SZTNH and ELKH partnership to render utilization of research findings more effective

On October 29, 2020, the management of the National Intellectual Property Office (SZTNH) and the Secretariat of the Eötvös Loránd Research Network (ELKH) signed a framework cooperation agreement. The aim of the partnership is to support the social and economic utilization of the research results achieved at the ELKH network, with the appropriate protection of intellectual property being a major contributor to this effort.

“Aligning research and industrial property protection will contribute to the long-term success of the research network. As part of this collaboration, researchers will receive assistance for securing their innovations with various types of protection forms, such as patents, utility model protection, and trademarks. By applying industrial property protection, not only the scientific results, but also the economic and social usefulness of the developed solutions are visible. This approach is not only exemplary, but it must be applied in Hungarian research,” said Gyula Pomázi, President of SZNTH, at the press conference. He added that “during its nearly 125 years of existence, SZTNH has always supported domestic development projects and innovations. Their task remains the same today, though it has also been expanded to include research and development certification, something which is becoming increasingly popular among SMEs.”

 

The common goal of the cooperating parties is to promote the protection and utilization of intellectual works created at the ELKH research sites, and to increase the intellectual property protection awareness of researchers. To this end – in addition to expressing their intention to cooperate – the parties also set out their first annual work plan for the partnership.

 

“As a network of the country’s most important knowledge-producing research sites, ELKH has a prominent role in Hungarian scientific life, and its performance significantly influences Hungary’s position in international innovation rankings. In addition to the production of high-quality research findings, the key to its effectiveness is the social and economic utilization of these findings. The cooperation with the National Office of Intellectual Property will play a major role in the successful implementation of this process,” emphasized Miklós Maróth, President of the Eötvös Lóránd Research Network. He added that “the partnership is mutually beneficial for the parties. Increasing the research community’s industrial property protection and copyright awareness and tools – in addition to the renewed innovation processes – will promote our mutual interests in the effective social and economic exploitation of emerging intellectual property.”

 

The common goal of the two organizations is to increase the intellectual property protection awareness of ELKH researchers and to support the protection and utilization of their intellectual work. Within the framework of the cooperation, SZTNH experts will in future take on the role of speakers at ELKH intellectual property protection and awareness-raising events. In addition to the planned joint training, SZTNH will also support the renewal of ELKH’s intellectual property management practice and the development of a network-level research utilization strategy.

 

More information:

 

Hungarian National Intellectual Property Office: https://www.sztnh.gov.hu/hu

Media relations: Georgina Gyulasi, georgina.gyulasi[at]hipo.gov.hu, +36 30 298 4646

Eötvös Loránd Research Network: https://elkh.org/

Media relations: Éva Hencz, hencz.eva[at]elkh.org, +36 30 155 1803

SZTNH and ELKH partnership to render utilization of research findings more effective

On October 29, 2020, the management of the National Intellectual Property Office (SZTNH) and the Secretariat of the Eötvös Loránd Research Network (ELKH) signed a framework cooperation agreement. The aim of the partnership is to support the social and economic utilization of the research results achieved at the ELKH network, with the appropriate protection of intellectual property being a major contributor to this effort.

“Aligning research and industrial property protection will contribute to the long-term success of the research network. As part of this collaboration, researchers will receive assistance for securing their innovations with various types of protection forms, such as patents, utility model protection, and trademarks. By applying industrial property protection, not only the scientific results, but also the economic and social usefulness of the developed solutions are visible. This approach is not only exemplary, but it must be applied in Hungarian research,” said Gyula Pomázi, President of SZNTH, at the press conference. He added that “during its nearly 125 years of existence, SZTNH has always supported domestic development projects and innovations. Their task remains the same today, though it has also been expanded to include research and development certification, something which is becoming increasingly popular among SMEs.”

The common goal of the cooperating parties is to promote the protection and utilization of intellectual works created at the ELKH research sites, and to increase the intellectual property protection awareness of researchers. To this end – in addition to expressing their intention to cooperate – the parties also set out their first annual work plan for the partnership.

“As a network of the country’s most important knowledge-producing research sites, ELKH has a prominent role in Hungarian scientific life, and its performance significantly influences Hungary’s position in international innovation rankings. In addition to the production of high-quality research findings, the key to its effectiveness is the social and economic utilization of these findings. The cooperation with the National Office of Intellectual Property will play a major role in the successful implementation of this process,” emphasized Miklós Maróth, President of the Eötvös Lóránd Research Network. He added that “the partnership is mutually beneficial for the parties. Increasing the research community’s industrial property protection and copyright awareness and tools – in addition to the renewed innovation processes – will promote our mutual interests in the effective social and economic exploitation of emerging intellectual property.”

