Discover all EOS projects involving teams from ULB

The Excellence of Science (EOS) is a four years program, funded by the F.R.S.-FNRS for the Fédération Walllonie-Bruxelles and by the FWO for the Flemish Community.

ULB's research teams are leaders for 5 projects and partners for 13 more for the 2021 call.


Projects Call 2021

ULB is coordinator of the following projects (call 2021) :

Belgian Language in Autism Cohort

The majority of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) display a significant language delay, which may be resorbed to varying extents between 2 and 7 an autistic child will develop language.
In this multi-site and multilingual project, language will be longitudinally followed by collecting and qualitatively analysing day-long audio-recordings in a large cohort of young autistic children.
To delineate different language acquisition pathways, non-social and social cognitive skills will be assessed using behavioural, eye-tracking and EEG tasks, along with detailed questionnaires which will target the child's environment and development. With this project researchers aim to establish a major breakthrough in the understanding of autism and contribute substantially to the development of new intervention techniques.

Coordinated by ULB (Mikhail Kissine, ACTE, Faculté de Lettres, Traduction et Communication), in partnership with UGent, KULeuven and ULB (Gaétane Deliens, ACTE et Arnaud Destrebecqz, ULB Baby Lab, Faculté des Sciences psychologiques et de l’éducation).

Endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria: common drivers of human β cell and neuronal fate

Diabetes and brain disorders appear at first glance to be completely different diseases. However, human genetics has unveiled some severe forms of diabetes in babies that are associated with abnormal brain development, including small brain size and epilepsy. Intriguingly, the mutations causing these diseases hit genes with a role in two critical organelles: the endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria, which together control the production of protein and energy in our cells.
These mutated genes are active in many organs of the patients, but the only two cell types that are affected are insulin-producing pancreatic β cells and brain neural cells. This strongly suggests a shared sensitivity of these two cell types to organelle stress, but how can we explain this and how can we fix it in affected patients?
The project PANDAROME (for PAncreatic and Neuronal Development Altered by Re-Organization of Mitochondria and ER dynamics) aims to unravel the role of these organelles in pancreas and brain development, and how their disruption causes diseases.
As their focus on patient mutations and cells ensures relevance to human disease, they anticipate to uncover new avenues to treat diabetes and brain development diseases.

Coordinated by ULB (Miriam Cnop, ULB Center for Diabetes Research, Faculté de Médecine), in partnership with KULeuven, l’ULiège et l’UCLouvain.

Cell-cell cOmmuNicaTion As a driver of Cancer cell state identiTy - Decoding the impact of cell-cell communications on the identity of tumor states in skin cancers

Different tumor states (TS) exist within a given tumor with some cancer cells actively dividing, while others differentiate, invade the surrounding tissues, give rise to metastasis, or are in a dormant and therapy-resilient state.
The identification of the intrinsic and extrinsic mechanisms that modulate TS diversity is essential for the development of new therapeutic strategies.
In this project, researchers will dissect the mechanisms by which stromalcancer cell communications influence the gene regulatory networks (GRNs), that defined TS identity in skin cancers. In particular, they will assess whether pharmacological interventions targeting selected stromal-tumor communications can restrict tumor growth, metastasis or alleviate resistance to therapy.

Coordinated by ULB (Cédric Blanpain, Laboratory of stem cells and cancer, Faculté de Médecine), in partnership with KULeuven, UGent and Interuniversity Microelectronics Center.

Beyond Symplectic Geometry

Symplectic geometry was created as the mathematical foundation of classical mechanics. And since the advent of string theory it has played a key role in quantum field theory too.
The aim of this project is to take the ideas and techniques of symplectic geometry and apply them to new fields, not in physics, but in geometry itself.
Researchers will attack a wide variety of problems, from studying surfaces which minimise area to spaces with negative curvature. These areas are, at first sight, unrelated to symplectic geometry.
By bringing symplectic techniques to bear on these questions, they will be able to make progress where none was previously possible. To do this, they will need to refine the techniques themselves, which will also lead to progress in symplectic geometry itself.

Coordinated by ULB (Joel Fine, Mélanie Bertelson, Bruno Premoselli, Faculté des Sciences), in partnership with KULeuven and UAntwerpen.

