We are proud to be part of Europe’s largest single-site concentrations of food, health and environmental sciences.

We have strong links with researchers, institutes and industry across Europe. We receive funding from the EU including from The European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) Food.

Our researchers share their science and expertise with researchers across Europe, including enabling existing collaborations and starting new partnerships, supported by International Partnership funding from BBSRC.

International Partnership Activities

Mutual interest in food chain microbes

Prof Alison Mather’s group are developing collaborations with researchers from the University College Dublin, Ireland to work together on understanding microbial communities in the food chain.

Industry-academia incubator member in microbiology network

We are an incubator and regulatory member of the Pharmabiotic Research Institute, based in France, which brings microbiologists from industry and academia together from across Europe.

Organoid-on-chip collaboration

Prof Nathalie Juge’s group have partnered with scientists at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France to advance organoid-on-chip systems, which are devices containing cells that model how human organs to work.

Microbes on microplastics

Dr Nicol Janecko’s group are working with the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia to understand how Campylobacter, a bacterium which can make us sick, can be passed on through microplastics in the food chain.

Marine microbiomes meetings

Dr Leo Martins has led activities meeting with researchers from the University of Vigo in Spain to share Quadram Institute’s expertise in bioinformatics and Dr Nicol Janecko shared metagenomic approaches to pathogen characterisation with researchers in Spain working on the microbiome of marine species like mussels, to understand how they are responding to climate change.

Metagenomic machine learning workshops

Researchers in our bioinformatics team, including Dr Andrea Telatin, have worked with researchers at the University of Verona and University of Torino in Italy to explore methods for how machine learning can be applied to metagenomics to understand microbiomes.

Plant-based food innovation partnership

Dr Cat Edward’s group have a partnership with Eurospid who manufacture innovative plant-based food products.

