The promotion of healthy lifestyles with better diets and increased physical activity is of utmost importance for future public health, well-being and prosperity in Europe. Unhealthy lifestyles and the growing proportion of elderly in the population of Europe are accompanied by an increase in the prevalence of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and diabetes. This places a heavy burden on the health-care systems and affects performances of national economies in Europe. Unhealthy lifestyle choices such as poor dietary habits and lack of physical activity are implicated as key determinants for many chronic diseases. The Joint Programming Initiative “A Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life”, JPI HDHL) has been established to coordinate research in the areas of food, diet, physical activity and health in order to achieve tangible societal and health impact and to strengthen European leadership and competitiveness in this field. JPI HDHL entails a voluntary partnership between Member States and Associated Countries of the European Union providing a roadmap for harmonised and structured research activities with defined priorities to achieve these goals.
The composition and activity of the human gut microbiome have been linked to health and well- being as well as etiology and progression of a number of chronic diseases, including obesity, diabetes, cancer and neuropsychological pathologies. However, the exact role for the intestinal microbiome in maintaining health as well as in onset and progression of chronic diseases is still largely unknown. Diet has been identified as one of the main factors modulating the composition and function of the gut microbiome, although the mode of action is not fully understood. More research is needed to better understand how diet-related variations in the gut microbiota composition impact on health. In addition, the so far limited coordination and collaboration between the relevant scientific disciplines and research activities has been a stumbling block hampering a deeper understanding of this complex interplay.
Using the ERA-Net Cofund instrument (named HDHL-INesTInal MICrobiomics - INTIMIC) the JPI HDHL aims to overcome this hurdle by creating an international network in the field of diet, intestinal microbiome and health. This co-funded call is the first implemented Joint Funding Action (JFA) in the frame of HDHL-INTIMIC. It is a joint transnational call, co-funded by the European Union (EU), aiming to fund the most excellent transnational research projects that address the causal relationship of diet, the intestinal microbiome and health.
Complementary to the co-funded call, a “Knowledge Platform on Diet, Intestinal Microbiomics and Health” will be established in 2018 as second JFA in the frame of HDHL-INTIMIC. This networking activity will provide the unique possibility to combine the research projects funded under this co-funded call with other relevant microbiome-related research activities, in particular the previous JPI HDHL Funding Action “Intestinal Microbiomics” in 2015. The platform will bring together scientists within and from different disciplines and other stakeholders (for example industry, consumer and patient organisations) to foster transnational and multi-disciplinary collaboration and networking in order to accelerate intestinal microbiomics research and to facilitate translation of knowledge into new applications.
The aim of the co-funded call within HDHL-INTIMIC is to support multinational, collaborative research projects that address important research questions regarding the cause-and-effect relationships between diet, the intestinal microbiome and human health.
In particular, proposals should focus on at least one of the following areas:
1) the basic understanding of the gut microbiome and its causal role in human health and/or the onset of chronic diseases including the dissection of underlying molecular mechanisms
2) the functional links between diet and/or dietary components on the composition and functioning of the gut microbiome and consequent physiological effects on the host, including individually tailored responses
3) the identification of novel microbiome-targeted strategies and food products for preventive and therapeutic applications including personalised diets and specific food for specific target groups that operate by influencing the gut microbiome
Research proposals should be multi-disciplinary, combining different scientific approaches and methods.
In addition, the following conditions apply (see also national regulations in the Guidelines for Applicants:
Proposals merely describing associations between the gut microbiome, diet and health without addressing the functional relationships are not within the scope of this call.
Animal studies with clear relevance for human health are within the scope of this call.
Proposals should make use of existing biobanks and/or cohorts, if applicable, or explain
why existing biobanks or cohorts are not used.
Proposals should avoid overlapping with the aims and objectives of the projects that are
already funded through the previous JPI HDHL Joint Action Intestinal Microbiomics.
Research consortia are encouraged to collaborate with the private sector, including
Proposals are encouraged to include training activities for young scientists into their project
plan (see also national funding regulations in the Guidelines for Applicants).
Proposals are encouraged to consider the possible impact of age, gender and ethnic
differences, where appropriate.
