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See detailNatural Gas as an Alternative Fuel for Spark Ignition Engines
Sartor, Kevin ULiege; Ngendakumana, Philippe ULiege

Scientific conference (2010, May)

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See detailModel-free Monte Carlo-like policy evaluation
Fonteneau, Raphaël ULiege; Murphy, Susan; Wehenkel, Louis ULiege et al

in Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics (AISTATS 2010) (2010, May)

We propose an algorithm for estimating the finite-horizon expected return of a closed loop control policy from an a priori given (off-policy) sample of one-step transitions. It averages cumulated rewards ... [more ▼]

We propose an algorithm for estimating the finite-horizon expected return of a closed loop control policy from an a priori given (off-policy) sample of one-step transitions. It averages cumulated rewards along a set of “broken trajectories” made of one-step transitions selected from the sample on the basis of the control policy. Under some Lipschitz continuity assumptions on the system dynamics, reward function and control policy, we provide bounds on the bias and variance of the estimator that depend only on the Lipschitz constants, on the number of broken trajectories used in the estimator, and on the sparsity of the sample of one-step transitions. [less ▲]

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See detailModel-free Monte Carlo–like policy evaluation
Fonteneau, Raphaël ULiege; Murphy, Susan; Wehenkel, Louis ULiege et al

in Proceedings of Conférence Francophone sur l'Apprentissage Automatique (CAp) 2010 (2010, May)

We propose an algorithm for estimating the finite-horizon expected return of a closed loop control policy from an a priori given (off-policy) sample of one-step transitions. It averages cumulated rewards ... [more ▼]

We propose an algorithm for estimating the finite-horizon expected return of a closed loop control policy from an a priori given (off-policy) sample of one-step transitions. It averages cumulated rewards along a set of “broken trajectories” made of one-step transitions selected from the sample on the basis of the control policy. Under some Lipschitz continuity assumptions on the system dynamics, reward function and control policy, we provide bounds on the bias and variance of the estimator that depend only on the Lipschitz constants, on the number of broken trajectories used in the estimator, and on the sparsity of the sample of one-step transitions. [less ▲]

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See detailStromal regulation of vessel stability by MMP14 and TGFbeta.
Sounni, Nor Eddine ULiege; Dehne, K.; van Kempen, L. et al

in Disease Models & Mechanisms (2010), 3

Innate regulatory networks within organs maintain tissue homeostasis and facilitate rapid responses to damage. We identified a novel pathway regulating vessel stability in tissues involving matrix ... [more ▼]

Innate regulatory networks within organs maintain tissue homeostasis and facilitate rapid responses to damage. We identified a novel pathway regulating vessel stability in tissues involving matrix metalloproteinase 14 (MMP14) and transforming growth factor beta (TGFbeta)1. Whereas plasma proteins rapidly extravasate out of vasculature in wildtype mice following acute damage, short-term treatment of mice in vivo with a broad-spectrum metalloproteinase inhibitor, neutralizing antibodies to TGFbeta1 or an ALK5 inhibitor significantly enhanced vessel leakage. In contrast, in a mouse model of age-related dermal fibrosis where MMP14 activity and TGFbeta bioavailability are chronically elevated, or in mice that ectopically express TGFbeta in epidermis, cutaneous vessels are resistant to acute leakage. Characteristic responses to tissue damage are reinstated if fibrotic mice are pre-treated with metalloproteinase inhibitors or TGFbeta signaling antagonists. Neoplastic tissues on the other hand are in a constant state of tissue damage and exhibit altered hemodynamics due to hyperleaky angiogenic vasculature. In two distinct transgenic mouse tumor models, inhibition of ALK5 further enhanced vascular leakage into interstitium and facilitated increased delivery of high molecular weight compounds into premalignant tissue and tumors. Taken together, these data define a central pathway involving MMP14 and TGFbeta that mediate vessel stability and vascular response to tissue injury. Antagonists of this pathway could be therapeutically exploited to improve delivery of therapeutics or molecular contrast agents into tissues where chronic damage or neoplastic disease limits their efficient delivery. [less ▲]

