Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Health protection mechanisms

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
3.08.00  Medical sciences  Public health (occupational safety)   
1.08.00  Natural sciences and mathematics  Control and care of the environment   

Code Science Field
3.03  Medical and Health Sciences  Health sciences 
2.07  Engineering and Technology  Environmental engineering  
Extracellular vesicles; Theranostics; Microalgae; Oxidative stress; Bioactive substances; Nature-based solutions; Water reuse; Green products; Contaminants of emerging concern; Adhesion of microorganisms; Food safety
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Data for the last 5 years (citations for the last 10 years) on July 14, 2024; A3 for period 2018-2022
Data for ARIS tenders ( 04.04.2019 – Programme tender , archive )
Database Linked records Citations Pure citations Average pure citations
WoS  676  18,961  15,853  23.45 
Scopus  751  23,811  20,084  26.74 
Researchers (22)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  22304  PhD Mojca Bavcon Kralj  Chemistry  Researcher  2022 - 2024  206 
2.  56932  Maja Bensa  Public health (occupational safety)  Junior researcher  2022 - 2024  37 
3.  15647  PhD Klemen Bohinc  Physics  Researcher  2022 - 2024  516 
4.  52566  PhD Darja Božič  Biotechnology  Researcher  2022  66 
5.  55077  Eva Cepec  Biology  Junior researcher  2023 - 2024  13 
6.  15074  PhD Raja Gošnak Dahmane  Neurobiology  Researcher  2022 - 2024  217 
7.  11790  PhD Tjaša Griessler Bulc  Biology  Head  2022 - 2024  520 
8.  27679  PhD Darja Istenič  Biology  Researcher  2022 - 2024  262 
9.  53477  PhD Zala Jan  Public health (occupational safety)  Junior researcher  2022 - 2023  31 
10.  22776  PhD Mojca Jevšnik Podlesnik  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2022 - 2024  588 
11.  52080  PhD Vito Kovač  Biotechnology  Junior researcher  2022 - 2023  17 
12.  05916  PhD Veronika Kralj Iglič  Neurobiology  Researcher  2022 - 2024  880 
13.  57731  Eva Mežnar  Medical sciences  Researcher  2023 
14.  23172  PhD Borut Poljšak  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2022 - 2024  286 
15.  35550  PhD Franja Prosenc  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2022 - 2023  66 
16.  53323  Anna Romolo    Technical associate  2022 - 2024  44 
17.  20840  PhD Darja Rugelj  Sport  Researcher  2022 - 2023  621 
18.  56175  PhD David Škufca  Materials science and technology  Researcher  2022  40 
19.  31673  PhD Roman Štukelj  Sport  Researcher  2022 - 2024  119 
20.  53476  Urška Šunta  Control and care of the environment  Junior researcher  2022 - 2024  36 
21.  11539  PhD Polonca Trebše  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2022 - 2024  516 
22.  22443  PhD Renata Vauhnik  Neurobiology  Researcher  2022 - 2024  381 
Organisations (1)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0382  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Health Sciences  LJUBLJANA  1627155  14,592 
The objective of the proposed program is to develop methods and technologies for the protection of human health based on an integrated approach, considering human in different environments. The program is composed of four basic units: Mechanisms, Life environment, Food safety and Theranostics. The eclectic qualities of the principal investigator are key in combining of the contributions of team members into a whole, with the aim to achieve maximal preventive measures for human health maintenance at minimal burden to the environment. We will address the following basic mechanisms at the micro- and nanoscale: intercellular, cross domain and cross-kingdom communication with extracellular vesicles, where we will develop innovative biomaterials that play key role in (pato)physiological processes; mediated interactions between cell membrane and various surfaces leading to innovative methods for protection against microorganisms by surface coatings; and cell response to oxidative stress and inflammation. In the field of environmental sciences, we will develop new innovative circular economy procedures based on green technologies for wastewater treatment with emphasis on microalgae in combination with photocatalysis and appropriate methods of quantification and identification of micro and nanoplastics and removal of contaminants of emerging concern in different systems. In considering food safety we will address adhesion of microorganisms to food surfaces and food safety culture. Theranostics will include the issues of the locomotory system, elaboration of surfaces in contact with tissues, medical risks of the presence of reactive oxygen species generated from orthodontic appliances and novel diagnostic procedures. The results aim at realizations in practice and design of products that will be launched on the market. The unifying concept of the program is identification of the health risks and creation of preventive measures targeting relevant basic mechanisms with maximal effect. High ethical principles are followed; experiments and production of material causing suffering and death are avoided and burden to the environment in experiments is minimized. Instead, theoretical modeling, analysis of the existing data and collaboration with numerous supporting partners is promoted. In line, the team members have developed wide collaborative networks in multi-disciplinary projects and therefore have access to all required equipment. The team members will continue integrating in national and international projects and initiatives, and organizing scientific and social events pursuing excellent science and disseminating the results to various professional fields and public. Also the teaching activities of the members will transmit the results to the students at all levels, from primary to doctoral schools. Our intention is to promote the excellence of Slovenian researchers in the European area, which will increase the role of the inhabitants of this country in global approach to the emergent existential problems and the development of human achievements.
