22/12/2006 - Health Workprogram



Health - Open Calls


To improve the health of European citizens and increasing the competitiveness of European health-related industries and businesses, while addressing global health issues including emerging epidemics. Emphasis will be put on translational research (translation of basic discoveries into clinical applications), the development and validation of new therapies, methods for health promotion and disease prevention, diagnostic tools and technologies, as well as sustainable and efficient health care systems.



This research will advance understanding on how to more efficiently promote good health, to prevent and treat major diseases and to deliver health care. It will help integrate the vast amount of genomics data to generate new knowledge and applications in medicine and biotechnology. It will foster translational health research, which is essential to ensure practical benefits from biomedical research. It will allow Europe to contribute more effectively to international efforts combating diseases of global importance, as illustrated by the ongoing programme on “European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership” (EDCTP) for combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis (Article 169)19.

It will reinforce health policy-driven research at the European level and especially the comparisons of the models, systems and data of national databases. This research will help improve the competitiveness of European health care biotechnology and medical technology sectors, where SMEs are the main economic drivers, and pharmaceutical industries. In particular, it is envisaged to support a European Technology Platform20 on innovative medicines, aiming at overcoming the research bottlenecks in the drug development process. Special attention will be given to bridging the gap between research activities and exploitation by providing support for demonstrating proof of concept and clinical validation. This research will also contribute to the development of norms and standards for new advanced therapies (e.g. regenerative medicine) needed to help EU industry face worldwide competition.


Two strategic issues, child health and the health of the ageing population will be addressed across the three main blocks of activities set out below, with priorities highlighted in the work programme. Other multi-disciplinary areas will also be included. This will ensure a visible and coherent approach to these issues across the Theme, whilst avoiding duplication.


Activities Include:


Biotechnology, generic tools and technologies for human health:

This activity aims at developing and validating the necessary tools and technologies that will make possible the production of new knowledge and its translation into practical applications in the area of health and medicine.


-          High-throughput research: to develop new research tools for modern biology that will enhance significantly data generation and improve data and specimen (biobanks) standardisation, acquisition and analysis. The focus will be on new technologies for: sequencing; gene expression, genotyping and phenotyping; structural genomics; bioinformatics and systems biology; other “omics”.

-          Detection, diagnosis and monitoring: to develop visualisation, imaging, detection and analytical tools and technologies for biomedical research, for prediction, diagnosis, monitoring and prognosis of diseases, and for support and guidance of therapeutic interventions. The focus will be on a multidisciplinary approach integrating areas such as: molecular and cellular biology, physiology, genetics, physics, chemistry, nanotechnologies, microsystems, devices and information technologies. Non- or minimally- invasive and quantitative methods and quality assurance aspects will be emphasised.

-          Innovative therapeutic approaches and interventions: to consolidate and ensure further developments in advanced therapies and technologies with broad potential application. The focus will be on gene and cell therapy, regenerative medicine, transplantation, immunotherapy and vaccines, and other medicines. Related technologies, such as advanced targeted delivery systems, advanced implants and prosthetics, and non- or minimally-invasive technology-assisted interventions will also be addressed.

-          Predicting suitability, safety and efficacy of therapies: to develop and validate the parameters, tools, methods and standards needed for bringing to the patient safe and effective new biomedicines. The focus will be on approaches such as pharmacogenomics, in silico, in vitro (including alternatives to animal testing) and in vivo methods and models.


Translating research for human health:

This activity aims at increasing knowledge of biological processes and mechanisms involved in normal health and in specific disease situations, to transpose this knowledge into clinical applications, and to ensure that clinical data guide further research.


-          Integrating biological data and processes: large-scale data gathering, systems biology.


         Large scale data gathering: to use high-throughput technologies to generate data for elucidating the function of genes and gene products and their interactions in complex networks. The focus will be on: genomics; proteomics; population genetics; comparative and functional genomics.

         Systems biology: the focus will be on multidisciplinary research that will integrate a wide variety of biological data and will develop and apply system approaches to understand and model biological processes.


