A year of Lifepath: Lifepath newsletter, Issue 3

A year of Lifepath

On May 17-18th, Lifepath partners gathered in Paris for the project second annual meeting, to assess and present what has been accomplished during the first year of research, and to discuss the future perspectives. The participants reviewed and discussed their results on the exploration of the impact of low socio-economic status on ageing and mortality, and of the related intermediate molecular events such as functional changes in DNA and metabolism.

A series of video-interviews has been realized, in order to present some of the main results presented in Paris, as described by their own authors:

Low socio-economic status is among the most relevant health risk factor (Silvia Stringhini, Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, Lausanne)
Socio-economic conditions are often ignored as a major determinant of health but studies led by Silvia Stringhini, from the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, Lausanne, show that they are the third risk factor – after smoking and sedentary lifestyle – to determine people’s mortality. Socio-economic status should thus considered as a main target for health prevention policies.

Children’s height may be influenced by social and economic conditions (Cathal McCrory, Trinity College, Dublin)
Children’s height is mainly determined by genetic factors but the environment in which we born and grow up can play an important role too. Knowing that height is correlated with health in later life, Lifepath partners from the Trinity College in Dublin wondered if there are differences in children’s height related to their socio-economic background.

How education can influence the length and quality of life (Johan Mackenbach, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center, Rotterdam)
Is there a relationship between the level of school education and the length and quality of life? The answer is yes, according to studies carried out by Johan Mackenbach and his colleages at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam. People with a higher level of education seems to live longer and to experience a healthier aging processes than those with a low level of education.

Inflammation could mediate socio-economic effects on health (Cyrille Delpierre, Universite Paul Sabatier Toulouse III, Toulouse)
Everyday life can bring several potential source of stress, and this is particularly true in case of social and economic distress. Socio-economic circumstances can be able to interact with our organisms and trigger the inflammatory response against stress. However, a chronic exposition to stressful conditions may lead to several kind of diseases, thus decreasing the quality of our life in later years.

Data collection and integration (Silvia Polidoro, Hugef Foundation, Turin)
Did the impact of the economic crisis had a direct impact on our body? This is the question at the core of Hugef Foundation studies within Lifepath. Experts from the Foundation will analyse blood samples from large population groups in order to see if changes in DNA methylation – an epigenetic marker – has occurred following the onset of the recent crisis. The Foundation will also take care of gathering and harmonizing data from different studies within the project, to make them available for further comparison.

LIFEPATH project presented during the IARC 50th Anniversary

During the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), director Christopher Wild reviewed 50 years of research on cancer. “The original vision was for IARC to promote international collaboration in cancer research.” Over the last 50 years, through the outstanding cooperation of thousands of cancer researchers worldwide, this vision has become a “practical reality” Wild said. “Sadly, while the level of comprehension of molecular cancer biology is unrecognisable compared to fifty years ago, many of the global disparities in cancer incidence and outcomes evident to IARC scientists in the mid-1960s are still all too easily recognisable today.”

During the conference the epidemiologist Paolo Vineis (Imperial College, London) presented two important research projects, both of which are funded by the European Commission – EXPOsOMICS (FP7 framework) and Lifepath (Horizon 2020).

Exposomics aims to develop a novel approach to the assessment of exposure to high priority environmental pollutants by characterizing the external and the internal components of the exposome, focusing on air and water contaminants during critical periods of life.

On the other hand, Lifepath aims to understand the mechanisms through which healthy ageing pathways diverge by (Socio-Economic-Status (SES), by investigating life-course biological pathways using omic technologies. “In the Lifepath project we are also examining the consequences of the current economic recession on health and the biology of aging, and the consequent increase in social inequalities” stated Vineis. “Our main goal is to show that healthy ageing is an achievable goal for society, as it is already experienced by individuals of high socio-economic position”.




LIFEPATH project as an example of exchange of good practices

Paolo Vineis was invited to represent LIFEPATH project to an Expert Meeting on Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities (SSH), organized by Net4Society on July 5th in Brussels.

Within this context, LIFEPATH was used as an example for Social Sciences and Humanities integration and exchange of good practices in the research framework programme. Vineis’ presentation – which can be downloaded here – introduced the project’s aims, summarizing what is already known about social and health inequalities, and what are the expected outcomes of LIFEPATH’s novel approach.

Net4Society is the international network of National Contact Points for the Societal Challenge 6 ("Europe in a changing world: inclusive, innovative and reflective societies") in Horizon 2020. Its aim is to actively support networking in the research community and offer help in every respect of Horizon 2020 consultation. A specific focus of Net4Society is on supporting the successful integration of SSH throughout Horizon 2020.

Old and new risks: challenges for environmental epidemiology

On September 1-4th 2016, Rome will host the 28th Annual Conference of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology, organized by the Department of Epidemiology of Lazio Regional Health Service (ASL Roma 1) and the Italian Epidemiological Association. This year, the Conference will address the challenges in exposure assessment, study design and data analyses in the coming decades. The format of the meeting will promote discussion and scientific communication and will include plenary sessions, keynote speakers, oral presentations, thematic symposia, posters and post-conference short courses.

Publication date: 
Wednesday, August 3, 2016