IMI SOPHIA is pleased to announce an agreement with Maccabi Research and Innovation Center (KSM), Pfizer, and the Lausanne University Hospital to initiate activities for the public-private research consortium ‘SOPHIA (Stratification of Obesity Phenotypes to Optimize Future Obesity Therapy), a €16-million EU-supported international research consortium that aims to improve obesity treatment and change the narrative around obesity.

KSM, Pfizer, and the Lausanne University Hospital will join SOPHIA’s 29 other partners from civil society, academia, and industry with the aim to better understand obesity as a chronic disease and optimise future treatment.

“Did you also experience FOMO on that Microsoft Teams meeting?” FOMO stands for Fear of Missing Out and is defined in the dictionary as: “the worried feeling that you may miss exciting events that other people are going to”. In the current environment where digital fatigue has become another symptom of COVID-19, you might think that the opening question is more of an oxymoron, an alluring figure of speech in order to capture your attention as a reader.

dedicated four years of a mathematics PhD to studying the distant (1.5×10^8m away to be precise) mass we refer to as ‘The Sun’, desperately trying to make or simulate complicated measurements that my peers wouldn’t instantly disbelieve. Nevertheless, I felt an urge to study a subject somewhat closer to my home. Maybe one that might have an impact on my own environment, where I live and thrive, my family, or even the local shopkeeper’s. Basically anything where I didn’t have to show patience for the next ten billion years to see an effect.

Diabetes is a chronic disease of carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism that results from the inadequate action of insulin. It affects an estimated 463 million people worldwide and is predicted to rise to approximately 578 million people by 20301. Dangerous acute complications of diabetes include diabetic ketoacidosis and severe hypoglycemia (low blood glucose), which can lead to a trip to the emergency room or worse.  In the long-term, chronic hyperglycemia (high blood glucose) can lead to a number of micro- and macro- vascular complications, including nephropathy, retinopathy, coronary artery disease, stroke and peripheral neuropathy.

The main topic of interest within SOPHIA’s WP3 is to assess the risk factors involved in obesity.  However, obesity itself is a well-known risk factor of other diseases. For example, obesity has been considered a long-term risk factor for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes; on the other hand, obesity is considered a risk factor for acute diseases as well.

One of the objectives within SOPHIA WP2 is to harmonise and standardise obesity cohorts and link them into a federated database system to allow for analysis across cohorts. The crucial benefit of the federated database is that the individual cohorts can stay locally on edge nodes, while a central server along with specialized software can learn models across nodes, while preserving privacy and security.


Congratulations to Work Package 7 working group for publishing some of the work carried out as part of SOPHIA. The research highlights the lived experiences of people living with obesity during the COVID-19 pandemic. It highlights the challenge sustaining treatment and psychosocial impact during these unprecedented times.

The research article was published on the 4th of Sep in Clinical Obesity, click here for full access.

The project is funded by a grant from the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) – a joint undertaking of the European Commission and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA); JDRF (formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation); the Obesity Action Coalition; and T1D Exchange.

About IMI

The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) is Europe’s largest public-private initiative aiming to improve health by speeding up the development of, and patient access to, innovative medicines, particularly in areas where there is an unmet medical or social need. IMI facilitates collaboration between the key players involved in healthcare research, including universities, the pharmaceutical and other industries, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), patient organisations, and medicines regulators. It is a partnership between the European Union (represented by the European Commission) and the European pharmaceutical industry (represented by EFPIA, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations). For further information:


The Innovative Medicine Initiative has published an article about the work we do in SOPHIA and it impacts on the diabetes epidemic. The article includes a Q&A with Prof Carel le Roux, Project Coordinator.

Full article available on the IMI’s website, press here.