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Pranjul Shah is the Falling Walls Lab winner

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Published on Thursday, 02 July 2015

Pranjul Shah, scientist of the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg, is the winner of the competition Falling Walls Lab Luxembourg 2015 organised by the University of Luxembourg, and the Falling Walls Foundation. His invention is called HuMiX, an artificial human gut-on-chip device which will help to further analyse the impact of specific gut bacteria and bacteria systems on human health.

Pranjul Shah and and the Eco-Systems Biology group of Associate Prof. Paul Wilmes at the LCSB have developed HuMix, a device to model the conditions in the human gut or so to say an “artificial digestive tract”. It is just the size of a credit card. But it is able to reproduce the conditions that take place inside the human gut with respect to how the bacteria in the gut interact with the human cells. This makes it possible to further analyse the impact of specific gut bacteria and bacteria systems on human health. For some time, bacteria in the human gut are suspected to have a crucial impact on diseases such as Parkinson disease, obesity or diabetes, which are the three main research fields of the scientists from LCSB. For the future, HuMiX could even enable possibilities to develop personalised medicine that is tailored to the individual needs of a certain patient.

Pranjul Shah will compete in the Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin on 8  November 2015 and will also attend the prestigious international Falling Walls Conference on the following day. At this conference, twenty leading researchers will present their ground-breaking projects, all addressing the question: “Which are the next walls to fall?”

A total of around one hundred competitors will qualify for the final round in Berlin. Each finalist will have three minutes to present their research work, initiative or business idea to a top-calibre jury with judges from the scientific, research and business world. The winners will receive prize money and the opportunity to deliver their presentation again to the 800 guests at the Conference. For many winners the “Falling Walls Lab” has become a spring board for their careers.

Falling Walls Lab held for the first time in Luxembourg

The “Falling Walls Lab Luxembourg” took place on Wednesday, 1st July on the new Campus in Belval. The idea behind the worldwide competition is to offer a platform to students, early-stage researchers and young professionals with all kinds of ground-breaking new research projects, initiatives or business ideas.

Prof. Dr. Andreas Weigend, who used to be the leading scientist at Amazon and who now teaches at both Stanford University and UC Berkeley gave an inspiring keynote speech and moderated the event.

These ten young talents introduced their projects to the general public in short presentations:

  • Christophe Atten was breaking the wall of Human Driving Behaviour
  • Marouen Ben Guebila was breaking the wall of Parkinson’s Disease (3rd place)
  • Thierry Derrmann was breaking the wall of Emergency Response Time
  • Cintia Ertel Silva was breaking the wall of the Mother Tongue
  • Jakob Mainert was breaking the wall of Complex Entrepreneurial Problems
  • Shankari Nadupalli was breaking the wall of Holographic Storage Devices
  • Shaman Narayanasamy was breaking the wall of Wastewater Biofuel Production
  • Mario Rueda was breaking the wall of Illegal Street Art (2nd place)
  • Pranjul Shah was breaking the wall of Our Microbial Self (1st place)
  • Tobias Tempel was breaking the wall of Plasticity of Movement Memory

A distinguished jury of experts in different fields selected the winner of the Falling Walls Lab Luxembourg 2015. The jury was composed of Prof. Dr. Andreas Weigend, Prof. Dr. Jürgen Fohrmann, Maryline Fiaschi and Dr. Fritz Ohler. The winner Pranjul Shah was followed by the second winner Mario Rueda who presented his start-up “Book a Street Artist” and the third winner Marouen Ben Guebila with his presentation on how to increase activity time for Parkinson patients.

The “Falling Walls Lab Luxembourg”, was organised by the University of Luxembourg and supported by the Falling Walls Foundation and A.T. Kearney, a global management consulting firm (founding partner), as well as Festo, a worldwide leading supplier of automation technology.

About the Falling Walls Foundation

The Falling Walls Foundation is a non-profit organisation that fosters the discussion on research and innovation and promotes the latest scientific findings among a broad audience from all parts of society. It organises the Falling Walls Conference, an annual global gathering of forward-thinking individuals from over 75 countries. Each year on 9th November, twenty of the world’s leading scientists present their current breakthrough research in 15 minutes each. The Falling Walls Foundation is supported by the German Ministry for Education and Research, the Robert Bosch Foundation, the Helmholtz Association and numerous other acclaimed academic institutions, foundations, and companies. More information at: www.falling-walls.com

Photo: The three winners Mario Rueda, Pranjul Shah (middle) and Marouen Ben Guebila / © Michel Brumat, University of Luxembourg