Presentation number: ANTR 1


Luka Bočkor

Centre for Applied Bioanthropology, Institute for Anthropological Research, Zagreb, Croatia

Modern bioanthropology, although always interdisciplinary, nowadays is breaking down barriers in science ever more efficiently. Multiple factors – genetics, environment and lifestyle – influence disease development. The main problem of multiple branches of science is their usual monochromatic perspective, where every problem is viewed from its exclusive point of reference. Our genetics is a result of natural selection, and although we are as fit as can be, we are the result of all the adaptations that human species acquired during the past, not only as our species, but also as all our ancestral species. Furthermore, with the advancement of science and technology (reflecting in every aspect of our everyday life), human lifestyle has dramatically changed in a brief amount of time on a historical timescale. Unfortunately, adaptive changes of the genome are not able to compensate and, as a result, multiple non-communicable diseases (e. g. diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, tumours) are emerging within human populations worldwide with increasing costs for the health systems on a global scale. In order to decrease the incidence of diseases and consequently their financial and social burden, a comprehensive approach taking into account social, behavioural, psychological, and biological factors is necessary. By applying methods from analytical chemistry, molecular biology and biochemistry combined with different types of questioners and interviews and data from populations from the past, we can better understand causes of diseases, both on organism and molecular level. Importantly, taking into account environment (toxicological burden) and ecological systems inhabiting our organisms (microbiota) bioanthropology can strongly contribute to finding the proper treatment of diseases in personalized manner and, more importantly, help in their prevention.

Presentation number: ANTR 2


Aleksandra Buha Djordjevic

Department of Toxicology „Akademik Danilo Soldatović“, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia

Human health has been immensely influenced by environmental factors. Various reports have shown that nearly 25% of global deaths and about a third of the world’s burden of disease in children can be attributed to such factors. Although some environmental contaminants are difficult to avoid, amelioration or even elimination of these factors is possible and the diseases arising because of these factors are preventable. Accordingly, this attributable disease burden is often 10-fold higher in poor countries than in developed ones. This disparity is mainly caused by a lack of modern technology, weak laws and regulation in the field, a lack of awareness among the population, and general poverty in these countries. Furthermore, residents of wealthy countries are also affected by many environmental factors such as air pollution, lead poisoning, etc. Hence, the role of environmental health in global health is of great concern. The most potent environmental causes of worldwide illness are unclean water, air pollution, and exposure to various industrial chemicals. Concerning chemical exposure, it is important to stress that of the more than 30,000 chemicals commonly used today, scientists have studied only fewer than 1% in detail, while our understanding of the effects of simultaneous exposure to low levels of hundreds or thousands of chemicals we face on daily basis is rudimentary, at best. Cohesive and comprehensive policies that would protect both people’s health and planet health require strengthening of the institutional capacity and social actions that encompass raising public awareness and public health measures in the field.

Presentation number: ANTR 3


Noël Cameron

School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, United Kingdom

The widely publicised invasion of the Ukraine by Russia has highlighted yet again the devastation caused by armed conflict at individual, community, and national levels. Human society in the 20th and 21st Centuries has never been free of armed conflict either within or between nations. Whilst the first half of the 20th century was dominated by the ‘World Wars’ of 1914-18 and 1939-45, the Uppsala Conflict Data Program records that never less than 40 countries worldwide were involved in armed conflicts between 1989 and 2018. In their Lancet review of 2021, Bendavid et al (2021) emphasise that whilst “…every conflict-affected region, every conflict, and every affected community is different from all others…” common features are shared and yet the evidence that supports health consequences is “weak” and “limited”, and in the case of adolescents almost “non-existent”. The status of human growth and development over time has been used globally to determine the health and wellbeing of children. Given the ubiquitous nature of armed conflict, it is not surprising that research in human growth and development has provided several significant studies highlighting the effects of armed conflict on children and adolescents in war zones. Data reflecting the effect of the 1st and 2nd World wars on young people in England, the Netherlands, Germany, and Japan, demonstrates the power of armed conflict to interrupt the positive secular trends characteristics of improved physical growth and development at national levels in both those experiencing conflict first hand, and the long-term consequences to those experiencing it through maternal exposure during pregnancy. Studies of the growth outcomes of armed conflict are, of course, complicated by the inability to plan prospective studies. Most studies examine proximal outcomes of conflict such as mortality, malnutrition, injury, disability, and disease. However, the existence of repeated cross-sectional surveys provides unequivocal retrospective evidence for the reduction of growth rates across the age range from infancy to adulthood and the differential effects of armed conflict in children and adolescents.

