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University of Fribourg


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Earth Sciences - Environment - 10.07.2024
The formation of the Antarctic ice floes
The formation of the Antarctic ice floes
An international research team led by Silvia Spezzaferri from the University of Freiburg has discovered why the Antarctic polar ice cap is melting faster on the western side of the continent than on the eastern side. New drillings and sophisticated modeling have shown that this phenomenon can be traced back to the original formation of the ice sheet 34 million years ago .

Paleontology - Computer Science - 03.06.2024
Artificial intelligence closes the gaps in the fossil archive
Artificial intelligence closes the gaps in the fossil archive
The patchy fossil record makes it difficult for paleontologists to draw an accurate picture of the extent of past biodiversity and to understand how it has changed over time. A study led by Rebecca Cooper and Daniele Silvestro from the University of Fribourg shows how artificial intelligence (AI) can make this task easier .

Life Sciences - Economics - 29.04.2024
Genome editing: huge potential in Africa
Genome editing: huge potential in Africa
Before the advent of CRISPR-Cas9 in 2012, precise genome modification was a complex process requiring heavy investment. Simple and fast, this revolutionary technology enables scientists to cut the DNA of plants, animals and humans at precise points, opening up previously unimaginable opportunities, such as the creation of disease-resistant plants or the treatment of diseases of genetic origin .

Health - Life Sciences - 25.04.2024
When the digestive system influences a child's sleep
When the digestive system influences a child’s sleep
Sleep cycles and neurological development in children are closely linked to interactions between the brain and the gut. Two researchers from the University of Fribourg, in collaboration with colleagues from ETH Zurich and Lucerne Children's Hospital, have just been awarded a 2.4 million SNSF grant to better understand these mechanisms, which are fundamental to the health of toddlers .

Life Sciences - Health - 22.04.2024
Understanding muscle regeneration with zebrafish
Understanding muscle regeneration with zebrafish
In humans, muscles can only regenerate from small injuries, such as those resulting from sporting activities. After an accident or combat injury, large wounds often cause deep damage to muscles, which fail to regenerate and scar. Some animals, on the other hand, replace injured body parts perfectly.

Chemistry - Environment - 12.04.2024
Will plastics soon be easier to degrade?
Will plastics soon be easier to degrade?
A research team has developed a new type of polymer, the main component of plastics, which is more easily degradable than conventional materials. Mechanical treatment such as grinding, combined with the use of an alkaline solution, is all that's needed to facilitate chemical recycling and reduce environmental impact .

Life Sciences - 09.02.2024
Mechanism for reducing age-related neuroinflammation
As we age, our cells lose the ability to effectively eliminate the waste products they produce. This degeneration has serious consequences as it can cause inflammation and dysfunction throughout the body. A team of scientists at the University of Freiburg has now discovered that a specific drug treatment can alleviate this condition by stimulating a mechanism called mitophagy .

Paleontology - Environment - 21.12.2023
A long-known deposit yields new secrets
A long-known deposit yields new secrets
Paleontologists lack the fossils they need to trace the evolutionary history of the Amazon region, a region characterized by unparalleled biodiversity. By exploiting data from a site known for over a century, Juan Carrillo, a researcher at the University of Fribourg, and his colleagues from other institutions, have made exceptional discoveries that shed new light on this little-known past .

Health - 13.09.2023
Why some treatments lose their effectiveness
Why some treatments lose their effectiveness
A recent study sheds light on why a proven treatment for lung cancer sometimes fails to work after a certain period of time. These new insights into changes in the immune system could make it possible to treat more patients with existing, highly effective drug therapies . Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related death.

Paleontology - Life Sciences - 10.08.2023
Study undermines evolutionary rule
Study undermines evolutionary rule
According to Cope's rule, today's animal species are on average larger than older species of the same genus. A large-scale study led by a researcher at the University of Fribourg has just demonstrated that this is not the case in turtles . Paleontologists have noticed that, in the course of their evolution, certain species tend to get bigger and bigger.

