Personalised nutrition: Paving a way to better public health? (Food4Me)

Last Updated : 01 April 2015

Why Food4Me?

Professor Mike Gibney University College Dublin, Ireland

Mike Gibney is professor of food and health at University College Dublin (UCD), Ireland. He took up this post in 2006 after having worked in the Department of Clinical Medicine at Trinity College Dublin as professor of human nutrition since 1984. Prior to that, he worked at Southampton University Medical School, UK, as a lecturer in human nutrition. From 1973 to 1976 he worked as a teaching fellow at the University of Sydney Veterinary School, Australia, where he attained his PhD. Mike served as president of the Nutrition Society from 1994 to 1997. His laboratory-based research is focussed on the application of metabolomic technologies to human nutrition. He also has a major research interest in diet, lipids, metabolic syndrome and he was coordinator of Lipgene, a major EU project.

What technologies can facilitate personalised nutrition?

Professor Hannelore Daniel Technical University of Munich, Germany

Hannelore is chair in physiology of human nutrition at the Technical University of Munich, Germany. She has 30 years of teaching experience and is in charge at the undergraduate and graduate levels in biochemistry and physiology of human nutrition. She studied nutritional sciences at Justus Liebig University in Giessen and received her doctorate in 1982 and qualified as a lecturer in biochemistry of human nutrition in 1989. Hannelore has worked at the University of Glasgow, UK, and spent three years at the School of Medicine in Pittsburgh, US. Her research is guided by better understanding of how mammals adopt metabolism to changes in the nutritional environment. Hannelore employs all omics technologies and studies worms, mice and humans. She is a member of the German Academy of Sciences, various advisory bodies, supervisory boards and associations.

Does personalised nutrition work? The Food4Me intervention study

Professor John Mathers Newcastle University, UK

John Mathers is a professor of human nutrition and director of the Human Nutrition Research Centre, Newcastle University, UK. He has a PhD in nutrition from the University of Cambridge, UK, and he leads the Proof of Principle study of the Food4Me project. His work focusses on ageing and the development of age-related diseases including cancer and dementia. This area of his work includes the design and testing of lifestyle-based interventions to help people age better and the development of biomarkers of healthy ageing. John has broad interests in understanding how nutrition influences health across the life-course and, in particular, studying epigenetic processes which may explain the molecular mechanisms responsible for interactions between nutrition and the genome.

What's next for personalised nutrition technologies?

Silvia Kolossa Technical University of Munich, Germany

Silvia is a PhD research student for the Food4Me project at the Technical University of Munich. She previously worked in the health care unit of a public relations agency before starting her PhD in June 2012. She holds a BSc and MSc degree in nutritional sciences and her master's thesis is on molecular nutritional medicine. In the Food4Me project, Silvia is involved in the proof of principle study in Germany, working on project management, data analysis and algorithm development. Her research interests include genetic epidemiology, nutritional science and health informatics.

Attitudes to personalised nutrition

Professor Lynn Frewer Newcastle University, UK

Lynn Frewer is currently professor of food and society at Newcastle University, UK, and has a background in psychology. Previously, she was professor of food safety and consumer behaviour at the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands and head of the Consumer Science Group at the Institute of Food Research in the UK. Lynn's research interests focus on understanding societal and individual responses to both risks and benefits; in particular, linked to the agri-food sector. Her current research activities include understanding how people make decisions about the risks and benefits associated with different dietary choices, and how to develop effective communication about these issues. This includes understanding citizens' attitudes to emerging technologies such as nanotechnology and developing best practice in stakeholder and citizen consultation linked to risk governance. Other research activities include research directed towards understanding the impact of legislative changes on food chain actors as well as the broad socio-economic impact of some important public health issues.

What do consumers want from personalised nutrition?