Related News

1st May 2024
Zero Hidden Hunger EU project to tackle micronutrient deficiency
Zero Hidden Hunger EU, a new, multi-partner European consortium led by University College Cork, has received nearly €10 million in funding for groundbreaking research into tackling micronutrient deficiency over the next four years. The Quadram Institute will be contributing its expertise to the project, looking in particular at bioavailable iron and zinc in current diets, and how this may change in the future. Micronutrient deficiency, a widespread form of malnutrition, poses significant challenges to human health and development across Europe. Recognising the urgency of this public health issue, the Zero Hidden Hunger EU project is set to revolutionise our understanding and response to micronutrient deficiencies. Micronutrient deficiency arises from the inadequate intake or absorption of essential minerals and vitamins. It can impact anyone, but at particular risk are children, adolescents, pregnant women, older adults, immigrant communities, and those affected by social inequalities. Despite its prevalence, addressing this issue effectively requires comprehensive data on the prevalence of microntrient deficiencies prevalence and their underlying causes. Zero Hidden Hunger EU aims to fill this critical gap by pursuing two primary objectives: Estimating Prevalence and Health Costs: The project will generate accurate measures of micronutrient deficiency prevalence using priority biomarker and intake data from diverse European populations. By focusing on high-risk groups, marginalized communities and vulnerable populations, the project aims to uncover the true extent of the issue and its associated health costs. Developing Tailored Solutions: Armed with robust evidence, the project seeks to develop context-specific, food-focused strategies to ensure adequate micronutrient intake from sustainable sources. By leveraging existing data resources, biobanks, and targeted studies, the consortium aims to deliver tailored solutions that address the root causes of micronutrient deficiencies across Europe. Zero Hidden Hunger EU will employ cutting-edge techniques, including high-throughput biomarker analysis and advanced data modelling, to generate credible evidence. This evidence will empower policymakers and food system actors to implement targeted interventions and eradicate micronutrient deficiencies from Europe. The Quadram Institute is an associate partner in Zero Hidden Hunger EU. Dr Maria Traka and her team in the Food & Nutrition National Bioscience Research Infrastructure will be looking at two key micronutrients where deficiencies are already prevalent: iron and zinc. They will carry out, for the first time, an assessment of how much bioavailable iron and zinc we are currently getting from our diets. They will then use advanced modelling techniques to estimate how this may change with dietary shifts, for example switching to more plant-based diets. “I am delighted to be part of this project that aims to understand the extend of micronutrient deficiencies in Europe and develop innovative solutions to tackle these” said Dr Maria Traka from the Food and Nutrition NBRI at the Quadram Institute. “Micronutrient deficiencies can unfortunately go unnoticed despite posing significant health risks. For some of these micronutrients it is not only the amounts we are getting from our diets that matters but also whether they are bioavailable, i.e. whether they can be effectively absorbed. For example, the types of foods we are combining in our meals matter for iron and zinc bioavailability and some plant foods can also inhibit our absorption.” Professors Mairead Kiely and Kevin Cashman, of project Coordinator University College Cork, expressed optimism about the project’s potential impact. “Zero Hidden Hunger EU represents a landmark effort to confront the silent crisis of micronutrient deficiency in Europe. By leveraging innovative research methodologies and collaborative partnerships, we aim to drive meaningful change and ensure equitable access to essential nutrients across European populations.” The Zero Hidden Hunger EU project underscores the importance of collective action in addressing complex public health challenges across Europe. By prioritizing data-driven interventions and fostering interdisciplinary collaboration, the project aims to pave the way for a healthier, more resilient Europe. Zero Hidden Hunger EU is co-funded by the European Union, under the Horizon Europe programme, under grant agreement No 101124527. This project will also receive funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) under the UK government’s Horizon Europe funding guarantee. The Quadram Institute and the Food and Nutrition NBRI receive strategic support from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Coulncil, part of UKRI. About Zero Hidden Hunger EU: Zero Hidden Hunger EU is a collaborative research initiative aimed at addressing the prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies across European populations. Led by a consortium of experts from diverse disciplines, the project seeks to generate actionable evidence to inform targeted interventions and eradicate hidden hunger in Europe. For more information, visit eufic.org/zero-hidden-hunger. Zero Hidden Hunger EU is co-funded by the European Union, under the Horizon Europe programme, under grant agreement No 101124527. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Executive Agency. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them. This work has received funding from the Swiss Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). This project will also receive funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) under the UK government’s Horizon Europe funding guarantee.
Leafy green plants growing in connected black pots under bright white, red and blue lights. The unit is on a wooden table
17th May 2023
New study recruiting volunteers to test innovations to support plant-based diets
A new study is being launched at the Quadram Institute in Norwich that will assess different ways of helping vegans and vegetarians increase their daily intake of essential nutrients. The HARVEST Study will test hydroponic kitchen gardens that biofortify leafy greens alongside a bespoke app designed to deliver cooking recipes that provide specific micronutrients that vegans and vegetarians need. The study is now recruiting participants who live within 40 miles of Norwich and that follow a plant-based diet to take part. The kitchen gardens and associated app have been developed by a European Institute of Innovation and Technology-Food (EIT-Food)-supported innovation project called PERNUG. Through the HARVEST project, the team will now get data from real-life situations in a dietary intervention trial focusing on improving nutrient status in vegans and vegetarians. Following a vegan or vegetarian diet has well-established health benefits, including a lower risk of developing cancer, heart disease and Type II diabetes. But it does also increase the risk of deficiency for certain nutrients, including vitamin B12 and iron. Vitamin B12 is needed by the body for various metabolic processes but humans can’t make it, and crucially neither do plants – animal-derived foods are the only