Research Committee

General Information

The Research Committee is a new committee in ESPGHAN that was established in autumn of 2020. The overall aim of the committee is to support ESPGHAN’s aims with regards to research and science. This includes but is not limited to the administration of research grants, awards, and other funding streams.

Function and Purpose:
The aim of the committee is to advise and support ESPGHAN with the distribution of funding streams in respect to research. Specific tasks include, but are not limited to the following

a) Administration of ESPGHAN grants (i.e. research grants, networking grants, fellowships) including the organisation of a fair, objective, and transparent peer review process.
b) Oversee funding streams and propose adjustments according to need, uptake and overall ESPGHAN strategy
c) Ensure adequate accountability of ESPGHAN grant holders, such as provision of progress reports d) Support representation and publication of research activities during annual meetings as well as to the wider public
e) Where appropriate liaise with other societies and/or funding bodies to improve and support ESPGHAN’s strategy on research and science

Working Groups & Special Interest Groups

Basic Science SIG
Steering Committee:
Daniel Kotlarz - Chair
Federica Giachero - Co-Chair

Description: The aims of the working group are to a) promote collaborative scientific research in the epigenetics of GI health and disease amongst ESPGHAN members b) share scientific expertise and novel data within a working group, by establishing joint research protocols, collaborative workshops, educational meetings and exchange programs c) establish a key group of individuals with sufficient expertise and interest within ESPGHAN to study epigenetics in paediatric GI disease

Background: Evidence is rapidly accumulating that epigenetic mechanism(s), e.g. DNA methylation, histone modifications and expression of non-coding RNAs, may play a major role in disease pathogenesis of complex diseases such as allergies, neurological disorders (e.g. schizophrenia) and autoimmune diseases, including inflammatory bowel diseases. This is paralleled by substantial progress in understanding the epigenetic mechanisms through which environmental triggers (e.g. diet, exposure to toxins) can alter gene expression during pregnancy and in early childhood. Such mechanisms may ultimately contribute to the observed rise in many complex diseases. It is becoming increasingly clear that research in the paediatric patient population could provide a unique and highly significant contribution in advancing knowledge in this field. Only recently are available methodologies beginning to allow researchers to investigate the potential impact of epigenetic mechanisms in complex diseases.
These methods are partly being adapted from those used for genetic studies (e.g. next generation sequencing, bead arrays etc). However, in contrast to genetic studies, epigenetic investigations differ substantially in their requirements and demand highly complex data analysis. Specifically, as epigenetic signatures are less stable than DNA sequence and are highly tissue and cell type specific, sample collection is more complex and requires appropriate expertise on site. Samples need to be processed immediately including cell separation and in some instances chromatin extraction. Hence, appropriate local scientific expertise is required and must be transferred from a core facility to the place of sample collection or collaborating units. The lack of local expertise currently limits multi centre studies for larger sample collection.

Projects & Activities: to view all recent and upcoming activities of this Working Group, you can download the annual report here.

Terms of Reference: to view the ToR of this Working Group, please click here.