Presentation number: ANTR 4


Miran Čoklo1, Ivan Dolanc1, Antonija Jonjić1, Jelena Šarac1, Luka Bočkor1, Natalija Novokmet1, Marko Tarle2, Sanda Mustapić2, Marta Kmet2, Biserka Orehovec2, Ivica Lukšić2, Saša Missoni1

1Centre for Applied Bioanthropology, Institute for Anthropological Research, Zagreb, Croatia, 2Dubrava University Hospital, Zagreb, Croatia

“unCoVer-Unravelling data for rapid evidence-based response to COVID-19” is a Horizon 2020-funded network of 29 partners from 18 countries. Formed with the aim to collect and use real-world data (RWD) resulting from response and provision of care to COVID-19 patients by health systems across Europe and elsewhere, unCoVer exploits the full potential of this information to rapidly address clinical and epidemiological research questions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. These heterogeneous datasets comprise from information on over 22 000 hospitalized patients, as well as registry data on over 1 900 000 COVID-19 cases across Europe, with continuous updates. So far, the datasets have been described, harmonized and integrated into a multi-user data repository operated through Opal-DataSHIELD, an interoperable open-source server application. Federated data analyses, without sharing or disclosing any individual-level data, is being performed to resolve various research questions emerging from dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Institute for Anthropological Research, Zagreb, Croatia, is one of the partners on the unCoVer project, together with our related third-party – Dubrava University Hospital, Zagreb, Croatia, providing clinical data on COVID-19 patients. Special emphasis will be given to our specific experience and lessons learned from participating in this project (data acquisition, ethical and GDPR issues, data analyses, influence of restrictions related to COVID-19 pandemic).

Presentation number: ANTR 5


Vlatka Čubrić-Čurik

University of Zagreb, Faculty of Agriculture, Zagreb, Croatia

The domestication of animals is considered one of the most influential processes that have shaped the development and growth of human civilization. Cattle, which are divided into Taurus cattle (Bos taurus taurus) and Zebu cattle (Bos taurus indicus), are capable of converting large quantities of roughage into high-quality food, and the other benefits are also considerable. Therefore, cattle are often considered one of the most important domestic animals. Here, I first provide a historical overview of bovine domestication from the perspective of mitogenomes, Y chromosomes, and nuclear genomic markers. Second, I present the results of two recent genomic analyses of ancient cattle. Third, I show the results of our large-scale meta-analyses of the complete bovine mitogenome. Next, I present the archaeogenetics laboratory established this summer at the University of Zagreb – Faculty of Zagreb. Finally, I present our future perspectives in research on ancient genetics/genomics and domestication of animals.

Presentation number: ANTR 6


Ino Čurik

University of Zagreb, Faculty of Agriculture, Zagreb, Croatia

Runs of homozygosity (ROH) are contiguous long stretches of homozygous genomic regions used to estimate realised autozygosity from high-throughput marker information. I will explain how ROH can be used to infer a number of important genomic population parameters. For example, ROH are used to estimate recent and distant inbreeding at the individual and population level. In addition, ROH are used to estimate inbreeding depression and to map genomic regions with detrimental effects. Genomic regions with above average occurrence of ROH or extreme ROH islands are used to identify genomic regions that exhibit patterns of positive selection. Finally, I will explain how ROH are used to estimate current and historical effective population size. All applications and examples presented are related to animals and humans.

Presentation number: ANTR 7


Struan F. A. Grant

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute, Philadelphia, PA, USA

SARS-CoV-2 infection results in a broad spectrum of COVID-19 disease, from mild or no symptoms to hospitalization and death. COVID-19 disease severity has been associated with some pre-existing conditions and the magnitude of the adaptive immune response to SARS-CoV-2, and a recent genome-wide association study (GWAS) of the risk of critical illness revealed a significant genetic component. To gain insight into how human genetic variation attenuates or exacerbates disease following SARS-CoV-2 infection, we implicated putatively functional COVID risk variants in the cis-regulatory landscapes of human immune cell types with established roles in disease severity and used high-resolution chromatin conformation capture to map these disease-associated elements to their effector genes. This functional genomic approach implicates 16 genes involved in viral replication, the interferon response, and inflammation. Several of these genes (PAXBP1, IFNAR2, OAS1, OAS3, TNFAIP8L1, GART) were differentially expressed in immune cells from patients with severe vs. moderate COVID-19 disease, and we demonstrate a previously unappreciated role for GART in T cell-dependent antibody-producing B cell differentiation in a human tonsillar organoid model. This study offers immunogenetic insight into the basis of COVID-19 disease severity and implicates new targets for therapeutics that limit SARS-CoV-2 infection and its resultant life-threatening inflammation.

