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Twinning of research activities for the frontier research in the fields of food, nutrition and environmental ‘omics

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - FoodEnTwin (Twinning of research activities for the frontier research in the fields of food, nutrition and environmental ‘omics)

Reporting period: 2019-12-01 to 2021-12-31

The objective of FoodEnTwin was to create a networking collaboration among the University of Belgrade – Faculty of Chemistry (UBFC) and its Center of Research Excellence for Molecular Food Sciences (CoE MFS) and four high renowned institutes from Sweden (Karolinska InstitutetI), Austria (Medical University of Vienna) and Belgium (KULeuven and Ghent University) providing a unique opportunity for UBFC and its partners to increase their scientific excellence and visibility, technology innovation capacity and enable frontier research at the crossroad of food, agriculture, chemistry, nutrition and environmental sciences by the infusion of –Omics technologies and experimental animal models.

The project focused on the key target actions of twinning of research activities through networking, training and a lecturing program resulting in a roadmap for a future collaboration.
The scientific topic addressed the major challenge of how environmental pollution affects the food we eat at the molecular level. The project had a significant societal impact. Our dissemination approach presented our networking ideas to a broad public, from experts, the science community and industry stakeholder organization, to interested, non-professionals, making society more aware of the impact that environment has on food and the importance of new approaches in food, nutrition and environmental sciences. To achieve the objectives of the FoodEnTwin project, the consortium partners have implemented a comprehensive set of measures within the project’s key work packages (WPs): Short term staff exchanges; (WP1), Training workshops, and summer schools; (WP2), Dissemination and outreach. (WP3)

The aim of this 3-year project was to use cutting-edge -omics technologies (proteomics, transcriptomics, digestomics, allergomics, metalomics and lipidomics) and experimental animal models to address the challenges in food, nutrition and environmental sciences in a way that enables the creation of a pan-European research network through the twinning research activities in this project. The final results of the project resulted in training of junior researchers in four advanced training schools organized by the project, 24 short terms scientific exchanges of researchers for the purpose of training and work on collaborative topics to address how environmental pollution affects the food we eat at the molecular level, as well as organization of three workshops and a final symposium.
Reinforcement of the research capacity of involved partners was achieved by several shorter mutual visits specifically targeting the training of researchers and specific collaborative research topics. 12 training and 17 collaborative STSE were conducted. Collaboration continued after the exchanges and resulted in joint manuscripts, joint contributions to international conferences and involvement of partner's experts in PhD theses defense committees of the researchers involved in exchanges.
Establishment of a pan-European network of excellence for frontier research on the effects pollution and environmental stress on food composition, quality and safety has been achieved by coordination of networking activities between involved partners and regular meetings of the FoodEnTwin Advisory Board. An Advisory Board consisting of experts from the FoodEnTwin and invited expert representatives of large European networks and scientific societies guided the twinning activities and created a roadmap for future collaborations.
Raising scientific excellence and spreading knowledge of the created network was achieved by organizing four summer schools with practical training sessions for researchers and other interested professionals on the topics of:
• Metallomics in food and environmental sciences.
• Applicative proteomics in the fields of food, nutrition, agricultural and environmental sciences;
• Towards extensive lipidomics profiling in food;
• Transcriptomic-functionomic host-hazard interactions in food sciences
Three schools were organized with practical sessions and the fourth one in digital format.
Spreading knowledge and disseminating project results was achieved by organizing three workshops and a symposium:

o 1st Workshop: Food and Environmental -omics;
o 2nd Workshop: Models of allergic disease;

o 3rd Workshop: Business meets Academia
Final symposium of novel instrumental approaches in food science.

Dissemination of project results to wider audience included FoodEnTwin website with all relevant information regarding the project (activities, news, announcement of the events, such as workshops, summer schools, seminars, media presentation etc.), FoodEnTwin accounts on social media (Facebook, Research Gate, Instagram, Twitter), as well as several media presentations of the project via popular articles/interviews/lectures in popular magazines and media. The scientific results were disseminated to the scientific community by 30 published publications, and by numerous conferences attended by all project partners. A series of popular lectures was organized i and streamed via YouTube channel. FoodEnTwin also organized a press conference in the final year of the project implementation.
The FoodEnTwin project gathered –Omics technologies and animal models, as the most sophisticated tools for uncovering environment-induced qualitative and quantitative changes of food components and sources at molecular level. FoodEnTwin was at the forefront in this multidisciplinary field as it exploited –Omics technologies and animal models to explore the influence of environment on the food for human and animal nutrition, making the project progress beyond the state of the art in food and nutrition sciences, and environmental sciences.

Main impacts of the project are:
a) Increased research excellence of the coordinating institution in the field of –Omics technologies in food, nutrition and environmental sciences.
b) Enhanced reputation, attractiveness and networking channels of the coordinating institution.
c) Improved capability of the coordinating institution to compete successfully for national, EU and internationally competitive research funding.

In the current “organic food era”, the public are more informed, and more interested in relationship between environmental pollution and food for human and animal nutrition. However, environmental pollution, not only influences food by natural and anthropogenic contaminants, but it also influences food quality and other aspects of food safety. FoodEnTwin addressed the major challenge of the influence of environmental pollution on food at the molecular level. The project's impact is new insights into food safety, which is a significant societal impact. During the project, the public became more aware of importance of new approaches in food, nutrition and environmental sciences, which is key to making the food supply safer for all Europeans. Additionally, long term impact of FoodEnTwin is expected to be an increase in the public support for the efforts made by scientists and more engaged policymakers for the future.
FoodEnTwin management, Metallomics school participants and Advisory Board of the project