The common goal of the two organizations is to increase the intellectual property protection awareness of ELKH researchers and to support the protection and utilization of their intellectual work. Within the framework of the cooperation, SZTNH experts will in future take on the role of speakers at ELKH intellectual property protection and awareness-raising events. In addition to the planned joint training, SZTNH will also support the renewal of ELKH’s intellectual property management practice and the development of a network-level research utilization strategy.

 

More information:

 

Hungarian National Intellectual Property Office: https://www.sztnh.gov.hu/hu

Media relations: Georgina Gyulasi, georgina.gyulasi[at]hipo.gov.hu, +36 30 298 4646

Eötvös Loránd Research Network: https://elkh.org/

Media relations: Éva Hencz, hencz.eva[at]elkh.org, +36 30 155 1803

New oxidation furnace to strengthen MEMS development in the Centre for Energy Research

A new oxidation furnace has been put in operation in the MEMS Laboratory of the Centre for Energy Research (CER), a member of the Eötvös Lóránd Research Network. Financed by the European Union, the investment represents a major step in the upgrade of the existing Si processing line, signaling a major contribution to the enhancement of both the R&D activities and higher education training in the field of sensor development and related material research.

The four-tube system is calibrated for dry and wet oxidation, as well as for medium and high-temperature annealing processes required in Si-based MEMS fabrication. The new equipment significantly improves the overall quality of the processing line, something which is essential for engaging in a competitive R&D activity. This may be well demonstrated in the execution of the ongoing H2020 ECSEL projects that CER is involved in, namely “A pilot line for the next generation of smart catheters and implants (POSITIONII)” and “Enabling Moore for Medical (Moore4Med),” as well as in the Russian-Hungarian bilateral sensor development project entitled “Low power consumption-type nanosensors for gas detecting in a harsh environment”.

In addition to the international activity, the laboratory’s research group is highly committed to supporting domestic industrial needs and higher education by hosting BSc and MSc students and offering PhD research topics.

The project, which has a total value of HUF 227 million, was jointly funded by the European Union and the Hungarian Government from the European Structural and Investment Funds, via the Competitive Central-Hungary Operative Program – Strategic R&D centers.

More information:

https://www.mfa.kfki.hu/kutatas/projektek/vekop-diffuzios/

Contact:

Dr. Dücső, Csaba, project leader

ELKH Centre for Energy Research, Institute for Technical Physics and Material Science

Phone: +36 1 392 2222/3885

ducso.csaba[at]ek-cer.hu

 

 

 

Four of the 17 National Laboratories and one Research Laboratory led by an ELKH research site

Four National Laboratories and one Research Laboratory that are expected to largely contribute to Hungary’s economic development and increasing of its international competitiveness are being established under the leadership of one research center and two research institutes belonging to the Eötvös Loránd Research Network (ELKH). 

The government supports the establishment and operation of 17 National Laboratories and a Research Laboratory in the five-year period from 2020 and 2025, with HUF 14 billion funding this year and a total of around HUF 90 billion in the coming years.

Four key research and development areas have been identified in the National Laboratories Program –  secure society and environment, health, industry and digitalization, and culture and family – where, building on our domestic strengths, project participants can provide answers to global challenges while making a significant contribution to the economic development of the country and increasing its international competitiveness. Several institutions belonging to the ELKH research network actively participated in the development of the program.

The main objective of the program is to bring together research institutes, universities and industry players in a given research topic, and to provide access to future-oriented technologies that can be used to implement world-class research and innovation programs by Hungarian research sites. In addition, the mission of the program is to develop the competencies that are essential for this, and to utilize the research results as widely as possible.

The ELKH research network is a key participant in the implementation of the National Laboratories Program. In the field of industry and digitalization, two projects led by ELKH’s Institute for Computer Science & Control (SZTAKI) were announced – the National Laboratory of Artificial Intelligence and the National Laboratory of Autonomous Systems – as well as the National Laboratory for Quantum Informatics led by the Wigner Research Centre for Physics (Wigner FK). The Institute of Experimental Medicine (KOKI), the Centre for Social Sciences (TK) and the Alfréd Rényi Institute of Mathematics (Rényi) are also consortium partners in the National Laboratory of Artificial Intelligence.

The National Laboratory of Biotechnology, implemented under the leadership of the Szeged Biological Research Centre (BRC) within the topic of health, and the Nanoplasmonic Laser Fusion Research Laboratory led by Wigner FK within the topic of safe society and environment will start operation in 2020.

