The COST program (European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research) is one of the broadest frameworks for scientific cooperation in Europe and is an interesting mechanism for the coordination and dissemination of the European research effort. It is also a perfect tool to place one's research team in a high-level international network. More than 38 countries participate in this initiative which allows the coordination of national and regional projects at a European level.

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eventy new COST Actions have been selected in 2022. ULiège researchers participate in the management committees of six of these new Actions, as delegates for Belgium.


CircularB : Implementation of Circular Economy in the Built Environment

Facing the increasing concerns about the negative environmental impacts of buildings, governments and general society worldwide have been seeking more efficient and sustainable constructions. Hence, the Circular Economy (CE) emerged as a new paradigm of innovative practice with potential application to the construction industry besides other economic sectors. Following the European Circular Economy Action Plan (ECEAP), multiple efforts have been made to apply circular thinking to construction practices and include resource circularity into sustainability frameworks, such as Level(s). However, despite the endeavours, there is still a lack of a standard tool that fully implements the circularity potential, classifies buildings accordingly, and assesses the realisation level of the ECEAP. Thus, the CircularB Action aims to develop a common international framework of a circularity rating tool with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) based on current best practices of CE construction, state-of-the-art and ECEAP. The tool’s framework will allow local application and adaptation by different COST countries and regions. By developing a benchmark database – based on each country/region conditions, culture and traditions – the direct use of the tool is enabled, supporting both designers in developing more sustainable buildings and national/local governments in assessing and promoting their CE targets. Furthermore, construction, assembly, adaptability, deconstruction and business model guidelines will be identified for new and existing buildings to enhance CE in buildings and promote stakeholder knowledge. The rating tool will also be integrated into the Open BIM workflow for better-informed design decisions, automated assessment, efficient value chain management, and circular feedback using central BIM models.

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Contact ULiège : Shady ATTIA

NetwOArk : Building an open European Network on OsteoArthritis research

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis and the single most common cause of pain and physical disability in older adults. An estimated 10% to 15% of all adults aged over 60 have some degree of OA, with prevalence being higher among women than men and likely representing underreporting which is common in many disease prevalence studies. Despite the growing OA epidemic and major socio-economic impact, the population is facing a staggering lack of disease-modifying therapies that can bring symptomatic relief and preserve joint function by preventing cartilage- and joint degeneration and thus delaying OA progression. The research specifically aimed at OA management in Europe is scattered and not strategically coordinated, although several networks have OA partly in focus, it minor part of their agenda en lacks the focus and dedicated commitment to coordinate progress. The main aim of EU-netwOArk is to set up the European Society for Osteoarthritis (ESOA), with three major stakeholder groups, 1) patients, 2) clinicians and 3) researchers, both from academia and industry. The COST Action will allow us to start the process of building such a European Society, with the aim of coordinating and stimulating more interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research, technological development and translation of the results to the clinic, aimed at improving the quality of life of those affected by OA in Europe. The area’s to be addressed in this Action are Primary prevention, Diagnostics, Treatment, Interaction (comorbidities) and Care Management. EU-netwOArk aims to boost new scientific breakthroughs on the five main OA themes.

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Contact ULiège : Yves HENROTIN

IMMUPARKNET : The role of IMMUnity in tackling PARKinson’s disease through a Translational NETwork

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a widespread chronic disease affecting 600 000 people in the EU. It has no cure, hence patients rely only on symptomatic treatments. By consequence PD relentlessly results in serious disability, poor quality of life for patients, families and caregivers, causing high individual and societal costs.

PD etiology is largely unexplained and several pathogenetic hypotheses have been explored. The role of the immune system has been suggested by important studies, showing significant changes in both central and peripheral immunity. Several approaches exist to target the immune system, thus – would the contribution of immunity in PD be clarified – novel therapeutics could be developed. Currently only few research groups study the role of the immune system in PD; however methodological and technical approaches are highly variable. Moreover, networking and exchange of expertise between groups working on immunity in different pathologies is still underdeveloped, with the consequence that precious advances are not fully exploited or even precluded. The sharing of experiences, also taking advantage of the efforts made in similar neurodegenerative conditions, will provide unprecedented advantages.

IMMUPARKNET focuses on such challenges and aims at establishing an innovative, multi-interdisciplinary Network, fostering exchange of expertise among outstanding experts, from different countries and institutions, involving scientists studying immunity in PD but also immunity in other neurodegenerative diseases. IMMUPARKNET will thus establish a first nucleus of a multidisciplinary ecosystem to fight the fragmentation of efforts and approaches, both in research and clinical practice, for boosting research towards the development of innovative treatments for PD.