sources. Vegans are advised to take supplements or consume fortified foods such as breakfast cereals. Iron is another crucial micronutrient as it helps blood transport oxygen. Meat is a good source of dietary iron, but it can also be found in plants. However, the iron’s bioavailability - how much is taken up by the body – is lower from plants as other natural components of plant foods block iron uptake. The advice is that vegans should eat twice as much iron in their diet to compensate for this. However, iron intake is still lower for vegetarians leading to iron depletion. This is especially prevalent in woman who are menstruating, because of the increased loss of blood. The PERNUG project sought to develop innovative solutions to these micronutrient deficiencies, which could be tailored to individual nutritional needs. As proof of principle, it has initially targeted vitamin B12 and iron because of the growing popularity of plant-based diets and the difficulty of achieving sufficient intakes of these when consuming plant-based diets. The project used “kitchen garden” units, which are small hydroponic growing systems in which consumers can grow a range of plants that could be enriched in specific micronutrients such as vitamin B12. Plants take up vitamin B12 from the supplemented hydroponic nutrient solution and less than 10g of these biofortified fresh leafy greens deliver the recommended daily amount of vitamin B12 The project also developed a bespoke beta-stage app that provides around fifty vegan recipe suggestions. This app differs from other diet and recipe apps, even those targeted at vegans, as it focuses on ways to achieve the recommended daily intake of iron and also considers its bioavailability in different foods. As well as looking at the amount of available iron, it also considers the compounds that inhibit iron uptake, like phytate in whole grains. It also includes tips for increasing iron bioavailability, for example by sprinkling on lemon juice or cooking the food in a particular way. The team want to see whether the innovations they have developed are effective, by recruiting 52 menstruating women who follow vegan or vegetarian diets. Participants will be given hydroponic units to take home in which they will grow plants biofortified with vitamin B12. They will also get access to the app for recipes and dietary advice. Some of the volunteers will be given iron-focused recipes, others in the control group will get normal recipes so the researchers can compare the effectiveness of the app in increasing iron levels over the course of the trial. The study has been approved by the relevant Research Ethics Committee and will be carried out using the NIHR Norfolk Clinical Research Facility in the Quadram Institute, which is managed by the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. A near-identical trial will also be carried out in parallel in Belgium by the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, with pseudo-anonymised data being combined from both studies. Chief Investigator on the study Dr Paul Kroon from the Quadram Institute said: “Being able to grow vitamin B12 -enriched food plants in their own kitchen gardens and having access to a consumer app that provides users with bespoke recipes for iron-rich foods are two novel innovations that can support consumers in achieving their nutritional needs.” “We are keen to find out how easy these innovations are to use, and whether they are effective in increasing intakes of these vital nutrients. If these prove useful there is the potential for these innovations to be expanded to address insufficiencies in other micronutrients such as selenium, calcium and iodine, and to extend hydroponic biofortification to farm-scale operations.” Dr Olla Al-Jaibaji, Principal Investigator for the HARVEST Study said “We are looking to recruit women of child-bearing age who follow plant-based diets. We will give participants a hydroponics unit and the other materials they need to grow biofortified plants in their own homes and provide them with access to the app and all the bespoke recipes.” “We will support participants throughout the study, and they can keep the hydroponics unit at the end of the study!” Dr Antonietta Hayhoe, Human Study Lead said “It is a very exciting time for our team. We are really looking forward to working with our colleagues at the NIHR Norfolk Clinical Research Facility to test this innovative tool.” If you are interested in taking part, register your interest in the HARVEST Study The development of the innovative technologies and their testing in the HARVEST study has been funded by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union, under Horizon Europe, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, and by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council UK (BBSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
Bifidobacterium breve, a key memeber of the maternal microbiome
28th March 2023
Probiotics and breast milk support health of premature infants
Researchers have shown that probiotic supplements not only save the lives of premature babies, they also ensure they develop a healthy microbiome. The development of the healthy microbiome, which helps fight infections and ensure proper development of the digestive system, depends on also feeding the babies breast milk. A premature start to life - i.e. a birth before the 37th week of pregnancy - affects around 11% of all newborns in the world. If premature babies have a particularly low birth weight of less than 1500g, they are extremely susceptible to acute and long-term health complications. Particularly threatening is the development of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). This disease affects between seven and eleven percent of premature infants with a birth weight below 1500g and is associated with a mortality rate of 30%. Scientists from  the Quadram Institute, University of East Anglia, the Medical University of Graz and the Technical University of Munich have now published research results in the journal Nature Communications that show how the NEC rate can be kept below 3% through prophylactic measures. Breast milk and Bifidobacterium play a decisive role in this. Premature babies with a very low birth weight (VLBW) face several challenges right from the start of life. NEC is one of those health threats. "Given the rapid onset of NEC, some neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) have developed special NEC prophylaxis programs that include the use of probiotics, enteral antibiotics, and differentiated feeding protocols, which have recently led to a significant decrease in NEC rates among preterm infants," reports Bernhard Resch from the Medical University of Graz. Southern Austrian neonatal units have implemented various combinations of these prophylactic measures with great success, resulting in an exceptionally low average NEC rate of 2.9% in VLBW infants. Probiotics support the early maturation of the digestive system [caption id="attachment_21187" align="alignright" width="300"] Bifidobacterium breve Image credits: Lindsay Hall and Kathryn Gotts with QIB Advanced Microscopy and JIC BioImaging.