In addition, the Multidisciplinary National Laboratory for Climate Change established under the topic of safe society and environment will be implemented with the participation of the Balaton Limnology Institute of the ELKH Centre for Ecological Research, with the leadership of Pannon University.


Brief presentation of the projects led by and with the participation of the ELKH research sites:

1. National Laboratory of Artificial Intelligence
– under the leadership of the ELKH Institute for Computer Science & Control

The aim of the National Laboratory of Artificial Intelligence (MILAB) is to promote Hungary’s role in the field of artificial intelligence. Key topics address industry research, including research into medical diagnostic and biometric applications, the agriculture and food industry, transport, manufacturing and processing industry, telecommunications, as well as the mathematical foundations of deep learning using artificial intelligence. In addition, the program covers the development of machine vision, natural language processing, and research into data processing technologies that ensure the protection of personal data. 

2. National Laboratory of Autonomous Systems
– under the leadership of the ELKH Institute for Computer Science & Control

The National Laboratory of Autonomous Systems aims to provide an efficient and innovative solution to mobility-related research tasks, focusing on road vehicles, aircraft and mobile robots. Its activities focus on research related to mobility, developments demonstrating functional and cooperative operation, the implementation of knowledge transfer, public tender and industrial projects, and education. The research results and know-how generated in connection with the project will not only help increase the added value of the domestic automotive industry, but also boost the social acceptance of autonomous vehicles by communicating the results.

In line with the European Union’s research and innovation objectives, the Laboratory defines its mission, vision and research and development tasks in accordance with the principles of open innovation, open science and knowledge transfer, and “opening up to the world”, i.e. the realization of international cooperation.

3. National Laboratory of Quantum Informatics
– under the leadership of the ELKH Wigner Research Centre for Physics

One of the strategic goals of the National Laboratory of Quantum Informatics is to create a regional quantum communication network that can be connected to the quantum Internet planned in the European Union. Its aim is to develop hardware components based on photons, atoms and artificial atoms for quantum IT operations, to maintain the necessary laboratory infrastructure at cutting-edge international level, as well as to develop domestic expertise with state-of-the-art knowledge able to operate quantum computers as users in a large infrastructure.

 4. Nanoplasmonic Laser Fusion Research Laboratory
– under the leadership of the ELKH Wigner Research Centre for Physics

The main goal of the Nanoplasmonic Laser Fusion Research Laboratory is to increase the efficiency of laser ignition fusion through the plasmon effect. Ensuring efficient and sustainable energy production is one of humanity’s greatest problems today. One of the most promising solutions to this problem is the implementation of fusion energy generation. The Nanoplasmonic Laser Fusion Research Laboratory is investigating the effects of plasmons (collective electron excitations) induced by ultrashort laser pulses in a pioneering way that has led to the development of inertial fusion techniques. Inertial fusion is a method of controlled nuclear fusion in which the fusion material is compressed with high energy, in this case, laser beams, thus creating the conditions for fusion. Based on the results gained so far, this method can make nuclear fusion ignition more efficient and economical, thus promising a new, innovative solution. 

5. National Laboratory of Biotechnology
– under the leadership of the ELKH Szeged Biological Research Centre

The goal of the National Biotechnology Laboratory is to develop unique, competitive technologies and therapeutic procedures in Hungary using the most modern biotechnology tools, focusing on drug-resistant bacteria, developing new types of vaccines, and identifying drug molecules suitable for the treatment of newly diagnosed rare diseases. The laboratory focuses on the study of global problems associated with pandemics caused by infectious diseases, especially in research areas related to antibiotic resistance, COVID-19 infection, and swine fever.

6. Multidisciplinary National Laboratory for Climate Change
– under the leadership of Pannon University, consortium partner: ELKH Centre for Ecological Research

Within the framework of this project, the researchers of the Balaton Limnology Institute are studying the effects of climate change on Lake Balaton, focusing their research in three areas in particular. On one hand, they are studying biodiversity, including the responses of invertebrates and vertebrates and macro-vegetation to climate change. Secondly, they are separately studying algae, microorganisms, and the chemical constituents of the lake. Thirdly, they are carrying out in vitro and in silico experiments in their mesocosm system, using computer models to better understand the processes. The main goal is to use a well-designed and smart integration of research to gain a better understanding of what is happening in the lake and how sensitive it is to climate change.

