Four consortia Complexity in Health & Nutrition granted

26 June 2017

On 8 June the Board of the NWO Domain Science granted four applications in the research programme Complexity in Health & Nutrition. Barbara Bakker, Theo de Kok, Natal van Riel and Jacco Wallinga will work on their research projects studying complex systems in the fields of health and nutrition. In total 15 preproposal applications were submitted, resulting in 7 full proposal applications.

The human body is a complex system, facing challenges due to changes such as ageing and interaction with the environment like the intake of food. Many factors play a role in getting and keeping your body in a (un)healthy state. How can you get a grip on that through nutrition? How can you ensure that your physical processes and systems are robust and flexible, so you will stay healthy and will prevent getting ill? To answer these questions four consortia will study complex systems in the fields of health and nutrition.

The aims of the Complexity in Health & Nutrition call are to encourage innovative, transdisciplinary research that will generate revolutionary ideas to address the complex interactions of food-bio-psycho-social systems relevant to personal health and to contribute to new theories and innovation in the field of complex systems. The call also contributes to the broader aim of the Grip on Complexity initiative to stimulate multidisciplinary cooperation and to bring together a community of researchers and users in the area of complex systems. Within the research projects researchers, companies and other stakeholders in the field of health and nutrition work together to align research and practise.

The available budget for this programme is € 1.0 million (one million euros) and is provided by the former NWO division for Physical Sciences. The following research proposals are granted (alphabetically by last name):

Multiscale modelling of state transitions in the host-microbiome-brain network
Prof. dr. B.M. Bakker – UMCG

A high-fibre diet protects humans against obesity and its consequences. Gut microbiota convert fibres into acetic, propionic and butyric acids, which stimulate a healthy fat oxidation. Using computational models we will gain insight into the underlying mechanism and contribute to an effective application of prebiotics (fibres) and probiotics (bacterial preparations).

Complex Systems Framework for Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
Prof. dr. T. de Kok – UM

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease is a serious liver condition that occurs frequently in obese people. We propose an innovative method to improve understanding of the disease by a creating a mathematical model describing cellular and molecular changes throughout disease development. The model will assist to improve disease prevention and treatment.

MATRyOSka - Metabolic Adaptation, Transitions and Resilience in Overweight individualS
Prof. dr. ir. N.A.W. van Riel – TU/e

Overweight and obesity are refractory conditions of human physiology. By using personalized computer models of human metabolism understanding is obtained about the dynamics of the ‘obese system’ and whether the effects of changes in nutrition and gut microbiota on metabolic health can be predicted.

Ecology meets human health: unraveling the complex dynamics of human microbiota to direct therapeutic intervention
Dr. J. Wallinga – LUMC

Human health is profoundly impacted by the microbial populations residing on and within the human body. Several diseases are associated with an imbalance (dysbiosis) in these microbiota. We will study the topologies of microbial interaction networks that characterize such imbalance. This knowledge may ultimately be used for directed therapeutic interventions.

More information
‘Complexity in Health & Nutrition’ is a research programme of NWO, the Top Consortium for Knowledge and Innovation Agri&Food and TNO. This programme also falls under the umbrella of the NWO-wide ‘Complexity' initiative, one of the six challenges NWO has set for the 2015-2018 period. This initiative, which involves several top sectors, is also in line with the Top Sector Agri&Food.

Source: NWO