[/caption] The aim of these prophylaxis programs is to support the intestinal microbiome of preterm infants at an early stage. In the now published work, the scientists investigated the success mechanisms of the different therapy options on the intestinal microbiome and metabolism. A total of 55 VLBW infants were included in the study at three closely neighbouring hospitals in Graz, Klagenfurt and Leoben. At the three centres the following NEC prophylaxis options were applied: Antibiotic treatment, antimycotic treatment, use of probiotics (either Lactobacillus rhamnosus, a combination of Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis and Lactobacillus acidophilus, or no probiotics), and feeding with breast milk or formula milk for preterm infants. "Using a multi-omics approach, we investigated the composition and function of the microbiome and its metabolites in the first weeks of life in order to understand the importance of the interactions between nutritional components, antibiotics and probiotics," describes Christine Moissl-Eichinger from the Medical University of Graz. The scientists were able to show that therapies involving the administration of the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis substantially influence the development of the microbiome at an early stage, as it can metabolise the milk oligosaccharides contained in breast milk, that our bodies own enzymes can’t break down. This function is accompanied by an early maturation of the digestive system. The probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus also showed a positive but much smaller influence. Crucially, the beneficial effects of Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis administration depend on concurrent feeding with natural breast milk. "We show that preventive interventions have the greatest impact on the development and maturation of the gastrointestinal microbiome and enable the establishment of a resilient microbial ecosystem that reduces pathogen threats in vulnerable preterm infants," concluded first author Charlotte Neumann. “We hope our findings will lead to the widespread adoption of these measures, so we can help these extremely vulnerable babies fight off these deadly infections, and also ensure that they get the best possible start to life” said Professor Lindsay Hall from the Quadram Institute, University of East Anglia and the Technical University of Munich. Reference: Neumann, C.J., Mahnert, A., Kumpitsch, C. et al. Clinical NEC prevention practices drive different microbiome profiles and functional responses in the preterm intestine. Nature  Communications 14, 1349 (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-36825-1
A Petri dish filled with reddish agar on which streaks of greenish E coli bacteria are growing
12th December 2022
Tracking the global spread of antimicrobial resistance
An international research team has provided valuable new information about what drives the global spread of genes responsible for antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in bacteria. The collaborative study, led by researchers at the Quadram Institute and the University of East Anglia, brought together experts from France, Canada, Germany and the UK and will provide new information to combat the global challenge of AMR. [caption id="attachment_27431" align="alignright" width="300"] E. coli. Image by Raphaelle Palau, the Quadram Institute[/caption] By examining the whole genome sequences of around two thousand resistant bacteria, predominantly Escherichia coli collected between 2008 and 2016, the team found that different types of AMR genes varied in their temporal dynamics. For example, some were initially found in North America and spread to Europe, while for others the spread was from Europe to North America. Not only did the study look at bacteria from different geographic regions but also from diverse hosts including humans, animals, food (meat) and the environment (wastewater), to define how these separate but interconnected factors influenced the development and spread of AMR. Understanding this interconnectivity embodies the One Health approach and is vital for understanding transmission dynamics and the mechanisms by which resistance genes are transmitted. The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, was supported by the Joint Programming Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance (JPIAMR), a global collaboration spanning 29 countries and the European Commission that is tasked with turning the tide on AMR. Without concerted efforts on a global scale, AMR will undoubtedly make millions more people vulnerable to infections from bacteria and other microorganisms that can currently be tackled with antimicrobials. The team focussed on resistance to one particularly important group of antimicrobials, the Extended-Spectrum Cephalosporins (ESCs). These antimicrobials have been classed as critically important by the World Health Organization because they are a ‘last resort’ treatment for multidrug resistant bacteria; despite this, since their introduction, efficacy has declined as bacteria have developed resistance. Bacteria that are resistant to ESCs achieve this through the production of specific enzymes, called beta-lactamases, that are able to inactivate ESCs. The instructions for making these enzymes are encoded in genes, particularly two key types of genes: extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBLs), and AmpC beta-lactamases (AmpCs). These genes may be found on the chromosomes of bacteria where they are passed to progeny during clonal multiplication, or in plasmids, which are small DNA molecules separate to the bacterium’s main chromosome. Plasmids are mobile and can move directly between individual bacteria representing an alternative way of exchanging genetic material. This study identified how some resistance genes proliferated through clonal expansion of particularly successful bacterial subtypes while others were transferred directly on epidemic plasmids across different hosts and countries. Understanding the flow of genetic information within and between bacterial populations is key to understanding AMR transmission and the global spread of antimicrobial resistance. This knowledge will contribute to the design of vitally needed interventions that can halt AMR in the real world where bacteria from diverse hosts and environmental niches interact, and where international travel and trade mean that these interactions are not limited by geography. Professor Alison Mather, group leader at the Quadram Institute and the University of East Anglia, said: “By assembling such a large and diverse collection of genomes, we were able to identify the key genes conferring resistance to these critically important drugs. We were also able to show that the majority of resistance to extended spectrum cephalosporins is spread by only a limited number of predominant plasmids and bacterial lineages; understanding the mechanisms of transmission is key to the design of interventions to reduce the spread of AMR”. Lead author Dr Roxana Zamudio said “Antimicrobial resistance is a global problem, and it is only by working collaboratively with partners in multiple countries that we can get a holistic understanding of where and how AMR is spreading”. Read Roxana's Nature Community Blog about why international collaboration is crucial for tracking antimicrobial