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Brussels, 2 February 2007

Major discoveries earn leading EU Scientists nominations for Descartes Prize for Research

How can we use the energy from the sun to produce hydrogen? Will better understanding of cell death herald new treatments for cancer and AIDS? What is the true impact of globalisation on European society? These and many other questions of great relevance for our health, industrial competitiveness and understanding of the world around us are answered by the 13 pioneering research projects, representing 20 countries nominated for this year's EU Descartes Prize for Research. Up to five finalists will share the €1 million prize, announced at a ceremony in Brussels on 7 March attended by the European Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potočnik and the German Science and Education Minister, Annette Schavan.

The Descartes prize: 7 years of scientific excellence

Launched in 2000, the EU Descartes Prize for Research rewards teams of scientists for outstanding scientific or technological results achieved through trans-national research in any field of science, including the social sciences, humanities and economics. Since 2000, 66 teams from both EU and non-EU countries have been nominated for the Descartes Prize for Research. A total of 16 laureates in all fields of science have received this prestigious award.

Complementing the Descartes Prize for Research, the Descartes Prize for Science Communication, established in 2004, will also be announced on 7 March. Together, these prizes bring science and society one step closer by stimulating European collaborative research and raising public awareness and understanding of science.

Nominees for these 2006 awards were selected by the Grand Jury, chaired by Ms Claudie Haigneré, former French Minister for EU Affairs and ESA Astronaut. The Jury is made up of 22 eminent scientists from 11 EU countries, plus Brazil, Morocco, Russia and Turkey, and covers a broad range of scientific disciplines.

Nominees were selected from 65 submissions with participants from 17 EU countries, as well as Switzerland, Armenia and South Africa. This year's winners will share the Descartes Prize for Research with €1 million, and up to five finalist teams will receive €30,000 each. Winners will be announced on 7 March in Brussels on the eve of the Spring European Council, as part of the "Today is the Future" event celebrating the start of the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and 50 years of European Research.

Details of the nominees can be found in MEMO/07/42

For nominations for the Descartes Prize for Science Communication, see IP/07/131 and MEMO/07/43

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