News
04/18/2014

Impact of diet on health: ANR announces the launch of a European call for proposals on biomarkers in nutrition and health

As part of its participation in the "Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life (HDL)" Joint Programming Initiative (JPI), the French National Research Agency (ANR) is launching a first European call for proposals in the field of biomarkers in nutrition and health. These biomarkers are crucial for investigating the impact of diet on health, in that they shed light on an individual’s diet and nutritional status, as well as on their present and past exposure to a particular chemical compound. The proposal submission deadline is 9 June 2014.

The impact of diet on the prevention and increased prevalence of disorders such as cancer, obesity and cardiovascular disease has been well established scientifically. In order to prevent these pathologies more efficiently and improve public health, it is necessary to gain in depth knowledge of the following: (a) the mechanisms linking diet to these pathologies; (b) dietary habits and lifestyles; and (c) the types of food that are available.

The Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) is a cooperative framework among EU member states that aims to address societal problems through coordinated realisation of research programmes. To this end, the JPI HDHL coordinates research on the impact of diet on health. Its mission is to be instrumental in establishing, within the European Research Area, operational research for the prevention of diet-related disorders.

An international call for proposals concerning biomarkers of exposure and effect

The many substances found in food (vitamins, minerals, trace metals, additives, pesticide residues) can have either a beneficial or harmful effect on human health. Thus food intake and exposure to such substances are monitored by means of studies of specific populations (questionnaire-based surveys on dietary habits), and through laboratory analyses concerning the presence of such substances in food.

Biomarkers of exposure are specific biological indicators for a substance that can normally be investigated through analyses of blood, urine, saliva and the like. Hence measuring these substances in an individual sheds light on their past and present exposure to them.

Biomarkers of effect are the quantifiable changes that an individual endures; this in turn indicates exposure to a compound and may indicate a resulting health effect.

Thus the development of these biomarkers makes a major contribution to the study of the impact of diet on health, in that they provide more objective measurements than is the case with classic food-intake questionnaires.

This new call for European proposals aims to promote interdisciplinary research and innovative approaches for the validation of biomarkers of effect and exposure, which allow for predictive analyses of the effects of diet on nutrition and health.

This call involves the following 12 countries: Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Norway, The Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland.

Proposals will need to demonstrate that international cooperation in connection with the proposed project will have a genuinely beneficial effect and will involve a minimum of three teams from three of the participating countries indicated above.

The ANR will be providing funding solely for the French participants in the projects that are ultimately selected.

Proposals are to be submitted directly to the call secretariat of the Dutch agency by 9 June 2014.

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