Study on the need for food and health research infrastructures in Europe

ABOUT EURODISH (Grant no. 311788)

Duration: 3 years from September 2012 to August 2015

Coordinator(s): EuroDISH was dual-led, split into clear responsibilities but combined within the same organisation, Wageningen UR. The Project Coordinator was Dr Krijn Poppe of LEI Wageningen UR [juridically the Stichting Dienst Landbouwkundig Onderzoek (DLO, NL part of Wageningen UR]. The Scientific Coordinator was Professor Pieter van’t Veer of Wageningen University (WU, NL - part of Wageningen UR).

Project partners: The consortium of 15 partners from 7 countries covered a wide range of areas of expertise.

Source of funding: Coordination and Support Action funded under the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme, Theme KBBE.2012.2.2-02


In Europe 86% of deaths and 77% of the disease burden are related to our diets and lifestyles. Scientists are working hard to identify effective interventions, but organising European food and health research in a competitive and collaborative way is essential to turn taxpayer money into benefits for all. According to the European Science Foundation, “about 85% of public research investment goes only to national endeavours.” In response, the new EU-funded project EuroDISH aimed to assess the current state of play to eventually make advanced and feasible recommendations to the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), other stakeholders, and the HORIZON2020 programme. A major step along the way was the engagement of policy and decision makers. EuroDISH had created a special forum on its newly launched project website where interested parties can sign up.

Aim & Project Deliverable(s)

The work programme of the EuroDISH consortium was designed along the ‘DISH’ model: ‘Determinants, Intake, Status, and Health’, which represented four key building blocks of the food and health research area and different stages of research infrastructure development. Determining what drives people’s food and lifestyle choices identifies the most promising options for change. This then needed to be linked to people’s current and future dietary intakes, and how these were related to their nutritional status and eventually overall health. Professor Pieter van ’t Veer of Wageningen University and the scientific coordinator of EuroDISH, explained: “To go beyond existing mappings, we will synthesise the results by integrating the needs for hard and soft Research Infrastructures as well as how these may be governed; as this may identify newly emerging gaps and needs, it will define how these gaps can be filled effectively”. Hard Research Infrastructures could be understood as toolkits or technical equipment, whereas soft Research Infrastructures referred to communication networks, methodologies and conceptual frameworks.

EuroDISH focused on relevant innovation in research elucidating the interplay between lifestyle behaviour, dietary intake and health status, and in public health nutrition strategies across Europe. A major challenge lied in the fact that food and health research includes many disciplines and was a broad research area. EuroDISH intended to overcome this barrier.

“We will develop a roadmap for implementing the most important Research Infrastructures. It will include links with basic and human science as well as integration and collaboration with industry”, said Dr Krijn Poppe of LEI Wageningen UR who was heading the project management team.

To ensure its recommendations were truly feasible, EuroDISH performed two case studies designed to test pilot RIs for pan-EU nutritional surveillance and for innovative studies into the links between the four DISH building blocks.

Casper Zulim de Swarte, project manager of the Joint Programming Initiative ’A Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life’ (JPI-HDHL) invited policymakers to closely follow the EuroDISH project and joined the debate through the forum created specifically for this purpose on the new EuroDISH website. He said “We are very much looking forward to receiving the recommendations from EuroDISH to take on board in the future development of the JPI-HDHL. EuroDISH will help European food and health research becomes the success it deserves to be”.


EuroFIR AISBL had a transversal role in the project and was  involved in several word packages of EuroDISH Project, including participation in research and in dissemination activities.

Find more:

For more information visit EuroDISH website

You can download the project final outcomes report here.