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See detailFailure patterns amongst small firms and their financial symptoms : A test of hypotheses
Crutzen, Nathalie ULiege; Van Caillie, Didier ULiege

in Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Congress of the European Accounting Asssociation (2010, May)

Financial indicators have been widely used in the business failure literature in order to predict the risk of failure of firms (Beaver, 1966; Altman, 1968; Barnes, 1987; Aziz et al., 1988). In contrast ... [more ▼]

Financial indicators have been widely used in the business failure literature in order to predict the risk of failure of firms (Beaver, 1966; Altman, 1968; Barnes, 1987; Aziz et al., 1988). In contrast, financial ratios have been less commonly used in a more preventive perspective to failure (Van Wymeersch and Wolfs, 1996; Van Caillie, 2000; Balcaen and Ooghe, 2006). Nevertheless, in a preventive perspective to small business failure, it is important to better understand how financial symptoms combine over time (Ooghe and Van Wymeersch, 1986) and to identify if relationships can be traced between the fundamental causes of failure and specific financial indicators. Considering this last statement and with reference to the explanatory business failure patterns (EBFPs) identified by Crutzen (2009) amongst a sample of small firms, this paper tests a series of hypotheses which aim at determining if these (causal) patterns can be associated with some specific financial indicators and, if so, if small distressed firms can be associated to one particular EBFP on the basis of the financial information published in the annual accounts. If each EBFP leads to some specific financial symptoms, then it will be possible to get a proxy information about the fundamental problems inducing failure without having any access to internal information, this identification being considered as a crucial step in the elaboration of any recovery or takeover plan (Argenti, 1976; Gaskill et al., 1993). [less ▲]

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See detailLes citoyens et le fédéralisme. Perceptions et préférences fédérales en Belgique et au Canada
Reuchamps, Min ULiege

Doctoral thesis (2010)

This doctoral dissertation aims at studying the relationships between the perceptions of federalism and the preferences for its future, through deliberative citizens panels which offer beter informed ... [more ▼]

This doctoral dissertation aims at studying the relationships between the perceptions of federalism and the preferences for its future, through deliberative citizens panels which offer beter informed opinions and through a comparison of four fields of investigation whose dynamics converge and diverge. The rationale of this endeavour is twofold. On the one hand, studies – which are usually quantitative – on the opinions about federalism focus mainly on a few dimensions, leaving aside a deeper investigation of all the factors at stake. A qualitative approach may therefore offer a more comprehensive understanding of the relations between perceptions and preferences. On the other hand, such an analysis of the citizens’ opinions and especially of the diversity of their positions on this issue bears the potential to shed light on the federal dynamics in their country. This endeavour seems even more fruitful that it compares four political contexts where the future of federalism is persistently a hot topic. To fulfil this objective, a specific method – the deliberative citizens panels – was developed in order to collect beter informed opinions through a dual process of information and interaction, across the four different fields: Liège in French-speaking Belgium, Antwerp in Dutch-speaking Belgium, Kingston in English-Canada and Montréal in Québec. To do so, the thesis is divided in three parts. The first part puts forward the general and the methodological framework of the research. Thus, chapter 1 presents the origins, the formation and the evolution of federalism in Belgium and in Canada. On this background, chapter 2 builds the method and the methodology behind the deliberative citizens panels. The second part explores each specific field in order to draw from the empirical data several ideal types which summarize the different visions of federalism. Chapters 3 and 4 present the results respectively of the French-speaking Belgium panel and the Dutch-speaking Belgium panel while chapters 5 and 6 analyze the data gathered in the English-speaking Canada panel and the Québec panel. The third and last part concludes the dissertation. Chapter 7 compares the ideal types and offers a rich four-faced comparison. The conclusions assess the methodology of the research as well as its results. Finally, on this basis, new avenues of research are highlighted. [less ▲]