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Contact ULiège : Gaëtan GARRAUX

GRADE : Grassroots of Digital Europe: from Historic to Contemporary Cultures of Creative Computing

In a time when academics and citizens are increasingly concerned with surveillance capitalism, Europe takes on a leadership role in the global transformation towards a digital future that treats users fairly. It fosters initiatives such as the right to repair, pushes privacy and security policies such as the GDPR, and highlights citizens’ digital rights. These developments have their historical precedents in the 1980s and 1990s, when enthusiasts across Europe started to take part in grassroots culture of creative computing, or the participatory use of computers for experimentation, self-expression, or activism. Besides laying the groundwork for commercial successes, these communities created important specimens of digital cultural heritage (e.g. the demoscene or seminal computer games) and universally adopted technical solutions (e.g. the Linux operating system). To successfully implement the values of participation, social inclusion, and bottom-up innovation in today’s technology policy, we need to understand these historical developments. However, the historical knowledge about creative computing in Europe has so far been fragmented and lacking in transnational and interdisciplinary dialogue. GRADE aims to build a robust and diverse network of researchers from across Europe who will integrate the existing knowledge and work on new transnational projects. Within its working groups, the Action will focus on investigating user communities, their interaction with state and European-level policies, and the preservation of digital cultural heritage. Together, GRADE will contribute to a participatory technological agenda for Europe that is informed by historical research and sensitive to the cultural contexts of the various regions of Europe.

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contact ULiège : Bjorn-Olav DOZO

SUPERQUMAP : Superconducting nanodevices and quantum materials for coherent manipulation

Recent years have seen a surge in superconducting quantum electronics, with rapidly rising number of promising devices and systems enabling quantum coherent manipulation and sensing. Present operating technologies use superconducting devices with a constantly increasing number and complexity of active elements. Quantum computation, for example, requires a perfect manipulation of a large number of qubits, often implemented as complex superconducting hybrid devices in arrangements manipulating quantum phase, flux or charge, among others. However, current technologies based on well-established processes face major difficulties in scaling of environment-protected superconducting qubits. Exploring novel quantum materials and phenomena is an alternative route to considerably improve superconducting devices and make a quantum leap in their stability and coherence. Addressing this goal is a huge challenge which requires going beyond presently available networks and projects. The Action will allow a collaborative approach joining together efforts and groups all over Europe, structured around three pathways, (i) the synthesis and characterization of quantum materials with novel topological properties, (ii) the fabrication of sensors and devices exploiting novel superconducting functionalities, and (iii) the generation and coherent manipulation of superconducting states that can create new opportunities in superconducting quantum electronics. Using an open and inclusive approach that joins expertise and capabilities all over Europe, this Action will foster collaborative efforts aiming at disruptive achievements in the field of superconductivity. The results will have impact far beyond the development of new quantum solutions for computation, including sectors such as health and energy.

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Contact ULiège : Alejandro SILHANEK

TRANSLACORE : Translational control in Cancer European Network

The TRANSLACORE Europe Action will bridge disciplines and expertise across Europe in order to advance an emerging field in cancer biology : translational control in cancer. It will provide a unique opportunity to understand this biological process leading to reconsider our view of gene expression control in this disease and deliver novel therapeutic opportunities.

Translational control plays a major role in numerous physiological processes by defining the proteome, maintaining cell homeostasis, and controlling cell fate (stemness, proliferation, growth, differentiation). Acquisition of alterations resulting in translational reprogramming provides novel mechanisms by which aberrant cells escape normal physiology and favor development of cancers.

Therefore, translational control has the potential to provide innovative strategies and therapeutic avenues improving the management and health outcomes for patients with cancer. However, there is a lack of mechanistic detail to describe translational control and its contribution to the disease processes. TRANSLACORE Europe will consist of a consortium of universities, international research institutes, basic scientists, clinicians, Biotech, Pharma companies and patient associations that provides cutting edge infrastructure and world-class learning environment for broad high-quality education in various research disciplines. By implementing collaborative and cross-disciplinary partnerships, resource pooling and knowledge sharing, this structural framework aims at achieving breakthroughs allowing to accelerate secure robust transfer of academic findings to improve human health of patients with cancer. TRANSLACORE Europe will help to improve cancer management and to maintain a competitive environment for European research in the field of protein synthesis control.

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contact ULiège : Pierre CLOSE

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