September 18, 2011 — The Global Probiotics Council (GPC), a committee formed by Danone and Yakult Honsha Co. Ltd., announced the two recipients of the fourth annual Young Investigator Grant for Probiotics Research (YIGPRO) today.
The program was created to contribute to the advancement of probiotics and gastrointestinal microbiota research in the U.S. This year’s grant focus is on the role of probiotics and gastrointestinal microbiota in health and wellness.
Eric Martens, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Michigan Medical School was selected for his research proposal, “Host Responses to Mucus Layer Colonization by Commensal Microbiota Species.”
Certain strains of commensal bacteria reside in the protective mucus layer that lines the inside of the intestine. They are thought to have a unique effect on host bowel health because of their proximity to the cells of the intestine.
Martens’ research will examine how these bacterial species differ from non-mucus-inhabiting commensal bacteria in their influence on intestinal health. This novel approach may shed light on which bacterial species protect against or contribute to disease states like inflammatory bowel disease.
The other grant will be awarded to Suzanne Noble, MD, PhD, who is an assistant professor in the Departments of Medicine and of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of California, San Francisco. Her proposal, titled, “Interactions of the Yeast, Candida albicans, with the Bacterial Gut Microbiota in Health and Disease” will test the hypothesis that the commensal microorganisms in humans interact to promote either health or disease.
Noble will examine the molecular interactions between commensal bacteria and the yeast C. albicans, which can be either a commensal or a pathogen. Bacteria found to diminish the disease-related attributes of this fungus could be eventually used as probiotics in humans to curb C. albicans infections.
The GPC was extremely pleased with the outstanding quality of the applications received for the fourth consecutive year of this grant. A thorough scientific review of all the applications was provided by the U.S. Probiotics Scientific Board Selection Committee, which is comprised of W. Allan Walker, MD, Conrad Taff professor of nutrition at Harvard Medical School; Mary Ellen Sanders, PhD, executive director, International Scientific Association for
Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP); Richard Guerrant, MD, director, Center for Global Health, University of Virginia School of Medicine; and Balfour Sartor, MD, distinguished professor of medicine, microbiology, and immunology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “This was an exceptional group of applicants and the caliber of science was remarkable,” said Walker, chair of the committee.
The GPC is committed to raising awareness of probiotics and their health benefits through science-based education. “Four years ago, we created the Young Investigator Grant for Probiotics Research to stimulate innovative research relevant to the field of gastrointestinal microbiota and to support young investigators in the United States,” says Mr. Yoshihiro Kawabata, director deputy president, Yakult Honsha Co. Ltd. “The response we have received each year is proof of escalating interest in the research fields of probiotics and the gastrointestinal microbiota.”
“There is clearly growing excitement in the area of probiotics and microbiota research,” said Jean-Philippe Pare, executive vice president danone R&D. “We hope these grants will help to uncover additional beneficial probiotics and will identify critical mechanisms by which they are promoting health.”
The Global Probiotics Council will provide $50,000 over the course of one year to both Martens and Noble, and their respective institutions.
Source: PRNewswire, www.prnewswire.com