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See detailComment développer le portfolio étudiant au supérieur ? Analyse de dispositifs innovants à l’Université de Liège
Deum, Mélanie ULiege; Gruslin, Isabelle ULiege; Peters, Stéphanie ULiege et al

Conference (2010, May)

Depuis 2008, l’Institut de Formation et de Recherche en Enseignement Supérieur de l’Université de Liège (IFRES) accompagne des innovations pédagogiques qui consistent, notamment, en l’implantation de ... [more ▼]

Depuis 2008, l’Institut de Formation et de Recherche en Enseignement Supérieur de l’Université de Liège (IFRES) accompagne des innovations pédagogiques qui consistent, notamment, en l’implantation de portfolios pour des étudiants de master. Ces initiatives, venant de quatre équipes d’enseignants-chercheurs (Psychologie sociale des groupes et des organisations, Formation d’adultes, Pharmacie et Logopédie), poursuivent des objectifs centrés sur l’articulation théorie-pratique, l’accompagnement de démarches réflexives, le développement et l’évaluation de compétences. Notre communication se focalisera principalement sur la mise en œuvre de ces initiatives au travers des questions suivantes : Comment intégrer un portfolio étudiant dans le cadre d’une formation universitaire? Comment en évaluer son contenu? Comment accompagner les étudiants dans la collecte de preuves significatives ? Des perspectives concernant l’accompagnement de tels projets pédagogiques seront également abordées pour qu’au delà de l’analyse de quelques dispositifs portfolio, notre communication apporte un regard plus critique sur les conditions optimales d’implantation et d’accompagnement d’innovations pédagogiques telles que la mise en place d’un portfolio pour les étudiants. [less ▲]

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See detailRankine cycle for waste heat recovery on commercial trucks: approach, constraints and modelling
Espinosa, Nicolas; Tilman, Loic; Lemort, Vincent ULiege et al

(2010, May)

With increasing oil price and growing interest in cutting green house gases emissions, waste heat recovery techniques appear as a very promising path to enhance engine thermal efficiency ... [more ▼]

With increasing oil price and growing interest in cutting green house gases emissions, waste heat recovery techniques appear as a very promising path to enhance engine thermal efficiency. Thermoelectricity and Rankine cycles are two possible ways to recover thermal energy. The Rankine cycle shows the highest potential due to its higher cycle efficiency in comparison with the current state-of-the-art thermoelectric materials intrinsic conversion ratio. This paper will focus on the Rankine cycle system. The first part of the paper lists and describes the constraints of a heat recovery Rankine cycle system associated to a long haulage truck: limitation of heat available in the heat source, vehicle heat rejection constraints, safety and environmental issues for the working fluid, and backpressures occurring during the heat recovery process. The second part of the paper presents a 0-D simulation model of a Rankine cycle system. It is shown how the model can be used to compare the performance achieved with several working fluids. Moreover, basic thermodynamic limitations of the system are underlined. Conclusions are drawn concerning the limitation of using only thermodynamic simulations. The performance of the condenser (and its influence on the overall performance) has been investigated more in details, which is shown in the third part of the paper. This was carried out based on a 1-D simulation model of the condenser. Influence of the condenser size and ram air effect are discussed, and the impact on the Rankine cycle is assessed. [less ▲]

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See detailRückgewinnung von Pflanzennährstoffen, insbesondere Phosphor aus der Asche von Klärschlamm
Pfennig, Andreas ULiege; Kröckel, Jan; Abdellatif, Tarek

in Doetsch, Peter; Pinnekamp, Johannes; Rath, Walter (Eds.) et al Rückgewinnung von Pflanzennährstoffen, insbesondere Phosphor aus der Asche von Klärschlamm (2010)