Health - Materials Science - 26.04.2023
New antimicrobial coatings for bacteria-free surfaces
New antimicrobial coatings for bacteria-free surfaces
Preventing the transmission of microbial infections is a global issue. This is especially true in environments where bacteria are easily transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces. A research team led by the University of Freiburg has developed an antimicrobial coating that reduces the bacterial population by a factor of up to 10,000 within minutes .

Life Sciences - 13.04.2023
How do we perceive our own movements?
How do we perceive our own movements?
Even in total darkness, everyone is able to bring a bottle of water to their lips. A feat made possible by a kind of sixth sense that supplements sight: proprioception. Proprioception allows us to perceive the position of our limbs in space. Neuroscientists from the University of Freiburg have highlighted the key role played by certain neurons in the somatosensory cortex.

Life Sciences - 21.03.2023
Can we learn without a brain?
Can we learn without a brain?
Some animals do not need a brain to be able to learn. This is what Professor Simon Sprecher of the University of Freiburg has revealed in a study that has just been published. With his team, the biologist taught a sea anemone to adapt its behavior according to past experiences . We spontaneously associate the faculties of learning and memorization with the existence of a brain.

Paleontology - Environment - 14.03.2023
Dwarf and giant species are most at risk of extinction
Dwarf and giant species are most at risk of extinction
Islands are biodiversity hotspots and are home to animal species with unique characteristics, including dwarf specimens, which have evolved to very small sizes compared to their mainland relatives, and giants. An international study now reports that these species are at higher risk of extinction. The findings are supported by software developed by Daniele Silvestro of the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB) at the University of Fribourg.

Microtechnics - Materials Science - 13.03.2023
A robot inspired by earthworms
A robot inspired by earthworms
Scientists from the Adolphe Merkle Institute and Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, USA) have developed a flexible robot, inspired by earthworms, that can squeeze into small spaces and move in all directions regardless of the surface . Soft robots with worm-like mechanical properties and shape can, in principle, move over rough terrain and into tight spaces inaccessible to other robots.

Psychology - 14.02.2023
EMDR, an effectiveness as miraculous as it is mysterious
EMDR, an effectiveness as miraculous as it is mysterious
Treating post-traumatic stress disorder with EMDR has been proven to be effective, but the mechanisms behind this therapeutic technique remain poorly understood. Three researchers from the University of Freiburg suspect that working memory plays a crucial role . A person who has been assaulted is at high risk of experiencing psychological trauma.

Health - 06.02.2023
Can Netflix keep you from sleeping soundly?
Can Netflix keep you from sleeping soundly?
Watching suspenseful TV series with cliffhangers before going to sleep has only minor effects on sleep. That's what scientists at the University of Freiburg have shown. The study reveals what happens in our brains when we sleep after a binge-watching session . Does binge-watching suspenseful TV series before going to sleep have a real impact on our sleep? This is the question that Professors Björn Rasch and Andreas Fahr from the University of Fribourg asked themselves in a project entitled 'Excessive Media Use in Times of Netflix', funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).

Psychology - Social Sciences - 31.01.2023
Good and bad sleep
Good and bad sleep
When children's sleep patterns are altered by external factors, this can have consequences. This is the conclusion of a study from the University of Freiburg, which analyzed the sleep of children during the pandemic and their behavior six months later . The confinement of spring 2020 clearly affected the sleep of babies and young children.

Computer Science - Environment - 12.12.2022
Urgent call to protect Madagascar's biodiversity through AI
Urgent call to protect Madagascar’s biodiversity through AI
A large-scale analysis of Madagascar's unique biodiversity has just been conducted with the participation of over 50 international organizations. Madagascar is one of the world's biodiversity hotspots, with 82% of its plant species and 90% of its vertebrates found nowhere else on Earth. The results of the study, which rely on AI-based tools developed by Daniele Silvestro of the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics and his team at the University of Fribourg, were published in two papers in the journal Science.

Life Sciences - 13.10.2022
How is laughter triggered?
How is laughter triggered?
Laughter is a form of vocal communication that can interfere with speech: who hasn't had a fit of laughter that prevented them from speaking? Thanks to functional imaging, a research team from the University of Fribourg was able to locate the areas of the brain in which these two systems interact. The results highlight the importance of brain stem circuits for the control of laughter .