Dr. Arnout Fischer Wageningen University, the Netherlands

Arnout Fischer is associate professor in consumer behaviour at the Wageningen University and Research centre, in the Netherlands. He has been with Wageningen University since 2004. His current research focusses on consumer behaviour in relation to new technologies and innovative products. By using insights from attitude theories in social psychology he aims to understand how existing knowledge about products, emotions and cognitions contribute to attitudes of adoption and adoption of food and agriculture innovation.

What do consumers want from personalised nutrition?

Professor Barbara Stewart- Knox University of Bradford, UK

Barbara Stewart-Knox is currently based within the Division of Psychology at the University of Bradford, UK. She achieved a degree in psychology followed by a PhD in food choice at Queens University Belfast, UK. She took up a post at the University of Ulster, UK, in 1994 and joined the Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health in 1996 where she remained until 2013. Barbara's research interests continue to be focussed on understanding food-related behaviour, consumer food choice (including sensory factors), infant feeding attitudes, and, nutrient/ food-mediated psychological functions. Her activities have involved participation in Food Standards Agency, Safefood and EU-funded research including the Zenith, Lipgene and Food4Me projects; all of which have employed triangulated designs to understand responses, both psychological and physiological, to food and nutrition in various populations.

What legislative issues need to be addressed in Europe?

Maud Perrudin Keller and Heckman LLP, Belgium

Maud Perrudin is a legal consultant in the EU Food and Drug law team of Keller and Heckman's Brussels office since 2007. Her daily practice consists in assisting clients with regulatory and compliance issues relating to the marketing of food and feed (including food supplements, fortified foods, novel foods, GMOs, organic foods, contaminants and pesticides residues), food ingredients (flavouring, additives, enzymes and processing aids) and cosmetics involving compliance review of composition and labelling (incl. claims). Prior to joining Keller and Heckman, Maud was a legal trainee in the European Spirits Organisation (CEPS) representing producers of spirit drinks in EU institutions. Before her traineeship, she also worked with the French Food Flavoring Industry Association (SNIAA) in Paris on the evolving food flavouring regulatory framework. Maud has been working on the legal aspects of personalised nutrition as member of Food4Me partner Keller and Heckman LLP, together with Jean Savigny and Joanna Jaskolska.

What are the ethical issues involved in personalised nutrition and how can we overcome them?

Professor Ulf Görman University of Lund and Jönköping University, Sweden

Ulf Görman is senior professor of ethics and former head of the Unit of Ethics in the Faculty of Humanities and Theology at Lund University, Sweden. Ulf was secretary of Societas Ethica, Europäische Forschungsgesellschaft für Ethik and president of the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology (ESSSAT). His research is mainly devoted to bioethical problems. This includes ethical questions brought up after the mapping of the human genome, such as DNA-based information and intervention, including life extension, and ethical questions in connection to new technologies, such as brain-machine interfaces. His current research is oriented at ethical aspects of personalized nutrition. He is author and co-author of around 50 books, book chapters and articles in these fields.

What are the ethical issues involved in personalised nutrition and how can we overcome them?

Dr. Jennie Ahlgren Lund University, Sweden

Jennie Ahlgren is a researcher in the Ethics Unit at the Centre for Theology and Religious Studies at Lund University and a lecturer at Jönköping University, Sweden. She has a PhD in ethics from Lund University. Her research interests include ethical aspects of health and personalised nutrition.

What are the ethical issues involved in personalised nutrition and how can we overcome them?

Dr. Karin Nordström Jönköping University, Sweden

Karin Nordström is assistant professor in religious studies at the School of Education and Communication, Jönköping University, Sweden. She obtained an MSc in theology, followed by a PhD in philosophy from Lund University. Her thesis was an ethical study of autonomy and moral education, dealing with both pedagogic and philosophical questions. Her other research interests within philosophy of education are issues of professional ethics in pedagogical work, ethical aspects of didactic challenges of religious studies as a school subject, and concepts and aims of moral education.

Does personalised nutrition have business potential in the future?

