EC Marie S. Curie ITN PUSHH

PUSHH will provide international, intersectoral and interdisciplinary doctoral training to prepare the next generation of palaeoanthropologists, palaeontologists and archaeologists to push knowledge on human biological and cultural evolution forward by using palaeoproteomics. Ancient DNA (aDNA) sequencing revolutionised our knowledge on evolution, migration and admixture of archaic and anatomically modern humans. However, ancient proteins instead survive much longer than aDNA, enabling molecular-based phylogeny beyond the limits of aDNA degradation. Their sequences can be reliably used to confidently reconstruct the evolutionary relationships between extant and extinct species. Moreover, ancient protein residues can also be recovered from cultural heritage objects produced using materials of biological origin.

Presently though, there are very few specialists that have been trained to analyse ancient proteins, in stark contrast to the study of aDNA. The growing demand of information provided by palaeoproteomics will require highly qualified specialists with a multidisciplinary background in analytical chemistry, bioinformatics, palaeoanthropology, palaeontology and archaeology.

The PUSHH network aims at:

  • Forming, through research-based training, the professional profiles behind tomorrow’s state-of-the-art analysis of ancient proteins from palaeoanthropological, palaeontological and archaeological materials.
  • Consolidating existing constructive interaction across disciplines to focus different expertise and backgrounds into the common aim of advancing palaeoanthropology and archaeology.
  • Stimulating the development of an application-oriented mindset for direct or indirect exploitation of PUSHH R&D activities, through the right set of specific research-related and transferable skills.

As a key PUSHH feature, the unique contribution provided by each participating institution will be integrated in a strong partnership to achieve valuable complementary research-specific and widely transferrable professional competence.

In addition, PUSHH is actively involved in communication and scientific dissemination. Its aim will be to enhance and stimulate public understanding and interest in paleoproteomics, palaeoanthropology, paleontology, and archeology, so these sciences can be more accessible to a wide audience.