European Low Gravity Research Association

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European Low Gravity Research Association
Logo of ELGRA.jpg
Abbreviation ELGRA
Formation 1979
Type Scientific society
Purpose promote research in micro and hyper-gravity in Europe
Valentina Shevtsova

The European Low Gravity Research Association (ELGRA) is a non-profit international society devoted to the promotion of scientific research under various gravity conditions in Europe. The organization, established in 1979, provides a networking platform for all scientists interested in life and physical sciences and technology in space or on ground. ELGRA aims at representing and strengthening the scientific community of gravity-related research and helping young scientists and engineers get involved in low- and hyper-gravity research through educational programs.


All started in the late 70s with the advent of Spacelab and the possibility of research in low gravity environment on other platforms for microgravity research such as Ariane and TEXUS rockets. These new space facilities have provided scientist with a low effective gravitational field for prolonged periods for research in Life and Materials Sciences and led to a widening European interest in this fundamental research. However, at that time most scientists were working in isolation and it was for them very difficult to plan and manage a low gravity experiment considering operational complexity and the fact that experimenters were widely dispersed geographically.

In 1979, a group of seven scientists (Prof. F. Bonde-Petersen, Denmark, Dr. Y. Malméjac, France, Prof. L.G. Napolitano, Italy, Dr. J.F. Padday, UK, Dr. Stott, UK, Prof. H. Weiss, Germany and Dr. H.S. Wolff, UK) recognized the need for the European scientists involved in low gravity research to form an association to foster the cooperation and the coordination between them and to provide the ground-based expert advisory service for low gravity experiments. On June 18, 1979 the "European Low Gravity Research Association" ELGRA was born.

Since its creation, ELGRA has continuously encouraged and promoted low gravity research in both life and physical sciences within Europe with the permanent support of the European Space Agency. For several years ELGRA was a study group of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and contributed to a better visibility of Low Gravity research at the highest European spheres. However, its main action remains the improvement of the scientific collaboration between scientists from all over Europe in the field of low gravity research. In that effort, ELGRA has organized meetings and symposia resulting in 2011 in the 22nd ELGRA symposium held in Antwerp (Belgium) which gathered more than 150 scientists from all over the world. ELGRA also supports young researchers and students via grants and educational programs from ESA. In 2012, the ELGRA community counts not less than 200 active members. The success of ELGRA reflects the increasing interest of the European scientific community for low gravity. Since the 80s, ELGRA's scientists have been using new research facilities either on the ground, as the 133m drop tower at ZARM (Bremem, Germany) or centrifuges (ESTEC, DLR, MEDES), but also in space with the European Columbus module aboard the International Space Station dedicated to low gravity research. Nowadays, low gravity space research involves more and more scientists from all over Europe and space experiments require more preparation and especially a strong collaboration between the different partners. A collaboration platform dedicated to low gravity research as ELGRA remains crucial to facilitate this collaboration. Additionally, ELGRA joins both Physical as well as Life Sciences, what enhances translational research.


ELGRA organizes scientific symposia and courses, mainly under the form of a Biennial Symposium and General Assembly

Previous symposia and meetings:

  • 2013 Rome - Vatican City: ELGRA Biennial Symposium and General Assembly, "In the Spirit of Discovery", 11-14 September 2013.
  • 2011 Antwerp, Belgium: ELGRA Biennial Symposium and General Assembly, "Gravity: from µ to x !", 6–9 September 2011.
  • 2010 Triest, Italy: "Life in Space for Life on Earth" combined meeting with the International Society for Gravitational Physiology (ISGP), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Low Gravity Research Organization (ELGRA).
  • 2009 Bonn, Germany: ELGRA Symposium and General Assembly, "In the Footsteps of Columbus", 1-4 Sept. 2009.
  • 2008 Angers, France: "Life in Space for Life on Earth" combined meeting with the American Society for Gravitational and Space Biology (ASGSB), the International Society for Gravitational Physiology (ISGP), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Low Gravity Research Organization (ELGRA).
  • 2007 Florence, Italy: Biennial Symposium and General Assembly, Sept. 4-7.
  • 2006 Toledo, Spain: "Science on the European Soyuz Missions to the International Space Station (2001-2005).
  • 2005 Santorini, Greece: ELGRA Biennial Symposium and General Assembly, 21–23 September 2005
  • 2003 München, Germany: ELGRA Biennial Symposium and General Assembly, April 2–4, 2003
  • 2001 Banyuls sur mer / France : 25–28 September 2001 (ELGRA News Vol.22, Sept. 2001)
  • 1999 Roma / Italy : 28 February - 3 March 1999 (ELGRA News Vol 21, Febr. 1999)
  • 1997 Paris / France: March 16–20, 1997
  • 1994 Madrid / Spain: December 11–14, 1994
  • 1993 Genova / Italy: April 5–7, 1993
  • 1992 München / Germany: April 2–3, 1992
  • 1991 Köln / Germany: April 16–18, 1991
  • 1990 Utrecht / Netherlands: April 9–11, 1990
  • 1989 Toulouse / France: March 29–31, 1989
  • 1987 Zürich / Switzerland: March 1–3, 1987
  • 1984 Noordwijk (ESTEC) / Netherlands: January 11–13, 1984
  • 1982 Paris / France: October 4–5, 1982
  • 1981 Anacapri / Italy: September 14–15, 1981
  • 1980 Bad Alpbach / Austria: August 14–15, 1980

Management Committee[edit]

The ELGRA Management Committee is elected every two years by ELGRA members during the Biennial Symposium and General Assembly. It is composed of a President, a Vice-President, a Secretary, a Treasurer and three members. A special advisor to the Management Committee has been commissioned for educational matters. The President and Vice-President are chosen to represent the fields of physical and life science in gravity-related research.

Current Management Committee[edit]

The current ELGRA Management Committee (2011-2013) is:

Name Function Affiliation
Prof. Dr. Valentina Shevtsova President Microgravity Research Centre, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
Dr. Monica Monici Vice-President ASA Research Division, Dept. Clinical Physiopathology, University of Florence, Italy
Prof. Dr. Floris L. Wuyts General Secretary Antwerp University Research centre for Equilibrium and Aerospace, University of Antwerp, Belgium
Dr. Kurt Kemmerle Treasurer Kayser-Threde GmbH, Munich, Germany
Dr. Ing. Thomas Podgorski Member Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire de Physique (LIPhy), CNRS/Université Grenoble I, France
Dr. Ing. Carole Leguy Member Division of Space Physiology, DLR, Cologne Germany

German Aerospace Institute

Dr. Ing. Jack J.W.A. van Loon Member DESC (Dutch Experiment Support Center), Univ. of Amsterdam and VU-University, Dept. of Oral Cell Biology, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Dr. F. Javier Medina Special Advisor to the Management Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas (CSIC), Madrid, Spain

Former ELGRA Presidents[edit]

  • Jack van Loon (2007–2011)
  • Daniel Beysens (2003–2007)
  • Marianne Cogoli-Greuter (1999–2003)
  • Manuel G. Velarde (1997–1999)
  • Gerard Perbal (1995–1997)
  • Yves Malméjac (1993–1995)
  • Jan P.B. Vreeburg (1989–1993)
  • Augusto Cogoli (1986–1989)
  • Luigi G. Napolitano (1981–1986)
  • Herbert Weiss (1979–1981)

Educational activities[edit]

  • ELGRA is Committed with students and young scientists involved and interested in gravity-related research and technology through a range of actions:
  • provide financial support to attend meetings and courses
  • organize a student contest and student session in ELGRA meetings
  • counsel and support space related student organizations such as LEEM
  • support the Education Office of the European Space Agency in the promotion, selection and mentoring of the following educational programmes:

See also[edit]

External links[edit]