Pan European Networks - Horizon 2020 - page 57

cell and assessing how they are affecting and
controlling processes. Working with Christian
Behrends at the Goethe-University Frankfurt am
Main, Germany, we are teaming up with an
expert in identifying particular protein-protein
interactions and networks, whose research is
supported by grant money from the European
Research Council. Together we are investigating
the so-called ‘interactome’ of the RAB3GAP1/2
protein and considering the interacting protein
factors as potential modulators of this
autophagy pathway.
How important is European funding?
Autophagy is a very hot research topic
worldwide. With the increasing development of
research networks, even more investigations
can be undertaken at an EU level. These
research processes are so complex that one
lab alone is easily lost due to the complexity of
the control factors and regulators involved in a
process such as autophagy. Consequently,
research consortia have a big advantage at
both national and international level.
In particular, such research consortia may
provide resources and bring together experts
from different countries. There is a lot of
autophagy research being undertaken in
Europe, and consequently these efforts need at
best to be combined. In addition, research
interaction and collaboration can really tackle
complex scientific questions surrounding
ageing and age-related brain disorders.
Professor Dr Christian Behl
Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz
B R OW S E
H O R I Z O N
2 0 2 0
H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L
I S S U E S I X
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N E U R O D E G E N E R AT I O N
Ageing in Horizon 2020
The €7.4bn ‘Health, demographic change and wellbeing’ Societal
Challenge includes a specific mention of promoting ‘active ageing,
wellbeing and disease prevention’. Considering the effects of an
ageing population, the European Commission defines in Horizon
2020 legislation the particular societal challenge of ‘adjusting to
the further demands on health and care sectors’.
‘If effective health and care is to be maintained for all ages,’ the
2013 Establishing Horizon 2020 Regulation states, ‘efforts are
required to improve and speed up decision making in prevention
and treatment provision, to identify and support the dissemination
of best practice in the health and care sector, to raise awareness,
and to support integrated care.
‘A better understanding of ageing processes and the prevention of
age-related illnesses are the basis for keeping European citizens
healthy and active throughout the course of their lives. Similarly
important is the wide uptake of technological, organisational and
social innovations empowering older persons, persons with chronic
diseases as well as disabled persons, to remain active and
independent. Doing so will contribute to increasing their physical,
social and mental wellbeing and lengthening the duration thereof.’
Consequently, Horizon 2020 includes specific activities focusing on
active ageing and independent and assisted living. In addition, the
Commission is providing support and helping co-ordinate European
efforts in research, development and innovation in this field, helping
increase scientific capabilities as well as further developing the
European Research Area. Brussels is also emphasising the
important role of its joint programming initiatives, notably
‘Neurodegenerative Disease Research’ and ‘More Years, Better
Lives’, as well as the European Innovation Partnership on Active
and Healthy Ageing.
Realising these aims, the 2014-2015 Horizon 2020 Work
Programme includes specific calls designed to increase our
understanding of ageing. Topics for research calls for proposals
have included ‘Understanding health, ageing and disease:
determinants, risk factors and pathways’ and ‘Promoting mental
wellbeing in the ageing population’. The role of ICT in active and
healthy ageing has also been considered, and the Commission has
therefore sought research proposals on ‘Service robotics within
assisted living environments’, ‘Independent living with cognitive
impairment’ and ‘Early risk detection and intervention’.
PET scan of a human
brain showing the
effects of Alzheimer’s
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