Fleming Researcher Dr Antigone Dimas has been awarded an ERC Starting Grant to explore the complex biological impact of dietary intake in humans. This is the fourth ERC grant awarded to a Fleming Researcher in the past 5 years. The title of Dr Dimas's grant is "A genomics and systems biology approach to explore the molecular signature and functional consequences of long-term, structured fasting in humans”.
Antigone Dimas will apply an unconventional, "humans-as-model-organisms" approach to compare the molecular and functional effects of a highly structured dietary regime, specified by the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church (EOCC), to the unstructured diet followed by the general population. Individuals who follow the EOCC regime abstain from meat, dairy products and eggs for 180-200 days annually, in a temporally-structured manner initiated in childhood. Molecular effects will be explored through a comprehensive set of omics assays (including metabolomics, transcriptomics, epigenomics and investigation of the gut microbiome) and functional consequences will be interrogated at the cellular level through primary cell culture. This project comprises a unique opportunity to study a specific perturbation (EOCC structured diet) introduced to a steady-state system (unstructured diet followed by the general population) in a ground-breaking human systems biology type of study, likely to lead to novel insights regarding the potent signalling nature of nutrients and to results of high translational value.