News & Events
This section keeps you updated on any major developments throughout the course of the PRIME project
Highlights from the first PRIME General Assembly meeting15 January 2021
By Jeanette Mostert – Dissemination Manager
One of the perks of being part of a European research consortium is that once a year you get to travel to a nice location, meet your fellow consortium members and engage in scientific and non-scientific discussions over breakfast, lunch and dinner. Unfortunately, such an in-person event was not possible this year. And hence, the first general assembly meeting of the PRIME project was organised on Zoom, from the comforts (and discomforts) of our own homes. But despite being physically distanced, the meeting was still a great success. More than 50 partners joined from 9 countries for 2.5 days of scientific discussions.
I will share some personal highlights.
1. Early career scientists are already producing the first results
The meeting started with a masterclass for early career scientists. These are the master students, PhD students and post doctoral researchers that are spending most of their time collecting data, working in the lab, doing analyses and generating results. They presented their research plans and first results, and received feedback from senior members of the scientific advisory board. For instance, PhD student Giuseppe Fanelli has analysed the genetic overlap between metabolic conditions (obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome) and neurological/mental conditions (Alzheimer’s disease, autism disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder). These results will soon be published in an academic journal. Others are working hard on growing cells in petri dishes, training mice to do memory tests and recruiting participants for clinical studies.
2. Inspiring inter-disciplinary collaborations
Doing science “from molecule to man” is a bit of a buzz-word in the field. Nevertheless, this consortium really does encompass all steps, ranging from studies in single neurons to population studies that include data of 1.9 million individuals. I find it inspiring to be part of discussions where results from animal research are compared to clinical findings in humans, and where genetic findings are interpreted in the context of population data. Such close collaboration helps us to answer questions such as:
- How are neurological/mental disorders and metabolic/somatic disorders linked?
- What is the role of insulin in the link between neurological and metabolic disorders?
- What is the role of the molecule KCNQ1 in the link between insulin and metabolic, neurological and mental disorders?
- Can we identify new drug targets to improve disease outcomes or prevent disorders in susceptible individuals?
3. Don’t forget to exercise and enjoy nature!
We know that sitting all day indoors is not good for you. So the project management and project leaders encouraged us in various ways to take effective breaks. This included a joint 2-minute work out, which was great fun. We were also provided with virtual walks through nature, taken in the surrounding of Nijmegen (the city in The Netherlands were we had planned to organize the meeting) and through the snowy forests of Germany. Thanks to these active breaks, my brain was able to keep up with all the new information that was coming in.
Next year we hope to see each other in person again, and share new results and insights. Until then, we will keep sharing the latest news on this website and on our social media. Be sure to follow us so you won’t miss out on the next steps of our consortium!
Two young PRIME scientists awarded with prestigious grant in The Netherlands5 November 2020
Dr. Janita Bralten from Radboudumc and Dr. Willemijn Jansen from Maastricht University have each obtained a prestigious research grant from the Dutch Research Council. This VENI-grant awards researchers who recently obtained their PhD with 250,000 euro’s to further develop their research ideas for a period of three years.
Dr. Janita Bralten aims to gain a better understanding of psychiatric disorders based on genetic traits. She will do this by investigating genetic subgroups in the total population that are related to psychiatric problems, going beyond psychiatric diagnoses. Dr. Willemijn Jansen will investigate why some people are resilient to developing Alzheimer’s symptoms, even though their brains do show markers of pathology. For this she will study proteins in cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid that’s present in the brain and spinal cord). Through this research she hopes to find clues that help to develop new treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease.
You can read more about the VENI-grants here: https://www.nwo.nl/en/news/161-researchers-awarded-nwo-veni-grant-worth-250000-euros
PRIME researchers on the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for eating disorders8 May 2020
Lead by Prof. Fernando Fernandez-Aranda from the University of Barcelona, they describe the challenges faced by both patients and health care workers and provide possible solutions to improve care in these times (and even beyond the crisis). “[The COVID-19 pandemic] highlights the core need for connection and the pain of loneliness which are often central but sometimes forgotten symptoms of people with pre-existing mental health”. Read it here.
PRIME – EU funded research project on insulin multimorbidities kicks off!15 January 2020
17 European institutions from 9 countries come together to study the mechanisms underlying mental and somatic insulin multimorbidity across the lifespan.