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ERA-NET Biomarkers for Nutrition and Health implementing the JPI HDHL objectives

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ERA-HDHL (ERA-NET Biomarkers for Nutrition and Health implementing the JPI HDHL objectives)

Reporting period: 2016-02-01 to 2017-01-31

There is a high burden of Non Communicated Diseases (NCDs) caused by unhealthy diet and lifestyle patterns. The Joint Programming Initiative Healthy Diet Healthy Life (JPI HDHL) deploys a strategic plan to foster the European research and competitiveness through national and international programmes to lower the burden of NCDs cause by unhealthy diet and lifestyle patterns. The Members of the JPI HDHL agreed on the following vision: “by 2030 all citizens will have the motivation, ability and opportunity to consume a healthy diet from a variety of foods, have healthy levels of physical activity and that the incidence of diet-related diseases will have decreased significantly”. In that context, JPI HDHL adopted a Srategic Research Agenda (SRA) in 2012, updated in 2015. The SRA of the JPI HDHL is articulated around three thematic pillars (1) determinants of diet and physical activity, (2) diet and food production, (3) diet-related chronic diseases (see figure1).
The promotion of healthy lifestyles with high quality diets and adequate physical activities is of utmost importance for public health and well-being. It has become clear that unhealthy diet and sedentary life-style choice are key determinants for the development of many non-communicable chronic diseases (NCDs). Overweight and obesity are the predominant causes of NCDs. In addition to the effect on public health, NCDs have a dramatic impact on health systems as well as on the economy and the social structures of member states. ERA-HDHL, aims to provide a robust platform for implementing Joint Funding Activities that address some of the needs identified in the JPI HDHL SRA and to create a transnational network of researchers collaborating in the field. The ERA-NET cofund will allow new partners, not yet involved in the JPI HDHL, to join the planned activities (as Turkey), reducing the fragmentation of research funding and efficiently aligning the JPI HDHL activities among partners and beyond. In addition to the organization of JFAs, ERA-HDHL will also implement additional activities towards the creation of a transnational network of researchers collaborating in the field of Nutrition and Health. The first aim of ERA-HDHL is to support research in the field of Biomarkers for Nutrition and Health (BioNH) through a cofunded call. The main objective of the cofunded call, launched under ERA-HDHL in 2016, is to support multidisciplinary transnational research consortia that will use innovative and scientific approaches to increase knowledge on the development and validation of biomarkers for nutrition and health, including biomarkers for food intake and for the risk of diet-related disease. The cofunded call will encourage the development of improved methodologies, the collaboration of researchers with industrial partners and the use of existing research infrastructures, data and sample collections as well as cohorts. Networking between the funded research consortia through the ERA-HDHL cofunded call and the ones funded through the first JFA on BioNH 2014 will be promoted via the organisation of common meetings to facilitate methodology, data and knowledge exchanges. Additional activities, namely JFAs, of the ERA-HDHL will be based on the Implementation Plans of the JPI HDHL to fulfil the JPI HDHL objectives. All activities will support excellent research groups to work together and to share knowledge but also to contribute to the reduction of the fragmentation of research efforts and increase efficiency of invested funds.
In 2016, ERA-HDHL had implemented and launched a call, cofunded by ERA-HDHL partners and the European Commission. The scientific scope of the call, arising from the JPI HDHL SRA, was the identification and validation of biomarkers that are modulated by diet and that indicate a change in health status and/or the risk of developing diet-related diseases. In addition, the Biomarkers of physical activity could be considered alongside diet. 17 funding organisations from 14 countries were participating. The evaluation was a two-steps procedure. 74 pre-proposals were submitted at the first step and 22 consortia has been invited to submit a full proposal. At the second step of the evaluation, the scientific expert committee has recommended 12 full proposals. The ERA-HDHL partners made a lot of efforts to be able to fund the 12 recommended projects. This 12 research projects have been selected for funding involving 53 research teams from 13 countries and will be supported with a total budget of about 11.2 M€ including 1.9 M€ from the EC. 15 of the ERA-HDHL partners, could spend a part or the whole budget committed to the call. The topic and involved teams of the funded projects are available on ERA-HDHL web-site (
ERA-HDHL consortium is now working on the next JFA, which will be on the establishment of a multi-disciplinary research network for the monitoring, benchmarking and evaluation of policies that affect dietary and physical activity as well as sedentary behavior with standardized protocols across Europe. This JFA arise from the first JFA implemented by JPI HDHL, DEDIPAC-KH, the Knowledge Hub on the Determinants of Diet and Physical Activity. The toolbox, generated, by DEDIPAC to develop, monitor and evaluate multi-component interventions related to dietary, physical activity and sedentary behaviours using natural experiments across European countries will be of used. The JFA will be launched on the 28th of February and the final results will be known by the end of 2017.
Consumer awareness and appropriate information is crucial to (1) change its behavior and consumption (2) influence the production of healthy food by food and drink industries. The combination of outcomes from ERA-HDHL funded project focusing on development of intake/exposure biomarkers correlated with its health and nutrition status (projects funded under the cofunded call) and results of the DEDIPAC KH project and the JFA, which will be launched in 2017 on the evaluation of policy, will help to understand the determinants for dietary behavior and the means of actions that have to be put in place to help the consumer to make healthier choices. The consumer is the main stakeholder influencing the development of innovation and new products in the food and drink industries. Therefore, research results on consumer behaviour and food / product choice should be of high interest to these industry sectors in order to improve not only product lines but also implement innovations.
ERA-HDHL is further improving the linking, efficient integration and coordination of national programmes in the nutrition and health area. To insure the coordination and reduce the overlap and duplication of national and EU funding in the field of nutrition and health, ERA-HDHL is bringing together programme owners and funding bodies to fund research in this field. In addition, in 2016, the EC top-up funding was incentive for countries to increase their budgetary commitment and allowed the funding of all recommended project by the evaluation committee. Moreover, this EC top-up funding had also facilitated the compensation of funding gaps linked to possible insufficiency in earmarked budgets thus leading to higher success rates.
Figure 1