Thank you for your interest in EuroScholars, a unique research study abroad program in Europe. In each edition, this newsletter aims to keep you updated with the latest program developments!
In the Spotlight: K.U.Leuven University, Belgium
As a university, K.U.Leuven distinguishes itself from other research centres by its autonomous statement of problems, by the disinterested character of its fundamental research, by its focus on education and by the fact that within its walls almost all academic disciplines are represented. In a number of fields (such as biotechnology, environment, medical research, European integration and diversity, arts and nanotechnology) the university aspires to a place among the centres of excellence in Europe and in the world.
At K.U.Leuven, knowledge is transferred through high quality interdisciplinary teaching. Study programs pay special attention to the integration of professional training into a broad ethical, cultural and social context of education. Rather than passing on mere factual knowledge, students are encouraged to develop their skills to identify, formulate and solve problems. Thus, the necessary conditions for a stimulating educational experience are created. Special attention is paid to the steady evaluation of the teaching process in order to enhance the students’ capacity to study independently, to provide intensive individual guidance and an adequate evaluation system, and to make sure that the teaching staff has excellent didactic qualities, making use of new teaching methods and technologies.
Kellogg’s finances fundamental cereal science and nutrition research at K.U.Leuven
“This is the first time in its hundred-year history that Kellogg’s is financing fundamental research at a university,” Margaret Bath, Vice President Research, Quality and Technology at Kellogg’s tells us. “We chose K.U.Leuven because the university conducts the best research in cereal fibers and their metabolites in human nutrition.” Professors Jan Delcour of the Centre for Food and Microbial Technology and Kristin Verbeke of the Gastroenterology Section have been appointed joint holders of the W.K. Kellogg Chair in Cereal Science and Nutrition.
Margaret Bath: “We produce high-fiber cereal products for the general public. As far as we are concerned, co-operation with Kristin and Jan is the perfect choice for in-depth research into prebiotics extracted from wheat bran.” Prebiotics are carbohydrate components in food that are neither digested nor absorbed in the human small intestine and which selectively stimulate beneficial colon micro biota to the detriment of harmful micro-organisms.
“Cereal-derived prebiotics are indeed beneficial to human health,” Kristin Verbeke says. “What we don’t know is which metabolic processes play a role in this regard. Our objective is to discover the most important basic mechanisms of action in the digestive system, which explain how these processes work.” Nelson Almeida, Vice President of Global Nutrition and Regulatory Sciences at Kellogg’s: “Hitherto, nobody has unraveled these fundamental processes. Greater insight into the mechanisms of action behind the physiological processes that bring about nutritional and health benefits in the long run will enable us to make our products more effective and increase their nutritional and health value for our consumers. We believe that the research group led by Jan Delcour and Kristin Verbeke will successfully reveal these basic mechanisms.”
Margaret Bath: “Our headquarters may be located in America, but we are a truly multinational organization and are only interested in the best research, irrespective of where it is conducted.”
K.U.Leuven researchers awarded ERC grants totaling 5 million euro
Researchers Peter Carmeliet and Bart De Strooper have both been awarded Advanced Grants from the European Research Council. ERC Advanced Grants are the most prestigious European research grants, spanning a period of 5 years. Peter Carmeliet of the VIB Vesalius Research Centre will receive approximately 2.5 million euro for research focused on stopping the energy supply into blood vessels. This is a fundamentally new strategy to combat cancer. Bart De Strooper of the VIB Department of Developmental and Molecular Genetics will receive 2.5 million euro to develop a new approach to researching the causes of Alzheimer’s disease, based on disrupting the expression of microRNA (miRNA). This research may lay the foundation for new techniques to diagnose this devastating disease. It is also intended to result in the identification of new targets for medication.
Students interested in doing research at KU Leuven but do not see a project that relates to their interest can inquire after possibilities here
Perspective from a EuroScholar: Gregory Zegarek's (Rutgers University, NJ) experience at Geneva University, Switzerland Fall 2010
My time spent in Geneva on the Euroscholars program proved to be everything that I expected and more. I look back very fondly on my time in the laboratory, and the people that I had the chance to meet while I was there. In my view, studying abroad is a fantastic opportunity to broaden horizons in terms of cultural awareness, but the Euroscholars broadened my personal academic ambitions as well. Not only did I come back to my home institution with a new outlook on American relations, but I am now looking to pursue research as a career which I had not considered as a serious option before this experience.
In Geneva, I was working in an fMRI laboratory on a project concerning the effect of hypnosis on pain and stress. Of course there are laboratories in the United States that are doing fMRI research and even research on hypnosis, but traveling to Europe and conducting the research in Switzerland gave me the opportunity to see how the university system differs in Europe compared to the United States. Specifically, what I observed is that there is a more strict differentiation of the students into their respective disciplines in Europe such that they pursue a more focused course of study from high school whereas the American System embraces the idea of a liberal arts education with much opportunity to explore different areas of study. What I truly enjoyed about studying in Europe was the fact that the people in my lab came from many different countries not only in Europe but around the world. Thus, each person contributed a unique perspective to the lab environment.
As I now plan to continue to do research, I do want to retain some of the characteristic features of my European experience that I found to differ in America. For instance, I noticed that my colleagues in the lab took out time each day to eat lunch together in the café, whereas in the US researchers are more likely to grab a quick bite in between runs of an experiment. I think that keeping a social structure is important not only for human interaction but also for the spread of scientific ideas. Overall, the experience in Geneva was fantastic and I hope to someday make it back!
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