KU Leuven news
Professor Kurt Deketelaere has been reappointed to a second term as Secretary-General of the League of European Research Universities (LERU). The LERU Rectors’ Assembly announced the appointment on 18 May in Leiden, Netherlands.
It's Friday night and KU Leuven has a new Rector. Rik Torfs works his way through the many interviews with characteristic media savvy, but it is clear to see that the campaign was tiring. “It may come as a surprise, but I could use a little rest tomorrow.”
Professor Rik Torfs has received the required majority of votes in the second round of the rectorial election. His four-year mandate as Rector will take effect on 1 August 2013.
Faulty energy production in brain cells leads to disorders ranging from Parkinson’s to intellectual disability
Neuroscientist Patrik Verstreken of KU Leuven and VIB (Flanders Institute for Biotechnology) has shown for the first time that dysfunctional mitochondria in brain cells can lead to learning disabilities. The link between dysfunctional mitochondria and Parkinson's disease is known, but this new research shows that it is also present in other brain disorders.
Ever notice how a dried coffee stain is darker at the edges than in the middle? This 'coffee ring effect' also occurs in other materials. Researchers from the Departments of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry at KU Leuven have now discovered how to counteract coffee rings with 'surfactants', i.e. soap. The key to the discovery was not a kitchen towel, but a bacterium that counteracts the coffee ring effect at the microscopic level. The findings were published in a recent edition of the leading journal Nature Communications.
"How does it feel to be a living legend?" Jürgen Habermas doesn't take long to respond: "I don't think that's very relevant." Fair enough, but the fact remains that he is one. When one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century and a leading voice on European affairs speaks in Leuven, the President of the European Council finds the time to introduce him.
How is Europe doing on climate and environment? “Good and bad," says KU Leuven professor and environmental policy expert Hans Bruyninckx. “In terms of climate, Europe is top of the class, but we don't do nearly enough.” Bruyninckx, who becomes the first Belgian director of the European Environment Agency in Copenhagen on 1 June, will soon have a chance to change that. "Pessimism is paralyzing. We need to move forward."
The intracellular protein Tdp2, known for its anti-inflammatory properties and its role in repositioning of cells in the embryonic development phase, now also appears to play a crucial role in restoring damaged DNA. The discovery opens new avenues for fighting cancer. It was the result of collaborative research by embryologist and stem cell researcher Danny Huylebroeck (KU Leuven) and DNA repair specialist Keith Caldecott (University of Sussex).
"Increased cooperation between the European member states is unpopular but necessary if the European project is to be saved," said Jürgen Habermas in a public lecture on Friday, 26 April delivered to a packed and enthusiastic Pieter De Somer Auditorium.
On Wednesday, 24 April, 3,000 students and 2,500 water balloon-frenzied fans headed to the sun- (and water-) drenched Ladeuzeplein for the second edition of Big Splash. The water balloon fight – Belgium’s largest – pits student clubs against each other in a battle to stay dry.
KU Leuven has been voted 'Employer of the Year 2013' in the ‘non-profit’ category. The distinction was awarded by Vacature, Acerta and the Vlerick Business School based on an audit of organisations' HR policies and public image.
Professor Chantal Mathieu (Clinical and Experimental Endocrinology) has won the InBev-Baillet Prize for Clinical Research. The prestigious award is given annually to two Belgian researchers, one per language community, and carries an award of 75,000 euros. The jury awarded Mathieu for her research on diabetes.
"Of course social media played a role in the popular uprisings in Muslim countries," says American professor Charles Hirschkind. "But the Western countries have strongly overplayed that impact. Sermons on cassettes, mobile phones and word-of-mouth stories were and are much more important for understanding and framing the resistance." Charles Hirschkind was one of the speakers at the 'Being Muslim in the Age of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter' symposium organised by the Faculty of Social Sciences on 18 and 19 April.
On Thursday, 18 April, KU Leuven opened the new, state-of-the-art AGORA Learning Centre on the Social Sciences Campus. AGORA, which can accommodate 550 students, is much more than a place to study. It is an informal learning environment that gives students the freedom and support to plan and carry out their work themselves.
The leading German philosopher and sociologist Jürgen Habermas is coming to Leuven on Friday, April 26th to give an exclusive public lecture on 'Democracy, Solidarity and the European Crisis'. Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council and KU Leuven doctor honoris causa, will introduce the lecture.
University Hospitals Leuven has performed Belgium's first ever kidney transplants with cross-partner donors: two men who needed a new kidney received the vital organ from each other's wives. The transplants were successful and the donors and recipients are doing well.