The European Commission has invited a large research initiative proposal – DigiTwins – to enter the next stage of competition to become an EU Flagship for Future and Emerging Technologies. If successful, it would be financed by Horizon 2020 funding worth €1 bn over 10 years. It would involve collaboration with Trinity’s School of Medicine, the Trinity Translational Medicine Institute (TTMI) and AMBER, with Professor of Molecular and Translational Medicine and AMBER Investigator, Yuri Volkov, participating in the proposal as a leader of a key Work package focused on nanomedicine.
DigiTwins aims to revolutionise healthcare and biomedical research for the benefit of citizens and society and to contribute to Europe’s Digital Single Market strategy through the creation of Digital Twins. The proposal promises to create a personal ‘Digital Twin’ for every European citizen. Our Digital Twins – accurate computer models of the key biological processes within every individual that keep us healthy or lead to disease – would be used to identify individually optimal therapies as well as preventive and lifestyle measures, without exposing individuals to unnecessary risks and healthcare systems to unnecessary costs. Since its foundation, DigiTwins has grown from an innovative idea to an initiative with more than 200 partners in 32 countries and first applications of its concept in real-life trials.
In February, the DigiTwins initiative submitted a first proposal to the EC and thus took the first step, of a three stage process, towards becoming an EU Flagship for Future and Emerging Technologies (FET). Stage two, in which a full proposal for a candidate FET-Flagship is submitted, kick-started recently with a DigiTwins partner meeting in Berlin. If successful, DigiTwins would be financially supported by the European Commission over a one-year period to prepare for stage three: the final selection of the FET-Flagships, which are science- and technology-driven, large-scale, multidisciplinary research initiatives built around a visionary unifying goal that are promoted and financed by the European Commission.
After being given the go-ahead to move on to stage two, Professor Hans Lehrach, who leads the initiative, said: “We’re a significant step closer to the establishment of a system of truly personalised healthcare and health maintenance throughout Europe, which will save millions of lives and billions of healthcare costs in the future.“
Within the Workpackage focused on Nanomedicine, Trinity team leader, Professor Yuri Volkov, will develop innovative nanotechnology-based solutions for advanced biomedical imaging, highly informative diagnostics at a new sensitivity level, and personalised approaches for therapeutic drug delivery. Nanomedicine approaches open up an opportunity to take into account specific patients‘ profiles and to create the individualised therapeutic strategies featuring enhanced drug efficacy and safety, by utilising precision drug delivery and controlled release mechanisms.
Trinity will closely cooperate within this Workpackage with leading academic and research centres from Germany, Italy, Norway, UK, Switzerland, Russia and others. This will further expand the ongoing research carried out in the field by Trinity researchers, focused on the nanotechnological solutions for the benefits of healthcare. These are currently supported by several major European research grants under the H2020 funding programme.
DigiTwins is a large research initiative that aims at establishing a personal Digital Twin for every European citizen. The community consists of more than 200 partners from industry, academic and clinical research institutions in 32 different countries. DigiTwins combines a transdisciplinary team of visionary scientists, clinicians, public health experts, policy makers, medical informatics experts, experts in Artificial Intelligence, experienced science management professionals, serial entrepreneurs, industry researchers and patient group representatives as well as experts from cross-cutting fields, such as economics, regulation, ethics, health insurance, data security and privacy. The initiative is led by Professor Hans Lehrach (Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin), Dr Nora Benhabiles (CEA - French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission) and Dr Rolf Zettl (BIH - Berlin Institute of Health).