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ERA-Net on INtesTInal MICrobiomics, diet and health, implementing JPI HDHL objectives

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - HDHL-INTIMIC (ERA-Net on INtesTInal MICrobiomics, diet and health, implementing JPI HDHL objectives)

Reporting period: 2016-12-01 to 2017-11-30

"“HDHL-INTIMIC” (INtesTInal MICrobiomics) started in December 2016 and is the 2nd ERA-Net Cofund under the umbrella of the Joint Programming Initiative ""A Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life"" (JPI HDHL). 14 funding organisations from 9 JPI HDHL partner countries combine their efforts to fund excellent research projects and support the establishment of a transnational and transdisciplinary Knowledge Platform. Research projects as well as the Knowledge Platform will both focus on the interrelations between the intestinal microbiome and diet and the resulting health effects.
Throughout Europe there is a high burden of non-communicable diseases due to unhealthy diet and lifestyle patterns. There is increasing scientific evidence that the intestinal microbiota and its composition greatly influence metabolic processes and thereby affecting the onset and development of lifestyle-related diseases. However, the underlying mechanisms of these interrelations are still largely unknown. Building on the previous achievements of the JPI HDHL joint action INTESTINAL MICROBIOMICS (2015) “HDHL-INTIMIC” will further enhance the collaboration between HDHL member countries, the JPI and the European Commission (EC), as well as the establishment of research networks across borders and disciplines.

A joint transnational call on the “Interrelation of the Intestinal Microbiome, Diet and Health” cofunded by the EC was recently implemented. As a result, eleven transnational research consortia will be funded with a total budget of around 9.6 M€ including an EC top-up funding of around 2.2 M€. Complementary to this a comprehensive “Knowledge Platform for Intestinal Microbiomics, Diet and Health” will be implemented in 2018 as an additional networking action. It will be open to scientists from all relevant disciplines as well as stakeholders and will aim at fostering multidisciplinary and transnational collaboration to further advance this field of research.

The overall aim of HDHL-INTIMIC is to coordinate national and regional programmes in the area of diet, intestinal microbiomics, in order to support the generation of a solid knowledge base for the development of new strategies and products for health promotion and prevention of chronic diseases through diet-dependent modulation of the intestinal microbiome. Beyond this specific aim, “HDHL-INTIMIC” will launch at least one other additional joint funding action within the scope of the JPI HDHL, thereby contributing to the implementation of JPI HDHL objectives.
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"Within the first year of HDHL-INTIMIC the management structures for the consortium has been successfully set up consisting of the Network Coordinating Unit (NCU, coordinator and project officers), the Network Steering Committee (NSC, representatives of each formal partner) and Executive Board (EB, work package leaders). The NCU is in charge of the financial management, communication and reporting to the EC, of the coordination of the HDHL- INTIMIC activities with the JPI HDHL as well as of the establishment of connections to other related initiatives.

The cofunded transnational call “Interrelation of the Intestinal Microbiome, Diet and Health” has been successfully implemented, involving 12 funding organisations from 9 JPI HDHL partner countries. The evaluation was organized as a two-step procedure. 66 eligible pre-proposals were submitted and evaluated at the first step and 28 consortia have been invited to submit a full proposal 2nd step). The CSC made all efforts to fund as many recommended projects as possible and selected 11 projects for funding. These 11 research projects involve 42 research teams from eight countries and will be supported with a total budget of about 9.6 M€, including 2.2 M€ cofunding from the EC.
The results of the cofunded call have been published on the JPI HDHL website, further details of the selected projects will follow soon.

The HDHL-INTIMIC consortium is currently working on the launch of the first additional non cofunded Joint Funding Action “Knowledge Platform for Intestinal Microbiomics, Diet and Health"". The aim of this networking activity that is closely linked to the cofunded call is to boost transnational networking and interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers in the field of human microbiomics, diet and health, in order to facilitate knowledge sharing and method standardisation. The launch of this 1st additional JFA is planned for March 2018.
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"There is a high burden of NCDs caused by unhealthy diet and lifestyle patterns. The JPI HDHL deploys a strategic plan to foster European research and competitiveness through national and international programmes to lower the burden of NCDs. In this context, HDHL-INTIMIC is further improving the linking, efficient integration and coordination of national programmes and EU funding in the area of diet, microbiomics and human health by bringing together programme owners and funding bodies. The contribution of the EC has leveraged significant financial commitment from the ERA-Net Partners. Moreover, the EC top-up funding had also facilitated the compensation of funding gaps linked to insufficiencies in earmarked national budgets, thus leading to higher success rates.

The results of the projects funded under the cofunded call should lead to a better understanding of how diet-related variations in the gut microbiota composition impact on health and / or the development of chronic diseases. This research will be crucial to (1) develop evidence-based recommendations and guidelines to promote public health and prevent the development/onset of diet-related diseases (2) find new lifestyle-related treatment options for certain types of diet-related diseases (3) enable the food industry to develop healthy new food products (including pre- and probiotics).

Previous attempts to strengthen effective comparison and interpretation of the vast amounts of data that have been produced within the last decade have been struggling with issues about data sharing and differences between national policies in ownership and property rights. HDHL-INTIMIC contributes to overcome this hurdle by the establishment of a Knowledge Platform on food, diet, intestinal microbiomics and health research, exploring means for the harmonisation and sharing of data as well as the standardisation of protocols. In this networking initiative, HDHL-INTIMIC provides the unique possibility to connect the research consortia funded through HDHL-INTIMIC with other relevant research projects funded under the umbrella of JPI HDHL such as the previous JFA on ""Intestinal Microbiomics"", as well as other relevant projects.

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The geographical distribution of the countries participating to HDHL-INTIMIC