International Workshop on Food and Gut Health

22nd October 2010

The Institute of Food Research, an institute of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), has hosted a three day workshop on food and gut health that brought together three leading organisations from the UK, France and the Netherlands to identify opportunities and priorities for trans-national cooperation in research, training and sharing of infrastructures. 
Leading food and gut health scientists from The French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) and Wageningen University and Research centre (WUR) joined colleagues at the IFR for this BBSRC-funded workshop.  Food and Gut Health is an area in which all of the participants have established strategic programmes, and the outcome of the workshop will be recommendations to national research funding bodies and the European Commission.

As well as sharing the latest research results and experiences in areas such as gut bacteria and pathogens, gut immunity and the interaction between food and the gut lining, the workshop identified not only the key research challenges and training requirements but also funding opportunities.  Representatives from national funding bodies also attended, helping to identify the best ways of linking complementary funding for food and gut health issues.

The participants have strong records in both fundamental research and in transferring this knowledge to end users, and a national lead will be established for each participating country.  

The workshop will result in a document containing prioritised recommendations for trans-national cooperation on research, training, and exchange of best practice and sharing of infrastructures that will inform national and Europe-wide funding bodies. 

The BBSRC promotes and supports high-quality basic, strategic and applied research training relating to the understanding and exploitation of biological systems. IFR is a world leader in research into harnessing food for health and controlling food-related diseases. IFR scientists are addressing the UK’s Grand Challenges of obesity and healthy ageing by defining the relationship between food, diet and health, and making a vital contribution to the food security agenda. 

The French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) is the leading European agricultural research institute and one of the foremost institutes in the world for agriculture, food and the environment.  Nutrition is central to humans’ well-being and represents a major challenge for the public health authorities.  INRA’s approach to human nutrition is a global one: Its research aims to improve food quality, maintain consumer health and understand dietary behaviour in order to offer food that fulfils both needs and expectations.

Wageningen University and Research centre (WUR) is carrying out research in various areas into ways in which food can be made even healthier and providing insight into the effects of healthy food. Obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease are all disorders related to nutrition, and WUR is researching the precise relationship between food and health, looking for alternatives, and developing products which may have a positive influence on health.