Back Seven UPF researchers receive grants from the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities to consolidate their research

Seven UPF researchers receive grants from the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities to consolidate their research

In total, the seven projects are endowed with some 1.8 million euros and will be conducted in the departments of Law, Engineering, Translation and Language Sciences, and Medicine and Life Sciences. 


Imatge inicial

With the aim of helping consolidate the professional career of national and foreign research staff, the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities holds a call to apply for research consolidation grants which, this year, will be granted to seven research projects led by researchers from various UPF departments. Even so, only six will be executed, since one has resigned.


A wireless network for drones and AI technologies for distributed and intelligent computing systems  

The research consolidation grants have funded two research projects of the UPF Department of Engineering. 

One is the project “Terrestrial and non-terrestrial networks for aerial services” (INTENSE), dedicated to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, and their WiFi connection needs. UAVs need to exchange huge amounts of data through the network, and more so taking into account their potential and future applications (the delivery of goods, search and rescue, urban mobility...). Since current wireless connections are conceived from a terrestrial paradigm, they present limitations for the operation of drones. 

Thus, this research aims to break the bounds of this paradigm and establish an integrated 3D wireless network, with both terrestrial and non-terrestrial infrastructures, such as satellite constellations or aerial platforms. The principal investigator of the project, which has received a grant of 199,916 euros from this call, is Giovanni Geraci, from the  WiSeCom (Wireless & Secure Communications) research group at the UPF Department of Engineering.

The second DTIC research project funded by this call is “EqBlankets (Intelligent Equilibrium Blankets for Distributed Computing Continuum Systems)”, whose principal investigator is Schahram Dustdar. The main objective of the project, which has received a grant of 383,526 euros, is to advance AI-based technologies for intelligent distributed computing continuum systems (DCCS). DCSS are characterized by combining the use of several computers to solve a common problem in such a way that they all form a single, powerful computer to deal with complex challenges. They are able to provide fast and accurate predictions, and can also interpret the results and allow the system to learn how to improve its efficiency and sustainability. DCSS are currently being used for the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing systems such as Edge, Fog or Cloud, and they also allow developing key applications for society such as autonomous vehicles, smart manufacturing or different components of smart cities.


The heritage of Catalan and Spanish in exile

Another of the projects to receive funding is “Preserving Linguistic Heritage: Spanish and Catalan as Heritage Languages in France” (HERITAGE), whose principal investigator is Sílvia Perpiñán, of the ALLENCAM (Language Acquisition from the Multilingual Catalonia) research group of the Department of Translation and Language Sciences. Its goal is to investigate the characteristics of Catalan and Spanish as heritage languages in France which, after the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), received a large number of exiles or migrants, totalling 465,000 in 1939 alone. It is estimated that half continued to live in France and that, in many cases, they transmitted their mother tongues to their descendants. Beyond linguistic factors, the French sociological context and the fact that previous studies on Catalan or Spanish as inherited languages have been carried out in English-speaking countries, make this research project especially important and innovative. It has received a research consolidation grant of 146,527 euros. 


Chromosomal instability and nanoparticles to fight cancer

Two projects of the Department of Medicine and Life Sciences (MELIS) have been funded. The first, entitled “RNF144B deficiency drives chromosomal instability enhancing immune evasion and resistance to immunotherapy in lung cancer and lymphomas”, is led by Ana Janic, who heads the laboratory that researches into the biology of cancer. Recently, chromosomal instability has been associated with a low response to immunotherapy in patients with melanoma or lung cancer. So, Janic and her collaborators want to study how the lack of RNF144B, one of the tumour suppressor proteins that acts under the baton of the protein P53, conditions chromosomal instability, the remodelling of the microenvironment of the tumour and, ultimately, the tumour’s immune evasion capacity. This project has been endowed with a grant of almost 200,000 euros. 

The other project funded is directed by Pilar Rivera, principal investigator of the Integrative Biomedical Materials and Nanomedicine Lab at MELIS-UPF, and is entitled “Nanoencapsulation and targeting add therapeutic value to the treatment of PDAC”. Pancreatic cancer is difficult to detect in the early stages as it is asymptomatic and is often diagnosed only when the disease is very advanced and treatment is barely able to combat it. NanoTarg is a nanotechnology platform aimed at increasing the life expectancy of patients with pancreatic cancer. It does so by encapsulating the active ingredient used in the treatment, specifically targeting the tumour. With this strategy, the availability of the drug increases and it is, therefore, more effective. This technology can be extrapolated to other tumours that express the same marker, such as those of the breast, ovary or lung. This project has been endowed with a grant of close to 200,000 euros.


Artificial intelligence to explore justice systems around the world

The use of artificial intelligence and automated decisions by public and private institutions poses one of the major challenges faced by judicial systems around the world. The AIJust project, led by Mireia Artigot, of the Department of Law, aims to shed light on the disruption represented by artificial intelligence and automated systems for judicial systems and for fundamental rights from a dual perspective: firstly, judicial systems as users of artificial intelligence and automated decision-making systems; and secondly, judicial systems as adjudicators of the legality of decisions taken by or with the support of artificial intelligence or automated systems.

These two elements will be explored from both regulatory and experimental perspectives.

The project is funded with 399,205.62 euros

Grants CNS2023-143700, CNS2023-144819, CNS2023-145543, CNS2023-144359, CNS2023-145384 and CNS2023-145515 funded by MICIU/AEI/10.13039/501100011033 and by the European Union NextGenerationEU/PRTR 




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