The JPI HDHL expects proposals to address how the data management following the FAIR
principles1 is applied (FAIR Principles)
In particular, proposals should explain how the knowledge/data gathered through their projects will be made available to the wider research community, in particular within the future Knowledge Platform (see section 1).
The JPI HDHL supports Open Access to research results developed in the context of Joint Actions. Funded researchers are encouraged to provide open access to peer-reviewed publications (see also 8.2).
3. Participating countries and funding organisations
The participating funding organisations that have agreed to fund this co-funded call for multinational research projects and their contributions are listed below.
Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy,
Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research
Fund for Scientific Research
French National Research Agency
Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture represented by the
Federal Office for Agriculture and Food
BMEL represented by BLE
Federal Ministry of Education and Research, represented by the
Project Management Agency in the German Aerospace Center
BMBF represented by DLR
Ministry of Science, Technology and Space
Ministry of Education, University and Research
The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development
National Institute of Health Carlos III
Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness
The Swedish Research Council Formas
Two boards, the Call Steering Committee (CSC) and the Scientific Evaluation Committee (SEC), will manage the evaluation process of the call with support of the Joint Call Secretariat (set up at DLR, Germany). SEC and CSC members will not submit or participate in proposals within this call. The process includes the evaluation procedure of pre- and full proposals and the final selection and award of research projects.
The CSC is composed of one single representative from each national/regional funding organisation participating in this co-funded call. The CSC will supervise the progress of the call and the evaluation of proposals. The CSC will make the final funding recommendation to the national/regional funding organisations on the basis of the final ranking list provided by the SEC. All decisions concerning the call procedures will be taken by the CSC. The CSC will ensure that the procedures are implemented in accordance to the ERA-NET Cofund rules.
The SEC is a panel of internationally recognised scientific experts responsible for the evaluation of submitted proposals. SEC members must sign a confidentiality form and a statement to confirm that they do not have any conflicts of interest. In addition to the SEC members, external experts without conflict of interest and chosen for their knowledge in specific fields covered by the proposals might also contribute in the evaluation process.
An independent expert will be appointed by the CSC as observer to assess the conformity of the implementation of the HDHL-INTIMIC co-funded call with the ERA-Net Cofund rules and, in particular, review the proper implementation of the independent international peer review conducted by the SEC and the establishment of the ranking list of projects.
The EC will not be involved during the evaluation process, but will review the outcomes of the evaluation process (the ranking list(s) of the projects, the observers' report on the evaluation, the joint selection list of the projects to be funded drawn by the CSC, the commitment on availability of funds by each CSC member for the selected projects), so as to activate the co-fund mechanism.
Joint transnational research proposals may be submitted by research groups working in universities (or other higher education institutions), non-university public research institutes, hospitals and other health care settings, as well as commercial companies, in particular small and medium-size enterprises.
The eligibility of the afore-mentioned institutions, together with details of eligible costs (personnel, material, consumables, equipment, travel money, etc.), are subject to the individual administrative requirements of individual funding organisations and may therefore vary. Details of the national/regional eligibility criteria from individual funding agencies are provided in the Guidelines for Applicants.
Only transnational projects will be funded: each consortium must involve a minimum of three partners and a maximum of six partners eligible for funding by organisations listed in this call text (see above) from at least three different countries. No more than two project partners can originate from the same country.
Additional participants (named collaborators) may participate in projects if they clearly demonstrate an added value to the consortium and are able to secure their own funding. Collaborators can be researcher(s) or international organisations that are not applying for funding from the participating funding organisations or that are from countries not participating in this call. They must clearly state in the proposal that funds are secured in advance of the project start. However, the majority of research groups in a consortium and the coordinator must be eligible for funding by the participating organisations. In any case, the total number of partners in one consortium including collaborators must not exceed eight.
Each consortium should have the critical mass of different scientific disciplines to achieve ambitious scientific goals and the proposals should clearly demonstrate added value from working together. Each consortium must nominate a coordinator. The consortium coordinator will be responsible for the scientific management of the project and will act as the interface between the JCS and the consortium. In addition, the coordinator represents the consortium externally. Each project partner (i.e. participating research group) will be represented by a single principal investigator. Within the consortium, the principal investigator of each project partner will be the contact person for the relevant funding organisation.