Construction History, Above and Beyond. What History Can Do for Construction History

Since 1985, Construction History is internationally recognized as a distinct field within history, situated on the interface between the history of engineering and the history of architecture.
In this project, researchers propose to set up a dialogue (in terms of sources, methodologies, concepts and cognitive interests) between Construction History and three other fields of history, namely Colonial History, Legal History and Planning History.
As such, they aim to strengthen the historical dimension of Construction History, while simultaneously demonstrating its relevance and potential to other fields and disciplines.
The project will concentrate on 19th and 20th century building knowledge and building practice in Belgium and its former colony, with particular attention for tacit knowledge, in order to voice crucial yet underrated actors, sources and types of knowledge.

Coordinated by ULB (Rika Devos, BATir, Ecole Polytechnique de Bruxelles), in partnership with VUB and UGent.

ULB is partner of the following projects (call 2021) :

CHIral symmetry breaking from Surface to Bulk: a multidisciplinary approach of the crystallization of achiral and chiral molecules

Crystallization often starts on surfaces of rigid substrates with the formation of 2D self-assembled molecular layers and then extends to bulk phases.
This project intends to design, synthesize, and characterize a library of molecular systems tailored to break chiral symmetry at different time- and length-scales.
Theoretical and experimental studies will be carried out in synergy to explore ordering phenomena and chiral selectivity processes from first principles and reach a fundamental understanding beyond specific systems.

Coordinated by KULeuven, in partnership with Universiteit Antwerpen, ULB (Yves Geerts, Laboratoire de Chimie des polymères, Faculté des Sciences), UMONS, University of Groningen and Graz University of Technology.

Molecular, Atomic, Nuclear and AStrophysics research for heavy eLements studies

The way the heaviest elements of the periodic table of Mendeleev are constructed from their building blocks (the electrons, protons and neutrons) and how they are formed in the Universe remains puzzling.
Also, what can be learned from the merging of two neutron stars (as recently observed through gravitational and electromagnetic waves) is a highly unexplored terrain.
Researchers propose an interlaced experimental and theoretical study related to the region of the heaviest elements to answer contemporary research questions in the field of nuclear, atomic and astrophysics.
These will be addressed by developing and using state-of-the-art experimental techniques focused on radioactive ion beam research at ISOLDE-CERN (Switzerland), GSI-FAIR (Germany) and SPIRAL2-GANIL (France) and by novel theoretical approaches. 

Coordinated by KULeuven, in partnership with KULeuven, ULB (Stéphane Goriely, Nicolas Chamel, Sophie Van Eck, Institut d’astronomie et d’astrophysique, Faculté des Sciences) and UMONS.

They are not like us. The perception of differentness, polarization amongst citizens and dissatisfaction with representatives

The project examines an hitherto under-examined driver of two of the main problems representative democracies are wrestling with: horizontal affective polarization among citizens and vertical political dissatisfaction with politicians.
The “new” driver is the perception that other-minded citizens and other-minded politicians are not only politically different but that they also are different human beings with different social, cultural and economic features. Ingroup-outgroup mechanisms make that such broad perceptions of differences lead to deepening intergroup animus. 
This project engages in a broad and encompassing research program that describes and conceptualizes citizens’ perception of differentness of other-minded citizens/politicians; examines its causes; analyses its effect on polarization and dissatisfaction;  investigates its ultimate effect on anti-democratic behaviour; and explores possible solutions to the negative fall-out of high levels of perception of differentness.
Drawing on both qualitative and quantitative methods, the project examines the Belgian case.

Coordinated by UAntwerpen, in partnership with KULeuven, VUB, UCLouvain and ULB (Emilie Van Haute, Caroline Close, Jean-Benoit Pilet, CEVIPOL, Faculté de Philosophie et Sciences sociales).

Taking IBD Genes from GWAS to Function to Drug Target

Coordinated by Universiteit Gent, in partnership with UGent, ULiège, UClouvain, ULB (Denis Franchimont, Experimental Gastroenterology, Faculté de Médecine) and the Massachusetts General Hospital.

Cell Death Regulation and Role in Infection and Inflammatory Diseases

Every day, billions of cells in the human body undergo cell death.
This process ensures tissue homeostasis and elimination of harmful cells. Moreover, cell death is induced in response to microbial insults as a means to eliminate the infected cells and to alert the immune system through the release of danger signals. In contrast, undesired or excessive cell death exacerbate immune responses, contributing to various human inflammatory pathologies.
Cell demise can occur in different ways; however, the mechanisms that regulate the induction and execution of these different cell death modalities, their respective and combined contribution to anti-microbial immunity or their precise detrimental consequences in inflammatory diseases remain unclear. This absence of fundamental knowledge limits the possibilities of therapeutic intervention.
The project aims at providing answers to these questions by setting up a strong multidisciplinary approach combining basic cell biology studies, medicinal chemistry, experimental mouse models of inflammatory diseases and analysis of human clinical samples. 