Significance for science
The proposed project addresses fundamental interactions that are relevant in different areas of living organisms. Within the project, EVs will be treated at various levels: as carriers of basic (patho) physiological processes, indicators of health status and as therapeutic vectors. Since EVs are currently mostly used in research, it is necessary to develop advanced technological solutions that allow their use in various applications. It has already been established that EVs are also formed in the process of isolation. In the program, we will use this finding to optimize their yield. The results of the project will make an important contribution to the knowledge about EVs that the international scientific community expects for applications in medicine, preventive health measures and industry. We will discuss the effects of oxidative stress, inflammation and infections due to implants. We will develop a specific technique of polyelectrolyte coatings with improved osseointegration and reduced bacterial adhesion to control interactions between surfaces and biological systems. The newly developed surfaces are supposed to reduce the proportion of implants that need to be removed from the human body due to poor integration into bone tissue. The results will be relevant in different areas of medicine. The achievements of the proposed program will make an important contribution to the development of food and nutrition science. In the program, we will study two promising technologies for extending the shelf life of fruit: post-harvest processing with light and the use of edible coatings based on polyelectrolytes. The program will contribute to the development of science and profession in the fields of: (1) Ecological and environmental engineering, municipal infrastructure (a) Introduction of the closing the material loop concept in Slovenian and international research sphere (results will enable Horizon Europe applications also due to Centre for climate change adaptation for interdisciplinary research in the circular economy), (b) Development of new technologies for the treatment and safe reuse of urban wastewater (WW) and treatment products in agriculture and green areas)); (2) Chemical analytics (a) Development and optimization of new analytical and measurement methods for understanding key parameters or specific pollutants (e.g. contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), microplastics, resistant bacteria) in final products, (b) Understanding of degradation processes to ensure optimal conditions and efficiency of loop termination systems); (3) Biology (a) Contribution to the understanding of the role of microalgae and plant biomass in WW treatment); (4) Public health (a) Development of new technologies and procedures for disinfection of water and sludge and removal of CECs, microplastics and unwanted bacteria from purified water and sludge WW treatment plant, (b) Development of new aspects of the impact of substance flow/path termination on human health); (5) Circular economies (a) Establishment of water-food-energy Nexus, (b) Development of new concepts in the field of municipal infrastructure; transformation of WWTP into the factory for reclaimed water, fertilizers and other products (biostimulants, pigments, bioplastics, biofilters, bioactive substances)). We will cooperate with academic partners from Slovenia: University of Ljubljana (Biotechnical Faculty, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geodesy, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Veterinary Medicine), University Clinical centre, National Institute of Chemistry, National Institute of Biology, Water Institute RS, and from abroad: National Research Council of Italy (Italy), University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU-Austria), Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW-Switzerland), Aarhus University (Denmark), Lomonosov University-Moscow (Russia), University of Girona (Spain), Papiertechnische Stiftung (Germany) and UrbanFarmers (Switzerland), Domel, Škrlj, Echo, Algen and CGSplus (all Slovenia), LGSound (Netherlands), Jets (www.jetsgroup.com; Norway), Miltenyi Biotec, Bergisch Gladbach (Germany). We will transfer the knowledge to young scientists who are working on their doctorates.