 

Understanding the volatiles that determine the behavior of fungus gnats can help grow mushrooms more efficiently, according to ATK researchers

The Plant Protection Institute of the ELKH Centre for Agricultural Research is studying organisms that damage plants, as well as, in some cases, the possibilities of protecting against arthropod pests that affect domestic animals, farm animals, food stocks and cultivated fungi. Mushroom growing is an important and specialized area of food production where pests can cause problems that are as serious as those affecting crop production.

Lycoriella ingenua nőstény szúnyogok laskagombán

Dark-winged fungus gnats are cosmopolitan insects that are present almost everywhere in the world. When we overwater our indoor plants, these insects usually appear in the soil. They are not considered significant pests for agriculture, but they can cause significant damage during the production of propagating material (seedlings, cuttings and plants). As the larvae of dark-winged fungus gnats damage the hair roots of young plants, proper water uptake cannot be ensured for these plants, resulting in wilting and death. Furthermore, the larvae are also known to be vectors for many soil-dwelling pathogens, such as Pythium fungal species.

Dark-winged fungus gnats cause significant damage in mushroom production as these insects are considered to be the most dangerous pests in the world in this special form of cultivation. Dark-winged fungus gnats  – or, as producers often call them, mushroom mosquitoes – can appear in any mushroom culture and, due to their rapid development cycles, are able to multiply in huge numbers in a short period of time. Both larvae and adults represent a serious problem. The larva is responsible for exhausting the compost of the fungus, damaging the mycelium and the developing spore-producing tissues, while the adult is involved in the spread various pathogenic organisms. As the number of pesticides authorized for domestic mushroom production is small and the introduction of insecticides with a new mechanism of action cannot be expected, the development of alternative control methods will play an increasingly important role in future.

In their research, the staff of the Plant Protection Institute of the ELKH Centre for Agricultural Research performed electrophysiological and behavioral studies with the fungal species Lycoriella ingenua, which occurs in fungal cultivation. Their research examined the preference of female fungus gnats for various agricultural raw materials, such as different compost phases and cover soil samples. Based on their results, they concluded that fungus gnats prefer cultivation stocks not yet colonized by fungal mycelium and avoided the mycelium of the meadow mushroom. Volatile compounds already present in mycelial media that are physiologically active for fungus gnats were then determined by volatile detector gas chromatography. By adding a synthetic blend of active ingredients to the non-colonized compost, the researchers successfully mimicked the odor pattern of the colonized compost, thus confusing the selection mechanism of fungus gnats.

Based on their research, ELKH ATK’s staff assume that L. ingenua females avoid media highly colonized with mycelium and, if they can, choose an alternative. On the other hand, meadow mushroom mycelium is unlikely to be repellent to females, and preference may instead depend on the amount of mycelium in the medium, which is a competitor for larvae.

Holland típusú gombaház: bio csiperkegomba

Sándor Kecskeméti, Magdolna Olívia Szelényi, Anna Laura Erdei, András Geösel, József Fail & Béla Péter Molnár (2020): Fungal Volatiles as Olfactory Cues for Female Fungus Gnat, Lycoriella ingenua in the Avoidance of Mycelia Colonized Compost. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 46, 917–926. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10886-020-01210-5

Researchers at BRC have developed qualitatively new antibiotic molecules that have been shown to be effective against superbacteria

Frequent and inappropriate use of antibiotics poses a serious health risk. Multidrug-resistant bacteria, often referred to simply as “superbacteria” in the media, are resistant to several antibiotics, have become widespread and are responsible for many deaths worldwide. Hospitals and health care facilities are the focal points for the development of bacterial infections, where antibiotics are widely used and pathogens can spread easily among patients. In the current situation, there is an urgent need to develop new, effective antibiotics; therefore, the research group of the Synthetic and Systems Biology Unit within the Institute of Biophysics of the ELKH Szeged Biological Research Center (BRC) started to develop antibiotic molecules that may be effective against superbacteria.

Szuperbaktériumok kémcsőben

According to a survey conducted by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, multidrug-resistant pathogens caused pneumonia and bloodstream or urinary tract infections in 8.3% of patients admitted to intensive care units in 2017 in Europe. In addition to the additional costs of prolonged treatment, these infections very often result in the deaths of patients – according to WHO data from 2019, this accounts for 700,000 mortalities a year. It is estimated that this number could increase in the future to such an extent that resistant infections could claim more deaths than cancer by 2050. Obvoiusly, the problem of resistance also affects Hungary. The most common infections in Hungarian hospitals are caused by Acinetobacter baumannii, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and MRSA, which is a well-known example of resistant superbacteria.