Coordinated by Universiteit Gent, in partnership with UGent, Universiteit Antwerpen, ULiège, ULB (Denis Lafontaine, RNA Molecular Biology, Faculté des Sciences), German Cancer Research Center and NOVA University of Lisbon.

Creating highly entangled quantum states in the NISQ era

The exponentially growing complexity of large entangled quantum systems is a curse for understanding them but also a blessing as it opens up formidable opportunities for creating novel technologies.
The field of quantum sciences explores ways of exploiting quantum effects to create quantum devices that are much more powerful than their classical counterparts. The ensuing second quantum revolution is currently in full motion, and novel quantum devices are being conceived in the context of computation, telecommunication, sensing and cryptography.
Major challenges for fundamental physics still remain, several of which will be addressed in this project. The central focus is on creating entanglement – the core fuel that drives all quantum power – in state of the art quantum many-body platforms and in quantum sensors. 

Coordinated by Universiteit Gent, in partnership with KULeuven, UAntwerpen, Universiteit Hasselt, ULiège, ULB (Nathan Goldman, Stéphane Clemmen, Stefano Pironio, Faculté des Sciences and Nicolas Cerf, Ognyan Oreshkov, Jérémie Roland, Ecole Polytechnique de Bruxelles) and the Interuniversity Microelectronics Center.

An integrated approach to unravel eosinophil function in chronic eosinophilic disorders

Asthma and rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps are highly prevalent chronic airway diseases that cause high morbidity and socio-economic burden worldwide, without a definitive cure. Hypereosinophilic syndromes are orphan, yet life threatening diseases.
Eosinophils (EOs) are key players in innate immune defense against certain parasites, yet accumulate in all these diseases, and play a deleterious role  by releasing granule contents and crystals. This has led to development of drugs targeting EOs. However, there are also “beneficial EOs” with immunoregulatory potential, that might be important for immune defense in cancer and infections like COVID-19.
Researchers hypothesize that the true function of EOs is highly context dependent and can only be unraveled if we move away from the simple “eosin staining cell” to a detailed and integrated immunophenotyping, single cell and biomarker approach in the blood and tissue of residence of the eosinophil, combined with detailed clinical phenotyping and analysis of treatment responses.
The project will deliver new insights, high quality intellectual property and new diagnostics and therapeutics in the field of eosinophilic disorders.

Coordinated by Universiteit Gent, in partnership with UGent, ULiège and ULB (Florence Roufosse, Institute for Medical Immunology, Faculté de Médecine).

Photonic Ising Machines

Combinatorial optimization is the basis of many computational problems that are commonplace in our society, e.g. in logistics, finance or pharmaceutical research. However, for many real-world applications, finding a solution requires high-performance computer clusters that consume large amounts of energy and run for a long time.
This project aims to create a radically new platform of analogue hardware accelerators, so-called Ising machines, that efficiently speed up these computationally difficult tasks in a way unlike any current digital computer. These Ising machines are a newly emerging computational concept and have shown great promise. Y
et, their implementation is still highly challenging due to limited bandwidth, scalability and stability issues. A breakthrough is needed to make them practical for real-world applications. Photonics presents an ideal way to achieve this breakthrough due to its inherent parallelism and high speed. 

Coordinated by VUB, in partnership with UGent and ULB (Serge Massar, Laboratoire d’Information quantique, Faculté des Sciences).

Tricking tumor immunosuppression: RNA epigenetics as novel target to improve cancer immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is considered as a major breakthrough in the treatment of cancer, but still a large fraction of the patients are not responsive and several cancer types are refractory to this therapy.
The presence of a strongly immune suppressive environment within primary tumors and at the metastatic site is a likely explanation for the suboptimal efficacy of immunotherapy, with tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) and metastasis-associated macrophages (MAMs) as important immune suppressive cells.
This project studies whether RNA modifications (so-called RNA epigenetics) are sculpting the tumorpromoting behaviour of TAMs and MAMs.
Ultimately, researchers will assess a pharmacological inhibition of novel target molecules to encourage the development of novel immunotherapeutics which are urgently required to tackle tumor resilience or resistance vis-à-vis immunotherapies.

Coordinated by KULeuven, in partnership with VUB, ULiège and ULB (François Fuks, Lab of Cancer Epigenetics, Faculté de Médecine).

