Welcome to the PIONEER web site.

The European Commission has pointed out the need to improve the health and well-being of European citizens through a higher quality of their food, improved control of food production and of related environmental factors. Identification of environmental factors that are detrimental to health, and better understanding of the mechanisms involved are necessary to determine how to prevent or minimise these effects and risks.

Environmental exposures during development are considered to be of special importance. Developing organ systems may be very susceptible to various exogenous factors, and exposures during the critical stages of development may result in long-term and permanent adverse effects.


The new research project, PIONEER, addresses the phenomenon of precocious puberty (early onset of puberty), observed in humans in Europe and other parts of the world, and suspected to be linked with environmental, including nutritional factors. It should be pointed out that besides the environment, numerous intrinsic physiological and genetic factors regulate the onset of puberty, and by and large the mechanisms that underlie the onset of normal puberty and its pathological variant, precocious puberty, are still poorly understood. Therefore, in order to understand the possible roles of environmental factors in the aetiology of precocious puberty, PIONEER will also explore the endogenous factors that regulate the physiology of puberty onset.


Nutritional factors influence human health through complex interactions between the genetic susceptibility, other environmental exposures, life-style factors and socio-economic factors. PIONEER aims at identifying nutritional factors that are directly or indirectly involved in puberty onset, taking into account the genetic background, which may determine the individual susceptibility to exogenous factors causing early onset of puberty. The major goal is to identify the settings in which the individuals are at high risk to develop precocious puberty.