Please note: Inclusion of a non-eligible partner (i.e., an applicant applying for funding, although this partner cannot be funded by the funding agency in its country for administrative reasons according to country specific regulations) in a proposal may result in the rejection of the entire proposal without further review. Applicants are therefore strongly advised to contact their national/regional funding organisation (see Annex) and confirm eligibility before participating in an application (see country specific information in the Guidelines for Applicants).
5.2 Submission of joint transnational proposals
There will be a two-stage submission procedure: pre-proposals and full proposals. Both pre- and full proposals should be written in English and must be submitted to the JCS by the coordinator through the electronic submission system (PT-Outline). No other means of submission will be accepted.
Pre-proposals must be submitted by the project coordinator no later than 5th of April, 2017, 22:59 UTC. A proposal template is available online (Guidelines for Applicants). Adhering to this template is a requirement.
The decision on selection of applications for invitation to submit full proposals will be communicated in the beginning of June 2017.
Full proposals must be submitted by the project coordinator no later than 20th of July, 2017, 22:59 UTC. Please note that full proposals will only be accepted from applicants explicitly invited by the JCS to submit a full proposal.
5.3 Changes between pre-proposals and full proposals
The information given in the pre-proposal is binding. Thus, any changes between pre- and full proposals concerning the composition of the consortium, objectives of the project or requested budget must be communicated to the JCS with detailed justifications and will only be allowed under exceptional circumstances.
As an exception to the above mentioned conditions, the following changes are allowed:
Adding an eligible partner to the consortium from underrepresented countries that are participating in this call. Countries will be considered as underrepresented in this call when their available budget is significantly higher than the requested budget by successful applicants in the pre-proposal stage. The CSC will make the final decision on which countries will be considered as underrepresented and will communicate this to the applicants that will be invited to the full proposal stage.
In particular, these changes will be allowed after consultation with the JCS and under the following conditions:
1) The consortium coordinator should inform the JCS in case the consortium would like to add an eligible partner from an underrepresented country.
2) The total number of partners and collaborators in the consortium should not exceed eight.
3) The applicants should clearly explain the added value of this additional partner in the full proposal.
The work plan might be adapted according to the recommendations of the SEC.
5.4 Further information
The call will be coordinated centrally by the Joint Call Secretariat, DLR-PT. Contact details are:
Dr. Friederike Bathe / Dr. Felicitas Bosen
Project Management Agency
within the German Aerospace Center (DLR-PT) Heinrich-Konen-Straße 1
Germany Phone:+49-228-3821-1225 (Bathe) Phone +49-228-3821-1878 (Bosen) E-Mail: nutrition-HDHL@dlr.de
Further details on eligibility conditions, submission procedure, rules and templates are given in the Guidelines for Applicants. Please note that adherence to the specific national/regional regulations as outlined there is mandatory. For applicants from some countries/regions, it might be necessary to submit additional information before the submission deadline directly to the national/regional funding organisation. Therefore, applicants are strongly advised to contact their national/regional contact officer (see Annex of this document) for more details or any questions regarding these regulations. Proposals not meeting national/regional regulations, even for one single partner, might be rejected without further review.
In case you need any additional information, please contact the JCS.
6. Evaluation and decision
6.1 Eligibility check of pre-proposals
The JCS will check the pre-proposals to ensure that they meet the call’s formal conditions (date of submission; number of participating countries and groups; inclusion of all necessary information in English; adherence to the proposal template). In parallel, the JCS will forward the pre-proposals to the national/regional funding organisations for checking the compliance with their respective regulations. Pre-proposals not meeting the formal conditions may be rejected without further review. Pre-proposals passing both these checks will be forwarded to the peer review process.
6.2 Evaluation of pre-proposals
All eligible pre-proposals will be forwarded to the international SEC for evaluation. For the pre- proposal evaluation the criteria 1 a-d, 2 a-c,e and 3 a,c,d listed in section 6.4 will be used. Each pre-proposal will receive at least two reviews on a written basis from the SEC, using a standardized pre-proposal evaluation form.
