Nutrition and Health International Youth Challenge

The Project

Improving the health of the population through changing the lifestyle is a main challenge for the future. Did you know that 68% of the deaths are related to our lifestyle? Overweigh, obesity and diabetes have become one of the global problems nowadays and finding better treatments to minimize mortality associated is a priority. In addition, with a growing world population, producing sufficient, healthy and sustainable foods, through a chain of environmentally friendly food systems, has become one of the biggest challenges for the coming years. Do you want to contribute finding solutions?

In this project we’ll work with 3 main blocs:

  1. Nutrition and diabetes.
  2. Sustainable diets for a healthy population and a healthy planet
  3. Promoting health and eating habits. The cuisine as the best tool to eat better

1- Nutrition and diabetes

August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS)

Diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic disorders characterized by hyperglycemia as a result of a total lack of insulin (type 1, T1D) or relative insulin deficiency combined with defective in insulin action (Type 2, T2D). It is estimated that 422 million adults have diabetes, which accounts for an 8.5 % of the global population older than 18 years. There’s great interest in reducing the health and economic impact of diabetes by promoting preventive measures and lifestyle changes that can revert the growing trends in diabetes incidence and prevalence. Additionally, finding better treatments to minimize morbidity and mortality associated with diabetes is also a priority.

The project will be distributed in two parts: we will begin with a theoretical session in Món Sant Benet with the presentation of 2 case reports, one of a patient with T1D and the other of a patient with T2D. We will use these examples to provide students with an overview of how we diagnose diabetes, the differences between T1D and T2D and the current therapeutic strategies to treat this disease and their limitations.  After this introductory session, there will be the three additional sessions: (1) Nutrition as a lifestyle intervention to treat diabetes (2) The pancreatic beta cell: why it loses its ability to secrete insulin in T2D and (3) Can we make cells that produce insulin in the laboratory?

This theoretical part will be followed by an experimental part in the Laboratory of Diabetes and Obesity of IDIBAPS.

2- Sustainable diets for a healthy population and a healthy planet

University of Vic-Central University of Catalonia    

Did you know that food production and consumption have an impact on the environment? Moreover, what we eat also have an impact on our health and life quality. With an increasing world population, producing enough, healthy and sustainable food, through an environmentally friendly food system chain has become one of the biggest challenges for the next years. 

Defining sustainable diets is difficult and complex and includes a variety of concepts such as biodiversity, health, food security, eco-friendly, fair trade, cultural heritage, skills, local, seasonal, equity, well-being, accessibility and food and nutrient needs among others. During this project, you will learn how to develop a more sustainable and healthy diet through the food system chain.

You will be introduced to the complex structure of sustainable food systems and healthy diets. On the one hand, you will learn from experts about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and healthy eating and its social and cultural heritage. On the other hand, you will learn about the environmental impact of food production and consumption from farm to fork.

On the project, we will combine some field, laboratory, kitchen and computer work, to try to cover all the steps of the food system chain so be ready to be a farmer a chef and a scientist all at once!

Your research will focus on analyzing the environmental impact and nutritional content of a meal. First, we will do a field trip to analyze the soil quality of a veggie garden. After harvesting some veggies, we will analyze its nutritional content at the laboratory at the University of Vic with advanced technology. Third, we will cook a Mediterranean healthy and environmentally friendly meal, following the protein flip concept from the University of Harvard and the Culinary Institute of America in the teaching kitchen of the University of Vic. Finally, we will analyze the GHGe of the meal.

The aim of the project is that you will be able to develop your own healthy and eco-friendly meal and design its own food system chain. Through the process, you will have to detect its strength and weaknesses from a nutritional and environmental perspective and find solutions to the challenges you detect. At the end of the project, you will understand the complexity of food systems and the importance of a multidisciplinary approach when solving scientific questions.  

3- Promoting healthy and eating habits. The cuisine as the best tool to eat better.

