The Descartes Prize - which has existed now for three years - was created by the European Commission's Directorate General for Research to reward the scientific projects which tackle the problems of the citizens and contribute to European competitiveness. This initiative belongs to the Programme on Improvement of the Human Resources of Research (1998-2002 - the EU's Fifth Framework research programme). The awards ceremony for the prize will take place in Munich, December 5, 2002, at the European Patent Office, after the selection of the prizes winner by the Grand Jury, composed of nine eminent personalities reflecting a wide range of the scientific disciplines. The Descartes Prize, worth Euro 1 million, encourages cross-border scientific collaboration in Europe, and has led to significant discoveries in research fields ranging from AIDS and cancer to ecological catalysts.

The Prize encourages the exchange of information, and supports the gathering of research from different countries in Europe, and even outside Europe. Thus, one of the projects - which develops new communication technologies thanks to the application of micro-machining of computer chips - gathers researchers from Romania, Greece, Italy, Sweden, Hungary and Russia. Another project, on the genetic base of Crohn disease, results from a collaboration between the United Kingdom, Norway, South Korea and Denmark. The Grand Jury which will select the prize winner is composed of personalities resulting from the academic world, industry and the public life. It is chaired by Yves Michot former chairman of Aerospatiale Matra. Among the other members are Professor Helena Illnerova, President of the Academy of Science of the Czech...

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