well as a Norwegian exploration company, an EU project aims at reducing the ecological footprint in the search for new oil and gas deposits.

EU project PROSPECTOMICS gathers an international team of researchers, including the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) at the University of Luxembourg, and industry representatives to develop molecular biological methods for locating deposits. These methods are intended to replace deep drilling, which is highly intrusive to the environment.

Molecular biological methods as an environmentally-friendly response

Prospection of fossil fuels in densely populated areas like Europe is bound to tight environmental regulations and comes at economic costs. The need to decarbonise our energy system and promote the sustainability of European economies leads to conventional hydrocarbon prospection facing public resistance. Finding a balance between energy demands and responsible management of environmental resources remains a challenge in the years ahead.

A new and promising approach is based on molecular biological methods. They are designed to map changes in the sediments above reservoirs where micro-organisms are exposed to natural oil spills.

In order to develop new, industrially applicable prospecting methods based on molecular biology, a number of internationally renowned research groups have joined forces in PROSPECTOMICS, each specialised in the analysis of specific biomolecules.

Omics techniques to understand the activity and metabolic potential of microbial life in sediments

The approach taken in the project is based on the observation that every oil or gas reservoir has minimal leaks to which the microbial communities in the overlying sediment layers react. These reactions can be manifold – switching certain genes on or off, producing specific enzymes to degrade hydrocarbons, accumulating certain metabolic products or a shift in species composition – and are often minimal.

In comparison to geological and geophysical exploration, the project PROSPECTOMICS uses advanced “omics” techniques and detailed biogeochemistry to develop better understanding of the activity and metabolic potential of microbial life in sediments that are naturally exposed to hydrocarbon seepage.

The employed omics techniques will generate vast amounts of data, requiring analysis via machine learning and predictive models. The potential product of PROSPECTOMICS will be a set of biological “fingerprint” markers that can easily and routinely be employed to guide hydrocarbon exploration with minimal environmental disturbance.

An EU Horizon 2020 project

The EU project PROSPECTOMICS receives 3.4 million euros in funding for 42 months within the framework of the EU Horizon 2020 programme Future Emerging Technologies (FET).

The team brings together the German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam, the University of Greifswald, the University of Duisburg-Essen, the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine at the University of Luxembourg, the Centre for Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science at the University of Vienna and Lundin Energy, a Norwegian industrial partner.


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Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships granted to a Luxembourg researcher

Dr Pablo Elias Morande, a postdoctoral researcher at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), has been awarded funding under the European Commission’s Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships programme. Thanks to this grant, the researcher will work on the elucidation of some of the specific mechanisms underlying chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). His work will participate in advancing…

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Luxembourg rewarded for its translational medicine excellence 

The EATRIS Luxembourg Node, coordinated by Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) and its Integrated Biobank of Luxembourg (IBBL), as well as the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg, was rewarded for its achievements in terms of translational research. The award recognised the remarkable efforts of the Luxembourg Node members with regard to…

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Obesity: a new tool to diagnose visceral fat by Research Luxembourg

Accurate measurement of visceral fat remains tricky. Keeping track of your Body Mass Index (BMI) and waist circumference are not the best ways to tell if you are losing visceral fat. The new online tool Visceral Fat Calculator provides an accurate and easy assessment of visceral fat deposits in adults. This innovative tool is the…

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Covid-19 taskforce Inside Research Luxembourg Latest news Sustainable & Responsible Development

In conversation with our young researchers: Dr. Fabiana Ribeiro

Neuropsychology and inequalities.

Social distancing, quarantine, and self-isolation are some of the measures to contain the pandemic. How much of a challenge are these policies to the psychological well-being of the population? To what extent do they increase inequalities?

Did social isolation measures widen the inequality gap? Are women more likely to present severe symptoms of anxiety compared to men?

Fabiana Ribeiro, a postdoc researcher at the Institute for Research on Socio-Economic Inequality (IRSEI) within the Department of Social Sciences in University of Luxembourg, works on gender inequalities in cognitive ageing. She also investigates differences in the prevalence of memory impairment in Latin America and the Caribbean, focusing on temporal changes and the prevalence of associated risk factors.

Understanding the effects of social distance measures and bridging the inequality gap

The Brazilian neuropsychologist was involved in examining the effects of social distance measures. In a study involving professors from both Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro and the University College Dublin, she explored the frequency of anxiety and depression symptoms in a Brazilian sample during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Along with Prof. Anja Leist, she analysed the effects of COVID-19 restrictions on mental health in a Luxembourgish nationally representative sample (CON-VINCE study), in which Prof. Rejko Krüger is the principal investigator.

“The results of our studies can inform public policies with the aim to reduce the inequalities between men and women, as well as among those who are in a less favorable economic situation. Specifically, public policies that can lead these individuals to a higher quality of life, even in the face of possible cognitive or social limitations.”

