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In Brief

“Frontiers of Sciences” Symposia

On March 15, 2006, France and Japan launched the “Frontiers of Sciences” symposia program, intended to bring together young group leaders (under the age of 45) working on innovative interdisciplinary subjects. CNRS is the French operator for the 2006 program. The next symposium is scheduled for January 2007 in Tokyo.


Contact: Minh-Hà Pham-Delègue,





NASA selected some twenty teams to perform the first analysis of the Wild-2 comet dust grains collected by the Stardust mission. Among them is a consortium of French teams from seven CNRS laboratories coordinated by CNES.1 A preliminary analysis will be provided in July, and a new set of samples will be dispatched to labs selected by NASA after a call for proposals. 

1. Centre National d'Etudes spatiales:


Contact: François Robert





Fighting malaria using powerful grid technology, that's the project undertaken by Vincent Breton, researcher at CNRS' National Institute of Nuclear Physics and Particles (IN2P3).

Grid technology, or using a network of computers to tackle a single problem, is widely used in particle physics. The EGEE project1 is developing a service Grid infrastructure which can be used by scientists for different types of research. In January 2006, Breton and his team launched the “Wide in Silico Docking On Malaria” (WISDOM) project, using the EGEE Grid to match 3-dimensional structures of proteins from the malarial parasite to ligands, chemical compounds that bind to protein receptors. “Grids are particularly well suited to drug discovery because you can compute the probability for one ligand to fit, or 'dock,' to one protein on each computer node in the Grid, giving massive parallelism,” says Breton. This can reduce candidate compounds from millions to thousands or even hundreds in a relatively short time. It takes between a few seconds and a few minutes to model whether there's a match between a protein and a ligand, and the WISDOM project performed the equivalent of 80 CPU–years of calculations in just six weeks. Using this new approach and unparalleled computing power will no doubt prove beneficial to fighting this disease, “but that's not the only way to use Grids in epidemiology,” says Breton. “They could also be used to federate databases collecting data on infection and treatment in malaria and Dengue, but also in HIV, very difficult information to collect in Africa.”

1. Enabling Grids for E-science in Europe (EGEE) is financed by the European union and administered by CERN.


Contact: Vincent Breton,



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