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Research Areas

Research Areas


  • Identification of prognostic and diagnostic biomarkers

    Identification of prognostic and diagnostic biomarkers

    The first objective of this research line is to identify new biomarkers, whether they are genetic (polymorphisms, number of copies), epigenetic (methylation of DNA), transcriptomics (expression of mRNA or miRNA), metagenomic (gut microbiota), proteomic or metabolomic/lipidomic. The ideal biomarker should provide additional diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic information to that obtained from the patient's clinical data.


    The main applications are the following:

    • Early prognosis of disease development.

    • Prognosis of comorbidities associated with obesity.

    • Diagnosis of obesity or associated comorbidities.

    • Prognosis of response to treatment.

    • Monitoring the weight lost after an intervention.

    • Prognosis of recurrence of the comorbidities associated with obesity.

    In summary, the identification of new biomarkers is important because it will, on the one hand, determine the susceptibility of an individual to develop obesity, type 2 diabetes and other related syndromes and, on the other, optimize the treatment through the implementation of personalized dietary of lifestyle strategies.

    Research lines

    Identification of biochemical, genetic, epigenetic, transcriptomic, proteomic, metabolomic, and metagenomic biomarkers related to the risk of developing comorbidities associated with obesity and the metabolic syndrome, and the personalization of the intervention.

        Nutrigenetics (SNPs, copy number variants,…)


        Transcriptomics / Nutrigenomics (mRNA)

        miRNAomics (miRNA)

        Metagenomics (gut microbiota)

        Metabolomics / Lipidomics

    Expected results

    Design of kits and indexes related to the diagnosis and prognosis of physiological states related to the inflammatory state, obesity, nutritional quality (or adherence to a diet) and the predisposition to metabolic diseases. Also, to the personalization of therapeutic approaches.

    • Kits of diagnosis and prognosis

    • Kits of response or adherence to the diet


  • Identification and study of new bioactive compounds

    Identification and study of new bioactive compounds

    The second objective of this research line is the identification, characterization and study of the biological activity of diverse natural sources of bioactive compounds with potential application in the treatment or prevention of obesity and its associated comorbidities. These bioactive compounds are of great interest for both the food and the pharmaceutical industry, as they can be the basis for the development of new dietary supplements or functional foods. To this end, activity studies of new extracts or molecules are developed in various models (in vitro, C. elegans, rat / mouse, etc.) in order to select candidates prior to their evaluation in nutritional intervention studies in humans, as well as studying the potential mechanisms involved or their bioavailability.

    The main application is:

    Development of products with greater efficacy, bioavailability or stability and with fewer side effects than those already known and applicable in diseases related to obesity and their associated metabolic comorbidities (insulin resistance, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, metabolic syndrome, among others).

    Research lines
    Screening of bioactive compounds (cell cultures, Caenorhabditis elegans, rodents)

    Studies of mechanisms of action

    Studies of efficacy and bioavailability in animal models

    Expected results
    Identification of new bioactive compounds useful in the control of body weight and the prevention of obesity and metabolic disturbances:

    • able to reduce or delay digestion and absorption of macronutrients.

    • with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

    • with lipolytic activity, which directly affect the release of fatty acids from adipose tissue.

    • with inhibitory action on adipogenesis, preventing the creation of new adipose tissue and its hypertrophy.

    • able to increase energy expenditure, basal metabolism and thermogenesis.


  • Customized modulation of gut microbiota and epigenetics

    The third objective of this line is to modulate gut microbiota and epigenetic marks in a customized manner. The intake of foods and diets rich in various bioactive principles (especially non-digestible carbohydrates, certain types of fiber and polyphenols) can modulate the gut microbiota and, thereby, affect the health status of the population. In addition, numerous bioactive compounds and nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, fatty acids, fibers and polyphenols, are able to modulate epigenetic mechanisms that regulate gene expression and metabolism.

    Both mechanisms, microbiota and epigenetics, are associated with the development of disease. But both are potentially reversible through nutritional factors, so it is important to deepen into the effects of diets, nutrients and bioactive compounds when redirecting the microbiome and epigenome to a more "healthy" state. The final goal is to design diets, ingredients and foods that can be used in the prevention or personalized treatment of obesity and its associated comorbidities.

    This research requires a cross-cutting and multidisciplinary approach, with use of various models (from cell cultures to animal and human models) and technologies (especially the use of omics technologies such as microarrays and new generation sequencing) as well as complex bioinformatic and statistical analyzes.

    The main application is:

    Development of food ingredients and combinations with beneficial activity on gut microbiota composition and epigenetic marks.  

    Research lines
    Investigation of the dietary and lifestyle factors that alter the gut-liver-brain axis, including leaky gut and low-grade inflammation, and study of the modulatory effects of dietary compounds and foods on gut microbiota composition

    Analysis of the gene-environment interactions that converge at the metabolic-epigenome-genome axis, and study of the epigenetic changes induced by the intake of different diets, foods and bioactive compounds

    Expected results
    Identification of new bioactive compounds, combination of foods and dietary patterns able to:

    • Reverse the dysbiotic states associated with obesity and metabolic disturbances.

    • Modulate the epigenetic alterations that are involved in the metabolic memory or are commonly observed in obesity and its complications.



Fermín Milagro Yoldi
Director of the Nutriomics and Biomarkers Project

General contact:
C/ Irunlarrea, 1
31008 Pamplona

+34 948 425600