Presentation number: ANTR 8


Florin Grigorescu

Institut de Convergences Migration – Collège de France, Paris, France

Human populations were faced to COVID-19 pandemic due to emerging SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus from Wuhan (China) and with dramatic Public Health consequences. Although scientific community demonstrated an incredible innovation potential producing in one-year efficient vaccines, researchers are intrigued about ethnic and geographic diversity of endocrine or metabolic manifestations of COVID-19, including gender differences and effects on fertility. Man displays 1.5- and 2.5-fold higher Covid-19 mortality and SARS-CoV-2 infection, partially explained by differential expression of ACE2 (angiotensin-converting enzyme 2) receptor and TMPRSS2 (serine protease transmembrane protease serine2) located on Chr21q22.3. ACE2 is located on Chr-X, males being hemizygous while females expressing a mosaic pattern and potentially heterozygous with lower sensitivity to infection. Sex hormones regulate ACE2 expression and activity shifting the activity of Renin Angiotensin Aldosterone System (RAAS). TMPRSS2 gene has no sex-dimorphism but contains an androgen-responsive enhancer located on specific haplotypes more frequent in Europeans (e.g. Italians) and totally absent in East Asians. Gender disparity for Covid-19 infection also concerns the immune response, females being in general protected. Androgens have deleterious effects on thrombo-inflammation, raising the hypothesis on potential role of hyperandrogenism in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and infertility. In PCOS, there is indeed a 50% higher risk of Covid-19 infection, but vulnerability of patients may be explained by multiple factors such as chronic pro-inflammatory state (increase in TNF and IL-6), ethnic background (e.g. expression of Androgen Receptors in Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups) or low vitamin D levels. Recent GWAS studies indicated several susceptibility loci for Covid-19 infection with high ethnic disparities and structurally related to ancestral components of the human genome. All these epidemiological variations prompt scientists to further investigate susceptibility genes and long-term complications of Covid-19 infection.

Presentation number: ANTR 9


Jasminka Prguda-Mujic1, Osman Hasanic2, Larisa Besic2, Adna Asic2, Sabina Halilovic2, Aida Kulo Cesic3, Neira Ljevakovic2, Fildesa Muminovic2, Sukrija Huseinovic2, Daria Ler2, Lana Salihefendic4, Rijad Konjhodzic4, Dragan Primorac5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12, Damir Marjanovic2,13

1Eurofarm Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory, Eurofarm Centre, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2Department of Genetics and Bioengineering, International Burch University, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 3Department of Pharmacology, Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Medical Faculty, University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 4Alea Genetic Centre, Health Institute Alea Dr. Kandić, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 5St. Catherine Specialty Hospital, Zagreb, Croatia, 6Eberly College of Science, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, State College, Pennsylvania, United States of America, 7The Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, University of NewHaven, West Haven, Connecticut, United States of America, 8Medical School, University of Split, Split, Croatia, 9School of Medicine, Faculty of Dental Medicine and Health, Josip Juraj Strossmayer University Osijek, Osijek, Croatia, 10School of Medicine, Josip Juraj Strossmayer University Osijek, Osijek, Croatia, 11Faculty of Medicine, University of Rijeka, Rijeka, Croatia, 12Medical School REGIOMED, Coburg, Germany, 13Institute for Anthropological Research, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is causing a novel COVID-19 infection. While the standard diagnostic test is molecular analysis using qRT-PCR, serological testing for COVID-19 is becoming increasingly important in research community and immunity surveillance efforts. Serological testing is performed on whole blood, serum, or plasma samples in a relatively simple and rapid procedure, requiring less expertise and simpler laboratory settings compared to molecular methods. Tests are designed to detect either total immunoglobulins (Ig) or to differentiate between immunoglobulins G (IgG) and immunoglobulins M (IgM) fractions.  Preliminary study completed in 2020 offered the very first report on serological testing for SARS-CoV-2 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Compared to the period April–July 2020, when anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were detected in 3.77% of samples, one year later (May 2021) the estimated percentage within the same population of the urban Canton Sarajevo was 29.9% (5,406/18,066). Of all anti-SARS-CoV-2 Ig-positive individuals, 53.27% were men, and 69.00% were of 50 years of age or younger. Also, the current update found the individuals 50 years of age or younger to be more frequently anti-SARS-CoV-2 Ig positive compared to older individuals. On the other hand, higher median anti-SARS-CoV-2 Ig levels were found in individuals > 50 years old than in younger individuals, as well as in men compared to women. Seropositivity gradually increased from September 2020 to May 2021, with the lowest frequency of positive cases (3.5%) observed in September 2020, and the highest frequency (77.7%) in January 2021. Our results published within two separated publications in 2020 and 2022, provided important seroprevalence data that could help in planning restrictive local public health measures to protect the population of Sarajevo Canton, especially considering that at the time of the study the vaccines were virtually inaccessible to the general population not belonging to any of the high-priority groups for vaccination.

