by Ruben Riosa

MANNA is the European Joint Doctorate in Molecular Animal Nutrition designed to establish an EU network whose mission is to provide a Double Doctorate level training programme, valid throughout all Europe, on innovative technologies applied to animal science and nutrition. MANNA will provide future research leaders with the capability to address the needs to improve livestock health, welfare and efficiency. The MANNA Joint Doctoral project is a Marie-Skłodowska Curie Innovative Training Network funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 Programme (H2020-MSCA- ITN-2017- EJD: Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks (European Joint Doctorate) – Grant agreement nº: 765423 – MANNA).

            This project connects 18 leading groups from universities, companies and research institution from 8 different European Countries. Being more specific, MANNA is formed by 6 university (Milano, Glasgow, Bonn, Zagreb, Barcelona and Košice), 9 private companies (AbAgri, Acuvet Biotech, BASF, Evonik, Life Diagnostic, RAFT, Nutrition Science, SPRIM, MetLabs) and 3 public research institute (INRA, Leibnitz Institute and Porto Conte Ricerche). This strong connection between different groups is fundamental in order to develop an Elite EU School to train PhD student - Early Stage Researchers (ESR) - in OMIC technologies applied to animal science and nutrition. The aims of the MANNA are to evaluate the influence of innovative feed additives on animal production and to deliver a double doctoral (PhD) degrees to develop a generation of internationally equipped scientists for the global workplace.

All of this will be achievable by the composition of a supervisory team for each of the 11 ESR. In fact, every PhD student will be supervised by 3 supervisors: 2 will be from the academia and 1 will be from a company. Every ESRs will work on integrated innovative research projects, designed to investigate the effects of various solution: from anti-oxidants, microRNA, exosomes, methionine, lipids to plant derived anti-inflammatory agents in livestock diets that have effects on growth, intestinal health and systemic metabolism. This innovative research will be assessed also by integrating transcriptomic, microbiomic, proteomic and metabolomic approaches in both in vivo and in vitro models. The results will be then processed using informatics platforms to build analytic systems based on IBM-Watson cognitive computing.

            One of the strength of this project is the offer of a rich secondment programme involving industry and non-academic research institutes, whose specialised fields of activity include animal nutrition, veterinary diagnostic and clinical research, bioinformatics and professional communication in the agro-food sector. The ESRs will be so able to receive a complete training which will cover both aspect of animal nutrition and advanced OMIC techniques. All academic and non-academic partners will contribute to this training and will reinforce the graduate programmes of each university also by taking part in lectures and training sessions during the various Summer Schools and workshops that will take place during the 3-years PhD programme.

The concept of MANNA is to expose the PhD students to an international, inter-sectorial and interdisciplinary environment, with the aim to improve his/her career perspectives in both the public and the private sector. Each project has an industrial background and is linked to an industrial research or implementation period.

MANNA officially started in October 2018, so, get ready to hear a lot of news from us!

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Written by Ruben Riosa (ESR5 - MANNA Newsletter Editor)

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