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See detailComparative validation of three water cooling coil models
Gendebien, Samuel ULiege; Bertagnolio, Stéphane ULiege; Lemort, Vincent ULiege

in Proceedings of the 10th REHVA World Congress - Clima 2010 (2010, May)

Water cooling coils are widely used in common HVAC systems. Accurate and robust cooling coil simulation models are required to perform reliable calculations of building cooling needs. Many different ... [more ▼]

Water cooling coils are widely used in common HVAC systems. Accurate and robust cooling coil simulation models are required to perform reliable calculations of building cooling needs. Many different cooling coil simulation models were developed during the last decades. The most commonly used cooling coil models are presented and compared in terms of implementation in the first part of the paper. A simplified variable boundary model is presented and comparatively and empirically validated to two reference models. [less ▲]

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See detailSimulation Based Assessment of Heat Pumping Potential in Non-Residential Buildings – Part 2: Parametric Study
Bertagnolio, Stéphane ULiege; Stabat, Pascal; Gendebien, Samuel ULiege et al

in Proceedings of the 10th REHVA World Congress - Clima 2010 (2010, May)

This paper is the second one in a series of three papers presenting the assessment methodology of heat pump systems developed in the frame of the IEA-ECBCS Annex 48 project. A package of simulation tools ... [more ▼]

This paper is the second one in a series of three papers presenting the assessment methodology of heat pump systems developed in the frame of the IEA-ECBCS Annex 48 project. A package of simulation tools is developed in order to assess the energy and environmental performances and costs of various reversibility and heat recovery solutions dedicated to space heating and cooling. This paper presents the results of an extended parametric study aiming in assessing the potential of the considered heat pump systems in the European building stock. [less ▲]

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See detailDevelopment of an Evidence-Based Calibration Methodology Dedicated to Energy Audit of Office Buildings. Part 1: Methodology and Modeling.
Bertagnolio, Stéphane ULiege; Andre, Philippe ULiege

in Proceedings of the 10th REHVA World Congress - Clima 2010 (2010, May)

1 Introduction To promote improvements in the HVAC installations of existing buildings, the article 9 of the EPBD directive establishes mandatory audits and inspections of air-conditioning systems. The ... [more ▼]

1 Introduction To promote improvements in the HVAC installations of existing buildings, the article 9 of the EPBD directive establishes mandatory audits and inspections of air-conditioning systems. The development of auditing tools and procedures and the training of future auditors are the main objectives of the HARMONAC project launched in 2007. Four audit stages are generally distinguished: benchmarking, inspection, detailed audit and investment grade audit. Answering the questions encountered along the audit process requires some diagnosis, which has to be established on the basis of the very scarce information currently available: technical data contained in as-built files actually available and, generally, very global recordings of energy consumptions. A dynamic hourly building energy simulation (BES) model is being developed in the frame of the HARMONAC project to help the auditor in establishing his diagnosis despite of the lack of data. Two simulation tools dedicated to assist the auditor are developed on the basis of this equation-based BES model: - The first tool is dedicated to a preliminary benchmarking of the installation. - The second tool is used from inspection stage to evaluation of selected energy conservation measures (ECMs). 2 Simulation-based audit methodology The first step of the audit methodology consists in gathering the as-built and utility data, applying a first treatment and analysis method to this data and using the BES model to perform benchmarking. For this benchmarking targeted work, the actual building is coupled to a typical HVAC system whose performances are defined according to EPBD standards. If the benchmarking indicates that potential energy savings should be studied in the building, the calibration-based audit procedure is launched. In the second step, the BES model is integrated in an iterative evidence-based calibration method adapted to audit purposes. The calibration starts directly at the beginning of the inspection, before realizing any additional measurement. This calibration process includes sensitivity and measurement issues, in order to help the auditor identifying critical points and understanding the building operation. Graphical and statistical methods are used in order to quantify and evaluate if the calibrated baseline model satisfies the predefined tolerances. Finally, the calibrated baseline model can be used to evaluate ECMs and savings uncertainty. The development and the implementation of the BES model are presented in this paper. The mains issues of the proposed calibration-based audit methodology are discussed. An example of application of the whole methodology (from benchmarking to evaluation of ECMs) is presented in a companion paper. [less ▲]

