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UK-Peru Workshop: Relationship between Food, Nutrition and Health

  • Date: 21 May 2018 09:00 - 27 May 2018 17:00
  • Venue: Lima, Peru

The MRC (in partnership with BBSRC, AHRC and ESRC) and Peru’s National Council of Science, Technology and Technological Innovation (CONCYTEC) are pleased to announce that they will later this year launch a joint call for research proposals focusing on the relationship between Food, Nutrition and Health research in Peru.

In advance of launching this call, the funders will hold a workshop for researchers in Lima, Peru, to discuss the key research challenges that relate to the aims of this programme and to explore UK-Peruvian opportunities for collaboration in this research area.


The relationship between food, nutrition and health is dynamic and complex. Global changes in lifestyle and dietary habits are placing an unsustainable burden on individuals, families, healthcare systems, and societies.

Elucidating the interactions between food, its nutritional content and human physiological systems represents a multidisciplinary challenge with key public health and economic impacts. Inadequate nutrition affects long term health and is associated with increased risk of many chronic conditions.

‘Dietary risks’ are the single biggest risk factor driving death and disability in Peru. In this context, Peru faces significant maternal, neonatal and nutritional challenges, as well as an increasing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including anaemia, diabetes mellitus, obesity, hypertension, chronic malnutrition and stunting. 

Tackling Peruvian nutrition challenges must be founded on an in-depth understanding of the links between diet, nutrition and health, as well as other factors that determine nutritional patterns. Such understanding must rely on a holistic approach to nutrition research, requiring strong interactions between disciplines such as biological, nutritional, health and medical sciences, food production and supply systems, the social sciences, as well as a greater understanding of relevant historical and cultural factors.

Interdisciplinary partnerships are increasingly needed to deliver the robust and authoritative evidence base which is crucial to the development of, for example, healthier food products, the optimisation and stratification of dietary guidelines, and the determination and delivery of effective intervention strategies.

In recognition of this, CONCYTEC and MRC (the latter in partnership with BBSRC, ESRC and AHRC) will later this year launch a joint Newton Fund call for proposals with a view to supporting excellent UK-Peruvian research partnerships seeking to address the nutrition and diet related health challenges faced by the Peruvian population, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

The scope of the call is likely to include, but not be limited to, research in the following areas, with interdisciplinary proposals strongly encouraged:

  • Drivers of consumer and dietary behaviours to inform methods for effective intervention, such as:
    • Food production, food systems, and other factors in food consumption with emphasis in the role of culture, language, education, geography and urbanisation dynamics
    • Gut-brain axis and psychobiology of food choices
  • Understanding the response of both individuals and groups to nutritional/dietary interventions, particularly in children and adolescents, and the long-term effects on health improvement and disease reduction risk.
  • Enhancing the nutritional composition and bioavailability of key nutrients in food to meet the nutritional requirements, such as but not limited to
    • Novel crops and derived products
    • Enhanced nutritional value by biofortification or reformulation
    • Alternative food sources: Insects, single cell protein, algae, etc.
  • Understanding the interactions between the gut, gut microbiome, infection and antibiotic prescriptions on nutrient bioavailability and uptake, health, nutritional conditions and disease.
  • Identification and validation of early biomarkers linked to health status and trajectory across the lifecourse.
  • Infectious diseases (Tuberculosis, HIV) and NCD (anaemia, diabetes, professional diseases, environmental) risk related to dietary regimes, lifestyle and physical activity.
  • Health conditions triggered by exposure to environmental contaminants and components of formulated foods.
  • Double burden of obesity and malnutrition considering the highly diverse geography and cultural background of Peru
  •  Nutritional requirements at key life stages (e.g. maternal, the first 1000+ days, early childhood, and adolescence).

The call will enable the support of projects that are of a duration up to three years in length. All projects that receive funding must be completed by 31 March 2022.

It is anticipated that the UK funders will make up to £2.5m available in total to support the UK component of the collaborative projects with matched funding from CONCYTEC to support the Peruvian components. It is anticipated that this funding will support several collaborative research projects

The workshop

The upcoming workshop will be an opportunity for UK researchers to meet researchers from Peruvian institutions and explore opportunities for research collaborations. The agenda for the workshop will include time for networking and sharing information about UK and Peruvian research expertise and areas of interest, as well as visits to leading research centres in and around Lima.

How to apply to attend the workshop

We would like to see expressions of interest from academics who would be interested in representing their institution at this workshop in Lima, Peru week commencing 21 May 2018. Costs of the UK attendees will be covered by MRC.

Due to a limited number of spaces, it is likely we will only be able to invite one academic per institution to attend. Therefore, attendees will be expected to represent the wider interests of their institution as well as their individual interests.

If you would like to represent your institution at this workshop, please submit an expression of interest including;

  • A one-page cover letter outlining the research interest of your institution for collaboration with Peru in this area
  • Your CV
  • Your Biography highlighting your professional interest in attending this workshop and your scientific expertise (please note, this information could be shared with the Peruvian Researchers)

Please submit any queries and applications to international@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk

The closing deadline for expressions of interest is Thursday, 15 March

The Newton Fund

The Newton Fund is a £735 million fund which, through science and innovation partnerships, promotes the economic development and welfare of poor people in partnering countries. It aims to strengthen science and innovation capacity and unlock further funding to support poverty alleviation. It is delivered through 15 UK delivery partners in collaboration with 18 partner countries. Activities are in three broad areas:

People: increasing capacity for science and innovation in partner countries.
Research: research collaborations on development topics.
Translation: creating collaborative solutions to development challenges and strengthening innovation systems.

For more information visit the Newton Fund homepage and follow via Twitter: @NewtonFund