Early life

A healthy start of human microbial colonisation determines risk of chronic disease later in life

Early life

The interplay between nutrition, gut microbiota, and its large number of metabolic and immune mediators plays an essential role in the development of gut immune homeostasis in early life. A disturbed immune function in the neonatal period is harmful for neonatal survival and enhances the risk of chronic inflammatory disease later in life. Preterm infants have an immature gut and an associated intestinal state of dysbiosis, which limits the efficacy of nutritional interventions to support early life nutrition. This can lead to sepsis and conditions such as necrotizing enterocolitis and intestinal failure, and an increased risk of chronic inflammatory diseases mediated by the gut.

GROWTH consortium

GROWTH is an Innovative Training Network focused on European Industrial Doctorates that aims to train 8 young business-oriented researchers in developing pathological insights, biomarker diagnostics and personalized nutritional interventions for intestinal failure in neonates and preterm infants. A major barrier to elucidating the critical nutritional-host-microbiome interactions and reducing neonatal mortality is the lack of expertise in this rapidly emerging area of metabolomics.

In this consortium are several non-academic and academic partners in the life sciences field involved. The multidisciplinary approach makes use of a large-scale pre-existing clinical cohort of neonates and state of the art analytical and bioinformatics tools. This collaboration will shortening the path from basic research to clinical applications. More information can be found here (https://growth-horizon2020.eu/)


The goal of the mNEON project is to develop specialized nutritional intervention therapy to enhance neonatal immune tolerance and infant health. Furthermore, we would like to develop a better understanding of the effect of commonly used antibiotics on premature gut health, and to define the protective mediators in breast-milk.

The consortium exists of the academic partner AmsterdamUMC and the non-academic partners Reckitt-Benckiser and GRS.


Exclusive enteral nutrition (EEN) has been used as a first-line treatment in active Crohn’s disease. EEN is a formula-based diet, completely liquid and can result in complete remission of the disease. The CED/EEN project is a collaboration of researchers and physicians of Gastro-Enterology and Pediatric Medicine. The aim of this project is to elucidate the mechanism of the EEN therapy.