R&D at ISAMB will be developed by five thematic Research Groups (RGs), each with several convergent research lines (RLs) encompassing its members specialisation areas, skills, competences. Researchers will cross disciplinary boundaries to focus on the key Environmental Health issues under two perspectives: the threats to health and wellbeing posed by any type of environmental factors, and the benefits the exploitation of the natural and built environment can provide.
As internationally, the ISAMB R&D is product-oriented, being the driving force the need to collaborate with stakeholders from business, the third sector and policymakers, strengthening quality and innovation, and promoting cutting edge and business-relevant research across the most deprived Environmental Health areas in the country, namely those related to the contemporary key Environmental Health issues crosscutting the major societal challenges identified in Europe 2020. This will require open, timely and effective channels of bi-directional contact with key stakeholders, to help setting priorities, strengthening networking and partnership, ensuring lobbying, securing funding and widening knowledge transfer and dissemination.
The organisation of R&D in thematic programs takes advantage of the privileged inclusion of ISAMB in FMUL and consequent possibility of putting together the strengths of R&D in public health (comprising the complementary perspectives of disease prevention, health protection and promotion), in different clinical areas (ranging from non-communicable to infectious or work related diseases), and in gene-environment interactions (the so-called epigenetic processes), as well as a broad range of renowned experts motivated to cross disciplinary boundaries, break traditional approaches. This leads to that ISAMB’s R&D can focus on key environmental factors and related behaviours, as well as their effects on health and wellbeing, and each RG can make a specific contribution to the ISAMB’s R&D goals, in the dual perspective of advancing knowledge on the threats and impacts in health posed by the environment, and on the benefits that the exploitation of the natural and built environment can bring to health and wellbeing, addressing its positive influence on human health throughout life, in all living settings and in other sectors beyond health. In summary, the focus of each RG of ISAMB is as follows:
Environment, Family Health and Society will address environmental and other health determinants as well as disease distribution, focusing on topics as healthy and active ageing (a European major societal challenge) and care systems fit, climate change (the greatest single threat to humans) and family health in the primary healthcare context, including this one health information technologies, alcohol-related issues, and vulnerable groups and medicines.
Supportive Environments will mainly address the benefits that can be gained to human health by advancing and exploring knowledge on the natural and built environment and modifiable lifestyle factors and behaviours, focusing their positive influence throughout life and in living settings and other sectors beyond health. Disease prevention and health promotion interventions (vg smoking prevention and control, green and inclusive cities – emphasizing the migrants, food safety, physical activity and occupational health) will be assessed for their impact on wellbeing and health outcomes, and methods’ development and adaptation addressed, strengthening exposure assessment, particularly in relation to human biomonitoring when adequate.
Environment and Non-Communicable Diseases will promote a continuation and expansion of pre- and clinical research already taking place at FMUL. Globally this RG will advance knowledge on how environmental factors interact and influence health and wellbeing. Particular emphasis will be given to the main non-infectious diseases and conditions, in order to stimulate new or more effective diagnostic and therapeutic strategies, with potential of transfer to practice and policy implementation, as well as of significant impact in the quality of patient’s life, public health and healthcare services.
Environment and Infectious Diseases will focus on vector borne diseases in its broadest sense and under an integrated approach that include the entire chain of infection. The climate variation (specifically that of air temperature and humidity) associated with agent-host infectious disease dynamics and the impact of extreme weather events will also be addressed, mainly for the development of methods and models to understand and describe climate effect on disease risk. Moreover, since Portugal has one of the highest prevalence of HIV in Europe and for long privileged research cooperation with Portuguese speaking countries, some with the highest level of HIV infection, this RG will also focus on the infection itself, notably HIV-2 too, antiretroviral treatment and associated infections, including tuberculosis and cryptococcal meningitis.
Ecogenetics and Human Health will focus on the understanding of how environmental factors interact with the individual’s genetic pool and vice-versa, modulating the expression of intermediate as well as distant phenotypes and health risk. This research will address leading behavioural factors acting on this complex interaction (diet, and tobacco, alcohol and coffee consumption), several other environmental factors (vg light and noise that can modify genetic expression at the signal transduction level), and the environmental exposure to virus that can equally affect the immune response which in turn is genotipically defined and variable.