Alícia Foundation

Do you know that the 68% of global deaths relate to our lifestyle? Do you know that 1 out of 3 children less than 11 years-old is overweight or has obesity? And, current overweight teenagers have 70% chances of becoming overweight adults? Physical activity and eating habits play an essential role to make a positive change in the society and the cuisine is our way to make it happen. So, you have the chance to make that challenge an opportunity to design feasible, innovative and implementable strategies to promote healthy habits.

These sessions will work on promoting a healthy lifestyle and eating habits through the cuisine as a tool to eat better, also considering food restrictions caused by specific illnesses.

Workshops will include theoretical and practical activities to contextualize the problems and factors that influence the development of non-communicable diseases, and the existing tools to promote healthy eating habits. We’ll use the working method applied in Alicia, where chefs and scientists work together. There will be a show cooking with different balanced dishes to increase the consumption of some food groups and reduce others less healthy to exemplify that the best option to eat better is cooking.

The participants are going to learn, by attractive and interactive workshops, which are the specific nutritional requirements and culinary responses to help patients, suffering from certain diseases, to eat better.  In the first session, there will tackle the nutrition in people suffering from diabetes type-2 and how is their own food managed to follow a healthy diet by an easy and practical way while enjoying the food. In the second session, we are going to deepen in feeding when cancer’s treatment and how it varies depending on the location and the tumor typology to maintain the finest health condition.


The Nutrition and Health program has some differences from the other projects carried out in BIYSC. In the Nutrition and Health program the students will work throughout the day in Món Sant Benet, unlike the BIYSC they will work in the research centers. In the Nutrition and Health program the students will share the sessions with three different centers and will be coordinated directly from Catalunya La Pedrera Foundation, unlike the BIYSC students will work for 12 days with the same research center and with the same scientists who coordinate the specific program. In the Nutrition and Health program participants will live mostly in Món Sant Benet, unlike the BIYSC who will live in Barcelona.  

A maximum of 25 students will be selected for this project.


Matching profiles

Life sciences, biomedicine, health sciences

Required materials

Laptop, labcoat

Coordinator of the project
Ramon Gomis

Ramon Gomis

Prof. Ramon Gomis is currently Scientist Emeritus at the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS), as well as Professor Emeritus at the University of Barcelona (UB). Prof. Gomis was awarded both his undergraduate and doctorate degrees in Medicine by UB. After performing postdoctoral training at the Free University of Brussels, he pursued his professional and scientific career in biomedicine at the Hospital Clínic of Barcelona, where he occupied several different positions for over thirty years, including Director of Research and Head of the Department of Endocrinology and Nutrition. He served as Director of the IDIBAPS for almost a decade. He also had served as Director of the Fundació Clínic per a la Recerca Biomèdica, and as Chair in Endocrinology at UB. An accomplished author, Prof. Gomis has published hundreds of articles in internationally renowned scientific journals, primarily in the first and second quartile, as well as multiple book chapters. He has patented 4 inventions.

Míriam Torres

Míriam Torres

Míriam Torres Moreno studied a bachelor degree in Food Science and Technology and in Human Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Barcelona (UB). She began her research career in 2003 when she was awarded with a pre-doctoral scholarship by the University Rovira Virgili to work as a pre-doctoral researcher at the department of Medicine and Surgery at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences in Reus.

Before completition of her pre-doctoral fellowship, she started her work at the University of Vic-Central University of Catalonia combining her academic and research career. Her research interests include the study of foods and the modification of their nutritional profile through innovative ingredients and processes and their relationship with the technological, functional, sensory and nutritional properties, analysing also its influence on the perception of the consumer.

Adriana Gálvez

Responsible for the project. Technician in Technological Development and Innovations and Health and Eating Habits areas Graduated in Biology from Autonomous University of Barcelona. She has done an academic specialization course about Nutrition as a Medicine by UOC (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya) and a Master’s degree in Nutrition and Metabolism by Rovira i Virgili’s University and University of Barcelona. Nowadays she works as a technician transversaly linked to the areas of Technological Development and Innovations and Health and Eating Habits.

