Research group of Nutrigenomics, Biomarkers and Risk Assessment (NuBE)
The Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Nutrition and Biotechnology (LBNB) of the University of the Balearic Islands, directed by Professor Andreu Palou, houses the work of the Nutrigenomics, Biomarkers and Risk Evaluation (NuBE) research group.
From 2021, the Principal Investigator (PI) of the group is Catalina Picó, professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of the Balearic Islands (UIB). Dr. Picó is also deputy director of the LBNB, vice-dean of the Faculty of Medicine, and member of the Health Research Institute of the Balearic Islands (IdISBa) and the Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBEROBN).
The group's scientific and research trajectory has made it possible to forge a number of working relationships with major research institutions at the national and worldwide levels, as well as with leading companies in the food industry.
The group's research focuses on the study of the mechanisms of body weight control and its alterations (obesity and other associated clinical complications), and, in relation to this, the influence exerted by nutrients and bioactive compounds of the diet on energy homeostasis and genetic regulation. It is a broad research topic that covers aspects such as control of intake, energy efficiency and adaptive thermogenesis, control of the proliferation of preadipocytes and their differentiation into adipocytes (adipogenesis), and the connections between excess of adiposity and metabolic complications. All these processes are intimately related and are influenced by the amount and composition of the diet, along with other factors such as environment, genetic inheritance, gender and age. In recent years, the group has also focused its work on the search for early predictive biomarkers of pathologies that are associated with alterations of these processes, such as metabolic syndrome and other cardiometabolic disorders.
The group has been addressing, over time, different aspects of this complex network, incorporating new scientific and methodological advances while being mindful to keep a thorough overview. Molecular nutrition, nutrigenomics and, in relation to this, aspects related to food safety and quality, are the main axes of its research.
Corporations and institutions
The group was a founding member (and part of its governing board) of the European Research Network of Scientific Excellence 'The European Nutrigenomics Organization: linking genomics, nutrition and health research (NuGO) (2004-2010), which continues its journey in the form of a consortium of universities and research institutes. Notably, it was coordinator of a project of the 7th framework program of the European Union (BIOCLAIMS), from 2010 to 2015, and has participated in 2 other cooperative European projects in the last 5 years. The group is also affiliated with the Health Research Institute of the Balearic Islands (IdISBa) and the CIBER of Pathophysiology of Obesity and Nutrition (CIBEROBN), a consortium formed by 33 national working groups of proven scientific excellence, which focuses its research on the study of obesity, nutrition and physical exercise; since its foundation in 2006, our team remains in the first classification grid (group of excellence) throughout the annually evaluations.
Parallel to its research work, the laboratory seeks to promote innovation and transfer of technology and knowledge to the industrial field, promoting investment and R+D+I development in the food industry. In this context, the team maintains a close link with Alimentómica, the first technology-based company/spin-off of the UIB, which focuses its activity on the search for innovative components, technologies and practices that can improve the human diet, its function and its health. Currently, Alimentómica's team is working on a Preventomics proposal on Personalized Nutrition, which aims to build a new model in preventive nutrition based on personalization; Its methodology combines the integration of different levels of data (genetic, biological, physiological, nutritional, psychological) together with people's health and consumer preferences.
Aditionally, the laboratory participates in different applied projects (related to national and international transferred patents) with different multinational companies such as Nestlé, Danone, Unilever and Bioiberica, national companies such as Puleva and Central Lechera Asturiana, and other specialized industries, such as LAMIRSA.
Professor Andreu Palou - LBNB Director
Professor Palou, director of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Nutrition and Biotechnology of the UIB since 1995, and Principal Investigator (PI) of NuBE group until 2021, is a global mentor on topics related to functional foods and nutrigenomics. Throughout his professional career, Professor Palou has held various management positions in research institutions of great influence both nationally and internationally, such as the position of director of the research group on Nutrigenomics and Obesity of the Health Research Institute of the Balearic Islands (IdISBa) and member of the board of directors of the Center for Biomedical Research in Network on Nutrition and Obesity (CIBEROBN, 2010-2019); director of the Institut d'Investigacions Sanitàries Pere Virgili (IISPV, 2006-2008); first president of the Scientific Committee of the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (AESAN, 2003-2010); vice-president of the Scientific Committee on Food of the European Commission (SCF, 1997-2003) and of the Scientific Panel on Nutrition of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA, 2003-2009).