Dr Sharleen O’Reilly from University College Dublin (Ireland) School of Agriculture and Food Science has commenced a €4 million project funded under the EU Horizon 2020 Societal Challenges 1 (Health) call, a Research and Innovation Action on ‘Better health and care, economic growth and sustainable health systems’
Her project IMPACT DIABETES B2B – which brings together a team of world-leaders in maternal and child health from Ireland, Australia, the UK and Spain alongside a Danish cutting-edge mobile health technology company – will address weight management during and after pregnancy.
Speaking about her research, Dr O’Reilly said: “The goal of the project is to deliver an innovative solution for hospitals and health service providers that can work in the real world and help mums through health and lifestyle coaching during pregnancy and the critical first year.”
“One in two pregnancies now have obesity or overweight issues, which are strongly linked to a risk of developing diabetes in the mother and children. We’re delighted to be funded and excited to work on research that will better support mothers and their babies.”
The project will be led by researchers fromUCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, UCD School of Medicine, UCD Institute of Food and Health and UCD Perinatal Research Centre. It aims to deliver breakthrough research in nutrition, exercise and behaviour change leading to an intervention that works in healthcare services.
Central to the project, its app called Bump2Baby&Me and will give each mother their own personal health coach to help them manage their health, delivering cost-effective care at the right time and place for the mother.
Ultimately, the project will demonstrate implementation within three European countries and Australia, with a clear view to future scale-up across different contexts and resource settings via its innovative implementation toolkit and workshops.
The EU funding is supplemented by a further €400,000 from Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council, through the Monash University and Deakin University.
Having succeeded in winning an EU bid for the first time, Dr O’Reilly said: “I saw that the call was a great match, it fitted my research area really well and I knew had an established track record there.”
She said: “If you read a call and think ‘I can do it’ then go and talk to the Research Office. Besides all the supports, it gave me the confidence to go ahead and that really helped me get there. It puts a supportive network around you.”