Jaume Biarnés

Jaume Biarnés

Responsible for the area of Food Heritage and Sustainability. Graduated in cuisine, he has worked in several restaurants and confectioneries. He has been a part of El Bulli and he has actively participated in all actions related to it (restaurant, ElBulli workshop, catering, consultancy and writing books). As a founding member of Alícia, he has coordinated studies and publications about cooking techniques, food history and strategies to promote the Catalan food heritage. 

Rosa Gasa

Rosa Gasa

Dr. Gasa obtained her PhD in Biology from the University of Barcelona in 1997. She conducted postdoctoral training at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas (1997-2000) and at the University of California in San Francisco (2001-2003). She joined the Diabetes and Obesity Research Laboratory at IDIBAPS in 2004 as an awardee of the Ramon y Cajal Program of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology. Presently, she is holding the position of Research Associate. Dr. Gasa’s investigations focus on understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in the establishment of pancreatic beta cell mass during organism development and the design of reprogramming strategies to generate beta-like cells from fibroblasts for transplantation purposes in diabetic patients.

Marta Rivera

Marta Rivera

Marta G. Rivera-Ferre, Ramón y Cajal Research Fellow at the University of Vic-Central University of Catalonia. She coordinates the research line “Sustainable communities, social innovations and territories” within the group “Societies, policies and inclusive communities” and is the director of the Chair Agroecology and Food Systems. With a multidisciplinary profile in the analysis of the society and environment interactions within agri-food systems, she has a particular interest in alternative agri-food systems and more recently, in the analysis of feminists and commons theories as to be adopted in agri-food research. Member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food and the Journal of Sustainable Development, she has participated as lead author in the UN-lead assessments the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD, 2005-2008) and the of the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC, 2010-2014; 2017-2019).

Alba Reguant

Alba Reguant Closa is a Pharmacist and a Registered Dietitian from the University of Navarra (UNAV) and completed the IOC Dipoma in Sports Nutrition. As recipient of a Fulbright scholarship, Alba graduated from Master’s degree in sports nutrition at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS) in collaboration with the United States Olympic Committee. Alba is highly interested in sports nutrition and performance where she teaches at the University of Vic (UVIC-UCC). Born at the heart of the mountains of the Pyrenees she is now focusing her efforts on raising awareness relative to sustainability of food systems. Her PhD, directed by Dr. Nanna Meyer (UCCS) in collaboration with the group of Dr. Thomas Nemecek (Agroscope, Switzerland) analyses how to introduce environmental sustainability in nutrition educational tools.

Alba Adot

Technician in Health and Eating Habits area Graduated in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from University of Barcelona. Currently, she works at the Alícia Foundation in Health and Eating Habits area after completing the degree practices in the same research centre. Previously, she had worked as a monitor in child-youth facilities, as well as working in customer service companies.

Fabiola Juárez

Technician in Health and Eating Habits area Agricultural Technical Engineer specialized in Food Industry by the UPC (Universitat Politècnica de Barcelona). Master’s degree in Nutrition and Food for the University of Barcelona and graduated in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from University of Barcelona (CESNID-UB). She has worked as a research technician at the Research Institute of Hospital de Sant Pau and at R+I department of Gallina Blanca Star. She has worked as a nutritionist in the prevention of childhood obesity within the programs of the Department of Health of the Government of Wales in United Kingdom, as a plant nutritionist at the Hospital Clínic i Provincial of Barcelona and in the field of food restoration in nursing homes. 

Ana Lobato

Ana Lobato

Chef and technician in Technological Development and Innovations area Graduated in Gastronomy and Culinary Arts by Basque Culinary Centre, with the specialisation on the vanguard. During her studies, she had obtained a fellowship in their master’s degree in pastry to develop her final project in El Celler de Can Roca. Likewise, she took two years of Biotechnology degree at the University of Leon and she took a course of the superior technician on Nutrition in University education.