New antibiotics are needed

In the current severe crisis, in addition to a change of approach globally, there is an urgent need to develop new, effective antibiotics, but this process has slowed down considerably in recent years. Since bacteria can become resistant extremely quickly, new antibiotics prove ineffective shortly after they are placed on the market, or often even during the testing process. Because the huge amount of time and money invested in the development process does not pay off, pharmaceutical companies are becoming less and less interested in antibiotic development, and some companies, e.g. Novartis and Sanofi, have completely halted research in this area. If we were more careful at the very beginning of the development process, we would be more likely to find agents that would remain effective for a longer period of time. This requires a novel and rational approach to designing molecules. By modifying their design and structure, specific molecules can be created against which bacteria find it more difficult to develop resistance.

Laboratóriumi robotok segítik a kutatók munkáját

One dangerous pathogen: MRSA

The goal of Csaba Pál’s research group is to develop antibiotic molecules that are effective against MRSA infection caused by the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacterium, or MRSA for short. MRSA is one of the most dangerous pathogens in Europe, including Hungary. There are countries where it causes more infections and often fatal conditions than any other infectious disease combined. Some estimates put the associated global health care costs at USD 5 billion a year. Antibiotics currently on the market and under development do not offer a satisfactory solution because MRSA adapts extremely quickly to new antibiotics.

In close professional collaboration with the University of Ljubljana, the research team designed two qualitatively new antibiotic candidates, called ULD1 and ULD2. The special property of these molecules is that they have several targets within the bacterial cell, so the development of resistance is minimal. Preliminary experiments in mice show that ULD1 and ULD2 are particularly effective against MRSA skin infections, and at the same time, they have no detrimental effect on human cells. Csaba Pál et al. demonstrated that antibiotics on the market or under development are ineffective against many genetic variants of MRSA. In sharp contrast, ULD1 and ULD2 effectively eradicated all MRDA variants tested under laboratory conditions. Therefore, the international patenting process for this family of molecules is already in progress.

With the support of the National Biotechnology Laboratory, which will be launched in the near future, it has become possible to develop new, even more effective antibiotic candidates and to further test promising molecules. The ultimate goal is to make the molecules marketable to internationally significant drug development companies. The research appeared of the pages of the prestigious Plos Biology publication:

https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3000819

Csaba Pál

He received his doctoral degree at Eötvös Loránd University in 2002 and then spent several years abroad on a scholarship, studying in Oxford and Heidelberg. Since 2008, he has been a researcher at the Szeged Biological Research Centre of the Eötvös Loránd Research Network, a senior researcher at the Institute of Biochemistry, and one of the heads of the Synthetic and Systems Biology Unit. He specializes in antibiotic resistance and genome engineering. In the course of his career, he was awarded the European Research Council’s Starting (2008-2013), Consolidator (2015-2020) and Proof of Concept (2019–) grants, earning his research team EUR 3.5 million in direct funding. He has published more than 50 scientific papers in prestigious journals such as Nature, Nature Microbiology, Nature Genetics, Science and PNAS. His research work has been recognized by several prizes. In 2009, he won the Ignaz L. Lieben Prize of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, he was awarded the Szent-Györgyi Talent Prize in 2014, and the János Bolyai Creative Prize in 2015. He has been a member of Academia Europaea since 2016, the European Organization for Molecular Biology (EMBO) since 2017, and the Federation of European Microbiological Societies since 2018. He is also a member of the editorial boards of Molecular Biology and Evolution, Plos Biology and Biology Direct.

Fiatal tehetségek Pál Csaba laborban 2018-ban

 

Further details: http://group.szbk.u-szeged.hu/sysbiol/

Researchers at BRC have developed qualitatively new antibiotic molecules that have been shown to be effective against superbacteria

Frequent and inappropriate use of antibiotics poses a serious health risk. Multidrug-resistant bacteria, often referred to simply as “superbacteria” in the media, are resistant to several antibiotics, have become widespread and are responsible for many deaths worldwide. Hospitals and health care facilities are the focal points for the development of bacterial infections, where antibiotics are widely used and pathogens can spread easily among patients. In the current situation, there is an urgent need to develop new, effective antibiotics; therefore, the research group of the Synthetic and Systems Biology Unit within the Institute of Biophysics of the ELKH Szeged Biological Research Center (BRC) started to develop antibiotic molecules that may be effective against superbacteria.

Szuperbaktériumok kémcsőben

According to a survey conducted by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, multidrug-resistant pathogens caused pneumonia and bloodstream or urinary tract infections in 8.3% of patients admitted to intensive care units in 2017 in Europe. In addition to the additional costs of prolonged treatment, these infections very often result in the deaths of patients – according to WHO data from 2019, this accounts for 700,000 mortalities a year. It is estimated that this number could increase in the future to such an extent that resistant infections could claim more deaths than cancer by 2050. Obvoiusly, the problem of resistance also affects Hungary. The most common infections in Hungarian hospitals are caused by Acinetobacter baumannii, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and MRSA, which is a well-known example of resistant superbacteria.