Pattern Formation in Integrated Lasers for Spectroscopy and Terahertz Wave Generation

Ever since their invention in 1961, lasers have been used in an ever-growing number of applications. They have since been miniaturized and can now be integrated on microchips alongside electronic transistors. Yet, most are emitting a single color, while many novel and exciting applications, such as LIDAR and extrasolar planet detection require the simultaneous emission of many different colors. But forcing multicolor emission, while the most natural state of a laser is single color emission, is very challenging such that only low-quality multicolor lasers have been fabricated until now.
The project will hence lead to the generation of ultra-stable multicolor integrated lasers. Their emission can be tuned to cater to specific applications. 

Coordinated by Universiteit Gent, in partnership with ULB (Simon-Pierre Gorza et François Leo, OPERA-Photonics, Ecole Polytechnique de Bruxelles), UGent, Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics and IEMN-CNRS.

Plasma-based green hydrogen synthesis from hydrocarbons

Plasma-based H2 synthesis from hydrocarbons could be a complementary approach to water electrolysis, because it also uses renewable electricity and has no CO2 emission. In addition, it can valorize CH4 and plastic waste, generate high value C-materials as side-product, and is thermodynamically more favourable. However, before exploiting this application, it is crucial to gain a better fundamental understanding of the plasma processes, and to improve their yield and energy efficiencies.
This is exactly addressed in this project. Researchers will perform green H2 synthesis experiments from various hydrocarbons and in several plasma types. The project outcomes will lay the basis for green H2 synthesis by plasma technology and will open up a new area in the field of plastic waste recycling.

Coordinated by Universiteit Antwerpen, in partnership with UGent, UMONS and ULB (François Reniers, ChemSIN, Faculté des Sciences).

Exploring the mechanisms of RESponse and RESistance to novel Cancer immunotherapies in tumors Unresponsive to Earlier immune checkpoint inhibition

Coordinated by VUB, in partnership with VUB, UCLouvain and ULB (Ahmad Awada, Laboratoire d’oncologie et de chirurgie expérimentale & Molecular Immunology Unit, Faculté de Médecine).

Responses to Newton’s Mathematical-Experimental Paradigm in 18th-Century Philosophy​​​​​​​

In line with recent accounts of the impact of Newton on 18th-century science, the project aims to bring into focus the widely divergent responses to the mathematical-experimental paradigm (“MEP”) elaborated in Newton’s Principia mathematica (1687) and Opticks (1704) on the part of 18th-century philosophers. While researchers do not deny the enormous impact of the MEP, they challenge the prevailing assumption that it effected a radical and thoroughgoing rupture within 18th-century epistemology and metaphysics. The project studies the direct and indirect effects of the MEP on philosophers who drew from Aristotelian, Cartesian, Leibnizian, and Wolffian sources. It covers the period between 1700 and 1800, treats developments in the Dutch Republic, England, France, and Germany, and foregrounds the impact of non-canonical authors and movements on canonical authors and the other way around. 

Coordinated by KULeuven, in partnership with VUB and ULB (Arnaud Pelletier, Centre de recherche en Philosophie, Faculté de Philosophie et Sciences sociales).


Completed projects

ULB was coordinator of the following projects (call 2017):

ET-HOME: habitability on Mars and Earth

Evolution and Tracers of Habitability on Mars and the Earth

Project ET-HOME intends to gain insight into the habitability of early Earth as well as past and present Mars. Summary.

Evaluate the individual well-being with economics measures

Individual Welfare Analysis based on Behavioural Economics

Researchers aim at developing the methodological tools for analyzing individual well-being, based on Behavioural Economics

INTERACT: solidification processes and properties of alkali-activated material

INTERdisciplinary multiscale Assessment of a new generation of Concrete with alkali activated maTerials

The research will provide in-depth understanding on the fundamental mechanism of the solidification processes of alkali-activated material (AAMs). Summary.

Symplectic geometry meets differential geometry

Symplectic Techniques in Differential Geometry

The central theme of this project is the application of techniques and ideas from symplectic geometry to resolve problems in differential geometry. Summary.

MEMODYN: the journey of a memory

The journey of a memory: dynamics of learning and consolidation in maturation and ageing

The MEMODYN project investigates the dynamic setting of the memory, especially the two key process that are learning and consolidation. Summary.

ULB was partner of the following projects (call 2017) :

B-MAGIC: the Magic Lantern, first visual mass medium

The Magic Lantern and its Cultural Impact as Visual Mass Medium in Belgium (1830-1940)

B-Magic project is a history of the magic lantern —a precursor to the projector— as a mass medium in Belgium. Summary.

