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The "omics" sciences, protagonists in the international symposium on nutrition and epidemiology organised by the Universities of Navarra and Harvard.

The aim of the research is to look for biomarkers that link food intake to the development of chronic diseases.

21 | 06 | 2022

More than 250 people attended the Nutrition OMICS Symposium   organised for the eighth consecutive year by the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Navarra and the Department of Nutrition of the TH Chan School of Public Health of the Harvard Universityat the postgraduate headquarters of the University of Navarra in Madrid. It is a programme that addresses the study of new trends in nutritional epidemiology based on the "Omics" sciences (such as metabolomics, genomics, or proteomics, high-throughput and high-precision techniques for measuring molecules in various body fluids and tissues). They aim to to deepen the understanding of the underlying mechanisms and tools for predicting the risk of chronic cardiometabolic diseasesas well as in the preventive role of healthy eating patterns, with special emphasis on the traditional Mediterranean diet. 

"The main objective of this research, which we have been carrying out collaboratively for the last 10 years on both sides of the Atlantic, is to look for objective biomarkers of food intake and to analyse their relationship with chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes," explains Professor Miguel Ángel Mártinez González, Professor of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at the University of Navarra and VisitingAdjunct Professor at Harvard.  

Alongside Professor Martínez González, the symposium was chaired by Frank B. Hu, Professor and Chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and the number five researcher in the world in the recent ranking of Top Medicine Scientists. Professor Hu, in his presentation Dietary Biomarker Development and Validations, explained how "in the last two decades, epidemiological studies focused on the search for biomarkers of food intake have increased exponentially". "The analysis of these biomarkers in epidemiological studies has changed the paradigm of the traditional black box of epidemiology," he added. 

Professor Martínez-González explained that "the identification of multiple molecules in body fluids, such as urine and blood, allows us to assess normal or disease-prone states. These multimolecular metabolic signatures also reflect the body's response to nutritional intervention. 

Also a researcher at CIBEROBN, Miguel Ángel Martínez González said: "Traditional epidemiology perhaps did not give the importance it deserved to the underlying biological mechanisms when associating nutrition with the development of a disease. Epidemiology based on omic sciences has arrived to open up this 'black box'. Thanks to metabolomics, epidemiology is on a stronger path to identify medical and controlled interventions that can make a substantial contribution to disease prevention and thus can achieve major public health benefits.

The lectures given by the ten experts who participated in the congress can be viewed on the YouTube channel of the School of Medicine. The symposium, which alternates each year between Boston and one of the campuses of the University of Navarra, was attended by experts from institutions such as the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard, the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the WHO, the Institut Hospital del Mar d'Investigacions Mèdiques (IMIM), the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM), Tecnun - School of Engineering of the University of Navarra, the Centro de Investigacion Biomédica en Red - Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBEROBN) and the Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria de Navarra (IdiSNA).