Presentation number: ANTR 10


Saša Missoni1,2

1Institute for Anthropological Research, Zagreb, Croatia, 2School of Medicine, “J. J. Strossmayer” University, Osijek, Croatia

The “Croatian Islands Birth Cohort Study (CRIBS)” is the first birth cohort study ever conducted in Croatia, designed to prospectively follow a sample of 500 pregnant women and their children up to two years of age in populations from Croatian Dalmatian islands (Hvar and Brač) and mainland population (city of Split with its surroundings). Data collected within the CRIBS cohort include data on social factors (age, marital status, education, employment, income, religious views, number of children), psychosocial factors (quality of life, health beliefs and attitudes, postnatal depression), lifestyle (smoking, alcohol consumption, dietary habits, physical activity), medical data (maternal obstetric data and medical history, potential pre-, peri- and post-natal complications, information on child’s growth and development, feeding habits, allergies, vaccination, other medical issues etc.) and biological samples (blood samples from the mother and cord blood samples from the newborns). The results of the CRIBS study already showed that certain environmental and biological variables (e.g., maternal age, smoking, parity, lipid profile and fasting blood glucose level) are risk factors for the metabolic syndrome (MetS) and adverse pregnancy outcomes in this Croatian birth cohort. Especially pre-pregnancy BMI has been observed as an indicator of adverse maternal health during pregnancy (deviated biochemical parameters, high blood pressure), as well as an indicator of negative pregnancy outcomes. The advantage of the CRIBS cohort is the wealth of collected data (including biological samples of mother-child dyads), enabling future investigation of biological and environmental risk factors for the development of MetS and associated complex diseases.

Presentation number: ANTR 11


 Jelena Šarac1,2, Dubravka Havaš Auguštin1,2, Mario Lovrić1,3,4, Natalija Novokmet2, Saša Missoni2,5

1Centre for Applied Bioanthropology, Institute for Anthropological Research, Zagreb, Croatia, 2Institute for Anthropological Research, Zagreb, Croatia, 3Know-Center, Graz, Austria, 4Institute of Interactive Systems and Data Science, Graz University of Technology, Graz, Austria, 5School of Medicine, “J. J. Strossmayer” University, Osijek, Croatia

Although the Mediterranean diet has beneficial effects on health, recent studies have shown low adherence in Europe. Rapid changes in the traditional way of life and the “westernization” of the diet in Mediterranean populations, especially in younger generations, has led to progressive abandonment of healthy dietary patterns. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet in Dalmatia, Croatia was assessed through the Mediterranean Diet Serving Score (MDSS) (Monteagudo et al. 2015) in two Dalmatian populations – pregnant women from Split and islands Hvar and Brač, and the adult population from the island of Hvar. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet was low to moderate among pregnant women, with no significant mainland–island differences. The highest adherence was observed among wealthier women with generally healthier lifestyle choices. The most significant mainland–island differences were observed for maternal lifestyle and socioeconomic factors (income, education, physical activity). Namely, adverse socioeconomic and lifestyle conditions were more pronounced in the island population, which, together with the observed non-Mediterranean dietary pattern, calls for more effective pre- and perinatal intervention strategies. When compared to the adult population from the island of Hvar, the young, reproductively active generation (pregnant women) in Dalmatia, Croatia, although having a higher education and socioeconomic status, exhibits a more adverse eating behaviour (lower adherence to the Mediterranean diet) and lifestyle (excessive smoking in pregnancy) than the older population from the same region. MDSS scores across aggregated age groups in both cohorts also showed significant association with age, blood lipid levels and smoking frequency.

