In early November, the six transnational research consortia funded under the umbrella of the ERA-HDHL “Nutrition and the Epigenome” call met for a virtual mid-term symposium. They presented preliminary results of their research on the relation between nutrition and epigenetics and participated in a workshop on generating impact.
The identification of the key mechanisms by which diet and lifestyle influence health and the development of diseases is still challenging. Investigating the fine regulation of genes, epigenetics, could provide the missing link. The JPI HDHL has funded six research projects aiming to gain a better understanding of the diet-epigenome relationships and their effect on human health, including cardio-metabolic health, obesity and type II diabetes.
The digital symposium on November 5th was attended by nearly 60 participants from 12 countries, including non JPI HDHL members like Colombia, Venezuela and Northern Ireland. The project leaders and partners, including several young researchers, were in present. Next to that, an expert from the scientific evaluation panel, members of the JPI HDHL scientific and stakeholder advisory boards and representatives of funding agencies were invited to monitor the progress of the projects.
During the symposium the six supported projects presented their preliminary results. Several projects are working on EWAS (meta-)analyses, for instance to find epigenetic markers that are sensitive to maternal glucose and insulin levels. A number of projects works with cohort data, for example to investigate if B-vitamins alter methylation levels of certain genes during pregnancy and in elderly. Unfortunately, most projects report COVID-related delays and are looking at alternative solutions to complete the research activities and share their final results to their stakeholders and end-users.
Workshop ‘Generating impact: the next steps’
JPI HDHL finds it is important that researchers think about the potential impact of their projects and ways to disseminate the results to different target groups. Communication and dissemination of research outputs should be considered as an integral part of any research project, as they are key factors to ensure that the conducted research has a social, political, or economic impact.
The main aim of the workshop session was to discuss the potential impacts of the research projects. This was done by exchange of preliminary/expected results, their target groups and ideas about next steps. Participants were asked what they would like to achieve as a follow-up to the project and why, when, how and with whom. The ultimate goal of several projects is to develop individualized nutritional guidelines to promote health.
Want to learn more about the ERA-HDHL “Nutrition and the Epigenome” call and the supported projects?