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See detailDevelopment of an Evidence-Based Calibration Methodology Dedicated to Energy Audit of Office Buildings. Part 2: Application to a typical office building in Belgium
Andre, Philippe ULiege; Fabry, Bertrand ULiege; Bertagnolio, Stéphane ULiege et al

in Proceedings of the 10th REHVA World Congress - Clima 2010 (2010, May)

The development of specific tools for the audit of air-conditioning systems is described in a companion paper. These developments are carried out in the frame of the HarmonAC project launched in 2007 in ... [more ▼]

The development of specific tools for the audit of air-conditioning systems is described in a companion paper. These developments are carried out in the frame of the HarmonAC project launched in 2007 in order to assist the implementation of the EPBD, article 9. The development of these tools was continously supported by the application to case studies. This paper reports on the application of the tools within an audit procedure applied to a typical office building in Belgium, which is in operation for more than 20 years. The first step of the work consisted in analyzing the current performance of the building which proved to point out a number of problems in the operation of the building. As it is not rarely the case for running office buildings, these problems were due to a lack of commissioning and a progressive decrease of the performances due to a poor management. Application of the first stage “Benchmark” tool to this building led to a very high discrepancy between the measured consumptions and the calculated ones. This appeared mainly for the electricity consumption but also for the gas consumption. Calibration of the simulation tool, mainly by representing more exactly the management of the building and the real internal gains improved the accuracy of the calculations to a large extent. After calibration of the building and HVAC model, the application of a second tool (SimAudit) allowed to evaluate the savings obtained by the implementation of a number of Energy Conservation Opportunities (ECOs). In this case, the dominant ECOs were in relation with the operation of the building: change of schedules, modification of setpoints; implementation of free-cooling strategies; provision of heat recovery and move to reversibility of the chillers. Reasonable estimates of the savings can be obtained following the calibration/simulation process. The paper will highlight some of the most relevant ECOs and provide an order of magnitude for the savings in this kind of building and in a mild climate. [less ▲]

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See detailSimulation Based Assessment of Heat Pumping Potential in Non-Residential Buildings – Part 3: Application to a typical office building in Belgium
Fabry, Bertrand ULiege; Andre, Philippe ULiege; Bertagnolio, Stéphane ULiege et al

in Proceedings of the 10th REHVA World Congress - Clima 2010 (2010, May)

The purpose of this paper is to describe the application of the tools presented in a companion paper [1] to a typical office building located in the Walloon Region of Belgium. This building is a mid-size ... [more ▼]

The purpose of this paper is to describe the application of the tools presented in a companion paper [1] to a typical office building located in the Walloon Region of Belgium. This building is a mid-size (7000 m² on seven floors) office building constructed in the eighties and equipped with a classical HVAC solution: boiler and air-cooled chiller; all-air VAV system. An energy audit was conducted in this building and featured a number of management problems. Among the Energy Conservation Opportunities considered to improve the energy performance of the building, the move to a heat pump solution was considered. The identification of energy savings potential offered by the implementation of heat pumping strategies confirmed what was already shown by the parametric analysis: in temperate climates, reversibility offers a by far higher potential than condenser heat recovery given the dominant non simultaneity of the yearly heating and cooling demands profiles. Calculations show that theoretically half of the heating demand could be satisfied by the reversibility of the chiller to run in heat pumping mode. In a second step, a number of practical implementations of heat pumping solutions were evaluated by means of another software tool: reversible air/water HP, exhaust air HP, double condenser and water loop heat pump systems. These solutions are compared to the reference existing situation (boiler + chiller working independently) in terms of energy, CO2 emissions and cost on a 20 years life-cycle basis. Calculations show that the air/water reversible chiller solution offers the most important energy savings and CO2 reduction while staying at a reasonable level concerning the additional cost. [less ▲]