New antibiotics are needed

In the current severe crisis, in addition to a change of approach globally, there is an urgent need to develop new, effective antibiotics, but this process has slowed down considerably in recent years. Since bacteria can become resistant extremely quickly, new antibiotics prove ineffective shortly after they are placed on the market, or often even during the testing process. Because the huge amount of time and money invested in the development process does not pay off, pharmaceutical companies are becoming less and less interested in antibiotic development, and some companies, e.g. Novartis and Sanofi, have completely halted research in this area. If we were more careful at the very beginning of the development process, we would be more likely to find agents that would remain effective for a longer period of time. This requires a novel and rational approach to designing molecules. By modifying their design and structure, specific molecules can be created against which bacteria find it more difficult to develop resistance.

Laboratóriumi robotok segítik a kutatók munkáját

One dangerous pathogen: MRSA

The goal of Csaba Pál’s research group is to develop antibiotic molecules that are effective against MRSA infection caused by the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacterium, or MRSA for short. MRSA is one of the most dangerous pathogens in Europe, including Hungary. There are countries where it causes more infections and often fatal conditions than any other infectious disease combined. Some estimates put the associated global health care costs at USD 5 billion a year. Antibiotics currently on the market and under development do not offer a satisfactory solution because MRSA adapts extremely quickly to new antibiotics.

In close professional collaboration with the University of Ljubljana, the research team designed two qualitatively new antibiotic candidates, called ULD1 and ULD2. The special property of these molecules is that they have several targets within the bacterial cell, so the development of resistance is minimal. Preliminary experiments in mice show that ULD1 and ULD2 are particularly effective against MRSA skin infections, and at the same time, they have no detrimental effect on human cells. Csaba Pál et al. demonstrated that antibiotics on the market or under development are ineffective against many genetic variants of MRSA. In sharp contrast, ULD1 and ULD2 effectively eradicated all MRDA variants tested under laboratory conditions. Therefore, the international patenting process for this family of molecules is already in progress.

With the support of the National Biotechnology Laboratory, which will be launched in the near future, it has become possible to develop new, even more effective antibiotic candidates and to further test promising molecules. The ultimate goal is to make the molecules marketable to internationally significant drug development companies. The research appeared of the pages of the prestigious Plos Biology publication:

https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3000819

Csaba Pál

He received his doctoral degree at Eötvös Loránd University in 2002 and then spent several years abroad on a scholarship, studying in Oxford and Heidelberg. Since 2008, he has been a researcher at the Szeged Biological Research Centre of the Eötvös Loránd Research Network, a senior researcher at the Institute of Biochemistry, and one of the heads of the Synthetic and Systems Biology Unit. He specializes in antibiotic resistance and genome engineering. In the course of his career, he was awarded the European Research Council’s Starting (2008-2013), Consolidator (2015-2020) and Proof of Concept (2019–) grants, earning his research team EUR 3.5 million in direct funding. He has published more than 50 scientific papers in prestigious journals such as Nature, Nature Microbiology, Nature Genetics, Science and PNAS. His research work has been recognized by several prizes. In 2009, he won the Ignaz L. Lieben Prize of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, he was awarded the Szent-Györgyi Talent Prize in 2014, and the János Bolyai Creative Prize in 2015. He has been a member of Academia Europaea since 2016, the European Organization for Molecular Biology (EMBO) since 2017, and the Federation of European Microbiological Societies since 2018. He is also a member of the editorial boards of Molecular Biology and Evolution, Plos Biology and Biology Direct.

Fiatal tehetségek Pál Csaba laborban 2018-ban

 

Further details: http://group.szbk.u-szeged.hu/sysbiol/

Multidisciplinary research group has elaborated comprehensive analysis about the Hungarian experiences of the first wave of Coronavirus pandemic

As a part of an interdisciplinary research group, Sándor Zsolt Kovács (junior research fellow, ELKH KRTK RKI) and Annamária Uzzoli (senior research fellow, ELKH KRTK RKI) have been co-authors of a recently published article Translating Scientific Knowledge to Government Decision Makers Has Crucial Importance in the Management of the COVID-19 Pandemicwhich came out in the prestigious journal Population Health Management. The study deals with the course of the first wave of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Hungary, in which the authors modelled the effects of the epidemic on the health care system, the economy and regional differences.

