Widening project - EPIBOOST

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Introduction

The European project EPIBOOST - BOOTSING excellence in environmental EPIgenetics funded by the Horizon Europe Program, under the transversal pillar Widening Participation and Spreading Excellence - Twinning action, formally started on October 1st 2022 and runs for three years. This is a capacity building project under coordinated by the University of Aveiro (widening partner) with two advanced partners, Ghent University and Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC, Spain).

Project description

Epigenetics is the study of the relationship between the genetic background and environmental factors, such as lifestyle. Genetic activity can be regulated like a light switch that goes on, off, at different intensities. This regulation occurs from chemical changes in the DNA sequence of genes, without changing the identity of the base pairs that make up the DNA. Epigenetic changes have effects on how the DNA molecule is translated, regulating which genes will remain active, influencing the behaviour and physiology of the organism. The EPIBOOST consortium of excellence is thus in place to address the challenges arising from the recent proposal to integrate epigenomics into environmental assessment, particularly with respect to the aquatic environment. Therefore, it focusses on novel tools and methods for epigenomics in three key groups: micro-algae, invertebrates and fish in marine and freshwater environments.

Objectives

EPIBOOST aims at strengthening the research profile of all entities involved through capacity building activities that cover 5 specific objectives:

  • Objective 1: To develop research protocols for the comprehensive assessment of epigenetic effects and its consequences in aquatic organisms, leveraging UAVR scientific skills through hands-on training and the research profile of the Consortium in the field of Environmental epigenetics through the production of excellent knowledge.
  • Objective 2: To contribute on the building of a sustained European critical mass to leverage environmental epigenetic research to the best world-class standards through broader attracting and training of young researchers
  • Objective 3: To strengthen research resources management of UAVR, appropriately tuning key infrastructures to support world-class projects in the field of environmental epigenetics.
  • Objective 4: To strengthen Science management and administration skills of UAVR, concomitantly improving the capacity of the current Consortium to grow and embrace wider funding opportunities.
  • Objective 5: To reinforce by levelling among partners and grow the network of the Consortium towards building a consistent support to the leverage of excellence in the environmental epigenetics field and its interactions with regulatory frameworks for environmental protection within the EU Research Area.

Role of Ghent University

UGent takes up the role of advanced partner in the consortium. By training and exchange of expert researchers in environmental epigenetics with a focus on aquatic invertebrates, UGent will support the widening partner in this discipline. UGent will take up a leading role with regards to international training initiatives and courses and support the coordinator in developing a framework for the incorporation of epigenomics in environmental risk assessment.

Website

EPIBOOST

Contact

Prof. Jana Asselman
Department Animal sciences & aquatic ecology
Phone number: +32 59 41 77 37
E-mail