'The retina of vertebrates contains two kinds of photoreceptor cells, the abundant rod cells, containing the rhodopsin pigment, and the much scarcer cone cells, with the blue, green and red cone pigments. Upon photoactivation, they interact and activate a specific heterotrimeric G protein, transducin, initiating the visual signalling phototransduction cascade. To date, little information about the interaction cone pigment-transducin is known.
The main goal of this project is to provide an overall picture that integrates in a coherent scheme the molecular basis of the interaction cone pigment-cone transducin following two approaches. In a first approach, Dr Ramon proposes to unravel the effect of cone degeneration associated mutations found in cone pigments, and transducin ? subunit genes. To do that, these mutant proteins will be expressed (using eukaryotic or prokaryotic systems) and characterized by means of immunocytochemic and spectroscopic techniques.
On a second approach, Dr Ramon will study the interaction cone pigment-cone transducin by means of Surface Plasmon Resonance spectroscopy, providing the kinetic features of the biomolecular interactions and NMR spectrosocopy, by determining the conformation of cone transducin upon cone pigment binding
The collaboration of different groups with the host institution -which will allow short stays of the applicant in these laboratories- and their involvement in the development of this project will help to disseminate the results not only Europe, but worldwide.
Cone pigments have not been widely studied due to the scarcer amount in nature as compared with the rod pigment rhodopsin. most of the information available on cone pigment phototransduction is inferred or extrapolated from the rod system due to its similarities with rhodopsin, the prototypical representative of G protein coupled receptors. For this reason, the project herein proposed will represent an important advance in the visual diseases arena.'
'The project focuses on the theoretical and applied study of freezing soils in the context of the use of Artificial Ground Freezing (AGF) in excavations and underground construction. The ever-increasing density of urban environments poses new challenges to tunnelling for transit projects. This implies the necessity to carry out open excavations and bored tunnels in the urban environment, often in difficult ground and almost always in the close vicinity of existing buildings and structures. As a test case, the project examines the geotechnical aspects of excavation of Line 1 of Napoli Underground. The work was performed in the urban environment of one of the most densely populated cities in Europe. Monitoring included an extensive set of in-situ data (e.g. buildings displacements, temperature in the ground).
The main objectives of the project are: a deeper understanding of the AGF process and of the effects of thawing frozen ground; development of a novel constitutive model and coupled thermo-hydro-mechanical (THM) formulation to provide an accurate description of the engineering behaviour of frozen/unfrozen soils; comparison between laboratory and field tests to calibrate the thermal properties of the ground, collection and back analysis of an extensive set of in-situ monitored data from a real urban tunnelling project. The most innovative aspect of the project is the way in which theoretical developments, constitutive modelling, laboratory tests, in situ monitoring and coupled analysis will be integrated in a single consistent framework firmly grounded on basic physical principles. The generality of the formulation and of the developed analysis tool allows the enhancement of the field of applications from AGF to the wider range of engineering and environmental problems involving frozen soils such as the analysis of frost heave, the study of the effect of freezing-thawing cycles in cold regions or the prediction of the permafrost fate in a climate change scenario.'