resistance   Reference: Dynamics of extended-spectrum cephalosporin resistance genes in Escherichia coli from Europe and North America. Roxana Zamudio, Patrick Boerlin, Racha Beyrouthy, Jean-Yves Madec, Stefan Schwarz, Michael R. Mulvey, George G. Zhanel, Ashley Cormier, Gabhan Chalmers, Richard Bonnet, Marisa Haenni, Inga Eichhorn, Heike Kaspar, Raquel Garcia-Fierro, James L. N. Wood, Alison E. Mather. Nature Communications DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-34970-7 This project was supported by the Joint Programming Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance (JPIAMR), through the Medical Research Council (MRC, MR/R000948/1), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CFC-150770), and the Genomics Research and Development Initiative (Government of Canada), the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) grant no. 01KI1709, the French Agency for food environmental and occupational health & safety (Anses), and the French National Reference Center (CNR) for antimicrobial resistance. Support was also provided by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) through the BBSRC Institute Strategic Programme Microbes in the Food Chain BB/R012504/1 and its constituent project BBS/E/F/000PR10348 (Theme 1, Epidemiology and Evolution of Pathogens in the Food Chain)
13th September 2021
Meet the kitchen garden of the future: sustainable vertical farming meets personalised nutrition
  A new project is set to bring sustainable vertical farming and personalised nutrition into the home and workplace by developing kitchen gardens that grow produce to match individual dietary needs. The EIT Food, PERsonalised NUtrition through kitchen Gardens (PERNUG) project aims to develop attractive, state-of-the-art hydroponic systems for growing a range of different food plants in a domestic setting. EIT Food is supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union. Using a specially designed app linked to the latest scientifically validated data on nutrition and health, consumers would be able to select from a range of different crops and varieties linked to their own personalised nutritional needs. The system would provide the seeds and the growing medium, which would if appropriate contain vitamins and minerals to biofortify the produce. The app would then provide tasty and nutritious recipes to help the consumer make the most of their kitchen garden bounty. A sustainable solution: food metres, not food miles [caption id="attachment_23805" align="alignright" width="187"] Prototype trial unit being used to assess biofortification[/caption] Vertical farming is one of the solutions to making agriculture more sustainable, whilst still supply produce year round to satisfy consumer demand. Crops are cultivated without soil in a controlled, optimised environment, without the need for pesticides. They efficiently reuse resources, reducing wastage. Vertical farms have been shown to use 90% less water and deliver much higher yields per square metre of land.  The PERNUG project now wants to make this available as a kitchen garden by reducing the cost of the shelving units and designing them to fit into the domestic setting. This also delivers other sustainability benefits; it eliminates the supply chain usually needed to deliver fresh produce to the home, cutting the environmental cost of transportation and also the amount of food wasted due to spoilage in transit. Energy is a major input into vertical farming, but with around 20% of energy in the EU coming from renewable sources[1] and ambitious targets to increase this further, these energy inputs become increasingly sustainable. Cutting out the food miles also maximises the nutrient levels in the produce. Post-harvest nutrient loss is a major problem especially for some micronutrients. Crops that are nutrient dense whilst growing can become nutrient poor once they’re finally eaten, something the consumer might not even be aware of. What consumers do notice is the improved taste and quality from having freshly picked produce on hand. Homegrown personalised nutrition [caption id="attachment_23804" align="alignright" width="300"] Trials are underway to biofortify crops with iron and vitamin B12[/caption] The PERNUG project will support consumer’s looking to improve the quality of their diet. By testing and selecting different varieties, and experimenting on how adding nutrients to the growing media can biofortify the crops, the finished system will provide a choice of crops that the consumer can be confident will contain high levels of nutrients, with all the benefits to taste and texture from freshly harvested produce. PERNUG will provide a new consumer-focused solution to the widespread and growing problem of micronutrient deficiency, providing fresh produce that matches each consumer’s personalised nutritional needs. A personalised nutrition solution is needed as we have different nutritional needs, which may vary with age and lifestyle. The PERNUG project will focus on iron and vitamin B12 initially. In almost every EU country, over half of women of childbearing age don’t get the recommended intake of iron, contributing to a low iron status in many women[2].  Vitamin B12 is a micronutrient that is usually provided for in the diet by meat, with plants unable to make it. The rise in popularity of vegetarian and vegan diets is expected to increase the number of people deficient in vitamin B12. The researchers are developing ways of biofortify crops with bioavailable, bioactive forms of both of these minerals and through the PERNUG kitchen garden provide these directly to consumers who most need them, reducing the need for expensive supplements. Dr Paul Kroon from the Quadram Institute commented “Kitchen gardens have a range of consumer and environmental benefits compared to those obtained via conventional supply chains. But they also offer a great opportunity to deliver personalised nutrition, and in the PERNUG project we are developing kitchen gardens that grow more nutrient-rich plants and allowing users to select from carefully designed and delicious recipes that deliver the types and amounts of nutrients such as minerals and vitamins they need.” Consumer-centred circular economy The team will develop recipes for the consumers to use what is being grown in the kitchen garden, so that they get their Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) from freshly harvested material all through the year. Through a bespoke app being designed by the PERNUG team, these recipes will be tailored to the consumer’s personal nutrition needs. This will put the consumer right at the centre of this sustainable food production cycle, growing their own produce to match their personal needs or preferences, based on the most reliable nutritional information. Because of this, consumers are right at the centre of the PERNUG project too. Pilot studies are putting prototype kitchen gardens into households, and their feedback will be used to design the final product. The app is also being co-designed with representative consumers from different groups from the very first stage, with focus groups being used to get insights from households. “Rising consumer awareness of the inherent links between food, health and the environment are driving demand for more