EDESIA: Plants, Food and Health: A cross-disciplinary PhD programme from crop to clinic.
In an era where preventive medicine is increasingly important due to an ageing population and rising obesity, optimised diets are key to improving health and reducing risk of ill health. The Wellcome Trust-funded, EDESIA: Plants, Food and Health: a cross-disciplinary PhD programme from Crop to Clinic (218?467/Z/19/Z) focuses on investigating plant-based nutrition and health, from crop to clinic, drawing on the world-class interdisciplinary research expertise of partner institutions based on the Norwich Research Park (University of East Anglia, John Innes Centre, Quadram Institute and Earlham Institute). Through a rotation-based programme, EDESIA PhD students will train in a wide range of disciplines across the translational pathway of nutrition research, including analyses of epidemiological datasets, assessment of nutritional bioactives, biochemical, genetic, cell biological and functional analyses of plant metabolites, in vitro analyses in tissue and cell cultures, investigation of efficacy in animal models of disease, investigation of effects on composition and functioning of the microbiota and human intervention studies. Research rotations add a breadth of knowledge, outside of the main PhD project, which benefits the students and can be brought into project design. This comprehensive PhD training programme will allow the translation of science into guidelines for healthy eating and the production of nutritionally improved food crops, leading to innovative food products, particularly for prevention and treatment of chronic diseases where age is a major risk factor. In this article, we summarise the programme and showcase the experiences of the first cohort of students as they start their substantive PhD projects after a year of research rotations.