Significance for the country
In the light of future changes (food, water, phosphorus shortage) it is necessary to move to integrated water resources management, which is one of the goals of sustainable development of the United Nations (UN-Water SDG6). Slovenia also supports the goal of implementing integrated water resources management levels by 2030, which is essential for social and economic development and environmental sustainability. By developing technologies and procedures for the reuse of resources, the program contributes to the integrated management of water resources and to the transition of Slovenia and the EU to a circular economy (Closing the loop - An EU action plan for the Circular Economy). As it addresses and addresses the reuse of natural resources holistically, while reducing the risk to health and the environment, the program also contributes to strengthening public health. Environmental and food issues are cross-cutting policy issues that need to be addressed in order to achieve the Paris Agreement target (limiting warming below 2 °). Achieving the sustainable development goals requires urgent measures to reduce the system's environmental footprint and increase its overall efficiency and resilience. All procedures to reduce food losses are extremely important to society. Reducing discarded fruit improves the economics of fruit production. With new picking procedures and edible coatings, we will extend the shelf life of apples and consequently reduce fruit waste and improve the economy of naturally grown food. Targeted small-scale interventions, such as specific technological innovations, can prove effective in shifting the world towards a sustainable and circular path. Addressing the role of extracellular vesicles (EVs) presents such a possibility, as EVs are subjected to very basic mechanisms that connect different organisms, domains, kingdoms, as well as organic and inorganic substances. Once the mechanism has been clarified, the management of EVs will also be possible with low-cost procedures that do not require sophisticated equipment but are based on knowledge and integration of existing solutions. Microalgae and plants are particularly suitable systems for introducing these principles. They are renewable and ethically sound sources for the isolation of EVs. Although our program will include only certain types of EVs, the basic principles that we will address have a general value. The subject of the program brings benefits from the point of view of maintaining health in preventive and therapeutic measures. Surface elaboration will lead to new technological solutions in the preparation of implants. The development of methods to optimize postoperative hip geometry will improve treatment results and extend the life of implanted prostheses. Effects of the program on socioeconomic development include the promotion of Slovenian science, the establishment of international cooperation, the improvement of the living environment and the connection with nature. As part of the proceedings of the symposium Socrates Lectures (online), we will publish works on free topics, called Socratic Reflections, from all areas of cultural and social development. The collection will also include works of visual art related to the topic of scientific content. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most events are currently taking place online and we will maintain these good practices in the future, as such social events bring together professionals and artists from around the world, at low cost and low environmental burden. If possible, we will also organize live events to accompany scientific meetings with guest artists, or hybrid events. The implementation and results of the program will be important for: (1) Promotion of researchers and scientific disciplines: SCI publications, participation in international scientific conferences; (2) Promotion of the country at professional conferences (IPC - International Commission on Poplars and Other Fast-Growing Trees), fairs, in the framework of COST actions (CA 17133), (3) Establishment of new research and development contacts, networks and projects: cooperation with companies for further development and marketing of green technologies (Limnos doo, AlgEn doo, KnaufInsulation doo), active involvement in GWP, IWA, IEES networks; new applications from Horizon Europe, Interreg and ARRS projects, (4) Knowledge exchange in the framework of established research and development contacts: cooperation and exchanges with ZHAW (Switzerland), University of Aarhus (Denmark), BOKU (Austria), ICRA (Spain), 5) Development of staff competent for research and development, cooperation with companies and foreign partners, (6) Creation of new activities, competencies, jobs through the transfer of results to the economy, (7) Creating a better living environment and closer connection with nature. In the manner described above, awareness of the excellence of Slovenian researchers in the European area will be strengthened, which will increase the role of the country, application of new projects, education of new staff (masters, doctors), employment, in case of good practice and companies. (8) We will introduce cooperation in the field of art at promotional events.
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