Biofact: towards sustainable chemistry

Bio based factory: Sustainable chemistry from wood

The aim of the "Biofact" project is to transform lignin, currently mostly under-exploited, into high-value chemicals, and therefore switch to wood as a viable alternative to fossil sources traditionally used. Summary.

CHARMING: exploit carbon nanomaterials for biomedical use

Carbon nanomaterial enHanced opticAl fibRes for bioMedical Imaging and seNsinG

The overall objective of CHARMING project is to explore some charactéristics of 2D and 1D carbon nanomaterials for applications in the field of biomedical sensing and imaging. Summary.

CliPS: pollinators and climate change

Climate change and effect on Pollination Services (CliPS)

The project focus on understanding the impact of climate change on pollinators (such as bees) and their services forms. Summary.

CRUMBEL: people in Belgium between 3000 BC and 700 AD

Cremations, Urns and Mobility – Ancient population dynamics in Belgium

The project proposes to study the collections of cremated bone found in Belgium, to improve the current understanding of how people lived in Belgium between 3000 BC and 700 AD. Summary.

PARAMOUR: natural interactions and external forcing on climate

Decadal to centennial Predictability and vAriability of polar climate: the Role of AtMosphere- Ocean-cryosphere mUltiscale inteRactions

The project aims at revealing fundamental drivers of climate variability and assessing the predictability in high-latitudes. Summary.

NITROPLAS: formation of non thermal plasmas

Experimental and theoretical study of the fundamental mechanisms of nitrogen fixation by plasma and plasma-catalysis: towards the development of novel, environmentally friendly and efficient processes

The project aims at acquiring in depth understanding of the Nitrogen fixation mechanisms in non thermal plasmas. Summary.

2Dto3D: polymorphism of cristal structures

From 2D to 3D crystals: a multi-scale, multi-technique and multi-system approach of the crystallization of organic molecules

Polymorphism is the occurrence of two or more crystal structures for a given molecule. The project ‘2Dto3D’ will address unanswered questions in this field. Summary.

Cancer: fertility preservation in young patients

Fundamental and translational research on ovarian tissue and oocytes for fertility preservation in children and young women with cancer

This research project intends to optimise individual approaches for each patient who wants to remain fertile; another goal is to better understand how treatments are toxic to ovaries. Summary.

EVEREST: studying the heaviest chemical elements

hEaVy Element REsearch for nuclear, atomic and astrophysics STudies

The project will study experimentally the heaviest chemical elements of Mendeleev's table form. Summary.

MODEL-IDI: cell death and consequences

MOlecular mechanisms of cellular DEath and Life decisions in Inflammation, Degeneration and Infection

“MODEL-IDI” aims at performing fundamental research on cell death and cell survival regulation and their consequences on the onset/progression of diseases. Summary.

MUSEWINET: the next generation of mobile data networks

MUlti-SErvice WIreless NETwork

Wireless networks and devices have entered the daily life of citizens since a few decades now Engineers and scientists are currently designing the next generation of mobile data networks.  Summary.

Pyramids and Progress: Egyptology in Belgium

Pyramids and Progress: Belgian expansionism and the making of Egyptology, 1830-1952

In the 1930s Brussels was occasionally even referred to as ‘the capital of Egyptology'. The project "Pyramids and Progress" investigates how this remarkable development unfolded within the context of Belgian industrial and political expansionism towards Egypt. Summary.

RepResent: challenging representative democracies

Representation and Democratic Resentment

Are existing democracies still representative? The project RepResent takes this claims serious by empirically examining the relationship between popular democratic resentment and the functioning of representation. Summary.

SYNET: Nerve cells connections in the brain

Temporal and spatial control of synaptic patterning: from basic mechanisms to human-specific innovations and diseases

The project proposes to uncover still unknown mechanisms of what controls where and when synapses are made specifically between nerve cells. Summary.

The H boson and its mysteries

The H boson gateway to physics beyond the Standard Model

The objective of the projec is to use the H boson, discovered in 2012, as a probe of still largely unexplored territories beyond the standard model. Summary.

Verifying machine learning

Verifying Learning Artificial Intelligence Systems

As technology is progressing faster, humans are still lacking the tools to systematically obtain strong guarantees - about their safety, privacy, etc. - from the intelligent software that serves them. A solution could be computer aided verification. Summary.

If you are a researcher and would like to conduct research at ULB with an EOS funding, please contact the Research Department:
Updated on February 15, 2022