-          Research on the brain and related diseases, human development and ageing.


         Brain and brain-related diseases: to better understand the integrated structure and dynamics of the brain, and to study brain diseases and search for new therapies. The focus will be to explore brain functions, from molecules to cognition, and to address neurological and psychiatric diseases and disorders, including regenerative and restorative therapeutic approaches.

         Human development and ageing: to better understand the process of life-long development and healthy ageing. The focus will be on the study of human and model systems, including interactions with factors such as environment, behaviour and gender.


-          Translational research in major infectious diseases: to confront major threats to public health.


         Anti-microbial drug resistance: the focus will be on combining basic research on molecular mechanisms of resistance, microbial ecology and host-pathogen interactions with clinical research towards new interventions to reduce the emergence and spread of multi-drug resistant infections.

         HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis: the focus will be on developing new therapies, diagnostic tools, preventive vaccines and chemical transmission barriers such as HIV microbicides.  Research efforts will confront the three diseases at global level, but will also address specific European aspects. Preclinical and early clinical research activities will be emphasised, and where relevant (e.g. for HIV/AIDS vaccines) collaboration with global initiatives is foreseen.

         Emerging epidemics: the focus will be on confronting emerging pathogens with pandemic potential including zoonoses (e.g. SARS and highly pathogenic influenza). Where appropriate, provisions will be made for rapidly initiating collaborative research aimed at expediting development of new diagnostics, drugs and vaccines for efficient prevention, treatment, and control of infectious disease emergencies.


         Translational research in other major diseases.


         Cancer: the focus will be on disease aetiology; identifying and validating drug targets and biological markers that aid in the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment; and assessing the effectiveness of prognostic, diagnostic and therapeutic interventions.

         Cardiovascular disease: the focus will be on diagnosis, prevention, treatment and monitoring of heart and blood vessel diseases (including vascular aspects of stroke) using broad multidisciplinary approaches.

         Diabetes and obesity: for the former, the focus will be on aetiologies of the different types of diabetes, and their related prevention and treatment. For the later, the focus will be on multidisciplinary approaches including genetics, life style and epidemiology.

         Rare diseases: the focus will be on Europe-wide studies of natural history, pathophysiology and on development of preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic interventions. This sector will include rare Mendelian phenotypes of common diseases.

         Other chronic diseases: the focus will be on non-lethal diseases with a high impact on the quality of life at old age such as functional and sensory impairment and other chronic diseases (e.g. rheumatoid diseases).


Optimising the delivery of health care to European citizens:


This activity aims at providing the necessary basis both for informed policy decisions on health systems and for more effective strategies of health promotion, disease prevention, diagnosis and therapy.


         Enhanced health promotion and disease prevention: to provide evidence for the best public health measures in terms of life styles and interventions at different levels and in different contexts. Focus will be on the wider determinants of health and how they interact at both the individual and community level (e.g. diet, stress, tobacco and other substances, physical activity, cultural context, socio-economic and environmental factors). In particular, mental health will be addressed in a life-course perspective.

         Translating clinical research into clinical practice including better use of medicines, and appropriate use of behavioural and organisational interventions and health therapies and technologies. Special attention will be given to patient safety: to identify the best clinical practice; to understand decision making in clinical settings in primary and specialised care; and to foster applications of evidence-based medicine and patient empowerment. Focus will be on the benchmarking of strategies; investigating outcomes of different interventions including medicines, taking into consideration pharmacovigilance evidence, specificities of the patient (e.g. genetic susceptibility, age, gender and adherence) and cost benefits.

         Quality, solidarity and sustainability of health systems; to provide a basis for countries to adapt their health systems in the light of experience of others, taking into account the importance of national contexts and population characteristics (ageing, mobility, migration, education, socioeconomic status and the changing world of work etc). Focus will be on organisational, financial and regulatory aspects of health systems, their implementation and their outcomes in terms of effectiveness, efficiency and equity. Special attention will be paid to investment issues and human resources.