European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) Open Call



October 20, 2022

Project types:

  1. COST Action

Project Proposal

Infectious diseases pose serious threats to human health, to food security in agriculture, and to the conservation of vulnerable wildlife. Novel strategies to address these global challenges can be outlined through evolutionary applications in immunology. However, current lack of personal connections between evolutionary ecologists and immunologists hampers development of such promising interdisciplinary solutions. This COST Action will bridge this gap via establishing a European collaborative research network in evolutionary immunology. Through this innovative framework, the Action will construct conceptual unity between the so-far much separate fields and set up standard methodologies and procedures crucial for effective interdisciplinary research and knowledge transfer. The Action aims to interlink scientists, innovators and stakeholders with expertise in i) bioinformatics (comparative genetics, genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and structural bioinformatics), ii) evolutionary analyses (positive and balancing selection testing, phylogeny-phenotype matching, convergent evolution), and iii) classical “hardcore” immunology (in vitro protein variant functional testing, analysis of immunological regulation, cellular phenotyping) to explore immunogenetic and molecular phenotypic diversity effects on immune responses across wide variety of domestic, as well as wild animal species and populations.
The Action aims to 1. define principles for genome-based evolutionary prediction of molecular effects on variation in immune function, 2. develop standards and toolkits for immune phenotype variation testing, and 3. improve access to skill-oriented training in immune phenotype prediction and verification for early career researchers.
While researchers in evolutionary biology will benefit from improved access to skill-oriented training in immune phenotype description, immunology experts will benefit from knowledge-transfer on genetic variation analysis. Opening this multidisciplinary dialogue will enable formulation of in-depth hypotheses on evolutionary mechanisms diversifying immune phenotypes. A new generation of young scientists with skills combining bioinformatics, evolutionary analyses and immunology will be trained by the Action via workshops, STSMs and virtual mobility. Societal benefits and future applications will be achieved through the dissemination of the results to key stakeholders: veterinary diagnostic laboratories, wildlife management and conservation bodies, probiotic producers, and breeder’s societies.