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See detailSimulation Based Assessment of Heat Pumping Potential in Non-Residential Buildings – Part 1: Modeling
Bertagnolio, Stéphane ULiege; Stabat, Pascal; Soccal, Benjamin et al

in Proceedings of the 10th REHVA World Congress - Clima 2010 (2010, May)

1 Introduction A solution to reduce the energy consumption in office and health care buildings consist in better exploiting the potential of the heat pump technology. This can be done by recovering heat ... [more ▼]

1 Introduction A solution to reduce the energy consumption in office and health care buildings consist in better exploiting the potential of the heat pump technology. This can be done by recovering heat at the condenser when the chiller is used to produce cold (simultaneous heating and cooling demands) or by using the chiller in heat pump mode (non-simultaneous heating and cooling demands). Both strategies appear particularly feasible when cooling and heating needs and the heat pump technology are, at least partly, present in the building, which is often the case in the tertiary sector. The analysis of these reversibility and recovery potentials is one of the subjects of the IEA-ECBCS Annex 48 project. 2 Simulation tools A package of simulation tools is developed in order to assess the energy and environmental performances and costs of such solutions. A first tool allows a quick estimation of the potential of recovery and reversibility options, starting with limited information and using a limited amount of parameters. It consists in simulating the considered building and its secondary HVAC system in order to generate hourly values of heating and cooling system loads and to compute theoretical reversibility and recovery potentials. This first simulation run can be performed by mean of a calibrated building energy simulation tool (Trnsys, Energyplus…). Hourly values of heating and cooling loads of a given building can also be obtained through in-situ measurements. A second tool allows to simulate the behavior of the heat pump plant and to compute its performances using the previously computed heating and cooling load profiles as inputs. The considered heat pump configuration is then compared to a classical HVAC primary system (composed of a boiler and a chiller) in terms of primary energy consumption, CO2 emissions and costs. In this first paper, the development of such models and their implementation in an equation-based solver are described. The considered heat pump configurations are presented and the models of the main components (heat pump, boiler, thermal storage system, cooling tower and ground heat exchanger) are described. Five general configurations are considered: (1) reversible air-to-water heat pump, (2) exhaust air heat pump, (3) dual condenser heat pump, (4) water loop systems and (5) ground coupled heat pump. The modeling hypotheses, the control algorithms and the connection of these models into global heat pump systems simulation models are discussed. Finally, it is shown how simple equation-based simulation models can be connected to allow quick and robust assessment of the potential of complex heat pump systems. [less ▲]

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See detailNotes de recherche n°12. Le remembrement urbain
Marique, Anne-Françoise ULiege; Lejeune, Zoé ULiege; Halleux, Jean-Marie ULiege et al

Report (2010)

Cette note de recherche se penche sur un nouvel outil wallon en faveur de la redynamisation des villes, le remembrement urbain. Cet outil qui trouve son origine dans la Déclaration de la Politique ... [more ▼]

Cette note de recherche se penche sur un nouvel outil wallon en faveur de la redynamisation des villes, le remembrement urbain. Cet outil qui trouve son origine dans la Déclaration de la Politique régionale 2004-2009, n’a été appliqué jusqu’à présent que dans cinq dossiers. L’approche prospective adoptée dans cette note de recherche se base sur ces cinq expériences et sur une série d’entretiens avec les acteurs-clés du remembrement urbain. Après une analyse historique et juridique de l’outil, la note aborde le RU sous un angle plus opérationnel. En conclusion, les auteurs établissent une série de recommandations dressent quelques perspectives de développement. [less ▲]

