Saturday, October 24, 2009

ENERGY project meeting in Durham, UK

Last Thursday and Friday, Professor Carolyn Summerbell and her team from Durham University hosted the second ENERGY project meeting at the Wolfson Research Institute.

ENERGY stands for “EuropeaN Energy balance Research to prevent excessive weight Gain among Youth : Theory and evidence-based development and validation of an intervention scheme to promote healthy nutrition and physical activity”. It is a European Commission funded project, within the DG Research 7th framework programme.

The project is specifically aiming to contribute to knowledge about obesity prevention among schoolchildren, aged 10-12 years

The ENERGY project is now well underway and in a critical stage. ENERGY is supported by a strong consortium of research institutes and groups throughout Europe. Teams from Deakin University, Ghent University and the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research at VU University Medical Center have conducted a series of reviews on important risk behaviours for overweight and obesity in children, of correlates and predictors of such risk behaviours, and of mediators of intervention effects in this age group. The results of these reviews (whch will be made available via the ENERGY website) have been combined with other evidence-bases to inform the development of a questionnaire for children and their parents, as well as a school environment audit instrument. These measurement instruments will be used in a large cross-European school-based survey to further study possible determinants of obesity, overweight and their risk behaviours in this age group across Europe. Professor Yannis Manios and his team from the University of Harikopio in Greece lead the work package on this survey in close collaboration with the Rescon research organization from the Netherlands.

At the Deakin meeting the development of the questionnaire and the planning of the survey study were the central, and we made good progress to deliver final drafts of these instruments in the next days and weeks. Pretesting of the child questionnaire is scheduled to take place in the two weeks time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Building a research infrastructure elsewhere

I have written a little bit about my university's efforts to improve the research infrastructure. We need better facilities for data-management, biobanking, and biostatistical and project management support to maintain and further improve our improved research output (as indicated by the growing number of publications, citations, and large research project acquisitions). When money is no real issue, building a research infrastructure can be done somewhat differently. In Saudi Arabia the new King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)is being build. Science Magazine has published a story on this initative. According to the Science publication "Thinking big is in the DNA of KAUST. The university's namesake, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, decided 3 years ago to set aside billions of dollars for an institution designed to help the country move from an oil-based to a knowledge economy (Science, 8 June 2007, p. 1409)." Click here to check out the story.