The members of the interdisciplinary research group („Translational Action and Research Group against Coronavirus” – acronym: KETLAK) have applied methodologies of different scientific fields (medical science, mathematics, economics, geography and regional science) and included the first results about the Coronavirus pandemics. During March and April 2020, the KETLAK group elaborated two comprehensive research report in which they have identified different problem fields and suggested opportunities for solving them. The introduced models within this article estimated the source and capacities of healthcare, the impacts of “re-opening”. These models have also pointed out on the optimal testing and tracking strategies by different spreading scenarios of the virus. Based on these results, the alternatives of a national testing and screening programme has been determined during the first wave of the pandemics in Hungary.

The research results provided crucial background sources for the Hungarian Government to make strategic decisions about the allocation of healthcare capacities, maintaining the lock-down, as well as the actual testing strategy. These research results supported the decision-makers to take the regional, social, and healthcare differences into consideration (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Regional differences in Hungary. Source: Katalin Gombos, Róbert Herczeg, Bálint Erőss, Sándor Zsolt Kovács, Annamária Uzzoli, Tamás Nagy, Szabolcs Kiss, Zsolt Szakács, Marcell Imrei, Andrea Szentesi, Anikó Nagy, Attila Fábián, Péter Hegyi and Attila Gyenesei (2020).

Reviewing regional differences, map “A” shows the population over 65 years old. Map “B” demonstrates the capacity of intensive care units (ICU) with the number of available ICU beds calculated for 100,000 people. The map “C” illustrates the estimated GDP loss related to the impact of pandemics. The values are normalized and then scaled between 1 and 1.5 to illustrate the differences among the Hungarian regions. The map “D” shows the results of the recently calculated “Complex Health Distance Index” (CHDI). The values of the index have been calculated on a scale from 1 to 5. The higher values of this indicator represent poor health conditions of the local population and barriers in access to health care, while districts with lower values (mostly county seats and Budapest) have the best health conditions and access to health care institutions with outpatient care.

Hungary managed the first part of the COVID-19 pandemic with low infection rate in a European comparison. It also confirms that the formation of multidisciplinary research groups is essential for policy makers in times of epidemics. The establishment, research activity, and participation in decision-making of these groups, such as KETLAK, can serve as a model for other countries, researchers, and policy makers not only in managing the challenges of COVID-19, but in future pandemics as well.

The full text of the article is available here: https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/pop.2020.0159

The members of the KETLAK research group: Katalin Gombos (University of Pécs), Róbert Herczeg (University of Pécs), Bálint Erőss (University of Pécs), Sándor Zsolt Kovács (ELKH KRTK RKI), Annamária Uzzoli (ELKH KRTK RKI), Tamás Nagy (University of Pécs), Szabolcs Kiss (University of Pécs and University of Szeged), Zsolt Szakács (University of Pécs), Marcell Imrei (University of Pécs), Andrea Szentesi (University of Pécs and University of Szeged), Anikó Nagy (Heim Pál National Pediatric Institute), Attila Fábián (University of Sopron), Péter Hegyi (University of Pécs and University of Szeged) and Attila Gyenesei (University of Pécs and University of Bialystok).

Researchers use new diagnostic method to determine the genetic sex of amphibians capable of sex change at the Centre for Agricultural Research

The Evolutionary Ecology Momentum Research Group of ELKH’s Centre for Agricultural Research, led by Veronika Bókony and Edina Nemesházi, has developed a molecular diagnostic method that allows the determination of the genetic sex of agile frogs (Rana dalmatina). By applying the new method to domestic populations, it was found that some of the frog males in man-made habitats are genetically female.

Fotó: Bálint Bombay

In vertebrates with varying body temperature, environmental influences also affect, in addition to sex chromosomes, whether the developing individual has a male or female phenotype, so extreme temperature or chemical contamination can result in a sex change, i.e. a phenotype opposite to genetic sex. Examination of sex reassignment is also important in ecotoxicology and nature conservation, as it can lead to an unbalanced sex ratio that threatens the survival of populations. However, knowledge of the phenotypic sex (i.e., whether an individual has testicles or ovaries) is not sufficient to determine sex change, and genetic sex must also be diagnosed. The latter poses a major challenge for many groups of amphibians, fish, and reptiles, as their diverse sex chromosomes require finding a section of the genome for each species that allows genetic sex to be identified. In addition, it requires a significant investment of material and time to develop a method by which the sexing of a large number of individuals can be reliably carried out in practice. Due to these difficulties, such a procedure exists in only for a few amphibian species.