personalised and sustainable food choices. Yet, the values, focus and methods of the present food system are not aligned to help consumers achieve their individual health goals or to reduce their environmental footprint” said Lauri Kapp, founder of Studio Kapp. “This is why we are developing an intelligent home food production system that answers to the unique needs of individual consumers – a new system enabling healthy nutrition by delivering quality before quantity and by supporting prevention of food related disease through personalised nutrition.” As well as the home kitchen, the PERNUG kitchen garden will be suitable for installation in workplaces, schools and other institutions that would value adding fresh, sustainable and highly nutritious food to the menu. The PERNUG project brings together the complementary skills and experience of its partners - Studio Kapp with experience in developing and marketing kitchen gardens and Internet of Things food solutions - The Quadram Institute, a world-leading centre for food and health research with extensive expertise in personalised nutrition, nutritional assessment, micronutrients, human studies and project management - KU Leuven, one of the world’s top-ranked research led universities with experience in consumers studies, co-creating solutions and development of consumer interfaces and apps. The project is supported by EIT Food, the world's largest food innovation ecosystem, supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union. About EIT Food       Food PERsonalised NUtrition through kitchen Gardens (PERNUG) is a project under the support of EIT Food. EIT Food is the world’s largest and most dynamic food innovation community. We accelerate innovation to build a future-fit food system that produces healthy and sustainable food for all. ​ Supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union, we invest in projects, organisations and individuals that share our goals for a healthy and sustainable food system. We unlock innovation potential in businesses and universities, and create and scale agrifood startups to bring new technologies and products to market. We equip entrepreneurs and professionals with the skills needed to transform the food system and put consumers at the heart of our work, helping build trust by reconnecting them to the origins of their food. We are one of eight innovation communities established by the European Institute for Innovation & Technology (EIT), an independent EU body set up in 2008 to drive innovation and entrepreneurship across Europe. Find out more on the EIT Food website or follow us via social media: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram. [1] https://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/indicators/renewable-gross-final-energy-consumption-5/assessment [2] Nils Thorm Milman, "Dietary Iron Intake in Women of Reproductive Age in Europe: A Review of 49 Studies from 29 Countries in the Period 1993–2015", Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, vol. 2019, Article ID 7631306, 13 pages, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/7631306
25th March 2021
Quadram scientist receives two prestigious international partnerships
Quadram Institute scientist Dr Alison Mather has been granted two prestigious international partnership awards to build collaborations with researchers in New Zealand and The Netherlands. The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) funded four-year programmes, which fall within their Global Highlight area of fostering a One Health approach to diseases of zoonotic origin. These awards will involve activities such as the exchange visits of scientists (initially online), development of collaborative research programmes, a seminar series to widen exposure of the science and research, and workshops to consolidate plans for future research proposals and wider impact. The partnership with One Health Aotearoa (OHA), an alliance of over 100 infectious disease researchers from multiple organisations across New Zealand, provides a unique opportunity to share complementary skills and expertise in the genomic epidemiology and control of zoonotic pathogens of common interest to both NZ and the UK. The award will facilitate the exchange of knowledge and training in areas of food safety, phylodynamic modelling, and cutting-edge sequencing and metagenomics. Professors David Murdoch (University of Otago) and Nigel French (Massey University), co-Directors of One Health Aotearoa said “This is an exciting opportunity to further develop our collaboration with Dr Mather and her colleagues at the Quadram Institute. One Health Aotearoa is committed to reducing the impact of zoonotic pathogens and antimicrobial resistance through the application of new tools and techniques that enable us to understand how pathogens emerge and are transmitted between animals and humans. There has never been a more important time to develop international partnerships dedicated to working on these issues, and we are delighted to be part of this initiative” The second partnership is with Utrecht University in The Netherlands and home of the WHO-Collaborating Center for Campylobacter and Antimicrobial Resistance from a One Health Perspective and the OIE-Reference Laboratory for Campylobacteriosis. This collaboration will allow the development of advanced genomic and metagenomic approaches to understanding Campylobacter, the primary bacterial cause of foodborne illness in Europe, and provide a platform to exchange skills in machine learning, phylogenetics and sequencing. Dr Aldert Zomer said: “Infectious diseases cause social, economic and public health problems, and growing antimicrobial resistance threatens to make diseases untreatable. A partnership with the Quadram Institute supports the WHO Collaborating Centre for Campylobacter mission to develop new techniques and improved tools for Campylobacter isolation, identification and typing, and antimicrobial resistance which can be used to support surveillance, attribution and intervention studies” These awards will facilitate long term collaborations, establishing networks of individuals with synergistic skills and common aims, encouraging the sharing of experiences and practices working across disciplines, sectors and stakeholders to strengthen One Health research initiatives in the UK and in the partner countries. Dr Mather and her research group at the Quadram Institute on the Norwich Research Park work to understand the relative contributions of animals, humans, the environment and food to diseases caused by pathogenic bacteria and antimicrobial resistance. Dr Alison Mather said: “I am delighted to have these opportunities to develop stronger links with scientists in both New Zealand and The Netherlands. The One Health approach is key to understanding the sources and drivers of the threats posed to society by bacterial pathogens and antimicrobial resistance. Sharing techniques and knowledge with experts in other countries will not only add value to our own respective projects, but also generate new ideas on how to tackle these global problems.”
3rd September 2020
Quadram researcher wins €1.5m EU grant to investigate the role of elusive microbes in the human gut
