UL Researcher to lead Irish partners in European Knowledge Hub on Malnutrition in the Elderly

Dr Eibhlís O'Connor, Dept of Life Sciences who leads Irish partners in Research Team

Following a call from the European Joint Action ‘Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life’ last year, the ‘MaNuEL’ - Malnutrition in the Elderly Knowledge Hub has recently been established, bringing together 21 researchers from groups spanning 7 countries who will work together to deliver key initiatives set out by members over the coming two years. 

The aim of this initiative is to bring together experts in the area of malnutrition in the elderly to build a better understanding of the determinants of nutritional deficiencies in older populations across Europe and to build research capacity in this crucial area.

‘It is important that we are at the fore front of knowledge regarding the many causes of malnutrition in the elderly’ said Dr Eibhlís O’Connor, Department of Life Sciences, who will coordinate and lead the Irish contribution to the Knowledge Hub with partners in UCC and UCD. ‘Given the huge economic burden malnutrition causes our elderly citizens and healthcare systems we need to ensure both Ireland and Europe can provide insight and guidance to both healthcare professionals and industry regarding the most efficient methods of determining malnutrition early so preventative strategies can be implemented to reduce the burden of elderly malnutrition both from a national and international perspective’.

Researchers from Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Spain will contribute to the Knowledge Hub with financial support from respective national funding agencies providing a budget of about ~€1 M. The Irish partners (at UL, UCC and UCD) will be supported by the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine (DAFM) and the Health Research Board (HRB).
MaNuEL will create a network of dedicated scientists to contribute to a shared understanding of malnutrition, the prevalence of malnutrition in older persons, preferred screening tools, and effective interventions for malnutrition in older persons from different health care settings. Focused systematic literature reviews will be conducted to complete the present fragmentary picture on malnutrition and to identify potential knowledge gaps.

Furthermore, MaNuEL will bring together and harmonize transnational datasets from nutritional intervention trials and observational studies to perform secondary analyses and build a research infrastructure for future research questions. In addition, MaNuEL will provide insight into current clinical practice, policies, and health professionals education on malnutrition and will identify best practice examples and recommendations for improvement.