In a study published in the October issue of Molecular Ecology, the research team published a method for detecting the genetic sex of agile frogs from a small sample of DNA, such as mucosal tampon, using a simple and inexpensive laboratory method (PCR technique). Although this species is widespread in Europe, its populations are showing a declining trend, so it is also protected in Hungary. The field survey conducted with the new method showed that 20% of phenotypically male adults in the agile frog populations around Budapest had a female genotype, so they underwent a sex change at larval age. Of the 11 populations studied, sex-altered individuals lived primarily in urban and agricultural areas. These results warn us that chemical pollution, as well as climate change and the urban heat island effect, may lead to male predominance in the sex ratio of wild populations through sex reassignment. However, genetic sex determination methods can identify sex-altered individuals in a timely manner, which may help protect amphibian populations that are declining worldwide.

 

Supergiant star Betelgeuse smaller, closer than first thought

But we’re still safe as it may be another 100,000 years until the star dies in a fiery supernova explosion, according to a new study by an international team of researchers, including a Hungarian astronomer.

Betelgeuse is one of the most recognizable stars of the winter sky, marking the left shoulder of the constellation Orion. An international team of scientists that included László Molnár, astronomer at the Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth Sciences (CSFK) of the Eötvös Loránd Research Network, took a closer look at this intriguing celestial object. Their work, published in The Astrophysical Journal, shows that it is both smaller and closer to Earth than previously thought.

The surface of Betelgeuse, as seen in the direct images of ESO’s Very Large Telescope. The January 2019 image shows large portions of the star faded, which could indicate a dust cloud appearing in front of the star. (Credit: ESO/M. Montargès et al.)

The bright red supergiant has long fascinated scientists. But lately, it’s been behaving strangely. “It’s normally one of the brightest stars in the sky, but we’ve observed two drops in the brightness of Betelgeuse since late 2019,” Dr Meridith Joyce from The Australian National University (ANU), leader of the study, and frequent visitor of Konkoly Observatory of CSFK, said. “This prompted speculation it could be about to explode. But our study offers a different explanation. We now know the first dimming event involved a dust cloud. We found the second smaller event was likely due to the pulsations of the star.”

The researchers were able to use evolutionary, hydrodynamic and seismic modelling to learn more about the physics driving these pulsations – and get a clearer idea of what phase of its life Betelgeuse is in. According to co-author Dr Shing-Chi Leung from The University of Tokyo the analysis “confirmed that pressure waves – essentially, sound waves—were the cause of Betelgeuse’s pulsation.”

Brightness variations of Betelgeuse over the last 15 years. Stellar pulsation causes it to continuously brighten or fade, but the large dip in brightness in early 2020 is unprecedented. Data collected by the observers of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO), and by the Solar Mass Ejection Imager instrument in space. The latter data was processed by László Molnár. (Credit: L. Molnár, AAVSO, UCSD/SMEI, NASA/STEREO/HI)

“It’s burning helium in its core at the moment, which means it’s nowhere near exploding,” Dr Joyce said. “We could be looking at around 100,000 years before an explosion happens.”

Co-author Dr László Molnár from the Konkoly Observatory of CSFK says the study also revealed how big Betelgeuse is, and its distance from Earth. “The actual physical size of Betelgeuse has been a bit of a mystery – earlier studies suggested it could be bigger than the orbit of Jupiter. Our results say Betelgeuse only extends out to two thirds of that, with a radius 750 times the radius of the sun,” Dr Molnár said. “Once we had the physical size of the star, we were able to determine the distance from Earth. Our results show it’s a mere 530 light years from us – 25 percent closer than previously thought.”

The good news is Betelgeuse is still too far from Earth for the eventual explosion to have significant impact here. “It’s still a really big deal when a supernova goes off. And this is our closest candidate. It gives us a rare opportunity to study what happens to stars like this before they explode,” Dr Joyce concluded.

The work of László Molnár was supported by the Premium Postdoctoral Research Program of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The study was also funded by the Kavli Institute (IPMU) of the University of Tokyo and facilitated by the ANU Distinguished Visitor’s program. It involved researchers from the US, Hungary and Hong Kong, as well as Australia and Japan. Original English text: Jessica Fagan (communications officer, ANU).

Contact: László Molnár, molnar.laszlo[at]csfk.mta.hu / lmolnar[at]konkoly.hu

The article is available for subscribers at https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/1538-4357/abb8db

The preprint version is freely available at: https://arxiv.org/abs/2006.09837

Link to the press release issued in Australia: https://www.anu.edu.au/news/all-news/supergiant-betelgeuse-smaller-closer-than-first-thought