Quadram Institute scientist Dr Falk Hildebrand has won a €1.5 million grant from the European Research Council (ERC) to research the role elusive microbes may play in the gut microbiome and human health. The funding comes from the ERC’s prestigious Starting Grants, designed to help early-career scientists and scholars build their own teams and lead pioneering research. The grants are part of the EU’s Research and Innovation programme, Horizon 2020. Unicellular eukaryotes and prokaryotes are ubiquitously found in the gut microbiome, but for some of them their function and genetic makeup are completely unknown, as is the interaction they have on human health. Worse yet, we do not understand if these microbes just randomly colonise the gut for short periods of time or are essential parts of us that permanently reside within our guts. The ERC grant will allow Dr Hildebrand’s group to study these questions by setting up a new cohort of volunteers based in Norfolk, jointly with the ongoing PEARL study. Using snapshots of their gut microbiome, novel sequencing approaches will be developed jointly at the Quadram and Earlham Institute to increase the resolution and quantity of microbes that can be resolved. Together, the new technologies and specifically designed cohort will enable a detailed and unprecedented view of the healthy microbiome. Dr Hildebrand said: “I am delighted to be awarded this prestigious ERC Starting Grant. This will enable us to research a so far overlooked part of our microbiome and to understand how microbes adapt and persist within the human gut. I am especially excited about developing novel technologies with my fantastic colleagues at the Quadram and Earlham Institutes, that can be applied later in many more scenarios beyond the human gut microbiome. If all goes to plan, we will have an extremely detailed view of gut microbes here in Norfolk in five years’ time.” Dr Hildebrand will be recruiting a PhD student and a post-doctoral position for the EPYC study from January 2021.
17th October 2017
Online Community of Experts helps tackle food waste in Europe
A new digital network has been launched to encourage collaboration and bring together expertise from across Europe and beyond in a focussed response to the global issue of food waste. The Community of Experts (CoE) aims to help drive action at every level of the supply chain by empowering individuals, organisations and nations through the sharing of skills, knowledge and resources needed to act against food waste. Developed by the EU REFRESH Project in cooperation with the European Commission’s EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste (FLW), the new Community of Experts will help users share and access information and ideas to develop and deliver their own initiatives, wherever they are based. With 120 experts and 80 resources online, the collaboration between REFRESH and members of the EU Platform on FLW has already proven to be a powerful convening force, bringing together authorities from many disciplines, and from the whole value chain. The Community of Experts was launched on World Food Day, October 16th. Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety said, “On this important day dedicated to celebrating food, I am pleased to announce that we have a new ally in the battle against food waste: the REFRESH Community of Experts. Fighting food waste requires concrete action and innovation by all key players in the food value chain. This battle has to be underpinned by knowledge and research and facilitated by an appropriate policy environment. It is great to see the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste join forces with REFRESH in establishing a new tool making expert advice, new resources and best practice in food waste prevention only a few clicks away! Join the REFRESH Community today and help us all find solutions to prevent food waste and together ensure our speedy progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 target of halving food waste by 2030.” As part of the resources which will be available on the Community of Experts, the Food Databanks team at the Quadram Institute Bioscience is building a comprehensive, searchable database of food processing by-products and other side-streams which have the potential to be utilised in animal nutrition and other valorisation pathways.  This will be of great interest to agri-food industry professionals as well as academic researchers in the area of valorisation. Paul Finglas, Head of Food Databanks said “The Community of Experts is an exciting resource collating tools, experiences and other documentary evidence about food waste in a single place for the first time.  With the backing of the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste, it really has the potential to drive behaviour change and further research.” Sharing expertise from across the EU The strength of the Community of Experts lies in its instructive role to inspire action by sharing examples that have proven successful in reducing food loss and waste. These will allow users to adopt, adapt and replicate best practice actions to suit their own programmes, and their own societal, cultural and economic situations. The Community of Experts has the support of REFRESH and its 26 research partners from 13 countries who bring a wealth of experience on the subject. The EU Platform on FLW brings together Member States, EU bodies, international organisations, and actors in the food value chain including consumer- and other non-governmental organisations, all committed to taking action to prevent food losses and waste. Marcus Gover, CEO of WRAP, said “As a Champion 12.3 I am committed to driving action to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of halving food loss and waste by 2030. This is an ambitious target; it will take big acts by big players and millions of smaller actions from everyone, from farmers to you and I as consumers. But it is possible to have a future where food security is less of an issue, and where we can care for our planet and protect the people who populate it from hunger. That is why I am proud to announce the launch of the REFRESH Community of Experts with Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis. This Community of Experts provides an online network in which to share important initiatives and best practice, and brings together food waste experts from across businesses, NGOs, Governments and the world in this important fight against food waste.” Access to food waste solutions Amassing key research and information in one place will also help connect people from different sectors and allow them to focus on proven solutions. Toine Timmermans, REFRESH Coordinator said, “The ambition of REFRESH is to contribute to building a responsible and sustainable food system, by reducing food waste and improved valorisation of unavoidable side streams. We believe in bringing together a network of committed people, from a diversity of stakeholders, as a mechanism to deliver impact. We need thousands of scalable solutions to achieve this transition. The Community of Experts will make it possible to easily share inspiration, insights, evidence and best practices. To support the connection of challenges with solutions at all levels and accelerate progress towards SDG12.3.” Get involved To access and register to use the Community of Experts visit www.refreshcoe.eu. A user account gives the added benefit of being able to interact with the experts on the site, upload new tools and publications, and contribute to existing resources on the site.
