Cross Disciplinary Program 2017.
A systems approach to new paradigmsin metabolic and epigenetic regulation.

Understanding how environment and lifestyle can affect metabolism and thus reprogram a person’s genetic heritage by epigenetic changes for potential transmission across generations.

Cellular metabolism reflects not only our genetic disposition, but also our lifestyle and environmental exposures, including the presence of noxious substances like endocrine disruptors. SYMER mobilizes an international and interdisciplinary consortium within a systems biology approach to analyze altered metabolic profiles, and how they can leave an imprint on our genes in form of potentially inheritable epigenetic changes. These changes are suspected to fuel the rising threat of chronic diseases across generations.


The relationship between metabolism and epigenetics may well represent a missing link common to many unrelated human pathologies, in particular the numerous rapidly spreading noncommunicable chronic diseases. With epigenetic changes triggered by the environment or lifestyle, the general public recognizes for the first time the possibility that acquired unfavorable traits are inherited by their offspring. SYMER targets the mechanisms underlying these phenomena.


The SYMER consortium proposes a systems-biology approach combining experiments/observations and data analysis/ mathematical modeling to tackle the complex relationship between metabolic profiles, epigenetic reprogramming and social implications. Biologists, physicians, data scientists, mathematicians, physicists and sociologists team up in a multi-scale approach ranging from cell cultures and animal models to a human cohort and social/political studies.

Project's organization...

SYMER is a potential game-changing project, since it addresses a paradigm shift that defines metabolism as an information-carrying system with a central role for epigenetics and thus for trans-generational propagation of the individual health status. SYMER also fosters new interdisciplinary collaboration within and beyond Université Grenoble Alpes.

... and its international visibility

SYMER establishes strong links with internationally leading centers and scientists in the field of metabolomics and epigenetics, including ETH Zurich, the University of Chicago, the University of California (UCLA) and the Jiao Tong University (Shanghai). It has the ambition to become a competitive player in the field at the national and international levels, and to attract talent and further international funding.

SYMER exploits and strengthens the well-established interdisciplinary research competence of the Université Grenoble Alpes campus across the disciplines of Life, Computer and Social Sciences. By its networking with international centers of excellence, its proposed cutting-edge research, and the expected high-impact publications, SYMER is expected to increase our international visibility.

Updated on February 18, 2020