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See detailComment un cours en PBL aide l'étudiant à devenir apprenant
Sadzot, Agnès ULiege; Massart, Valérie ULiege; Duchesnes, Christiane ULiege et al

in Ammar, Adil; Sbihi, Mohammed (Eds.) AIPU 2010 Réformes et changements pédagogiques dans l'enseignement supérieur (2010, May)

En 2006-2007, le cours d'Apprentissage de la Démarche Logopédique (ADL) est créé dans la formation en logopédie à l'Université de Liège. Il s'agit d’une approche clinique adoptant une méthodologie de type ... [more ▼]

En 2006-2007, le cours d'Apprentissage de la Démarche Logopédique (ADL) est créé dans la formation en logopédie à l'Université de Liège. Il s'agit d’une approche clinique adoptant une méthodologie de type Problem-Based Learning. En février 2009, une recherche par groupes focalisés a été réalisée dans le but d'évaluer l'impact de ce nouveau cours sur la formation clinique des étudiants. Les principaux résultats issus de cette recherche concernent le vécu des apprenants, et la façon dont les ADL ont modifié leur "métier d'étudiant". En effet, l'analyse des groupes focalisés suggère que les ADL permettent aux apprenants de développer des aptitudes transversales, telles que confiance en soi, capacités de communication, travail en équipe, esprit critique, organisation du travail, questionnement clinique, essentielles à la pratique professionnelle en logopédie. Par ailleurs, les ADL renforcent les liens entre théorie et pratique, en exigeant la mobilisation et la mise en réseau de toutes les connaissances acquises. [less ▲]

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See detailLes notions de monisme et dualisme
Behrendt, Christian ULiege

in Martens, Paul; Bossuyt, Marc (Eds.) Liber amicorum Michel Melchior (2010)

L'article décrit la portée de la distinction entre les notions de monisme et dualisme comme écoles de réception du droit international au sein de l'ordre juridique interne

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See detailAcide Hyaluronique et matrice extracellulaire : une molécule primitive ?
Nusgens, Betty ULiege

in Annales de Dermatologie et de Vénéréologie (2010), 137(supplément 1), 3-8

Hyaluronic acid, or hyaluronan, is a polymer made of the repetition of a unique disaccharidic unit, D-glucuronic acid and D-N-acetylglucosamine, that can reach a molecular mass of 10(7) daltons. This ... [more ▼]

Hyaluronic acid, or hyaluronan, is a polymer made of the repetition of a unique disaccharidic unit, D-glucuronic acid and D-N-acetylglucosamine, that can reach a molecular mass of 10(7) daltons. This primitive polymer has emerged as a remarkable extracellular matrix component by its viscoelastic properties, its hygroscopic capacities and the diversity of cell processes it controls. Identified in all vertebrate tissues, more than 50% of acid hyaluronic of the organism is present in skin. Having no protein core, its synthesis is performed through a unique process, depending on enzymatic activity of hyaluronan synthases acting at the internal face of the plasmatic membrane and extruding the nascent polymer to the extracellular medium. This polymer constitutes a scaffold on which a large number of sulfated proteoglycans, up to one hundred, can be linked. These supramolecular structures of considerable size are able to entrap large amounts of water and ions to provide tissues with hydration and turgescence. Hyaluronic acid is recognized by cell membrane receptors, notably CD44 which is the best known. Interaction of hyaluronic acid with its receptors triggers several intracellular signaling pathways regulating proliferation, migration and differentiation. Cell response is largely influenced by the size of the polymer and by that of the fragments generated upon degradation by hyaluronidases or free radicals. Hyaluronic acid is metabolically very active, as, for example, its half-life in skin is less than one day. Detected in epidermis where it could play a role in the control of proliferation and differentiation of basal cells, it is however prominent in dermis in association with versican. The remarkable physicochemical properties of hyaluronic acid as well as the diversity of biological processes it controls largely surpass the primitive character of this polymer. [less ▲]

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