Dr. Jo Goossens BIO-SENSE, Belgium

Jo is an independent strategic thinker with 30 years of experience in the agri-food area and is especially fascinated by the major societal issues surrounding nutrition, health and sustainability. Following his PhD in Biology he has held global R&D, marketing and business management positions in the food ingredients industry and thus combines scientific understanding with strong business skills. Since 2001 he has consulting independently through his organisation Bio-Sense and in various partnerships on global ingredient strategy, strategic market research, new business development opportunities and long term strategic thinking for the global agri-food industry. Today Jo is also a senior partner at shiftN, the Belgium-based innovative systems thinking and futures consultancy, where he has contributed to ground-breaking systems projects such as the Future of Obesities (Foresight, UK) and the Whitebook for Flanders' Agricultural Research.

Conclusions: Questions & Answers with expert guest

Dr. Ahmed El-Sohemy University of Toronto, Canada

Ahmed El-Sohemy is an associate professor and holds a Canada Research Chair in Nutrigenomics in the Department of Nutritional Science at the University of Toronto, Canada. He is also the founder and Chief Science Officer of Nutrigenomix Inc., which develops genetic test kits for personalised nutrition for use by healthcare professionals. Ahmed obtained his PhD from the University of Toronto and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers and given over 150 invited talks. The overall goal of his research programme in nutrigenomics is to elucidate the genetic basis for variability in nutrient responses and dietary preferences. Specific research projects he works on focus on micronutrient genomics and genetics of caffeine response.

Dr. Jim Kaput Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences, Switzerland

Jim Kaput is senior expert in the Nutrition and Metabolic Health Unit of the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences, Switzerland. Prior to Nestlé he was director of the Division of Personalized Nutrition and Medicine at the FDA's National Center for Toxicological Research in Jefferson, Arkansas, US. He is a member of the Executive Committee of NuGO (Nutrigenomics Organization) and its Micronutrient Genomics Project Committee. Jim received his PhD from Colorado State University in biochemistry and molecular biology. He spent five years as a postdoctoral fellow and assistant professor at the Rockefeller University, New York, in the laboratory of Gunter Blobel - the 1999 Nobel Laureate in Physiology and Medicine. Jim was a staff and biochemistry faculty member at the University of Illinois College of Medicine and director of the Northwestern University Biotechnology Laboratory, Illinois, for two years. He was also a science advisor for international activities at the European Nutrigenomics Organization, coordinator of science and administrative activities for the NCMHD Center of Excellence in Nutritional Genomics at the University of California Davis and assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Illinois Chicago.

Dr. Larry Parnell Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, US

Larry Parnell is a computational biologist in the Nutrition and Genomics Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, and an adjunct assistant professor at the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, both in Boston, US. He received his PhD in cellular and molecular biology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. For nearly 25 years Larry has been working with computational data to predict and verify biological relationships. With a broad knowledge base of biological facts and molecular and cellular laboratory techniques, he has focused on the study of human genetic variants. This includes their associations with cardio-metabolic phenotypes and the modulation of those associations by diet, physical activity and other environmental factors. He has given his expertise in gene-environment interactions to several significant publications and to a number of important research projects beyond his National Institutes of Health (NIH) and USDA funded projects, including the EU-funded projects NutriTech (study in age-related decline of phenotypic flexibility) and Food4Me.

Professor Lynnette Ferguson Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre, New Zealand

Lynnette Ferguson is the director of the Centre for Mutagen Testing, based within the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre (ACSRC), New Zealand. After completing a MSc at the University of Auckland, she obtained her PhD in philosophy from Oxford University in the UK, working on the subject of DNA damage and DNA repair in yeast. On her return to New Zealand, Lynn worked as a post-doctoral fellow, at the University of Auckland, School of Medicine. After 3 years she became a research fellow with the Auckland Cancer Society. In more recent years, she has held a dual appointment with the Auckland Cancer Society and the University of Auckland. Lynnette studies mutagenesis in cancer development, DNA damage and repair. Given that some of the most common major cancers in New Zealand are associated with dietary causes, much of her basic research has focussed on understanding the role of dietary fibre and other protective dietary factors in cancer.