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Transnational nutrition and immunity research project receives funding

23 Mar 2023
From left to right: Dr Adele Costabile, University of Roehampton; Dr Maria J Rodríguez-Lagunas, University of Barcelona; and Dr Silvia Melgar, APC Microbiome Ireland at University College Cork
  • APC Microbiome Ireland (APC) researchers together with Spanish and United Kingdom institutions will explore links between nutrition, immunity and infectious disease.
  • Research aims to support the development of new strategies to address the global burden of disease.
  • Improved understanding of nutrition will enable society to be better prepared for future pandemics. 

Researchers based at University College Cork (UCC) will examine the links between nutrition and immunity for infectious diseases and diet-related metabolic diseases.

The research team from APC Microbiome Ireland, a world-leading SFI research centre at UCC, is led by Dr Silvia Melgar and will support the development of food-based solutions for sustaining good health and preventing disease.

The study – ‘PreVegDiet fibre and vegetal protein diet’ – has been awarded €850,000 from the NUTRIMMUNE Joint Programming Initiative ‘A Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life’ (JPI-HDHL). The APC team will work with Dr Maria Rodríguez-Lagunas from the University of Barcelona in Spain and Dr Adele Costabile from the University of Roehampton in the UK.

Fighting infection through nutrition

The project will investigate the influence of beneficial diets on the immune system of pre-diabetic patients and their potential to counteract infections. The researchers will study the impact of a seaweed bioactive supplement and a Mediterranean-style diet rich in plant-based components on Salmonella infection in pre-diabetes. The project aims to increase understanding of the potential of nutritional interventions to counteract infection.

Dr Silvia Melgar of APC, said: “Enhancing our understanding of infectious diseases and diet-related metabolic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes is of growing importance globally, and our research aims to support the development of food and supplement-based solutions that sustain good health and address the increasing burden of chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity.”

Vice President for Research and Innovation at UCC, Professor John Cryan said: “Congratulations to the APC researchers on this significant funding award. This award highlights the importance of supporting research in solving global problems in medicine, nutrition, immunity and infectious diseases, aligning with our research strengths in the UCC Futures area of Food, Microbiome, and Health. This research will also play a crucial part in the role that the University plays in addressing urgent global sustainable development challenges.”

JPI HDHL brings together 20 countries that align research programming and fund new research to prevent or reduce major societal challenges, across health, nutrition and diet.

The research is part of an ongoing project funded by the Research State Agency (Spain), Health Research Board (HRB, Ireland) and the Medical Research Council (MRC-UKRI, UK) via the NUTRIMMUNE Grant of the JPI-HDHL.


For more information:

NUTRIMMUNE (2022) (;

What is JPI HDHL? (


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APC Microbiome Ireland is a world-leading SFI Research Centre based in University College Cork  (UCC)and Teagasc. It was formed in 2003 with funding from Science Foundation Ireland and in conjunction with key industry partners. APC represents a seamless collaboration between UCC and Teagasc (the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority).  

It is widely recognised that the gut microbiota plays an important role in human health and has become one of the most dynamic, complex and exciting areas of research in both food and pharmaceutical arenas. Over the last decade APC has established itself as one of the leading global centres in gut microbiota research.

APC has made several landmark discoveries and has published over 3,000 research articles in peer-reviewed journals, generating many journal covers and associated editorials. Recent research areas being led by APC include the development of new diagnostics or biomarkers of health or risk of disease (e.g. colon cancer) based on analysis of the microbiota; exploring the mechanisms by which the microbiota may be favourably mobilised or manipulated (e.g. by bacteriophage) to promote health and ‘mining’ the microbiota for new drugs (e.g. smart antibiotics) and functional food ingredients.


Host Institution

Host Logos - UCC and Teagasc

Partner Institutions

APC Microbiome Ireland

Biosciences Building, University College Cork, Ireland,