21st June 2024
Exchanging expertise in large scale analysis of microbial genomes
At the Quadram Institute we have a team of bioinformaticians who support our scientists to analyse data on the DNA of microbes. In May they welcomed experts from South Korea and Switzerland to build international partnerships and share bioinformatics expertise. “We decided to organise a set of workshops at the Quadram Institute to bring together world-leading experts in large-scale analysis of microbial genomes to optimise bioinformatics tools and forge new collaborations,” explains Dr Andrea Telatin, Head of Bioinformatics. From phylogenetics to protein identification using AI A key aspect to analysing microbial genomes is making comparisons between the DNA of organisms, whether between different microbes or between bacteria, animals and fungi. The visiting research group from University of Lausanne in Switzerland are focused on making these comparisons through large-scale genomics across the tree of life. The group led by Dr Natasha Glover and Prof Christophe Dessimoz are responsible for the software ecosystem around a database which keeps up-to-date evolutionary information on almost 3,000 genomes from different organisms and growing, called the Orthologous Matrix (OMA) database. The University of Lausanne researchers were joined by Professor Martin Steinegger from Seoul National University. His group have developed popular microbial genomics tools, and they apply artificial intelligence to advance structural phylogenetics. “As the Head of Phylogenomics, I was aware how the two groups' methodologies can be applied to elucidating bacterial evolution. We were keen to invite them to the Quadram Institute to share expertise,” explains Dr Leo Martins from the Bioinformatics team at Quadram Institute. Dr Stefano Pascarelli from the University of Lausanne comments on arriving in Norwich, “For me, I was truly impressed by the level of science and support that is found at the Quadram Institute. I observed a great synergy of the research themes in cooperation with an enviable Bioinformatics core facility that explains the growing success within the Norwich Research Park.” Along with talks, the two-day visit included activities to foster collaboration and dialogue. “We had a round table discussion with all guests, where we talked about the future of bioinformatic databases, and how we can use them fully for microbial studies" says Leo. As well as our Bioinformatics team, researchers from across the Quadram Institute joined the workshops to learn and share their latest developments including Dr Dipali Singh who is using mathematical modelling and AI to study the prostate cancer microbiome and Dr Falk Hildebrand whose group investigates the diversity of microorganisms in the gut microbiome through metagenomics. Dipali says, “Having world-leading experts in genome analysis get together at the Quadram Institute was an incredible opportunity. I gained valuable insights and learned about new tools that will be useful for my research. I am excited about the prospect of collaborating with these experts in the future." Falk adds, "It was a fantastic opportunity to welcome some of the forerunners of bioinformatic research to the Quadram Institute. I enjoyed spending time with these researchers, some of whom's software I have been using for years. I learnt more about the development process and reasoning in these hugely influential software. Going forward I think our interactions and exchanges will lead to future collaborations. " Improving and extending the use of existing bioinformatic tools “It was a very successful activity. At the same time as the guests presented state-of-the-art methods for the kind of bioinformatic analysis we do at the institute, we provided guests with specific needs and challenges posed by bacterial genomes,” reflects Leo. Professor Martin Steinegger says, "Assigning functions labels to metagenomic open reading frames is one of the major challenges in advancing microbial research. With the advances of next-generation structure predictors like AlphaFold2 and extensive databases structural database, we have a unique opportunity to improve annotation.” Dr Irene Julca Chavez from the University of Lausanne highlights the benefits from both sides, “I believe this was a very good initiative. Currently, I work in comparative genomics, and our lab has many tools that assist with analysis in this field. However, the discussions with experts from different fields during the meetings at the Quadram Institute made us aware of the lack of resources for certain taxonomic groups, such as bacteria and viruses”. Dr Dave Moi, from the University of Lausanne continues, “With the new tools that are emerging today, we can start making progress on redefining the viral taxonomy, annotating proteins of unknown function and resolve difficult phylogenies of highly diverged protein families. Going forward at the Dessimoz lab, it looks like we're going to be integrating more and more of the structural perspective into our workflows and tools.” Future collaborations Along with discussions and work to develop existing bioinformatics tools the international workshop sparked ideas for future collaborations. “I think this experience will help us expand some lines of research in our group and promote new collaborations,” highlights Irene. Stefano continues, “Our trip to Norwich led to a fantastic exchange of ideas and knowledge that will possibly lead to exciting new developments. We convened towards the need of shifting the attention of our research towards scalable methods that employ the additional layer of information coming from protein 3D structures.” Leo from the Quadram Institute Bioinformatics team adds, “There are plenty of opportunities for future collaborations, both in terms of method and workflow development but also in terms of practical applications to our increasingly large data sets generated here.” Dr Natasha Glover from the University of Lausanne says, “There is significant potential for collaboration between our group and the Quadram Institute, particularly in developing a database and tools for tracking prokaryote-specific evolution. The future of genomic analysis looks promising, with recent advancements in structural genomics now enabling us to recognise homologous genes where sequence similarity fails.” Martin adds, “We see multiple ways to collaborate with researchers at the Quadram Institute to enhance metagenomic analysis using structural aligners like Foldseek and Foldseek-multimer, implement our metagenomic classifier Metabuli well as the structure predictor ColabFold.” Natasha Glover concludes, “This experience has reaffirmed the necessity and benefits of international exchanges in pushing the boundaries of genomics.” The workshop was funded through BBSRC's International Partnership Awards

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Africa
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Our collaborations in Asia on food science and gut microbiome research
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