The SEC members will meet for a plenary discussion to jointly evaluate the pre-proposals and recommend on those that should be invited to submit a full proposal. Based on these recommendations the CSC will decide which pre-proposals will be accepted for the full proposal stage. The JCS will communicate this decision to each project coordinator.
6.3 Eligibility check and evaluation of full proposals
The JCS will check the full proposals to ensure that they meet the formal criteria and have not changed substantially from the respective submitted pre-proposals. In parallel, the national/regional funding organisations will check the full proposals for compliance with their respective regulations.
Each full proposal will be allocated to at least three members of the SEC for written review. Full proposals will be assessed according to the evaluation criteria indicated in section 6.4, using a standardized full proposal evaluation form that includes written statements and scores for each evaluation criteria. In a second SEC meeting, each full proposal will be jointly evaluated by the SEC members, who on the basis of the written evaluation reports and as a result of the discussions, will provide a ranking list of the full proposals recommended for funding.
6.4 Evaluation criteria
The following criteria will be used for the evaluation of proposals:
Scientific quality of the proposal:
Significance of the research question; clarity of objectives, credibility of the proposed approach and methodology, expected progress beyond the state-of-the-art, innovation potential
Competence and experience of participating research partners in the field(s) of the proposal (previous work in the field, specific technical expertise)
Significance of the project with regard to the topic and objectives of the call
Consideration of age, gender and/or ethnic differences, where applicable.
Added-value of collaboration on both scientific and transnational level:
Sharing of resources (biological material, databases, etc.), harmonization of data, sharing of specific know-how and/or innovative technologies, etc.
Potential for fostering a longer term international network of researchers in the area of intestinal microbiome, diet and health research, in particular in the future Knowledge Platform on diet, intestinal microbiomics and health
For full proposals: Effectiveness of the proposed measures to exploit and disseminate the project results and to communicate the project activities
3) Quality and Efficiency of the Implementation
Quality and effectiveness of the work plan:
Adequacy of the work plan, for full proposals: allocation of tasks, milestones,
For full proposals: Appropriateness of the management structures and procedures, including risk management
Complementarity of partners in the consortium
6.5 Scoring System
5 = Excellent. The proposal successfully addresses all aspects of the criterion in question.
4 = Very good. The proposal addresses the criterion very well, but small improvements are possible.
3 = Good. The proposal addresses the criterion in question well but certain improvements are necessary
2 = Fair. The proposal generally addresses the criterion, but there are significant weaknesses that need corrections.
1 = Poor. The proposal shows serious weaknesses in relation to the criterion in question.
0 = Failure. The proposal fails to address the criterion in question, or cannot be judged because of missing or incomplete information.
Evaluation scores will be awarded for the three main criteria, and not singularly for the different aspects listed below the criteria. Each criterion will be scored out of five. The threshold for individual criteria will be three. The maximum score that can be reached from all three criteria together is 15 points.
Based on the ranking list delivered by the SEC and on the available funding, the CSC will recommend to the national/regional funding organisations the projects to be funded. Based on these recommendations, final decisions will be made by the national/regional funding organisations.
The JCS will communicate the final decisions to all project coordinators together with the review from the SEC in October 2017.
The joint selection list of projects to be funded will be submitted to the European Commission/Research Executive Agency together with other relevant information.
7. Financial and legal issues
7.1 Funding model
The HDHL-INTIMIC funding partners listed in section 3 have agreed to launch a joint call using the mixed funding mode. That means national/regional funding will be made available through national/regional funding organisations according to national/regional funding regulations. In addition, co-funding will be provided by the European Union to maximize the number of selected projects that can be funded following the ranking list. Funding from the EU will also be distributed through the national/regional funding agencies.
7.2 Financial modalities
Projects can be funded for a period of up to three years. Single project partners of the consortia will be funded by their national/regional funding organisations according to the respective rules and regulations (see Guidelines for Applicants). Eligible costs may vary according to the corresponding funding organisations’ regulations. Each partner is responsible for providing financial reports to its national/regional funding organisation. Prior to submitting a proposal, applicants should verify their eligibility and financial support and are advised to contact their national/regional contact person (see Annex for national/regional contact details).