Dr. Fabiana Ribeiro

Research was music to her ears

After receiving her master’s degree in developmental psychology and learning from the São Paulo State University, Fabiana Ribeiro completed a Ph.D. in Basic Psychology in 2019, at the University of Minho, Portugal, more specifically in Human cognition.

Throughout her PhD, she investigated the influence of social and mental health aspects on memory capacity and also the effects of listening to music on cognitive performance.

“I think I have several vocations, and research is just one of them. All my vocations, like art and psychology, make me a better researcher.”

Dr. Fabiana Ribeiro

Why Luxembourg as a research destination?

Fabiana Ribeiro chose Luxembourg to work in the research project called “Cognitive Aging: From Educational Opportunities to Individual Risk Profiles” (CRISP) led by Prof. Anja Leist. The prospect of making an impact was real: “I saw the possibility of using the project results to improve people’s quality of life”.

“I found in my work group strong work ethic, quality, methodological rigor, and an environment of respect and collaboration among researchers, which for me, are essential standards in doing science.”

Dr. Fabiana Ribeiro

The young researcher praises research infrastructure: “As researchers, we have access to modern infrastructures and equipment, as well as the technologies needed to perform our work on a daily basis.”

A member of the ERC CRISP research project

Dementia, which manifests itself through deterioration in memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday activities, affects roughly 50 million people worldwide and almost ten million people in Europe. Pathologies of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, have devastating effects on people and families. They represent a great challenge and cost for caregivers and health systems. Despite this, there is currently no treatment to reverse or cure cognitive impairment.

Fabiana Ribeiro is part of the “Cognitive Aging: From Educational Opportunities to Individual Risk Profiles” (CRISP) research project funded by the European Research Council, of which Prof. Anja Leist is the Principal Investigator.

CRISP aims to provide comprehensive knowledge and techniques to identify risk factors and people at risk of dementia, in order for them to benefit as early as possible from behavioural interventions.

“In the CRISP project, we work with professors from the University of Sao Paulo, namely Professors Yeda Duarte and Jair Santos, investigating the recent trends in cognitive impairment across four waves of the Health, Well-being and Aging survey (SABE) with data collected in representative samples of São Paulo, Brazil, in 2000, 2006, 2010, and 2015.”

Dr. Fabiana Ribeiro

In addition, the team is also exploring through a systematic review the prevalence rates of dementia in Latin America and the Caribbean and its association with sex/gender, area (rural/urban), educational levels, and year of data collection, which allows to capture secular trends. This work has been carried out with the collaboration of Dr. Ana Carolina Teixeira-Santos and Professor Paulo Caramelli.

More about the project

About living in Luxembourg

The researcher likes the multicultural environment of the university and the country. The care to insert different languages in essential documents, the respect and interest for the place people come from “make me not feel like a foreigner in Luxembourg”.

Luxembourg is a country full of history, natural beauty, as well as multicultural and multilingual. In addition, Luxembourg is a really peaceful place in comparison to other countries of Europe. All factors that I like and admire about it.”

Dr. Fabiana Ribeiro

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Meet Luxembourg digital twin

Digital Twin.

A digital twin is a virtual representation of physical systems, e.g. traffic, water or air, and physical assets like buildings or resources, that can make simulations, tests and predictions of planned actions in near real-time.

What’s a digital twin for? How such a project further supports Luxembourg in being a hub of excellence in terms of digital development?

Researchers from Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) in close cooperation with the Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) at the University of Luxembourg and the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER) are working on a digital twin of Luxembourg. This digital replica is set to be the world’s first-ever nationwide platform.

Such an innovation would propel Luxembourg to becoming a centre of excellence in digital development, making it even more attractive to international industrial companies willing to introduce their products and services to the European market and to academic players looking for a digital-friendly environment to develop research and innovation.

A digital twin to build a more resilient society

Digital twins have become important tools for improving our understanding of complex systems and helping us make informed decisions.

While digital replicas are commonly used to represent a car, a tunnel or an entire factory, Luxembourg researchers are building a nation twin.

This digital replica would be a virtual representation of physical systems and physical assets in Luxembourg that can make simulations, tests and predictions of planned actions almost in real time.

Luxembourg digital doppelgänger will help to build a more resilient society that can bring better understanding of the country and predict how it will behave during future crises.

An innovative solution to respond to crises

Luxembourg’s digital twin is proving to be a useful tool for managing health or environmental crisis situations.

During the pandemic, researchers set up a visualisation board as a “window” on the digital twin to help manage the crisis. Basically, they used it to visualise the impact of policy decisions – closing schools, reopening restaurants, keeping borders open, etc. – on the expected number of infections and hospitalisations as well as on different socio-economic variables.

The digital replica also spans other issues, including energy. In this case the solution finds its way into how to make the grid safer and more resilient.

A major challenge is to develop analytical methods that can handle the huge amount of data involved. As such, explainable and reliable AI would be helpful.

NATIONTWIN (Responsible AI for a NATION-wide and privacy preserving Digital TWIN) is supported by the FNR’s INITIATE programme.

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