A cross-border consortium, coordinated by IDIBGI, receives european funding to study the role of the gut microbiota in neurocognitive disorders associated with obesity and aging

15 juny 2020


  • The research project “Personalized prediction of cognition through the human microbiota” (THINKGUT) has been co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the POCTEFA program.
  • The official kick-off meeting of the project will take place on June 15th 2020.


Girona, June 11th 2020. The Girona Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBGI) is the Spanish entity leading THINKGUT, with the participation of the French partners Institut National de la Santé Et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) and the SME Enterosys SAS. The aim of the project, whose kick-off meeting will be held on June 15th 2020, is to establish a cross-border expert consortium on the relationship between microbiota and cognition with exploratory tools and human databases of approximately 1700 individuals, with potential to generate personalized diagnostic-therapeutic tools focused on preventing, diagnosing and treating neurocognitive disorders associated with  obesity and aging.

There is evidence of the effects of obesity on neurocognitive dysfunction and on the composition of the microbiota. The gut microbiota is also an important and poorly recognized element in neurocognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects. The prevalence of neurodegenerative disorders is among the greatest current threats related to aging in the European Union.

To address these issues, a consortium of cross-border experts in the area with exploratory tools and human databases will be created. Bioinformatic and biomathematical models will be used to exploit the bacterial species and the corresponding metabolites which interact with the intestinal microbiota-liver-brain axis, and its impact on neurocognitive decline. Knowledge of the mode of action will be obtained from germ-free mice colonized with bacterial communities in which extensive neurocognitive procedures will be studied after fecal transplantation. The information will be used to build tools to individually predict and prevent diseases associated with the axis gut-liver-brain microbiota. Cross-border cooperation is crucial to obtain information and compile cohorts from clinical centres in the POCTEFA territory in a repository, allowing the development of therapies and drugs for the prevention of obesity, metabolic diseases and the neurocognitive deterioration of aging.

THINKGUT is coordinated by IDIBGI through Dr. José Manuel Fernández-Real, head of the Nutrition, Eumetabolism and health research group and researcher at the CIBEROBN Pathophysiology of Obesity and Nutrition (Instituto de Salud Carlos III). Dr. Josep Puig from the same centre will also collaborate in the project. On behalf of INSERM, the project will be led by Dr. Rémy Burcelin and from Enterosys SAS side, the leadership will be in charge of Dr. Maxime Fontanié.

The project has a total budget of 1.3 M€ and has been co-funded at 65% by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Interreg V-A Spain-France-Andorra Program (POCTEFA 2014-2020). The objective of POCTEFA is to reinforce the economic and social integration of the Spain-France-Andorra border area. Its help focuses on the development of cross-border economic, social and environmental activities through joint strategies in favour of sustainable territorial development.


POCTEFA Statement

Le projet a été cofinancé à hauteur de 65% par le Fonds Européen de Développement Régional (FEDER) au travers du Programme Interreg V-A Espagne-France-Andorre (POCTEFA 2014-2020). L’objectif du POCTEFA est de renforcer l’intégration économique et sociale de l’espace frontalier Espagne-France-Andorre. Son aide est concentrée sur le développement d’activités économiques, sociales et environnementales transfrontalières au travers de stratégies conjointes qui favorisent le développement durable du territoire.

El proyecto Thinkgut ha sido cofinanciado al 65% por el Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional (FEDER) a través del Programa Interreg V-A España-Francia-Andorra (POCTEFA 2014-2020). El objetivo del POCTEFA es reforzar la integración económica y social de la zona fronteriza España-Francia-Andorra. Su ayuda se concentra en el desarrollo de actividades económicas, sociales y medioambientales transfronterizas a través de estrategias conjuntas a favor del desarrollo territorial sostenible.