7.3 Legal modalities
For successful consortia, a project consortium agreement should be negotiated and signed by all project partners before the commencement of the project. This should address matters such as the regulation of intellectual property rights, open access and sharing of data/knowledge (see also 8.2), decision making, actions to be taken in the event of unsatisfactory performance by one or more partners. In some countries, such an agreement might be required for release of the funds. Applicants have to comply with national/organisational regulations regarding this aspect. Further guidance and model consortium agreements can be found at the IPR helpdesk and DESCA websites.
Project coordinators having submitted an eligible proposal will be informed about the funding recommendation regarding their proposal by the JCS. They are responsible to communicate this information to the project partners. After a positive funding recommendation, the project partners must directly contact their respective national/regional funder in order to start the contract negotiation and accomplish the remaining steps until the research project can start.
8. Responsibilities and reporting requirements
The project coordinator is required to submit an annual scientific progress report on behalf of the project consortium to the JCS in March of each year, describing how the project is progressing in relation to planned objectives. Furthermore, a final scientific report is required within 3 months after the project ends. All reports should follow a respective template provided by the JCS and should be submitted to the JCS. National/regional funding organisations may also request annual progress reports and/or a final report from the project partners from their respective country.
In addition, the coordinators of each consortium will be asked to present two progress updates, one intermediate and one final status symposium. Wherever possible, these will be combined with the meetings of the future Knowledge Platform and/or other JPI HDHL events. Therefore, as a minimum requirement, travel costs for 4 meetings of the Knowledge Platform for at least 2 consortium members must be included into the budget plans.
The project coordinator represents the consortium externally and is responsible for all communications with HDHL-INTIMIC (such as monitoring, reporting). In addition, the project coordinators should be available to participate in meetings with the aim to communicate project results across the JPI HDHL and to facilitate the integration of planned activities of the JPI HDHL.
8.2 Dissemination and communication of project results
Research consortia funded under this call are expected to actively participate in the upcoming “Knowledge Platform on Diet, Intestinal Microbiomics and Health” (see section 1) and to contribute with the data and knowledge gained in these projects to the transnational and multi-disciplinary collaboration and networking activities of the future platform.
The JPI HDHL supports an open access policy. Therefore, funded researchers should consider open access publication of their results. Due consideration should be given to consistency with similar policies that are already in place at national level. Further details are laid down in the “Quick guide for dissemination of the JPI HDHL research project results”. Researchers funded under the umbrella of JPI HDHL are requested to adhere to these JPI HDHL guidelines.
Funding recipients must ensure that all outcomes (publications, etc.) of transnational JPI HDHL projects include a proper acknowledgement of JPI HDHL and the respective funding partner organisations. In addition, any dissemination of results (in any form, including electronic) must:
- display the EU emblem and
- include the following text: “This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the ERA-Net Cofund action N° 727565.” When displayed with another logo, the EU emblem must have appropriate prominence.
- National/regional funding organisations may request additional statements regarding the national funding.
Research supported by HDHL-INTIMIC must respect fundamental ethical principles. Applicants have to describe any potential ethical aspects of the work to be carried out, and how the project will fulfil applicable requirements in institutional, national and European Union legislation (including the ethical standards and guidelines of Horizon2020). It is the responsibility of the applicant to identify if their proposed research requires ethical approval to be obtained from the relevant national or local ethics committee prior to the start of the projects. The compliance to ethical requirements will be assessed by dedicated SEC members during the evaluation process.
The HDHL-INTIMIC JCS takes all reasonable steps to ensure that information provided in the application is treated as confidential.
26th of January 2017
Publication of the Call
5th of April 2017
Submission deadline for pre-proposals
30th/31th of May 2017
SEC and CSC meeting for pre-proposals
6th of June 2017
Communication selection of pre-proposals
20nd of July 2017
Submission deadline full proposals
7th/8th of September 2017
SEC and CSC meeting full proposals
Communication funding decisions,
Start of national administrative procedures between partners and funding organisations
December 2017 until March 2018
Start of projects