Periodic Reporting for period 1 - FAT4BRAIN (Networking for excellence in functional pharmacology to study the role of fatty acid metabolism in neurological disorders)
Reporting period: 2019-11-01 to 2021-01-31
Since the kick-off meeting of the FAT4BRAIN project, the first ESR workshop on career development in the series “How to Become a Successful Researcher”, training in scientific writing, the theoretical part of the laboratory animal science education for researchers, and the summer school on mitochondrial functionality assessment in CNS-related applications, were organised. This resulted in the formation of a research network in mitochondrial physiology and ESR focus group, as well as initiated co-ordinated effort to comprehensively review pathophysiological roles of fatty acid metabolites, acylcarnitines, and the assessment of fatty acid oxidation in the brain. More than 53 researchers (43 ESRs; 65% female) participated in the FAT4BRAIN events, and rated the scientific content and obtained skills/knowledge highly. In the context of the COVID-19 crisis, several of the project tasks have been implemented as online activities, thus creating new platforms for trainings and discussion forums in the future. Despite travel restrictions, FAT4BRAIN project researchers managed to participate in >30 online conferences/courses.
FAT4BRAIN partnering institutions synergistically benefit from the capacity-building and networking within the FAT4BRAIN activities. Despite the challenging situation related to the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple FAT4BRAIN impacts have been reached, including the number of involved early-stage researchers, scientific publishing, international grant applications, contract research agreements, and novel methods for studies of fatty acid metabolism. To disseminate and exploit FAT4BRAIN results within the scientific community of Europe and provide information about the FAT4BRAIN project activities and results to the general public, a communication strategy, plan for exploitation and dissemination of results, as well as communication channels and visual identity (https://twitter.com/fat4brain) were developed.
The improved capability of LIOS to compete successfully for national, EU and internationally-competitive research funding has already resulted in funding obtained from the European Regional Development Fund, and EU Horizon 2020 program, as well as collaborative research funding from industry. FAT4BRAIN aims to develop a testing platform for the evaluation of fatty acid metabolism that will fill the gap in translational mitochondrial research and provide a unique opportunity to study fatty acid metabolism in both metabolic and neuropsychiatric disorders in pre-clinical and clinical studies. The platform developed within the FAT4BRAIN framework has a potential to have economic impacts through diverse applications: investigation of the role of fatty acids in pathogenetic pathways in the brain and identification of novel drug targets and treatment strategies targeting mitochondrial dysfunction in neurological disorders, thus addressing societal health needs.
The COVID-19 pandemic has enforced the use of online tools (e-dissemination, e-courses and meetings) in FAT4BRAIN activities and the promotion of achieved results, thus ensuring both the successful implementation of the project and positive impact on the environment.