Presentation number: ANTR 12


 Serena Tucci

 Department of Anthropology, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA

Modern humans overlapped for most of their history with other hominin groups, and an enduring question is whether or not our ancestors admixed with these, now extinct, hominin groups. DNA retrieved from Neandertal and Denisovan fossils revealed that our ancestors did admix with archaic hominin contemporaries, and remnants of Neandertal and Denisovan genomes still survive in present-day individuals.  While the landscape of Neandertal and Denisovan ancestry in present-day populations has been outlined, the identification of archaic variation inherited from other hominin groups, such as H. erectus and H. floresiensis, is hampered by the absence of archaic reference genomes retrieved from their fossils. To overcome this limitation, we developed a “fossil free” statistical framework to detect putative “unknown” archaic sequences without relying on archaic genomes. We applied this method to genomic data we have generated from a contemporary pygmy population living on Flores Island (Indonesia), near the same cave where remains of the enigmatic small-bodied hominin species, H. floresiensis, were found. These data provide new insights into the interaction of archaic hominins in Island Southeast Asia and shed new light on how the unique biogeographical setting of the Flores pygmy population shaped their history and mechanisms of evolutionary change.

Presentation number: ANTR 13


John E. Vena

Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA

The prevalence of obesity in US children has more than tripled in the past 40 years; hence, it is critical to identify potentially modifiable factors that may mitigate the risk. To examine the association between maternal pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI), gestational weight gain (GWG) and child adiposity as measured by BMI, waist circumference and percent body fat in a racial-ethnically diverse cohort. In a prospective cohort study of healthy women without chronic disease, we examined the association between pre-pregnancy BMI, GWG and child adiposity. Children ages 4–8 years (n = 816) in the Environmental Influences on Child Health. Outcomes-NICHD Fetal Growth Studies were assessed. Trained study staff ascertained maternal pre-pregnancy BMI, GWG and child adiposity. The odds of child obesity (≥95th BMI percentile) increased independently for each unit increase in maternal pre-pregnancy BMI [OR = 1.12 (95% CI: 1.08, 1.17)] and for each 5-kg increase in GWG [OR = 1.25 (95% CI: 1.07, 1.47)]. The odds of child waist circumference (≥85th percentile) also increased independently for pre-pregnancy BMI [OR = 1.09 (95% CI: 1.05, 1.12)] and GWG [OR = 1.18 (95% CI: 1.04, 1.34)]. Maternal pre-pregnancy BMI and GWG were each independently and positively associated with child obesity and high child waist circumference.

Presentation number: ANTR 14


Maria Zafiropolou

European Commission, Expert in the Healthcare and Social Sector, Patras, Greece

The regional sensitivity barometer evaluates the regional sensitivity of European regions and the regional needs amid the COVID-19 health and financial crisis. In this paper qualitative and quantitative indicators were combined in European level and then an overall sensitivity index was calculated for each average European region. Demographic, economic, health, tourism-related and COVID-19 pandemic-related data are taken into account, using differentiated weighting factors. Τhe statistical data used was lastly evaluated on December 31st, 2020 in Eurostat database and processed in order to create the regional sensitivity for every country. The total index highlighted the final ranking between the European regions and formed the basis for the depiction of sensitivity on the European map. A series of conclusions came up; namely the existence of three groups of European Union (EU) member states in terms of regional resilience amid the COVID-19 crisis, as well as the extreme sensitivity of regions that later faced significant difficulty in handing the health and financial crisis, such as Portugal, Greece, Italy and the United Kingdom. In addition, Slovak Regions have shown preparedness to health threats. Comparing barometer results becomes clear that the sensitivity of a region is inextricably linked to its course over time, the chronic systemic pathogens and the readiness that has already developed in emergencies.



Published: June 21st, 2022;

Copyright: © 2022 ISABS & IAR Publishing. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.