The “Lost Generation” of European Scientists: How can we make the system more sustainable?

The “Lost Generation” refers to the growing cohort of senior post-doctoral researchers and other scientists who, after completing short-term contracts and temporary positions, find themselves excluded from research careers due to the lack of opportunities for permanent research positions. This cohort must contend with a ‘game’ whose rules no longer apply in today’s overcrowded and hyper-competitive research environment. Often, the difficulty in obtaining a full-time research position is further exacerbated by geographical, social, and familial constraints, and a lack of transferable skills that would enable a career switch. The loss of these highly trained individuals to our research institutions and to industry creates instability and represents an inefficient use of human talent and financial resources. Although the problem is not new, it is a critical issue and more needs to be done to address the needs of this cohort. Our goal is to launch a discussion with all relevant stakeholders toward actionable ideas to these systemic problems.

Scientists design new solar cells to capture energy from rain

Scientists from Soochow University in China are working on a solar panel design for an efficient hybrid solar panel. The purpose of their invention is to capture energy from rain as well as traditional solar energy. They hypothesized that their graphene infused solar cells will split raindrops into positive and negative ions. With continued tests, the team hopes to get the solar panels on par with traditional solar panel efficiency. Nonetheless, their current output is fairly close to reaching this milestone. In the near future, solar panels could generate energy rain or shine.

EU trachea transplant clinical trial TETRA “uncertain to take place”

The scandal of regenerative medicine surgeon Paolo Macchiarini and his deadly plastic tracheas made world news. Yet this human abuse, which started at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, was just a part of a much bigger horror story. The suffering and deaths of other trachea transplant patients of Macchiarini and his collaborators, those who received a decellurised cadaveric trachea, is much less known. I focused my reporting on it, bringing back to memory all those dead patients which the hospitals in London, Florence and Barcelona pretend never existed. Presently, 62 patients were scheduled to be treated with decellurised cadaveric trachea in two phase 1 clinical trials in UK and one EU-funded phase 2 clinical trial, all led by former Macchiarini partner, UCL laryngologist Martin Birchall. But now, all 3 clinical trials are not going anywhere.

A new era for EuroScientist to adapt to financial constraints

EuroScientist editor has left and this is an occasion for the magazine to make some changes and reinvent itself. While we will not change the goals and the mission of EuroScientist we will focus in the coming months on anticipating the debates at ESOF and debates on FP9. In addition, we will merge the EuroScience Newsletter into EuroScientist. Homo Scientificus Europaeus (HSE) will also be integrated in EuroScientist website in the following weeks. We will also invite new contributions from you whatever you think is useful and valuable for the discussions in the wider science community and beyond that among stakeholders in science and innovation.

Podcast: How open science could benefit from blockchain

Find out from four experts how blockchain technology is likely to change the way scientists work. Some focus on the impact of blockchain-based cryptocurrencies in the financing of research while others analyse the way blockchain can improve the quality of the research itself by increasing its reproducibility. Clearly, blockchain has so many potential applications that we are only just opening the door to its many potential disruptions in professional research circles.

Spain, the European exception: ‘economic miracle’ & scientific suicide

Six years ago, the Spanish parliament approved Law 14/2011, known as the Science Law, aiming to modernise and harmonise different aspects of scientific activity in Spain, by a virtually unanimous vote. Today, Spanish scientists are still waiting for the law to be fully implemented; more than three and half years after the deadline for implementation has passed.

In this article, the 5s6s Platform, a grassroots movement of Spanish scientists, including about 400 tenured scientists working in OPIs, supported by another >1300 scientists working in different Spanish Universities and other research institutions, denounces this untenable situation and requests that the Government finally implements the law.

Are blockchain applications guided by adequate social values?

At their simplest, blockchains are just lists of transactions – ledger books – that are recorded in a transparent and decentralised way. Currencies such as Bitcoin are the best-known application of the technology. However, other applications are emerging far beyond the financial sector. In this stimulating opinion piece, Philip Boucher, policy analyst at the European Parliament’s Scientific Foresight Unit explains the opportunities and challenges that such an emerging technology offers. The biggest question is: are we ready to give up traditional financial and governmental control in favour of decentralised blockchain applications harbouring greater transparency? Some of the answers may be found in an event organised by the Scientific Foresight Unit of the European Parliament event on the 11th May 2017.

HPV: Vaccines against cervical cancer

This article has been produced as part of a data journalism initiative called ‘Medicamentalia – Vaccines ‘ brought to you by the Civio Foundation. It outlines some of the successes in vaccination campaigns from governments across the world. It also gives you a historical perspective on the key scientists who have been instrumental in developing vaccines of the past centuries. Find out more, it makes for an insightful reading.